The History of the Medallion

The tradition of awarding Hancher-Finkbine Medallions was established to recognize leadership, learning, and loyalty. In early 1964, alumni of the dinners were invited by Administrative Dean Allin W, Dakin to contribute to a “Hancher Fund of the Finkbine Men” in honor of Virgil M. Hancher, who had been honored as a student at the first dinner and was about to retire as president of his alma mater.

The task of determining an appropriate use of the fund was assigned to a committee chaired by Clark Houghton, president of the First National Bank, with members such as Dean Dakin; John Haefner professor of education; M. L. Huit, dean of students; and Robert F. Ray, dean of continuing education. On June 25, 1964, this committee recommended to President Hancher:

"… three medallions to be given, one to an outstanding student, one to an outstanding Finkbine alumnus, and one to a University teacher, the last award being based primarily on teaching ability rather than research or writing. These medallions would be done very nicely, with a profile of both you and Mr. Finkbine on the front and the name of the recipient on the back. Also, on the front would be three words: learning, leadership, and loyalty, as well as the name 'State University of Iowa'. On the back, the medallions would read “The Hancher Medallion presented by the Finkbine Men of the State University of Iowa to John Doe” with the appropriate date."

This idea of a medallion was transformed into work a of art through Hands Jewelers under the expert guidance of its president, William G. Nusser, Sr. The original artwork was done by a model maker in New York City, and the image of President Hancher was refined by artist Cloy Kent of Iowa City. (Her portrait of Mr. Hancher now hangs in the green room of the Virgil M. Hancher Auditorium.)

Through the generosity of Hands of Iowa City and The University of Iowa Foundation, medallions are now awarded to four students, a professor, and a member of the alumni family each year. Women and men are equally eligible to receive this symbol of the University’s highest esteem.

100th Anniversary of the Hancher-Finkbine Dinner

In 2017, The University of Iowa celebrated 100 years of the Hancher-Finkbine Dinner. The video below was created in order to reflect on the significance of the Hancher-Finkbine Dinner and share the creation and evolution of this honored tradition. 

Nomination process

Each year the Hancher-Finkbine Dinner Committee (composed of students, staff, faculty and an alumnus) select the recipients of the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions. Student and faculty recipients are informed of their selection by the collegiate dean and publicly announced at the Hancher-Finkbine Dinner for representative student leaders held each April/May in the Iowa Memorial Union.

Click here to learn more about the nomination process

View current and previous award recipients