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"The more I learn about the students here at Iowa State --and about the kinds of students who are attracted to Iowa State -- the more confident I become about the future of our university and of our state and nation." --Gordon P. Eaton
Iowa State's 12th president came to the university in 1986 from Texas A&M University, where he had been provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1983 to 1986. He was dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M from 1981 to 1983, where he oversaw departments of geology, geophysics, oceanography, meteorology and geography.
Eaton had established a distinguished background in the sciences, particularly in geology and geophysics, before taking on the presidency at Iowa State. From 1967 to 1981, he was with the U.S. Geological Survey, serving in several administrative and scientific positions. While with the survey, Eaton studied mineral and ground water resources in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, and was scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Eaton has also taught at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Conn., and the University of California, Riverside.
He received the B.A. in geology from Wesleyan University in 1951. He received the M.S. in geology in 1953 and the Ph.D. in geology and geophysics in 1957 from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
During Eaton's four years at Iowa State, his administration saw greatly enhanced faculty salaries, significant increases in support for research, improvement in undergraduate education and establishment of ongoing strategic planning.
Eaton resigned from Iowa State in 1990 to accept the position of director of the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University.