Mary F. Parden, 36BSC, was more than simply secretary to four UI presidents between 1946 and 1983. She also presented a warm human face to the many students, parents, and others who sought help from the executive office.
Miss Parden's relationship with the UI is nearly lifelong; it started when she enrolled at University High School, graduating in 1932. After earning her degree from the University of Iowa, she worked in several Midwestern cities before returning to Iowa City in 1949 to join the University staff.
As secretary to the president, Parden immediately became indispensable as an advisor, administrator, and fount of information. Working with presidents Virgil Hancher, Howard Bowen, Willard Boyd, and James Freedman, Parden served as the eyes and ears of the chief executive officer. The four presidents with whom she worked are forever indebted to "her wise counsel, steadfast loyalty, and enthusiastic support of the University of Iowa," according to former President Willard Boyd.
Beyond her official duties, however, Parden also offered counsel to all those seeking information or assistance from the president's office. Whether it was soothing a concerned parent, reassuring a discouraged student, or handling an athletic booster, Parden represented the University with grace and tact.
With her extensive knowledge of the University, Parden also offered invaluable assistance to the UI Foundation in its early years. She is a life member of the Alumni Association, serves on the association's emeritus faculty advisory committee, and supports many UI programs.