George C. Christensen
Ames - George Curtis Christensen was born in New York, New York on February 21, 1924 and died in Ames, Iowa on August 1, 2020. The son of Norwegian immigrants, he grew up on Staten Island in New York City with his two sisters and a brother, served in the United States Army during the Second World War and studied at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), where he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1949), Master of Science (1950) and Doctor of Philosophy (1953) degrees.
George Christensen was married almost 50 years to Janeth Reid Christensen, who predeceased him, as have his parents, siblings and a granddaughter. He leaves his wife of 13 years, Susan Sinclair Christensen, four children (Curtis Christensen, Omaha, Nebraska; Joyce (Kim) Armstrong, Ankeny, Iowa; William Christensen, Aurora, Illinois; and Cheryl (Ed) Samp, Lawrence, Kansas), seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Beginning in 1950, Dr. Christensen taught veterinary anatomy at Cornell, Iowa State College, later University (Ames, Iowa), and Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana). Commencing in 1963, Dr. Christensen was Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State. In 1965, he became Iowa State's Vice President for Academic Affairs, serving in that position until 1987 when he was named Executive Director of International Programs. In 1989, the University of Alaska Statewide System (Fairbanks, Alaska) appointed Dr. Christensen as Vice President for Academic Affairs and, for a period, Acting President of the System. Upon his 1992 retirement from the University of Alaska, Dr. Christensen returned to Ames, where Iowa State made him Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Medicine Emeritus. Iowa State further honored Dr. Christensen by naming Christensen Drive at the Veterinary College after him.
During his academic career, Dr. Christensen was directly involved with establishing several new university colleges and academic degree programs, affirmative action and honors programs, women's study programs, faculty recognition awards, environmental programs, international student-faculty exchanges with universities in over 40 countries and international education programs for students, faculty, and governmental and business leaders. In addition to his university roles, Dr. Christensen held numerous leadership positions in professional organizations relating to anatomical nomenclature and research, higher education, international education and the accreditation of universities and colleges.
Dr. Christensen was the co-author of a mammalian anatomy textbook and the author of numerous published papers in professional journals on anatomical research, higher education and international education. He addressed professional conferences in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, served as consultant to the United States Agency for International Development and as a higher education consultant to the Egyptian, Nigerian, Chinese, Taiwanese and Soviet governments. Dr. Christensen was a member of Federal and State of Iowa trade missions to China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. (He ultimately visited dozens of countries and all seven continents.)
Dr. Christensen received numerous honors, among them: Honorary Doctor of Science (1978) degree from Purdue; Fellow, U.S. State Department; Distinguished Service Award--North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; Good Guy Award--Iowa Women's Political Caucus and Trail Blazers Award from the Office of Minority Student Affairs.
As an active community volunteer in Ames, Dr. Christensen served as President of the Octagon Center for the Arts, Vice President of the Ames Public Library Foundation, President of the Homeward/Hospice Advisory Committee, Vice President of the Ames Community Arts Council, and President of the Rotary Club of Ames. He was a devoted member of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church.
Dr. Christensen's lifelong avocation was photography and photographic art. His black-and-white landscape, architectural and other images, products of his keen eye and darkroom artistry, won numerous Best of Show awards and have been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the Midwest and at the U.S. Capitol.
The family will hold private graveside services at the Iowa State Cemetery on the Iowa State Campus.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Adams Funeral Home and online condolences may be left to George's family at www.adamssoderstrum.com
. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be left to the Iowa State University Foundation.