(Updated at 11:28 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23): 

Jim Giles, Barbara Mack's husband, will be coordinating services in Des Moines and will work to coordinate services in Ames with Greenlee School Director Michael Bugeja, Bugeja said in an email to Greenlee faculty and staff and ISU administrators. 

Bugeja said in the email that Iowa State will be making a formal statement about Mack's death and what she meant to the university. Bugeja said he will be attending Mack's four classes Friday with a grief counselor. Counseling has also been arranged on the third floor of the Student Services Building, Bugeja said in the email. 

(Updated at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23):

Greenlee School Director Michael Bugeja released a statement about Barbara Mack:

"Today we received the tragic news that our dear beloved Barbara Mack has passed away. She was an icon at Iowa State University. Alumni, journalists, attorneys, colleagues, and students found magic and inspiration in her lectures, tough love, compassion, counsel and erudition. Her husband, Jim Giles, told us what transpired in the past 24 hours.

'She came home from classes tired as she often did early in the semester,' he said. 'She lay down for a nap. An hour into that I heard a call or a noise. I went to her and found her inarticulate and pounding on the bedside table. She thought she was having a heart attack. I gave her an aspirin and then transported her to the hospital for tests. She was given the whole works, and it was determined that she had no sign (of a heart attack) given her health history. The tests came up negative. She said she had a pain in her neck. She took some prescribed pain relievers. She was careful about her medicine. When we got home she was in discomfort and said she would try to sleep in the big recliner chair because the semi-vertical position might be more comfortable. She went to sleep. I checked on her during the night and she seemed fine. At 5:30 a.m., I checked again and found her gone.'" 

Long-time journalism professor Barbara Mack was found unresponsive on the floor of her home early this morning, said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Bugeja said resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

A 1974 Iowa State graduate in journalism, Mack went on to get a law degree from Drake University in 1977. She worked for The Des Moines Register and the Tribune Company where she specialized in broadcast law. In 1986, at the advice of her former advisor, Mack returned to Iowa State to become a professor.

Mack taught several courses in the Greenlee School, particularly classes in media law and ethics. Along with being the assistant director and associate professor in the Greenlee School, Mack was also a member of the Iowa State Daily Publication Board  and Lawyers for Libraries. 

While students will remember her strict demeanor and classroom policies, Mack will also be remembered for her dedication to her students and school.

In an interview last fall with the Daily, Mack said, "I want students to come away from a class believing there is always more to learn and there is always a way to improve their understanding. Nothing is as frustrating to me as a day in which I learn nothing."

Details are forthcoming. Check back at Iowastatedaily.com as this story develops.

(10) comments

Laura Bestler

Such a loss... Barbara Mack will be MISSED... I continue to have GREAT respect for her and how she empowered students.

Dani Doak Christensen

What a sad day. I am certain the number of students who would count her as their favorite professor is innumerable, myself included. Barbara was hilarious, kind and tough. Perhaps even more importantly, in these days of grade inflation, she never, ever lowered her expectations for her students. She believed we could meet her high standards, and if we struggled, she was willing to put in the extra effort to help us push ourselves until we did. You will be missed greatly, Barbara.

Kristin Knudson

So amazingly sad. When I was at ISU for grad school she was my advisor and friend. I know that she had been struggling with health problems but I never thought they would triumph. The knowledge, the care, the compassion she had will all be missed.


I can't even put words to this. I had just signed up to re-take 460 with her, explaining to her it was so I could actually learn something instead of regurgitating information after she gave me crap for having green tennis shoes. She has always been a role model for me and will continue to be for the rest of my life. You will be greatly missed, B Mack.

Chris Peters

Deeply saddened to see this news. Professor Mack made everyone of her students better whether they realized it or not. She challenged us every single day in class and I never saw it as tough love. I saw it as treating us like adults or more accurately like professionals. Every word that came out of your mouth had to be thought out, articulate and specific. There was no time for the word "like" in your stream of consciousness (unless it was used in its proper context, of course). I'm six years removed from Iowa State and apply much of what I learned from B Mack in my professional life and probably retained more from her classes than any other. She was one of a much needed kind and will be missed.

Kelli Schoney

I am so sad to hear this news. She was the toughest prof I ever had - I remember her kicking somebody out the very first day for sleeping in class, and expelling a student later for cheating on a major project. Yet, when I was genuinely sick, she actually offered to come to my dorm and help me stay caught up with her class, while offering possible remedies to help me feel better quickly. I learned so much from her - about life, and journalism. She was, by far, my favorite prof. She will be missed by so many!

Jeff Mitchell

She set the standard for being a professor at Iowa State.

April Ramsey

I am deeply saddened to hear about Barbara Mack's passing. I am 10 years removed from the JLMC program, but still hold true to the values she taught me when I took her class. She was tough, but fair and by far one of the greatest professors I had at ISU. She will be greatly missed by many.

Austin Ballhagen

One awesome professor. Her classes were always entertaining and insightful. One always learned more than just a textbook could provide. She taught not just the material, but how to represent yourself as well. Anyone saying "like" in a sentence would be stopped and told to start again. It certainly made us sound more professional and something I still try to maintain. She was truly and amazing woman.

Eva Garcia-Puentes

It was a shock to hear about Barbara Mack's passing. It's been over three years since I had been a classroom with Barbara Mack, yet I remember her having a big personality, a passion for teaching, and a great sense of humor. You knew the moment you walked in to her classroom that she was different than any professor you had ever had. After taking my first journalism class with her, I went out of my way to take another class with her because of her method of teaching. She was tough, fair, and honest. If you used "like" in a sentence she, would stop you, make you start over until you got it right. She set the bar high. She was an amazing professor, outstanding person. Barbara Mack will be greatly missed.

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