Ruth Elinor Deacon

Ruth Deacon

Ruth Elinor Deacon (Dean 1975-1987)


Ruth Elinor Deacon, Dean of the College of Home Economics from 1975 to 1987, grew up on a farm in Ohio, played the trumpet and violin, and participated in 4-H. The dedication and exactitude required by her 4-H and musical interests may well have set the stage for the high standards of research she would later bring to her position at Iowa State.       

Deacon received her Bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in 1944.  She continued her education at Cornell, earning her Master’s and Ph.D. at the school and remaining for ten years as a household management specialist with the College of Home Economics and the Cooperative Extension Service.

She began at Iowa State in 1974 as head of the Department of Family Environment.   The following year, the newcomer succeeded Helen LeBaron Hilton as dean of the college.  During her administration, Deacon said she, “viewed research as the mechanism through which knowledge is advanced.  The ultimate beneficiaries of this research are the individuals and families of the state, nation, and world, who are served through the preparation of professionals and the extension programs of the college.” 

For her own research, Deacon wrote numerous scholarly articles and co-authored the influential textbook Family Research Management:  Practical Applications.  According to colleagues, Deacon’s work made “a significant contribution to the building of theory” in the field of home management.

She also continued the efforts of her predecessors to globalize the nature of the home ecnomics curriculum, encouraging faculty to be a part of international programs to help prove the relevance of their field.