Iowa State awards posthumous degree to Jack Trice

George Trice accepts the posthumous degree from Wendy Winterstee

George Trice (center) accepts Jack Trice's posthumous degree in animal husbandry from President Wendy Wintersteen and ISU Alumni Association president and CEO Jeff Johnson, an emotional highlight of the closing ceremony Sunday afternoon. Also present were senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger (far left) and 1975-76 student body president Jill Wagner (far right), who was active in one of the early drives to name the football stadium for Jack Trice. Photos by Christopher Gannon.


An estimated 800 people gathered Sunday on central campus to close the centennial commemoration of student athlete Jack Trice's death on Oct. 8, 1923, from injuries during a football game. While speakers acknowledged some progress over 100 years -- senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger noted she is the first Black woman (third Black person) to serve in the post -- they also challenged the audience to not forget the courage and selflessness that defined Trice's life.

Watch it again

A recording of the closing ceremony is posted online.

After reading aloud the letter Trice penned in a Minneapolis hotel the night before the fateful game, President Wendy Wintersteen noted that "within each of us is the ability to do 'big things,'" as Trice pledged in his letter.

"He was a student athlete, but he was here to do more than that. His goal after college was to go to the South and teach share croppers how to earn a living to take care of their families," said alumnus George Trice, a cousin to Jack. "We have to carry Jack into our experiences every day and bring his future with us."

Younger, who for the last 18 months has chaired the commemoration committee, said lifting up the Trice story has been a highlight of her career.

"All one has to do is read Jack's now famous letter to know that he understood the awesome weight and responsibility that he bore on his shoulders," she said. "We must all find the courage to stand on his shoulders and bear a similar responsibility."

She challenged attendees to commit to "the necessary work to make this the most inclusive and student-centric leading research university," to assure that all students feel welcomed and see themselves as members of the Cyclone community.

A highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of an Iowa State degree in animal husbandry for John "Jack" Trice to his family. Trice had completed 22 credits toward a bachelor's degree before he died.

The ceremony was held in the same location as the college memorial service for Trice in 1923.

Action grants honor Trice legacy

Younger said one of the ways the committee chose to continue the conversation about Trice is to provide funds to student groups planning events that "represent all the things Jack Trice stood for: courage, strength and making the world a better place." The "I Will" Action Grants provide up to $3,000 to support an event, initiative or program that aligns with Trice's legacy. Five proposals received funding in an initial application window this fall, and there will be a second application round this academic year. Here's a bit about the five recipients, who were recognized during the ceremony, and their projects:

  • The SHOP food pantry. Partner with ethnic grocery stores to purchase additional culturally relevant foods each month for the shelves of the pantry, located in Beyer Hall.
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The Phi chapter, a joint charter between Iowa State and Drake University, will hold a Sisterhood Summit Luncheon in late April as part of its centennial celebration. The intent is to bring together undergraduate and alumni members to enhance mentorship opportunities and strengthen community.
  • ISU French Club. Host its first ever “Francophone Cultural Night” in the spring, which will celebrate cultures of the French-speaking regions of Africa, Canada and Europe.
  • International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences, ISU chapter. Its annual November dinner will be expanded to include members of international student organizations and build community among all students and faculty, not only those with an agriculture interest.
  • Athletic training graduate program. Partner with the University of Iowa athletic training graduate program on a book discussion about Jamie Schultz's "Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, and Reconciliation of College Football."


11 fraternity members cross arms and lock fingers in tribute hym

Members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Jack Trice's fraternity, performed a hymn and prayer in their tribute to their brother. Watching, in coordinated shirts, were the members of the Cyclone football team, fresh off a victory over TCU Saturday night in the Jack Trice Legacy Game.


Emotion on the faces of George Trice, Jeff Johnson and Jill Wagn

Emotions ran high during the closing ceremony. ISU Alumni Association president and CEO Jeff Johnson (center) supports George Trice and 1975-76 student body president and Trice advocate Jill Wagner following the presentation of Jack Trice's posthumous degree from Iowa State.

Black student athlete speaks at lecturn on stage

Gerry Vaughn, senior linebacker and second recipient of the Jack Trice Endowed Scholarship on the Cyclone football team, spoke during the closing ceremony Sunday afternoon. Head coach Matt Campbell selects a  scholarship recipient who demonstrates courage, character, selflessness, leadership, dedication to the community and academic and athletic achievements, all traits of Trice.

Image on the front page: The Iowa State Jubilee Gospel Choir opened the ceremony with a performance of the Black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."