The Art and Heart of Giving

Tim Arand-McIlrath

After a 34-year career in the College of Design, Tim Arand-McIlrath and husband, Randy, are keeping the legacy of craft arts and design alive through the hands of today's art students.

Tim Arand-McIlrath was studying jewelry design as a graduate student at a Wisconsin college in the 1960s, when a professor helped him see a new direction for his talent, forever changing the course of his career as an artist.

"Jewelry was what I picked up," he wrote for the 50th anniversary of the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Helen Louise Allen textile arts collection overview. "But I became very frustrated because I clearly was not a jeweler."

Then he met Professor Helen Louise Allen.

She challenged him, helped him make connections and introduced him to the world of textile arts. He quickly transferred departments to study with her and was offered a graduate assistantship.

Tim's talent and love for the textile arts blossomed into a 50-year career as a professional artist and a 34-year career at Iowa State University as an associate professor of art and design in the College of Design.

Specializing in printed and dyed surface design on fabric, he exhibited his work at national and international shows, while also teaching studio classes at Iowa State in fiber art and two- and three-dimensional design.

Randy Arand-McIlrath

Randy Arand-McIlrath

He retired from teaching in 2002, but Tim continues to create and exhibit art as he and his husband, Randy, travel, splitting their time between Tucson, Arizona, and Okoboji, Iowa.

"I'm doing more 3D work now, collecting found objects," Tim explained. "I have been away from it long enough that it's new again and I'm approaching it differently now."

The work has also become a collaboration. "Randy helps me figure out the mechanical things," Tim said. They recently took a fallen arborvitae tree they found along the road and, with Randy cleaning off the bark and removing branches, created wooden bases for Tim's artwork. Continuing the heritage of craft arts is important to both Tim and Randy, who is a retired nurse, and art educators help in this effort.

With a strong belief in education and the arts, they have decided to donate their retirement funds to these areas. This includes establishing the endowed Timothy and Randolph Arand-McIlrath Professorship in Craft Arts in the department of art and visual culture at Iowa State.

"I hope it keeps the College of Design on the forefront in Iowa and nationally," Tim said. The professorship will allow the department to recruit and retain top artistic talent and provide for greater student experiences through mentorship, visiting artists, graduate-level research and much more.

"Craft people are still making things by hand," said Tim, when reflecting on how textile arts are created. "Hands and heart – that's what it takes to be a good craft person."

For Tim and Randy, the heart of their giving is keeping the legacy of craft arts and design alive through the hands of today's art students.

Be Creative With Your Legacy

There are many ways to keep your passions alive at Iowa State University. Contact the office of gift planning at or 800.621.8515 to discover how to create a legacy that reflects your values and makes an impact on what matters to you.

Read about the impact endowed professorships have on the Iowa State student experience.

Heather Sauer, Communications, College of Design, contributed to this article.