Thank you to 2019's Speaker - Don Patterson USMA Class of ’73
Don Patterson received a B.S. in Engineering at the United States Military Academy in 1973. He was selected by his classmates to represent them on the Cadet Honor Committee, and also served on the Cadet Public Relations Committee. After being rated fifth in leadership by his peers, Patterson was named to the highest ranking cadet staff. He served as the Brigade Operations Officer during his final year at West Point.
Patterson chose Field Artillery as his branch of service and was assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment (1st Cavalry Division) at Fort Hood, Texas. His duties there included Forward Observer and Fire Direction Officer within an artillery battery. He has often stated that the leadership training he received at West Point and in the Army allowed for a smooth transition into the coaching of college football.
Patterson served as an assistant football coach at North Texas State in 1978 and a year later became an assistant coach at the University of Iowa under legendary Head Coach Hayden Fry. This began his 20-year career with the Iowa Hawkeyes. During this time, the Hawkeyes appeared in 14 bowl games, including three Rose Bowls.
The 1985 Iowa team was ranked No. 1 in the nation for five weeks, en route to a school-record 10 wins. Patterson was instrumental in Iowa’s success, making the Hawkeyes one of only three Big Ten teams to play in 14 bowl games during his tenure.
In 1999, Patterson became the head coach at Western Illinois University, where he had a 62-45 career record in 11 seasons. He led the Leathernecks to three NCAA playoff berths, a pair of Gateway Football Conference titles and a No. 1 national ranking in 2003. He left that position as he was diagnosed with Stage IV tonsillar cancer in 2008.
Having beat cancer, Patterson moved to Buffalo in 2013. He served as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator for the University at Buffalo football team and helped lead the Bulls to an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
His last position before retiring was assistant head football coach at the University of Connecticut (UConn). There, he coached the tight ends and quarterbacks and helped lead the 2015 team to an appearance in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Patterson retired in January 2016 after 37 seasons and 425 games of Division I college football.
He and his wife, Lisa, reside in Iowa City and have a daughter, Brooke, who earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Purdue University in 2004. She and her husband, Matt, also reside in Iowa City.