The Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics was announced by Iowa State University in October 1995 to honor the Iowa native and longtime political and civic leader. Mary Louise Smith – the first woman to chair the Republican National Committee and the only one until Ronna Romney McDaniel in 2017 – was a mentor, friend and role model to many in the world of politics and civic, community and government affairs.
The purpose of the chair is to bring nationally renowned political leaders, scholars and activists to Iowa State University to enrich the experiences of students and educate citizens about the role of women in the political process. Since fall 1996, 31 women have visited campus as the recipient of the chair.
Following in the footsteps of Mary Louise Smith, the chair serves as an inspiration and role model for students as well as other members of the university community and citizens of the state of Iowa.