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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 21, 2009

PHOTO CREDITS: Photos of E. F. Lindquist and Ted McCarrel are from the F.W. Kent Collection of Photographs, University Archives, University of Iowa Libraries; and E. F. Lindquist (photo below, far right) with the first optical scanner machine.

ACT marks 50th anniversary of founding at Old Capitol on UI campus

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, University of Iowa President Sally Mason, area business leaders and representatives of the university and ACT joined ACT CEO and Board Chairman Richard Ferguson Friday, Aug. 21, to commemorate ACT's 50th anniversary. The American College Testing program, now ACT, Inc., was founded in a meeting at the Old Capitol on the UI campus on Aug. 21, 1959.

An estimated 150 people gathered at the event, which celebrated ACT's 50-year mission of helping people achieve education and career success. Ferguson presented a plaque to the university in honor of the 50-year partnership.

ACT co-founders E. F. Lindquist (photo, left) and Ted McCarrel (photo, right) were UI employees in 1959 when they recognized that America's students and colleges could best be served by an achievement test that measured what students had learned, rather than an aptitude test measuring student potential. Lindquist was a recognized leader in the field of testing, and Director of Admissions and Registrar McCarrel knew what kind of information colleges needed to make effective admission and placement decisions. The first ACT test administration was Nov. 9, 1959, when about 75,000 students took the exam. In comparison, more than 2.5 million students registered for the test worldwide during the most recent school year.

"The bond between the University of Iowa and ACT established five decades ago is still alive and well today," said Ferguson. He described the partnership as the spark that ignited ACT's evolution from a single program focused on students transitioning from high school to college, to the current broad array of ACT solutions that define educational and workforce readiness. "The mutually rewarding relationship continues today."

Mason said that one of the UI's marks of distinction is its international reputation as a center for educational measurement and testing.

"When ACT spun out of the work of Professor E. F. Lindquist, the UI demonstrated its impact on the economic development of our state and on the educational development of the nation," Mason said. "For 50 years now, the UI/ACT relationship has remained strong and positive. As we celebrate ACT's golden anniversary, I look forward to continuing to build upon our mutual history, interests and dedication to excellence in education."

Culver presented a certificate of recognition to Ferguson and ACT, recognizing the 50-year anniversary milestone. Culver indicated that ACT is a great example of the role that state universities play as engines of economic development that help create and sustain innovation and employment opportunities. He mentioned ACT's pivotal role in helping to develop Common Core State Standards for education -- standards Iowa has pledged to support. He also expressed Iowa's commitment to the National Career Readiness Certificate based on ACT's trademarked WorkKeys assessment system now used nationwide to measure core employability skills.

A display area on the second floor of Old Capitol was unveiled and will be on display to the general public during normal museum hours. The display includes large panels with photos and information along with a timeline of major events for ACT. There is also a video display with recordings from early leaders about how the organization was formed. Also included are artifacts from ACT's past including test documents and small pieces from early machines used to score the exams.

UI Television (UITV) will re-broadcast the ACT 50th anniversary ceremony in its entirety at 4 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2. To see additional air times, visit the UITV Web site at

ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to education and workplace success. Each year, ACT serves millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies -- nationally and internationally. For more information about ACT, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: ACT Media Relations, 319-337-1028,; University News Services, Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,