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Howell, Kathy

Published onMar 12, 2021
Howell, Kathy

Kathy Howell, 2017

Commissioned by University Museums. U2017.116

KATHY HOWELL (BS ‘68 mathematics) retired from an extensive career in computer programming and management, but her love is for the arts.

A paper artist and longtime arts patron, Howell and her husband, John, first got involved with University Museums by providing financial support for the John Bloom Retrospective. That was the beginning of a long relationship, with the most recent project being the funding of University Museums’ new website and online collection database engine, eMuseum, which was launched in 2016. Thanks to this couple, information about Iowa State’s 30,000 art objects can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Howell’s interest in the arts goes back many years, when she began filming community events that were televised on the local cable channel. She was a docent at the Longmont (Colorado) Museum and Cultural Center, providing educational programs for children pre-school through third grade, and on the Board of the Friends of the Museum. She also served in numerous capacities to support the Longmont Symphony Orchestra.

Howell continues to give substantially of her time, talents, and financial resources to support Iowa State and University Museums. She is a Curators Associates’ lifetime member, one of the founders and first chair of the University Museums Advancement Council and is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association. She was elected an ISU Foundation Governor in 2004 and currently serves on the Board of Directors and as the Audit Committee Chair. She is a member of Order of the Knoll W.M. Beardshear Society.

Originally from the southwest Iowa community of Crescent, Howell was a software development programmer, manager and executive at International Business Machines (IBM), an information systems provider for Fortune 500 companies.  She had top secret clearance for government defense contracts, designed and developed operating systems, was responsible for IBM’s Systems Management Strategy that involved more than 100 products for 20 IBM laboratories and 75 products from related business partners, led the implementation of low cost software delivery technologies for IBM’s Software Manufacturing, and held a corporate position as technical assistant to the Senior Vice President of Strategy. Howell has been retired for almost 20 years.

The Howells have lived all over the United States in their 47 years of marriage. They currently split their time between Erie, Colorado and Las Vegas. Forever an artist, Howell enjoys creating handmade greeting cards, books, and large-scale wall hangings. Her love of exploring back roads in a Jeep was fostered by her volunteer work with the U.S. Forest Service maintaining 4-wheel drive roads, restoring devastated areas, and helping to educate the public on land use policies.

When asked about her personal philosophy, Howell offered a typical mathematician-artist response: “Two thoughts come to mind: Art makes the world a better place, and mistakes often create the best opportunities.”

Director and Chief Curator of University Museums, Lynette Pohlman: Kathy is a substantive pillar to University Museums offering wisdom, counsel, and strategic vision – all in service of creating an aesthetic Iowa State that inspires learning and fulfillment to everyone.

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