Presidents of Iowa’s private, non-profit colleges and universities mourned the passing of former Governor Robert Ray on July 8. Ray served as Iowa Governor for 14 years, during which time he signed into law a bill creating the Iowa Tuition Grant program, providing financial aid for tens of thousands of private college students.
“Both we, and every Iowa private college president of the past 50 years, owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Robert Ray for his leadership in the creation of the Iowa Tuition Grant in 1969,” wrote Mark Putnam, Chairman of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, in a letter of condolence to Ray’s wife Billie Ray. Putnam noted that, since its inception, nearly 600,000 grants of financial aid, totaling more than $1.5 billion, have been made to needy Iowa students, allowing them to attend an Iowa private college.
“While those are impressive numbers, it is impossible to quantify the life-changing impact the program has had on Iowa students and their families, for whom the Iowa Tuition Grant opened the door to a college education,” wrote Putnam. “The ITG program has proven to be a stunning success and Governor Ray, more than any other individual, deserves credit for it,” said Putnam.
Governor Ray’s ties to private, non-profit colleges go back to his graduation from Drake University, with both business and law degrees. Ray also served as the 11th President of Drake University from 1998-99. His personal and political papers are archived at Drake’s Cowles Library.