Resuming its annual in-person banquet to honor members reaching notable anniversaries, the 25 Year Club will gather next week to celebrate 110 Iowa State faculty and staff -- a group that represents a combined 3,260 years of university service.
The 25 Year Club was formally founded in 1934 by Col. Harold Pride, the first director of the Memorial Union, to honor employees who had worked at Iowa State for 25 continuous years or more. Over its long history, which informally stretches back to 1915, more than 3,400 faculty and staff have become members of the club, which also recognizes employees when they reach 35, 45 and 50 consecutive years of working at Iowa State.
This year's honorees include 68 first-time club members who hit 25 years of service in 2021, as well as 34 with 35 years, six with 45 years and two with 50 years.
Club president Rob Wallace, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, said holding the banquet will be a welcome return to tradition after last year's banquet was canceled due to pandemic precautions. Instead of the banquet, those honored last year received a voucher for a free meal at a local restaurant.
While the 2021 approach was appreciated and appropriate given the circumstances, it wasn't the same as meeting face-to-face, Wallace said. The banquet is free for honorees and open to all club members, an opportunity to connect with a wide variety of colleagues.
"There are a lot of us who know one another. You get to catch up with people you don't see very often, especially now," he said.
No matter their role on campus, long-serving employees are essential to Iowa State, Wallace said. While change is constant and necessary on a university campus, the institution also is steeped in history. Faculty and staff with decades of experience help navigate that balance between old and new, making the long view clearer, he said.
"Those individuals are particularly valuable. They hold a lot of institutional knowledge that's difficult to write down," he said. "That smooths out the curve of the cycles of change we go through at the university."
A list of this year's honorees is online, as is a collection of some of their milestones and memories. The personal reflections provide some insight into the career high points of devoted employees and make for great conversation starters at the banquet, Wallace said.
The Feb. 28 banquet at the Scheman Building begins with a social hour at 5 p.m. and music from Indigo Monks, a jazz group that features some ISU faculty. Dinner begins at 6:15 p.m., followed by remarks by and photos with President Wendy Wintersteen, who was honored for her 35 years of service at the 2015 banquet.