The most prestigious award for lifetime giving that the Iowa State University Foundation bestows on behalf of the university. This award recognizes the extraordinary, long-time support of an individual or couple who have had a significant and inspiring impact on Iowa State University. This award is designed to honor those who have provided long-term substantial and loyal philanthropic support that has transformed the university.

2017 Recipient - Richard and Joan Stark

Richard: ISU B.S. Industrial Administration 1971 President, Iowa Commodities, Ltd.

RICHARD AND JOAN STARK have given generously of both their time and treasure to Iowa State University.

Born and raised on a farm, Richard Stark set out to conquer the business sector. “Iowa State laid the foundation for me to launch myself into the business world,” he said. “I didn’t realize how big of an impact an Iowa State education had until I met George Stigler, 1982 Nobel laureate and former Iowa State professor.”

Stark founded his company, Iowa Commodities, Ltd., in 1979, which he still runs today. He has also acted as chairman of First American Bank, a multi-bank holding company, since 1986.

The Starks have served in key volunteer positions within the university and the foundation. Richard serves as an Iowa State University Governor and has served on the foundation’s investment committee. The two were vice co-chairs during Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, a $500 million capital campaign under former Iowa State University President Martin Jischke. Richard is also a member of Delta Tau Delta and the Bethany Society. Stark has been a member of the Chicago Board of Trade since 1970 and served as its director and chairman of public relations from 1982-85. He also initiated an Agriculture Advisory Commission at the same organization in 1983.

When it comes to service, Stark is familiar with answering the call. He served as a commissioned officer in the Iowa and Illinois National Guard from 1971-77 and has been a Rotarian since 1979.

When asked what it meant to receive this award, Stark replied, “It’s flattering, but it’s the doing and not the recognition, that is exciting in one’s life.” This sentiment holds true to the couple’s giving philosophy. “I believe that giving is spiritual in that it is uplifting. Giving is the fun part – you are helping a cause that you think is important.”

Richard and Joan live in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and have five children: Kristin, Natalie, Jennifer, Stephanie and Mary. Kristin, Jennifer and Mary are Iowa State alumna. The Starks are members of the Order of the Knoll W. M. Beardshear Society and Campanile Society, and are lifetime members of the Iowa State University Alumni Association.