Distinguished Alumni Award


Stanley L. James 53BA, 62MD, 67R

2012 Achievement Award

Stanley L. James, 53BA, 62MD, 67R, is a widely respected innovator in the field of orthopedics whose work has transformed the world of sports medicine, influencing generations of athletes and doctors.

The Iowa City native earned a bachelor's degree in 1953 and a medical degree in 1962 at the University of Iowa before completing his residency in orthopedics at the UI in 1967. During his Iowa tenure, James collaborated with Dr. Charles Tipton on cutting-edge research that demonstrated how the mechanical loading of ligament injuries increased the strength and rate of healing.

He presented their seminal finding at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Sports Medicine Conference in 1968—where it was met with considerable skepticism. However, within a few years, James's research would earn the recognition it deserved, and he would be well on his way to becoming one of the most highly regarded experts in orthopedic sports medicine.

To further a longstanding interest in the mechanics of running and gait analysis, James moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 1967 to join Dr. Donald Slocum, one of the nation's "fathers of sports medicine." There, over the next four decades, he conducted a series of clinical studies that changed the way doctors treat runners with injuries. Now a courtesy professor in the University of Oregon's Department of Human Physiology, James also played a leading role in establishing the school's Biomechanics/Sports Medicine Laboratory.

Early in his career, James developed a close relationship with Bill Bowerman, one of the founders of NIKE and legendary University of Oregon track coach. He and Bowerman worked together to improve the design of running shoes, and James served as a formal research consultant for the company from 1976 to 1983. He was also the medical director for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene in 1976, 1980, and 2008, and he served as a medical and research consultant for many organizations, including the U.S. Nordic ski team, the National Korean Sports Program, and the University of Oregon track team.

James's work has helped Eugene earn a reputation as the epicenter of track-and-field competition and expertise. In fact, the world's elite athletes have traveled to his clinic to benefit from his patient care and surgical talents, particularly as they pertain to knee and running-related conditions, and he has shared his insights at numerous national and international medical meetings. James has also received considerable applause in popular magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, Time, Esquire, Discover, and Track & Field News.

Kenneth M. Singer, a physician from Oregon's Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, wrote of James, "The hallmark of every aspect of Dr. James's career has been excellence. His extremely high standards carry over into every aspect of his life, both personal and professional. He is a superb surgeon and excellent researcher, an exemplary teacher, and an accomplished athlete himself, having competed in very high-level Nordic ski racing."

Throughout this illustrious career, Stanley L. James has been an undeniable trailblazer in his field and his breakthroughs have left an indelible mark on the safe pursuit of sport.

James is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


Related Content

New York Magazine journalist and Iowa grad Kerry Howley shares an excerpt from her new book, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State.

The UI student-founded nonprofit has launched endeavors like the 10,000 Hours Show, Mission Creek Festival, and Quire.

L.A.-based artist Charles Ray to receive CLAS Alumni Fellow award, give talks this month. Unpainted sculpture by Charles Ray, 1997, fiberglass and paint, 60x78x171 inches. Photograph by Josh White and courtesy of the Matthew Marks Gallery. Charles Ray (75BFA) was walking through the UI physics and astronomy department one day when he came across an inspiring scene. Ray, an art student whose curiosity extended far beyond the studio, hoped to hitch a ride out to the observatory for some evening stargazing. Instead, he found a group of students constructing a satellite bound for a space mission. "It just blew my mind," recalls Ray. Just as mind-blowing were the sculptures Ray was creating across the river, years before he would establish himself as one of the world's most important artists. For one physics-defying piece, he fashioned a 2,000-pound slab of concrete atop a slender tree trunk. For another, he dropped a massive wrecking ball onto a crumpled steel plate, as if Sputnik had just crashed outside the old Art Building. Charles Ray "It was such a formative experience for me," the Los Angeles-based sculptor says of his time in Iowa City. "It did something to my soul and my brain. Even though I was young, the university and my mentors gave me a great deal of independence. My curiosity was endless." A professor emeritus at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Ray returns to campus this month to speak and receive the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Alumni Fellow award. Rather than just waxing nostalgic about his time at Iowa, Ray has organized a three-day lecture series April 16-18 with two fellow art scholars. Iowa native Graham Harman, a philosophy professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will open the series by discussing his theory of aesthetics known as object-oriented ontology. On the second day, Ray will speak about the nature of sculptural objects. And Richard Neer, an art historian at the University of Chicago, will bookend the series by lecturing on the question of provenance, or art's origin. Ray will also give a separate public lecture April 17 in Art Building West titled "My Soul is an Object." Recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation, Ray is known for his strange and enigmatic sculptures so loaded with nods to the past that they've been called "catnip for art historians." His 2014 Horse and Rider, for example, is a 10-ton solid stainless steel work in the tradition of a war memorial, but depicts the artist slouch-shouldered atop a weary nag. Ray is also famous for his wry re-imaginings of familiar objects, like the 47-foot-long replica of a red toy fire truck that he parked in front of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art for a 1993 biennial exhibition. Ray and his studio team often spend years working on a given piece, which can fetch as much as seven figures at auction. His sculptures can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other major U.S. museums. Ray is currently preparing for a retrospective show in Paris next year?one of several upcoming international exhibitions. Isabel Barbuzza, UI associate professor of sculpture, describes Ray's work as beautiful and witty, while using scale in unexpected ways. Ray's 8-foot-tall Boy with Frog?commissioned for a prominent spot in Venice, Italy, then removed after some controversy (a version now stands outside the Getty Museum in Los Angeles)?is among Barbuzza's favorites. "His sculptures have a presence you can only see when you're in front of the work," she says. "They're very moving, and to me it's interesting what happens with scale?the viewer relates to the piece in a very profound way." Steve McGuire (83MA, 90PhD), director of the School of Art and Art History, says few others have contributed more to contemporary art than Ray. "This is a big deal for us to be able to celebrate his career," McGuire says of presenting Ray with the alumni fellow award. "I think it's pretty meaningful to him, and of course it's really meaningful for our school." A Chicago native, Ray arrived at Iowa as a gifted artist but hardly a model student. Ray's dyslexia made schoolwork a chore, and his parents had sent him to military school with the hopes of straightening out his academics. It was at the UI, however, where he finally found his language in the studio and, in turn, his footing in the classroom. "Through the syntax of sculpture, I could express myself intellectually for the first time," Ray says. "That gave me a kind of confidence." Ray studied under UI art school pillars like Wallace Tomasini, Julius Schmidt, and Hans Breder. But it was his bond with Roland Brenner?a South African professor and former pupil of sculptor Anthony Caro?that proved to be the most influential. Ray still remembers his first sculpture in Brenner's class, a steel configuration with long stems and discs at the end. Its bouquet-like resemblance didn't sit well with Brenner. "That showed me you made something, but didn't want to discover something," Ray recalls Brenner telling him. "Don't ever do that in my class again." The two would become lifelong friends. Iowa City is a different place today than the 1970s, particularly the transformation of the arts campus after the flood of 2008, Ray says. Still, his visits back to campus over the years always remind him of those crisp and clear Iowa nights at the observatory and gazing out the studio window while exploring the frontiers of sculpture. "It feels like you can see right through the galaxy when you look up," Ray says. Handheld bird by Charles Ray, 2006, painted steel, 2x4x3 inches The UI is home to six pieces by Ray, all found in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and displayed through the university's Art on Campus program. Among them is Handheld bird, a tiny but ornate piece depicting a creature in an embryonic state. Lunchtime Lecture Series What: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fellow Charles Ray and two guest art scholars?Graham Harman and Richard Neer?will deliver a series of public lectures this month at the UI. When, where: 12:20 p.m. April 16?18 at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More information: events.uiowa.edu/26915 My Soul is an Object: Artist Talk with Charles Ray What: A public lecture by renowned sculptor and UI alumnus Charles Ray When, where: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More about Ray: charlesraysculpture.com/ Support the UI School of Art and Art History

The mission of Senior College is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for seniors.

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.