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Alumni Spotlight: Linda Niehm

Alumni Spotlight: Linda Niehm

The Patton College of Education is honored to recognize alumna Dr. Linda Niehm, who won the International Textiles and Apparel Association (ITAA) 2020 Distinguished Scholar Award, as October’s Alum of the Month.

Niehm was awarded for her vast contributions to scholarship in the field of textiles and apparel, from research initiatives to curriculum development and programming.

“I am very humbled to receive the ITAA Distinguished Scholar Award,” said Niehm. “I have tried to work hard and make a contribution to my field, to small businesses, and communities, and to the students I teach and advise. It is a great honor to realize that peers within ITAA recognize and appreciate these efforts too.”

The Iowa State University professor has published over 40 peer-reviewed research articles as the lead or contributing author, primarily in the areas of retailing, community-based businesses and entrepreneurship. She serves as the director of entrepreneurship and retailing for Iowa State’s Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management Program, and she is the Entrepreneurial Leader for the College of Human Sciences.

Niehm is closely involved with development of curriculum and programming for entrepreneurship and retailing education at Iowa State, including community outreach and student-business consulting experiences.

“Iowa State University has a rich history in apparel and textiles,” said Niehm. “It has been a great place for me to grow professionally and has been an ideal situation for me to conduct community-centered retailing research.”

The Richland County, Ohio, native earned her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics Education from Ashland University before attending Ohio University to pursue her master’s in Textiles and Apparel.

“The School of Home Economics was in Tupper Hall at that time, and I can still hear the bells between classes ringing and the clatter of students walking on the old wooden floors. It was an old building, but had a great vibe, and above all, it was a great place to learn and grow professionally,” Niehm said.

She fondly recalls a number of her professors from Ohio University, and added that her experiences in the master’s program cemented her desire to pursue a Ph.D.

“I learned so much about teaching and content knowledge from instructors such as Janet Izard, Tracy Gainer Vash, and Mary Doxsee,” said Niehm. “Later, Billie Collier became a textiles faculty member, and she was also a great mentor, along with the School of Home Economics director, Shirley Slater, and my graduate advisor Judy Matthews.”

After obtaining her master’s degree in 1985, Niehm taught in Bowling Green State University’s Apparel, Merchandising and Design program for one year before accepting an instructor position at Bluffton College.

At Bluffton, Niehm was one of two faculty members within the Family and Consumer Sciences department and taught apparel, textiles, and merchandising-related classes.

“I had a great teaching experience, but I hungered to do research, and there was little time or opportunity in this situation,” she said.

After teaching at Bluffton for seven years, Niehm and her husband relocated to Lansing, Mich., where she completed her Ph.D. at Michigan State University in 2002. 

In her Ph.D. program, Niehm worked with the Michigan Retailer Association to do outreach and consulting with small businesses in the state, and she held a retailing and entrepreneurship-centered teaching assistantship.

After earning her Ph.D, Niehm obtained a tenure-track faculty position at Iowa State, where she has remained ever since.

“I must sincerely thank Iowa State University, the College of Human Sciences, the Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, my faculty colleagues, and students for all of their support and encouragement over time,” she said.

In addition to her teaching and research pursuits, Niehm is a member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), the American Collegiate Retailing Association (ACRA), the Iowa Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (IAFCS), and the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as ITAA.

As ITAA’s 2020 Distinguished Scholar, Niehm will present at the organization’s annual conference in November, which will take place virtually this year.

Niehm’s presentation, “From Classroom to Community: The Power of Integrative Research,” will highlight how she uses community-grounded entrepreneurship knowledge—both inside and outside of the classroom—to develop curriculum and provide experiential learning opportunities, while also creating value for small businesses.

As she continues her career, Niehm remains thankful for her time in Ohio University’s Textiles and Apparel master’s program.

“I am a very proud Bobcat alum,” she said. “And I definitely feel that my OHIO experience laid the groundwork for my career success.”