IOWA CITY — A longtime University of Iowa faculty member who earned three UI degrees and for whom the Communications Studies Building is named died Thursday.
Samuel L. Becker was 89.
Becker was universally admired and respected, UI President Sally Mason said in a statement, the kind of professor who was an excellent leader, a team player and a true gentleman.
“The University of Iowa family has lost one of its leading members,” Mason said. “Sam Becker was an outstanding educator to generations of students. He was known as a tremendous mentor, colleague and friend to faculty and staff across our campus. He greatly enriched the lives of many in our community.”
Becker, a native of Quincy, Ill., was the UI Foundation Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies. Becker’s bio on the department website says he chaired the emeritus faculty and staff organization at the UI, and was still called upon from various parts of the country for review and speaking gigs.
“Can’t keep him in the pasture,” the bio stated.
Becker came to the UI in 1940. He earned all of his degrees at the university — a bachelor’s degree in 1947, a master’s in 1949 and a doctorate in 1953. He joined the UI faculty in 1950 and was chairman of the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts from 1968 to 1982. The Communications Studies Building, on Madison Street down the hill from Old Capitol, was named for him in 1993, the year he retired. Numerous UI awards are named for him, and a lectureship in his honor was launched by the university in 2001-02.
He twice came out of retirement to serve in leadership positions at the university, as interim provost and as interim head of the School of Art and Art History.
“I love this institution,” Becker told The Gazette in 1995. “It’s been awfully good to me and I feel I owe it something.”