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Gift from long-time faculty member to benefit ISU Curtiss Hall


Neil Harl, a long-time faculty member in Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and his wife Darlene are giving back to Iowa State.

The Ames couple has pledged $1.5 million towards renovations of Curtiss Hall, the building housing the main offices of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Neil Harl served for more than 40 years as a faculty member in the Department of Economics, retiring in 2004. He entered Iowa State College as an undergraduate student 58 years ago this month.

"We are approaching the renovation of Curtiss Hall as an opportunity to maintain and improve an iconic symbol of the college and the university," said Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State's Endowed Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "We expect to present a building to the outside world, and to our colleagues and students on campus, that shows the pride we feel in agriculture, the cutting-edge nature of the sciences of agriculture and the warm, caring approach to students that has been the hallmark of the college since its birth."

The Harls' pledge will create the Harl Commons, a renovated space located on the ground floor of Curtiss Hall. This student-centered area will include an open area for informal gatherings, a café/deli and meeting rooms available to students to encourage teamwork and improve communications. These rooms also will be available for interviews conducted by employers on campus. Adjacent to the Harl Commons will be a student services "mall."

"As students, and later in our faculty service, we came to believe firmly that Iowa State is one of the finest institutions in the country in helping students build their educational and personal platforms for life," the Harls said. "We are pleased and honored to be identified with Iowa State in this manner."

"We're excited that an iconic person in the college's history such as Dr. Neil Harl has linked his legacy with that of the college," Wintersteen said.

Neil Harl is a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences and emeritus professor of economics. A member of the Iowa State Bar Association, he is an internationally recognized expert in farm finance, taxation, estate planning, business planning and agricultural law. Harl has given more than 3,200 presentations in 43 states and 19 foreign countries and has served on six federal commissions.

Harl has published widely, including 29 books, more than 400 professional articles and bulletins and more than 950 in farm and financial publications. He has received more than 30 major awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Citation from the Iowa State University Alumni Association in 1985; the Award for Distinguished Service to State Government from the National Governors' Association in 1986; the USDA Superior Service Award in 1987; the Henry A. Wallace Award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture in 1987; the Charles A. Black Award from the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology in 1997, for effectiveness in communicating with the public; and the Award for Service to American and World Agriculture from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in 2006. Just last month he received the Helmuth Award from the Organization for Competitive Markets for meritorious service.

Harl has served as president of both the American Agricultural Economics Association and the American Agricultural Law Association. He was named a Fellow of the AAEA in 1986.

The founder and director of the Center for International Agricultural Finance, Harl served from 1990 until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2004. The center conducted 79 three- to seven-week schools both in the United States and abroad, and graduated more than 1,600 from the schools, which focused on banking, credit, finance and risk management for individuals from countries transitioning to a market economy. Harl is credited with helping to lay the foundation for such countries, particularly in Eastern Europe.

Harl has been a distinguished professor since 1976. He earned a bachelor of science degree (1955) and a doctorate in economics from Iowa State. His law degree was awarded from the University of Iowa in 1961.

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