Joe Gaylord ranks among the nation's most seasoned political consultants and is an accomplished strategist, fundraiser, and educator who has shared his knowledge with thousands of political candidates—and Hawkeyes—for more than 50 years.
He began his political career right after graduating from Iowa and held leadership roles at both the state and national levels, working with the Iowa Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Gaylord is best known for spearheading the campaign that resulted in the first Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 40 years. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says, "In the 40 years Joe and I have worked together, he has been cheerful, caring, and relentlessly honest. From 1994 to 1998, he led the political side of everything I did. Together, we led the 1996 campaign, which reelected a Republican House majority for the first time in 68 years."
Gaylord—who developed the Republican National Committee's Campaign Management College and also founded the American Campaign Academy—has taught at Iowa since 2012. From 2015 to 2020, he served as president of the Alumni Advisory Board for the UI Department of Political Science and he and his wife, Molly, have been generous university supporters, establishing scholarships in 2005 and bequeathing property in 2013.
"Joe's historic work in national political campaigns continues to influence American politics," says Brian Lai, associate professor and chair of the UI Department of Political Science. "That, combined with his service to the university, are testaments to why he is more than deserving of this award."
Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.