The following information was provided by Mary Fabian in the Business Office, Oakdale Hall,
The University of Iowa, Oakdale Campus, Iowa City, Iowa
More information may be found at the U of I Library Archives.
Also see Bob Hibbs Postcard #12 for more information.

Oakdale’s History

Our history begins soon after the turn of the century when there was public alarm over the growing number of tuberculosis cases being reported.  In response to this “white plague,” the State Legislature appropriated $50,000 in 1904 to establish an isolation treatment facility for tuberculosis patients.

The chosen site was 280 acre farm and timberland in Johnson County, about seven miles west of Iowa City.  This rural setting had the advantage of being relatively close to the medical resources at the State University of Iowa, while also being isolated from the general population.  Buildings were constructed to house patients and staff and by February 1908 six patients were receiving treatment.  Hospital, residential, recreational, and ancillary facilities were expanded over the years to accommodate the 400 in-patients and additional staff that were required by the late 1940s.

Advances in medical science eventually revolutionized the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.  As a result, the number of in-patients dwindled, and it was determined than an isolation facility such as the Oakdale Tuberculosis Sanitarium was no longer required.  In 1965 the state transferred administration of the Oakdale facility to The University of Iowa.

By 1981 the pulmonary and tuberculosis patient care program had been relocated to University Hospitals and Oakdale entered a new era as the home of selected University programs dedicated to research, advance study, and public health.  Among them are:  the University Hygienic Laboratory, the Institute for Rural and Environmental Health, the Obermann Center for Advanced Study, the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, the Center for Advanced Drug Development, the National Advanced Driving Simulator and Simulation Center, and laboratories of the College of Medicine and hydraulics engineering as well as a papermaking facility of the Iowa Center for the Book.

Another important milestone was recorded in the late 1960s when the entire Oakdale Campus, which by then covered 497 acres, was annexed by the City of Coralville.  This “Coralville-University Partnership” became very important by the 1980s when Oakdale emerged as a center for technology transfer.  In 1984, Oakdale became the home of the Technology Innovation Center, the University’s “incubator” for new business ventures that make use of advanced technology.  In 1989, the Oakdale Research Park for expanding technology businesses was established on the northern 189 acres of the Oakdale Campus, and in 1991 the University of Iowa Research Foundation, which managed the University’s intellectual property (patents and licenses of University inventions) was moved to Oakdale.

Page updated 28 Jul 2006 by Harvey Henry