"Science and the arts are not competitive, but complementary, and both must expand, in unison, in our educational system.  Dance is a wonderful hybrid of two equal parental lines: The art and science of human movement, the physical and aesthetic, unique in its contribution to the education of youth."

Betty Toman


Betty LaVergne Toman received her B.S. (1948) from the University of Wisconsin, and her M.S. (1957) from Iowa State University.  She specialized in dance and her thesis was titled, "Predicting Ability and Knowledge in Beginning Modern Dance."  Throughout her career she has studied dance at the Connecticut College of Dance, Colorado College, University of Minnesota, University of Oregon, the Labon Art of Movement (Edinburgh, Scotland) and a summer dance study in Europe.

Betty Toman instructs a dance class

Ms. Toman arrived at Iowa State in 1948 and became an Instructor (1948-1952); Assistant Professor (1952-1957); Associate Professor (1957-1964); Professor and Dance Coordinator (1964-1984) and a Distinguished Professor (1984-   ) in the Department of Physical Education in the College of Education. She was the long-time coordinator for "Stars Over VEISHEA" and Barjche.  

Her community involvement and service are exemplary, and her numerous awards include:  the AMOCO Outstanding Teacher Award (1968); the ISU Faculty Citation (1972); and she served as President of the National Dance Association (1982).

Her Arrival in Iowa

"Germain Guiot, head of women's physical education at Iowa State College, drove to the Ames train station in the 90-degree heat that steamy day in 1948 to meet her newest faculty member, one of the University of Wisconsin's top dance graduates, whom she had hired by phone.  Guiot knew that Wisconsin was the wellspring of American modern dance education, and this graduate came highly recommended by none other than Margaret H'Doubler herself, the nation's foremost university dance education pioneer and creator of the Wisconsin curriculum.  Guiot arrived at the depot, her excitement and curiosity overshadowing the intense discomfort of the sticky humid air.  Soon, amid the muggy masses deboarding, she spotted her.  There stood Betty Toman, a 22-year old, freckled-faced petite redhead dressed in a heavy, scratchy wool suit and hat and nylon hose.  Leaning on a cane.

"I was a mite overheated by the time I got to Ames," Toman laughs today, recalling her unusually warm welcome.  "But I wanted to make a dignified impression.  After all, it was my first job!  Unfortunately, I had concluded my summer of camp counseling with a show-off dive into a Wisconsin lake, one that temporarily forced me to use a cane.  I wonder what Dr. Guiot must have thought when I got off that train."

Phyllis Lepke, "Gotta Dance!"  Visions, 1988

From the Alliance Awards Committee--Honor Fellow Award for Betty Toman

"Ask her to do something that promotes dance and movement, she'll do it.  Ask her to demonstrate a step, to choreograph a show, to be a guest instructor, to solicit for a scholarship, to hold an office, to give a speech, to entertain, to teach children, to make a trip, to help a friend, she'll do it.

Betty Toman exemplifies the spirit of devoted service that is an inspiration to those of us who work with her.  She has been tireless in her efforts to reveal to children and adults alike the joy that can be found in moving."

Betty Toman, at the dedication of the Barbara Forker Building, 1997

The Dance Studios were named in her honor in 1995

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Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State University
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URL: http://historicexhibits.lib.iastate.edu/20thWomen/revisedSept2005/20thcenturywomen.html