Donald F. Howard was born at Strawberry Point, Iowa, in 1909. After high school he attended Iowa State Teachers College, and graduated in 1931 with a B.A. in English. After teaching in several secondary schools he returned to college and earned a master's degree in American history in 1935 and a Ph.D. in the same field in 1947, both from the University of Iowa.
Howard joined the UNI faculty in 1947, when he was hired as an assistant professor of history. For four years, beginning in 1955, he was Coordinator of Curriculum and Assistant to the Dean of Instruction. Two years after he was promoted to the rank of professor (1959), he became head of the Department of Social Science, and in 1969 he became the first Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
In addition to his achievements at UNI, Howard was well-known for his participation in the radio program "Behind the Headlines," where he worked with Herbert Hake, and for his articles in local newspapers. He died on July 28, 1989. On November 9, 1994, a room in the recently renovated Seerley Hall was dedicated as the Donald F. Howard Memorial Seminar Room.