The ISU Agricultural Endowment was founded in 1937 as the Agricultural Foundation. Clifton R. Musser, a Muscatine banker, wanted a way to help farmers and their families at a time when they faced many obstacles. He donated nine farms and $100,000 to the foundation in 1938 and gave three more farms in 1942.
Musser’s vision was to carry out educational programs to improve agriculture for the benefit of the state of Iowa. The Agricultural Foundation primarily accomplished this mission through the acquisition, management and stewardship of farmland. It owned, leased and sold land for the use and benefit of young Iowa farm families.
In the 1980s, the Board of Trustees determined a broader approach was required to support Iowa agriculture. The Agricultural Foundation began to sell its land holdings and use the assets to create an endowment for scholarships, grants and other support for agricultural programs in education, research and outreach.
In 2003, the Board of Trustees approved a name change to the ISU Agricultural Endowment. The change was made to ensure the distinction between its mission and that of the Iowa State University Foundation, which is the private, nonprofit corporation that secures and manages private gifts to benefit the entire university.
Below are some of the important dates and events in the ISU Agricultural Endowment's history:
- 1937 - Iowa State College Agricultural Foundation Article of Incorporation recorded
- 1938 - First meeting held, Trustees appointed, nine farms donated by C.R. Musser
- 1938 - 50/50 lease established on farms, committees set up for each farm
- 1946 - Five $200 ISC Freshman Agriculture Scholarships approved
- 1961 - Name changed to Iowa State University Agricultural Foundation
- 1963 - The foundation began managing farms for CAD, ISU and the ISU Alumni Foundation
- 1982 - Trustee W. Murray urged the foundation to sell farms because of poor income and high land prices
- 1993 - The foundation changed its mission statement and voted to liquidate all farms
- 1996 - Ten $2,000 Agricultural Foundation scholarships awarded to ISU agriculture freshman
- 1997 - $52,000 in scholarships awarded to ISU College of Agriculture students
- 2000 - The foundation awarded its first Student Organization Grant
- 2003 - Name changed to Agricultural Endowment