Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- More than 2,500 Iowa State students will celebrate the completion of degree programs, and former faculty member John Vincent Atanasoff will be recognized posthumously with an honorary degree during Iowa State University commencement events next weekend, May 5-6. Tickets are not needed for any of the three ceremonies.

About 275 master’s degrees, 90 doctoral degrees and one (education) specialist degree will be awarded at the graduate college commencement ceremony at 8 p.m. Friday, May 5, in Stephens Auditorium.

Chemistry professor Dennis Johnson, who also serves as a senior chemist at Ames Laboratory, will give the address. Johnson was named a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences last year and has won numerous awards as both teacher and researcher.

In another Stephens ceremony, 100 veterinary medicine students will receive their D.V.M. awards at noon Saturday, May 6. Dr. James Kramer, who received his D.V.M. from Iowa State in 1982 and currently serves as president of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association, will give the address. Kramer practices veterinary medicine in Fullerton, Neb.

The undergraduate commencement event begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. An estimated 2,100 students are earning bachelor’s degrees this semester.

John Vincent Atanasoff II, president, CEO and chairman of the board of Colorado Medtech Inc., Boulder, and son of the late inventor, will address the students. Colorado Medtech sells diagnostic and therapeutic medical products, software and related services. An engineer by training, Atanasoff received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State.
The younger Atanasoff also will accept an honorary doctorate degree of science for his dad, who died in 1995.

The elder Atanasoff and his graduate student, Clifford Berry, built the world’s first electronic digital computer in the Physics Hall basement during the period 1939 to 1942. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) has withstood the test of time — the basic principles of the ABC still are used in nearly every computer today.

Atanasoff was called to serve in World War II and his invention remained in the Physics basement, eventually dismantled and scavenged for parts. Recognition for his invention eluded Atanasoff until a celebrated court case in 1973. Federal Judge Earl Larson overturned the patent of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) and wrote that the ENIAC's inventors "did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived it from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff."

For more information about ISU commencement events, call (515) 294-9372.


Colleges will honor their graduating students at receptions Friday and Saturday. A schedule of all commencement events follows.

Spring semester 2000
May 5-6

Friday, May 5

  • 5 p.m., Ceremony, College of Business, Hilton, (515) 294-8430.
  • 5 p.m., Ceremony, College of Education, Stephens (6:30 p.m. reception), first floor lobby, Scheman, (515) 294-7003.
  • 8 p.m., Commencement, graduate students, Stephens, no tickets needed, (515) 294-9372.
  • 9:15-10:15 p.m., Reception, College of Education, first floor lobby, Scheman, (515) 294-7003.

Saturday, May 6

  • 8:30 a.m., Reception, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (9:30 a.m. ceremony), Sun Room, Memorial Union, (515) 294-7246.
  • 9 a.m., Ceremony, College of Agriculture, Stephens, (515) 294-8653.
  • 9 a.m., Ceremony, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Hilton, (515) 294-7740.
  • 9:30 a.m., Reception, College of Design (10 a.m. ceremony), Design atrium, (515) 294-7428.
  • 10-11:30 a.m., Reception, College of Engineering, Iowa State Center, (515) 294-5933.
  • Noon, Ceremony, College of Veterinary Medicine, Stephens, no tickets needed, (515) 294-0772.
  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Luncheon, for students and guests of all colleges, second floor lobby, Scheman, pre-purchase tickets by April 28 at 158 Memorial Union, adults $13.50, children ages 3-10 $6.50, children 2 years and younger free, (515) 294-8488.
  • 2 p.m., Commencement, undergraduate students, Hilton, no tickets needed, (515) 294-9372.

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