Dewey Stuit (1909–2008)

Dewey StuitThe College mourns the death of Dean Emeritus Dewey Stuit, who died in Iowa City on January 9. Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1947 to 1977, Stuit led the College into the era of the modern research university.

Dean Linda Maxson said in tribute to him, “Most of us take it as an article of faith that teaching and research are not only compatible but are necessary to one another. Dean Stuit was among the educators who had to work to establish the teacher-scholar as the model of faculty excellence.”

Dewey Stuit was born in 1909 in Gardenplain, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (1931) and a PhD in psychology and educational measurement (1934) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He taught at Carleton College and the University of Nebraska before joining the UI Psychology Department in 1938. During World War II, he was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, serving in the Test and Research Section of the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Returning to his faculty position after the war, he was named the first head of the Counseling Services Office in 1946, and Dean of Student Personnel Services in 1947, an office he continued to hold after being named interim Dean of Liberal Arts, also in 1947. He was named Dean of the College in 1949.

Dean Stuit led the College through the rapid post-war expansion of higher education. Undergraduate student enrollments in the College grew from about 6,500 in 1947 to 12,000 in 1977. The number of majors available to students under his leadership also dramatically increased, from 28 areas of study in 1947 to 57 in 1977, and the honors program was established. Early in his tenure, Dean Stuit instituted the first process for student evaluation of classroom teaching.

Dean Stuit was an advocate of a strong faculty voice in College and University affairs, and was known for the openness and fairness of his administrative actions. Among his first actions as Dean was to form a faculty committee to develop by-laws of faculty governance. The 1949 Manual of Procedure and the elected Executive Committee and Educational Policy Committee that it established to advise the Dean are still the bases of faculty self-governance in the College.

After his retirement, Dewey Stuit continued to be a generous supporter of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He endowed two professorships in the Department of Psychology. In honor of his wife, he established the Velma P. Stuit Memorial Fund for the Fine Arts. He also generously endowed student scholarships in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2002, friends and former colleagues of Dean Stuit established the Dewey Stuit Fund in Liberal Arts and Sciences to promote the development of mentor-protégé relationships between undergraduate students and faculty members.

The photo is courtesy of the University of Iowa Foundation.