James Hoover portraitCCEE Hall of Fame

National impact in geotechnical engineering and academia, renowned for groundbreaking research, academic excellence and leadership

Inducted 2024

James M. (Jim) Hoover graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in civil engineering in 1953 and then with his master’s in 1956. Hoover had a 38-year career as a professor in the Department of Civil Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) at Iowa State University.

As an undergraduate, Hoover worked as a surveyor-inspector for Pottawattamie County, a draftsman for the Iowa Highway Commission, and at Iowa State as a research assistant. During his graduate studies, his passion for soil stabilization was recognized by the department, earning him a spot as an instructor. Hoover continued to advance from assistant professor to associate professor, and finally professor in 1974. He also served in the Iowa National Guard and was a retired captain from the U.S. Army Reserve.

Hoover retired as professor emeritus in 1991, leaving behind a legacy of leadership, innovative research and dedication to students. After Hoover’s passing in 1994, Craig and Terry Denny created the James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering endowment to honor Jim. Since the first recipient in 2004, the James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering has impacted the advancement and academic excellence of the department, furthering Hoover’s legacy.
As the principal investigator for numerous projects funded by esteemed organizations like the National Science Foundation, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, Hoover consistently involved students in his research, supplementing their learning experiences and income. This active engagement ignited a lasting enthusiasm for soil engineering among students, guiding many to become leading professionals in the field. His expertise and contributions to both the profession and academia garnered national recognition and acclaim. The acclaim earned him prestigious awards from Iowa State University and various professional organizations.

His research led to the acquisition of two patents while remaining active in committees within national organizations such as the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Science, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Geological Society of Iowa. He was a valued fellow of the Iowa Academy of Science. Notably, Hoover’s profound knowledge of soil stabilization techniques resulted in world-wide consulting opportunities in crucial areas like foundation soil and earth dam investigations, materials testing, and the design of roads and parking lots.

Hoover was a leader in geotechnical engineering, a beloved mentor to students and professionals, and a true Cyclone, making impactful contributions to the profession and communities nationwide.