Published: Aug. 8, 2013

First director of Honors College dies

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore Honors College office: (517) 35-2326

Stanley Idzerda, who served as the first director of Michigan State University’s Honors College from 1956 to 1965, died this week at the age of 93.

Born in New York, he joined MSU in 1952 as assistant professor of humanities. Prior to working at MSU, he was assistant professor at Western Michigan University.

Idzerda was a well-known advocate for his students’ successes, doing whatever it took to help them. He opened his home for Sunday brunch, lent students money and helped them find jobs.

“Establishment of the Honors College in 1956 by visionary people such as Stan Idzerda and John Hannah signaled that Michigan State was ready to step out as a world-class university,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Stan helped instill that culture of confidence and achievement not just among his students, but into the very fabric of the university.”

After his tenure at MSU, Idzerda’s expertise in French history and American literature led him to teaching positions at Wesleyan University and Yale University. He served as dean of the College at Wesleyan University before his post as the eighth president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.

Idzerda earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Baldwin-Wallace College and received his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from Western Reserve University.

In 1962, Idzerda was appointed to the Committee on Advanced Placement of the College Entrance Examination Board, and he served as president of the Society for French Historical Studies. He was a member of the Committee on Teaching of the American Historical Association and was a trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

“Many Honors College alumni credit their successes in life to Dr. Idzerda’s commitment to the whole person, which he displayed on top of his keen insight,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the Honors College. “His students knew that he cared about them and admired how he encouraged them to stretch in their academic pursuits. We are fortunate to have Dr. Idzerda among the great legacies here at MSU and we send our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and students.”

Memories, anecdotes and other notes about Idzerda can be sent to Katie Cable, associate director of alumni relations and development for the Honors College, at They will later be added to the Honors College website. Idzerda’s family asks alumni to give to the Honors College in his memory, which can be done online.

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Stanley Idzerda, first director of MSU's Honors College

Stanley Idzerda, first director of MSU's Honors College

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