College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Commitment to CCEE: engineering emeritus engage with ISU while keeping professional relationships strong

More than 70 years. That’s a lifetime, a career.

And that’s how much experience Jack Cleasby and Wallace Sanders have dedicated to Iowa State University (ISU).


Cleasby and Sanders are both emeritus faculty of ISU’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE).  While their stories are different, their commitment to ISU and CCEE is similar.

Jack Cleasby (left) and Wallace Sanders on the golf course (Photo by Kate Tindall)
Jack Cleasby (left) and Wallace Sanders on the golf course (Photo by Kate Tindall)

Cleasby first started his career at ISU in 1954. He had been working at a Chicago consulting firm when he spotted an advertisement for a faculty position posted in the firm’s offices.

Cleasby says the advertisement disappeared from the firm soon after his application to ISU.

“I don’t suppose the boss was happy about that, because it enticed me away,” Cleasby said with a smile, describing the advertisement’s disappearance.

Sanders came to ISU a decade later in 1964.

“I came in as an associate professor with tenure, and then five years later I became a full professor and it just kept skyrocketing,” Sanders said of his research experience.

Both professors would create outstanding careers at ISU. Cleasby became a distinguished professor in the College of Engineering and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Sanders would ultimately become the associate dean of research for ISU’s College of Engineering. Both Cleasby and Sanders retired in the ’90s.

Still, they stay connected to CCEE. Why? The professors put department faculty and students at the top of the list.

“I think it’s unique in the fact that there are [five] important divisions, quite different emphases, and yet they seem to be able to work together and produce graduates that are in good demand for employment,” Cleasby said.

“It just seemed like we clicked together,” Sanders said of fellow faculty. “We always remained friends and worked together.”

Currently, both Cleasby and Sanders give to ISU. Sanders and his late wife Julia donated money for a scholarship (the Wallace W. and Julia B. Sanders Scholarship in Civil Engineering). In addition, they gave a substantial gift for the Wallace W. and Julia B. Sanders Structural Engineering Laboratory. Wallace has also given to the Marston Hall Fund, a recent project on campus.


“When I came here, I made a commitment to Iowa State to make it as good as I could help make it,” Sanders said. “We (faculty) seemed to have a feeling of wanting to make it the best department we could.”

Cleasby (left) and Sanders watch for the outcome of a putt (Photo by Kate Tindall)
Cleasby (left) and Sanders watch for the outcome of a putt (Photo by Kate Tindall)

In the late 2000s, Cleasby and his wife Donna set up a fellowship to encourage students to pursue research in environmental engineering. Cleasby says the fellowship is distinct in its potential to encourage new research.

“The purpose of this fellowship was to try to have money available that one of the current faculty could give to a student and tell them, ‘Pick a topic and make a proposal of what you want to do,’” Cleasby said. “I thought that was very beneficial both to me and to the student to have that freedom,” Cleasby explained of his own research experience.

The two men keep their friendship and professional relationship strong both on and off campus. They regularly connect at the semi-annual departmental breakfast for emeritus faculty. Both golf, enjoy friendly competition on the course and a good laugh. Cleasby and Sanders both live in Ames, Iowa.

Do you want to stay connected to ISU CCEE? Contact ISU CCEE Program Coordinator Jean Dubberke by email at or by phone at (515) 294-5105. Become a part of our engineering tradition by giving to ISU CCEE through the ISU Foundation.

Finally, connect online via departmental Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (search Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and ISUConE on LinkedIn). And always stay up-to-date on our website,