Milt Dakovich, longest-serving member of Iowa’s Board of Regents, dies at 67

Milt Dakovich, an Iowa board member since 2013, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.

Dakovich, the son of Dr. Milton J. and Shirley Dakovich, grew up in Des Moines and graduated from Dowling High School in 1972, then earned his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in civil engineering and construction engineering.

He moved to Waterloo in 1977 and started working at Aspro Inc., a paving company that did everything from airport runways to bike lanes, where he eventually became president.

He also served as president of the Associated General Contractors of Iowa and the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa, and life director of the Associated General Contractors of America.

Dakovich was named to the Iowa Board of Trustees in 2013 by Governor Terry Branstad and reappointed to the board in 2019 by Governor Kim Reynolds. Already the longest serving member of the board, his second term was set to last until 2025.

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“He was one of the most respected members of our board, and I believe I speak for him today as well,” Iowa Board Chairman Michael Richards said Friday. “He was a wonderful man.”

“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I send our condolences to Milt’s wife, Kim, and their family,” Richards said in a separate statement. “Milt had a great passion for higher education and served with distinction as Regent for nearly a decade. He was aware of the decisions we were about to make and their potential impact on students, current and future.”

Richards said Dakovich will be remembered as a kind person who was “always the first to ask how he could help” in difficult situations.

“It was such a pleasure to be with him and he always offered words of encouragement and support,” Richards said. “He was willing to respectfully listen to other opinions and show grace and humility. His wisdom, guidance and wit cannot be replaced. Milt was a good, trusted friend, and he will be sorely missed.”

Iowa House President Pat Grassley tweeted his condolences.

“I am sorry to learn of the passing of Milt Dakovich,” he wrote. “Milt was a true leader for the Cedar Valley.”

In one video made when Dakovich received the 2020 Cedar Valley Business Leader Awardfriend Kathy McCoy of the Waterloo Community Foundation praised her consistent and collaborative leadership.

“I don’t think he’s a howler and howler,” McCoy said. “It’s ‘Can we do this?’ ‘Can you help me?’ ‘Let’s figure this out together.'”

In one 2013 interview with Iowa State University College of Engineering after being appointed to the Board of Regents, Dakovich emphasized the importance of education and business in improving the lives of Iowans.

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“I want to make sure that we continue to provide high-quality and affordable education to Iowa students, that we continue to improve our research efforts, and that we facilitate the transfer of this knowledge to Iowa businesses to boost the economy of Iowa; and that we provide all the services that we can improve the quality of life for the people of Iowa,” said Dakovich

In the 2020 Cedar Valley Award video, he called his service of regents “a tremendous opportunity to set policy for our three post-secondary schools and our two specialist schools,” adding, “I hope (this) has done a difference”.

Dakovich said in the Iowa State interview that his college experience as a student influenced his decision to join the Board of Regents.

“I had a good college experience both inside and outside the classroom,” Dakovich said in the interview. “I feel I have been well trained for my career. I have a keen interest in higher education and want to see others have the same experience as me.”

He also remembered playing ISU mascot Cy.

“I really enjoyed my time as Cy,” he said.

Besides his wife, with whom he was about to celebrate his 27th birthday, he leaves behind two sons; Austin Shatzer of Chicago and Chancellor Dakovich of Waterloo; a girl; Brigette Dakovich of Waterloo; his father; one brother, Bob Dakovich of Waukesha, Wisconsin; and a sister Ann Pigneri of Louisville, Kentucky.

Christian Burial Mass will be held Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Waterloo, with interment in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Public visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Monday at the Hagarty-Waychoff-Grarup Funeral Service on Ridgeway Avenue in Waterloo, where there will be a 3 p.m. rosary. There will be no church visitation on Tuesday. Mass will be broadcast live on St Edward’s Church YouTube page.

Grace Altenhofen is a reporting intern for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at or on Twitter @gracealtenhofen.

Donald E. Patel