A passionate advocate of Iowa’s rural schools, Dr. William H. Dreier devoted much of his life toward the betterment of education in the state and throughout the nation. Born on May 19, 1918 in Detroit, Michigan, he received his B.S. from Iowa State University in 1940 shortly before he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941. Receiving the rank of Major in the Air Force, he returned state-side to pursue further education at the University of Minnesota. Majoring in Rural and Elementary Education, he received his M.A. in 1947 and his Ph.D. in 1949.
After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Dreier and his wife of forty-six years, Mary Ellen, moved back to Iowa where he received a professorial position at the Iowa State Teachers College, now University of Northern Iowa. In 1985, after 36 years in this position, he retired; however, he remained an integral part of the University as a Professor of Education, Emeritus. During his tenure, he was heavily involved in numerous activities in addition to teaching. He was Director of the ISTC Branch Summer School in Missouri Valley (1950), Supervisor and Instructor of the 6th grade of the Price Laboratory School (1956), coordinator of the Summer Aerospace Education Workshops (1957-1966), and Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Department of Education (1963-1970).
Dr. Dreier was also involved in many professional organizations. He was president of the UNI Education Association (1953, 1963, and 1968), president of the Black Hawk County Education Association (1953-1955), Iowa director of Rural Education, National Education Association (1955-1956), and president of the National Rural Education Association (1966-1967). He also served as the Field Secretary for the National Rural Education Association (1971-1975) and was the first Iowa North Central Association of Schools Chairperson for Elementary Schools (1975 and 1976).
Even with all of these responsibilities, Dr. Dreier still found time to publish over 180 articles, papers, and reports. He is the author of The Community School District in Iowa (1967) and Preparing the Community and School for Paraprofessionals (1970) both published by the Extension Service of the University of Northern Iowa. He also co-authored Social Foundations of Education – Outline and Workbook, printed by William C. Brown Book Company. From 1971-1975 he was editor of the Rural Education News and in 1983 became the publication’s assistant editor.
Right up until his death on November 22, 2006, Dr. Dreier continued to support Iowa’s rural schools through teaching, research, and writing. The Dr. William H. Dreier Collection serves as a testament to his devotion to rural education. The collection is comprised of his publications, research and notes, presentation and class materials, rural school student records, and student surveys of Black Hawk County rural schools conducted in 1950.
For more on William H. Dreier see the William H. Dreier Papers (13/03/11) in the UNI University Archives.