Mom and Dad of the Year
Each year during Family Weekend, the university shines a spotlight on two of the many outstanding parents who support their sons and daughters as students at the University of Iowa through the annual Mom and Dad of the Year awards.
Students submit nominations each autumn. Honorees are chosen by two student honors societies, Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa, based on personal achievements and dedication to family.
Dad of the Year
Ron Carlson of Vernon Hills, Ill.
In her essay nominating her dad, Amanda Carlson described his stabilizing role during a hard time for her family. When her mother developed multiple sclerosis, Amanda considered dropping out of school to help at home.
To ensure that Amanda could continue at Iowa, Ron Carlson, an account manager at Hewlett-Packard, began working from home and acting as his wife’s full-time caregiver. Amanda said of her dad: “He has shown me what love, dedication, and compassion are. He is my hero.”
Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University. He served as a school board member (including time as the board’s president) for more than 10 years, and coached youth softball and soccer teams. He also served as a team captain for a National Multiple Sclerosis Society fundraiser.
Mom of the Year
Mary Brown of Iowa City
Mary Brown holds master’s degrees in social work and botany from the University of Iowa and owns Indian Grass Hills, 640 acres of restored prairie in Iowa County, along with two partners.
Brown spent 20 years as a stay-at-home mom and was a member of a local parent-teacher organization for 13 years. She has been active in community organizations, including P.E.O. International, the University Club, and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.
“My mother has been by my side throughout my academic adventures at Iowa,” Ackerman wrote in her nominating essay. “Her confidence in me has inspired me to persevere in my education and go after new opportunities… Most recently, she has provided her guidance and support as I begin raising my first child. I strive daily to give my son what my mother has given me.”