Dr. Orland Russell Sweeney
"Sweeney Hall" on the campus of Iowa State University is named after Dr. Orland Russell
Sweeney who first came to Iowa State College in 1920 from the University of Cincinnati
where he had served as the head of the Chemical Engineering Department for two years.
At Iowa State he was Head of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1920 until stepping
down in 1948 and retiring in 1952.
Doctor Sweeney was born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio to Robert and Elizabeth Sweeney on March 27,
1882. His father and uncles were brick and glass manufacturers or operated foundries,
and as a young man, had worked his way up to a supervisors position before deciding to
seek professional education. He received a B.S. in 1909 and a M.S. in 1910 from Ohio State
University, was appointed as an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, studied in
Germany, and received his Ph.D. in 1916 from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1916 he was appointed as Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the North Dakota
Agricultural College in Fargo until World War I when he served at the Edgewood Arsenal in
Maryland and attained the rank of Major. After the war he then went to the University of
In 1919 he married Louella Dubois Smith in Chattanooga, Tennessee and they had two daughters,
Elizabeth Sweeney Jester, born in 1920, and Jacqueline Sweeney Kloss born in 1930.
Doctor Sweeney invented many processes for the use of waste agricultural material for wallboard
and insulation, held over 300 patents for water softening, and invented numerous medical
Sweeney Hall, first called the Chemical Engineering Building, was constructed in 1927, with
addition in 1938, 1964, and 1994. With the completion of the 1964 addition, the building was
renamed Orland Russell Sweeney Hall.
Doctor Sweeny obtained the rank of Professor Emeritis at Iowa State and died April 21, 1958 in
Ames, Iowa. He was laid to his final rest back in the town of his birth, Martin's Ferry, Ohio.
"Sweeney Hall on the campus of Iowa State University"
Photo & Text from Iowa State University/University Archives
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