Boone Campus History

​​​The Beginning

The Boone Campus of DMACC had its beginning long before it became a part of DMACC.  In March, 1927, after studies were completed and considered, the Boone Independent School District Board of Education decided that important needs could be met by creating a local junior college, and they voted in favor of the establishment of the Boone Junior College. The college would offer only a freshmen schedule and only courses which would receive full transfer-credit in Liberal Arts curriculum at a four-year college.

In the fall of 1927, Boone Junior College was ready to begin.  It was located on the third floor of Boone High School with J.R. Thorngren acting as dean and Boone School District Superintendent George Wooten as chief administrator.  This organizational union emphasized the relationship between the college and the kindergarten-through-twelve educational program.

The schedule included English and speech, French, European history, mathematics (algebra, trigonometry, and analytical geometry), chemistry, and physical education.  The faculty was made up of qualified persons (master's degree in the subject matter to be taught) serving on a part-time basis with both college and high school assignments. The college had an opening enrollment of about 60 students with tuition set at $50 per semester.  In April, 1928, the Board set up a second year of junior college study for sophomore students with enough of the original class returning that the first graduating class for spring 1929 numbered 17.

Emphasis at the end of the first two years was still on liberal arts. Evidence of interest in expanding the curriculum was seen when the Instruction Committee recommended that a two-year Primary Teacher's curriculum be offered if twelve students requested this program.

Progress was slow but sustained in the 1930s.  The liberal arts emphasis continued, and the faculty continued to be largely part-time with the student body almost entirely local.  Those were the days of the Great Depression, and the local college provided two years of college for many who could not have achieved their education any other way.

The post war years presented new challenges and opportunities.  Enrollment grew due in part to an influx of returning veterans, and the college began attracting students from surrounding communities.  In the fall of 1955, the college was moved to Franklin Hall, formerly Franklin Elementary School.  As the college expanded, additional facilities were used to accommodate a growing enrollment: the old National Guard armory for athletic and physical education activities, the Educational Building of the First Presbyterian Church for music, Boone High School for science and art classes, and the Ryan Catholic High School gymnasium for intercollegiate basketball.  The Boone Junior College held its first commencement apart from the high school in May 1956.

Boone Junior College to Des Moines Area Community College

In the late 1950s, there were 16 public junior colleges operating in the state of Iowa, located for the most part in small communities which curtailed the tax base and the bonding capacity for the support of the colleges.  The public junior colleges in Iowa were confronted with several problems:  many of their activities were entwined with the local high school, many of the staff held dual teaching assignments in the local high school and junior college, and separate facilities for the public junior colleges were usually not available as the local board of directors ordinarily gave the major part of its attention to the elementary and secondary program.  In 1959 the General Assembly appropriated $25,000 to the Iowa Legislative Research Bureau to make a policy study of the needs of higher education in Iowa.

The Department of Public Education received the first plan for an area college on July 5, 1965, one day after the legislation was effective.  Boone became part of the district that was formed known as Area XI.  Marvin Sturtz, who was then County Superintendent of Boone County, was a part of the committee that worked on developing the boundaries of Area XI and was also instrumental in making certain that language was contained in the Area XI agreement to the effect that the Boone Junior College would be designated as an “attendance center” regardless of where the main college facilities would be located. This specific language would become very significant in later negotiations between the Board of Directors of the Boone Community School District and the Board of Directors of Area XI.

A special meeting of the Boone Board was then held on November 6, 1965, with the Dean of the college, Clair Abbott, and members of the faculty present.    Discussion was held about the possible location of a new facility.  At the December 14, 1965, meeting of the Board, architects were told to assist in drawing up the application to secure a federal grant for the construction of a classroom auditorium building and a separate physical education building for the approximate cost of $1,585,000.

The next question that presented itself to the Board was the location of the new facility. There was a unanimous decision to sign a contract to purchase 22 acres of land from the Herman Trust, which was located east of South Marshall and north of Hancock Drive.  The federal grant was approved subject to a bond election that had to be approved in the sum of $925,000.  The election results showed an overwhelming and resounding victory with a 96 percent approval, which was a tremendous showing of support by the Boone Community for the continuation of a junior college program in the Boone Community.  The Board felt it was a calculated risk but that it was a reasonable risk to take.  The very worst scenario would be that the facility would be constructed and would not be accepted as an attendance center by Area XI.  It could then be used for either a new junior high or high school for the community.

The first joint meeting of the Boards of Area XI Community College District and the Boone Community School District was held in Boone in January 1967 with a very complete discussion of the problems faced by both Districts, involving the eventual transfer of ownership and preparation of the Boone Junior College from the Boone community to the Area XI College District.  The Boone Board would continue the operation of the Boone Junior College for a reasonable time until the new facilities were completed but only if the Boone Junior College would be continuously designated as an Area Attendance Center which had been made a matter of record by the Area Board in 1966.  The eventual takeover of ownership and operation by Area XI was to be on July 1, 1969.

However in January of 1969, there were some frank discussions as to whether or not the directors of the Area XI Board were really committed to having the Boone Campus as an Attendance Center, and the Boone Board and community became concerned.  After much discussion, the members of the Board of Education of the Boone Community School District felt that they now had a firm commitment from the Area XI Board to enter into a long-term purchase agreement as soon as enabling legislation had been adopted by the Iowa Legislature.

Boone Junior College Becomes Boone Campus of DMACC

In September 1968, Boone Junior College moved to a new 23-acre campus located on the southwest corner of Boone, and on July 1, 1969, Boone Junior College became the Boone Campus of Des Moines Area Community College.

Clair Abbot served as the first dean of the Boone Campus with 21 full-time instructors and nine support staff serving 410 students.  Nearly all these students were from Boone County or surrounding counties and were recent high school graduates who were attending college on a full-time status, intending to transfer to a four year college in Iowa. 
In the '70s the Boone Campus was directed by Dean Emil J Stadel (1970-1974), and Dean Byron K. Hamilton (1974-1981).  Paul Lowery was Superintendent from 1969-1981. Other deans were Kriss Philips; Bill Heitsman; Vivian Brandmeyer; and (chief administrative name changed to Provost) Tom Lee.


  • Cheerleading Clinics were held each year for girls in the 3rd - 6th grades to learn cheerleading. An auction was held each year for students to raise money for uniforms, mascot, etc. Used sports equipment was donated, along with certificates from various businesses in town for the auction. The cheerleaders served as Elves for the Christmas season in the community with Santa.
  • Basketball This sport was discontinued after the 1958-59 season but was reinstated and coached by Harold Johnson, Athletic Director, in 1965-66. Practice and games were held at the old high school gym, but due to conflicts with the high school teams, practice started at 9 p.m. and usually lasted until midnight.  The second year the men dressed for practice at the old YMCA (located where Dollar General store now stands) and ran to the 'old Armory' (located where the old Hy-Vee store was located) with the advantage being that practices could begin at 5 p.m.  Games were still held in the old high school gym.  During the third year, Ryan Catholic High School built a new school and gymnasium and allowed the team to practice and play games there. In 1968, the DMACC Boone Campus was completed, and Larry Hughes was hired as basketball coach, baseball coach, and athletic director.  Now with their own gym, the physical education/ activity program became a reality.  In 1971, Jerry Nauman was hired as basketball and baseball coach along with teaching the physical education classes, and Harold Johnson took over the A.D. duties along with teaching biology and zoology classes.
  • Baseball The first baseball program was started in 1947-48 and later discontinued.  In 1967, DMACC Boone Campus re- organized the program which was coached by Harold Johnson, A.D.  From 1968 until 1971, Larry Hughes coached the team, and Jerry Nauman coached from 1971-1973.  John Smith became coach in 1973 and coached until he retired in 2006.  Boone Campus hosted both the Russian National and Australian National teams.
  • Men's Golf In 1966, men's golf was organized and coached by Harold Johnson.  It was discontinued after one season in favor of baseball.  Baseball served more students and helped with enrollment.  Plus there was not enough money or coaches to keep both sports. With the reinstatement of golf in 1972, Dick Tays was hired as a volunteer coach. That year the golf team was the Region XI Champions and attended the national tournament in Roswell, NM.

In 1973-75, Jerry Nauman became the coach until Dick Tays resumed the position from 1975-78.  Golfers were the Region XI champs in 1975-76, 1976-77, and 1977-78.   They attended the National Tournament in Galveston, Texas (75-76), Fort Meyers, Florida (76-77), and Nashville, Tennessee (77-78).  The golf team had three consecutive seasons from 1975-78, and Tays was awarded the Coach of the Year for the Region XI of NJCAA each of those years.

Golf was discontinued after the 1977-78 school year in favor of women's basketball and softball.  Title XIX dictated that comparable sports must be offered for women that were offered for men.  Again, money to support these programs was an issue.

Academic Achievement Center (formerly called the Learning Center)

Sunny Powers started as a part-time instructor in the Learning Center from 8 a.m. until noon in the fall of 1973.  She worked to help people get the General Equivalency Diploma (GED), taught international students to learn basic English, taught reading classes, helped women in the WIN program practice typing and accounting skills and then worked with their instructors to find them jobs when they graduated.  Then she added English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and became involved with teaching international students and helping them share their culture through international dinners.  Boone Campus also began the first GED graduation program at DMACC with eight students graduating at the first ceremony.

“My first year was a riot!  All my classes were in the small Learning Center - six chairs in front of a blackboard, about eight carrels for students to work in or listen to tapes, and about three bookshelves to divide the two spaces.  I had a big desk with a telephone that rang and was answered in between lecture points” Powers remembered.

The second year, Jinny Silberhorn was hired to answer the phone and to help the walk-in students.  Then because all the different college classes sent people to the Learning Center for help, the Learning Center became so busy that hours increased and classes got so big, they had to be taught outside the Center. At that point, Jeanne Roth was hired to help Silberhorn in the Center.

Finally, a new Learning Center (Academic Achievement Center) was added, which was much larger, and nine people were employed to run it.

“I finally got a full-time contract instead of working for an hourly wage.  I remember my dedicated coworkers in the Center.  They worked at whatever I asked them to do, always with the students in mind and always willing to go the extra mile to help those in need,” Powers said.

Nursing educators tried to accommodate the adult women who entered their program and needed math and English help.

Bookstore In the early years, books were rented for $15 from the main office, also, Henry Wallace sold books from his Tackle/Bait Store on North Story Street. With the expansion of the campus with the addition of Lloyd W. Courter Center, a new bookstore was created off the student center. Doris Wickham and Carol Peterson were long-time managers of the book store.

Student Senate ( later known as the SAB and then SAC—Student Activities Council) this student group organized and hosted pig roasts, open house, homecoming, the Blue & White Ball, Spring Fling, Sadie Hawkin's Dance, fall picnics, Bear Varieties, and steak fries to raise scholarship money. Some of the active clubs on the Boone Campus included Faculty Wives, Delta Tau, Circle Democrats, Cosmopolitan Club, and the Math/Science Club, which sponsored hay rides. Today, the SAC supports clubs and activities i.e., awareness programs, drugs and alcohol education, Wild Wednesdays, speakers, musicians, blood drives, and free meals for students at the beginning of the semester and around holidays.

Theater Drama experiences were offered for students with plays and musicals were presented in the auditorium.

Publications Media was offered to students through participation on the CUB, a yearbook, and through the student newspaper BEAR FACTS. The newspaper was renamed BANNER NEWS in 2000 by the newspaper staff, led by student editor, Michele Thamke. Jan LaVille, an English instructor hired in 1991 was the first full-time newspaper advisor and moved the newspaper into the digital age. The CUB ceased to be published.​

Some Early Boone Campus Faculty and Staff - 1966-1976

  • Clair Abbott: Dean (1964-1970)
  • Dr Emil J Stadel: Dean (1970-1974)
  • Byron Hamilton: Dean (1974-1982)
  • Richard Finnestad : Counselor/Financial Aid (1971)
  • George Silberhorn: Counselor/Student Activities/ Associate Provost (1972)
  • Sandi Johnson: Dean's secretary/Student Services Specialist (1968)
  • Evalotte Berl: Business Office
  • Laura Quam: Learning Center/GED/WIN 
  • Sunny Powers: Learning Center/Academic Achievement Center Director (1975)
  • Jinny Silberhorn: Learning Center P-T/ Academic Center/ AAC Director (1973)
  • Doris Wickman: Bookstore Director
  • Jack Tilson: Librarian
  • Louise Payton: Library Employee 
  • Joan VonGrabow: Nursing Program Director
  • George Sturtz: Maintenance
  • Harold Johnson: Biology Instructor/ Coach/ Athletic Director (1965)
  • John Smith: Accounting Instructor/Baseball Coach  (1966)
  • Larry Hughes: Coach/ P.E. Instructor  (1968)
  • Jerry Nauman: Coach/ P.E. Instructor  (1971)
  • Bill Alley: Recreation Leadership
  • Glenny Tays: Business Department Chair
  • Dick Tays: Psychology/Coach
  • Vivian Brandmeyer: Business Department Chair/Provost
  • Ted Clinkenbeard: Math Instructor
  • Chuck Schaeffer: Theater and Speech
  • Jan Betten: Music
  • Joe Fernandez: Chemistry

Boone Campus—2015

Today the Boone Campus looks somewhat different after joining Des Moines Area Community College 50 years ago.

  • The Boone Campus now serves 2,500 students each semester. A huge difference that the 410 students 50 years ago.
  • The Boone Campus now employees 45 full-time faculty and over 125 adjuncts each semester.
  • There are over 75 full-time people who work on the Boone Campus on a regular basis.
  • The Boone Campus continues to be a liberal arts campus with three specialty programs offered on the Boone Campus: nursing, Civil Engineering, and Sports Fitness Management.
  • The Boone Campus now owns its own housing. There are five apartment buildings on campus that house 208 students.
  • The athletic program has also grown to eight sports. Each sport competes on the national level.
    • Women's cross country
    • Women's golf
    • Men's golf
    • Women's basketball
    • Men's basketball
    • Women's softball
    • Men's baseball
    • Women's volleyball

Since 2005 the Boone Campus as had two expansions plus the construction of a baseball and softball facility.  In 2005 the Boone Campus opened the new nursing and Civil Engineering wing.  This also included faculty offices, a new bookstore, and a fitness room.

In the spring of 2016 the Boone Campus will open a new addition that will expand Civil Engineering and where a large portion of the recertification for the Department of Transportation is being done.  That addition will also allow the campus to recoup some space that was lost during the high growth time.  This space includes additional faculty offices, conference room, and a quiet study lounge for students.