Educate. Innovate. Achieve!

Installation Address
President Steven Leath, Sept. 14, 2012

I. Opening/acknowledgements

Good morning. Erskine, thank you for those kind words. I owe you a great debt. It's really important for me, as many of you can imagine, having Erskine with me today.

  • Governor Branstad …Lt. Gov. Reynolds
  • Regent President Lang and fellow Regents
  • Senator Grassley
  • Senator and Iowa State alum Harkin
  • family, colleagues, friends, representatives from other educational institutions, and the many guests and supporters of this great university
  • and students!  Lots of students!  I really like those T-shirts. That's fantastic!

Thank you all for coming.  I am delighted to be with you today to celebrate what is a great occasion for Iowa State University. 

My first order of business is to ask some people to stand and after I'm done, we'll recognize them …

  • My wife Janet and our sons, Eric and Scott;
  • My parents, Marie and Ken, my dad also is a member of the American Phytopathological Society. He is the one who started me on this path.
  • I'd also like to introduce my major professor Bob Carroll and Janet's collegiate advisor Jim Hawk;
  • A lot of you know I'm about relationships, so I'd be remiss if I didn't introduce my best friend, former colleague, hunting buddy and 25-year "sounding board" Bill Dougherty;
  • If you would, my other close friends, relatives, their guests; especially my brother Ken, my brother Kevin, my sister Marie and their families and their friends…
  • These people, especially Janet, my parents and my sons, played such a huge role in getting me here today, and I really wanted to point them out to you, and I'm very grateful to them.

I also want to thank the installation committee, led by chair Olivia Madison, Dean of the Library. Olivia did an amazing job organizing this with her team. I appreciate what she and her committee did; it was a huge commitment and they've done a great job.

I'm also glad that my fellow Regent university president Sally Mason from the University of Iowa is here, as well as a representative of the University of Northern Iowa.  Iowa is indeed very fortunate to have such outstanding public universities, and the people of Iowa need to know, you folks need to know, just how good the relationship is between these three universities …and we're committed to making that continue. 

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds …I appreciate both of you being here.  Your support is really key to our ability to fulfill the mission of this great university, and you have been stalwarts when it comes to education in Iowa.  We are grateful for your support and your leadership, and we will continue doing all we can to live up to your high expectations.  And I want to extend my deep appreciation to Regent President Craig Lang and all the members of the board for what they do for higher education to make it one of Iowa's greatest assets. 

And now to you, Erskine …I am so grateful to you for being a part of this installation.  Because of your friendship, your support, your confidence in me, and your mentoring, you are one of the main reasons I am here today. …

Erskine has made a tremendous impact on my life and I'm going to tell a little story. Much of what he has taught me will come through in my remarks today and in my time ahead as president of Iowa State.  But one of the things Erskine taught me was to always think big.  Don't settle for less than what you can achieve.  When I was associate dean of agriculture at North Carolina State, Erskine had become president of the North Carolina System.  He basically told me I had to apply for the Vice President for Research position in his office, and during the process, he asked me what I ultimately wanted to achieve in my career. At the time, I had been thoughtful about it and I answered, "I want to be a dean of agriculture at a great land-grant university."  Erskine told me, "That's not high enough.  You can and you should be the president of a great land-grant university."  Thank you, Erskine.

Now the other side of it is that you're going to have to get used to some other things that Erskine taught me.

  • For example, a number of you have heard me say, "That dog won't hunt" … and it means, "Just forget about it!"
  • And I know others have heard me say -- and were curious the first couple of times I said, "You don't buy a good dog and then do your own barking!" That reflects one of my standard management philosophies and principles, and it means "Hire good people and let them do their job!"  You're going to hear about my great team in a minute.

Finally, I want to thank former President Greg Geoffroy for all that he did to build up this great university. He provided exceptional leadership to this university for over 10 years that he was president. I have said often that my primary goal is to do what I believe Greg and the 13 previous presidents did, and that is, to leave Iowa State University better than they found it.  I hereby acknowledge all that Greg and his team did to position Iowa State so that my team and I can move it from great …to greater. 

And I think this is doable. We have a very, very strong foundation.  I have an A-plus team, with Jonathan Wickert as the dynamic new Senior Vice President and Provost; Senior Vice Presidents Warren Madden and Tom Hill who have a wealth of valuable experience and who I count on daily for advice and counsel; a highly energetic new chief of staff in Miles Lackey; and many other great leaders throughout this university. 

We'll be looking to add to that strength of leadership as we search for new leaders in the future.  Erskine taught me many things, and one is that you move an organization forward by constantly raising the level of its talent.  So, as we look for top academic leaders, we're going to do this. I'm challenging Jonathan Wickert, as the former dean of engineering, to outdo himself in the dean of engineering search!


Iowa State University is very strong, and again, I credit Gov. Branstad, the Regents, former President Geoffroy and the faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and supporters of this great university. 

Our enrollment continues to grow; we're now at an all-time record of over 31,000 students!  These students are coming here because of the quality of our educational programs, our learning environment and the opportunities that await our graduates with an overall placement rate in this economy of over 90 percent and as high as 100 percent in some programs.  They come here because of our culture of student success. 

And what a beautiful campus they come to!  Rain came just in time to restore the beauty of this campus for fall semester and the installation, and it is just gorgeous.  But I do want to mention the drought. I would be remiss if I didn't.  Many people have been seriously affected in Iowa this year by the terrible drought.  I want to assure the people of Iowa, especially the farmers and agribusiness folks/people, that this university is doing all it can to help people manage the impact of the drought and preserve their operations.  It is a top priority for our College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and our Extension and Outreach group. 

Iowa State continues to enjoy a very high level of external support, from funding agencies, foundations, businesses and industry, and from alumni and friends of the university.  Indeed, the generosity of Iowa State's alumni and friends seems to have no limits …and I can assure you that we will continue to count on that tremendous support in the months and years ahead! 

All of this success is the result of the work of the faculty, staff and friends of Iowa State.  You are an exceptional group, and you deserve a big round of applause for what you do! 


II. So Who Am I?

Some of you probably are still wondering what drives me and what motivates me, so I'm going to tell you a little about me. I'm going to start by borrowing a line from Iowa State Football Coach Paul Rhoads … And to paraphrase Coach Rhoads, "I am so proud to be your president!" 

I am proud to be the 15th president in a long line of outstanding presidents …

  • In fact, the second president to come from North Carolina, as the 10th president, James Hilton, was also from the Tar Heel State. 
  • Dr. Hilton and I both come from agriculture, and, in fact, we come from the same college at North Carolina State.  When I got this job, I was told that being from agriculture was not a pre-requisite to being president of Iowa State  … but it wouldn't hurt!  Along the way, I was also informed that two of Iowa State's presidents came from the ministry, and I've pretty much determined that probably didn't hurt either!

I've been at Iowa State since mid-January and I've met with many of you, as well as many leaders of Iowa, community and business people, farmers and agri-business folks, and lots and lots of alumni, friends and supporters.  I have enjoyed it immensely; it's the greatest part of this job. And I hope you've gotten some idea about who I am.  For those who haven't yet met me, I hope my comments today will help you understand who I am, what my passions are, what excites me, and what I envision for this great university. 

I spent time in Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois, and I do think I have sound Midwestern values.  I worked two jobs through most of school and I have a good work ethic, developed by my parents, and a Nebraska cattle rancher named Roy Stewart.  Roy taught me about time management, self-discipline and responsibility, and a number of life skills. He also taught me and showed that the two of us could rope and doctor a 2,000-pound bull in a pasture … with no horses!  Roy, will you stand up?

All three of my degrees are from land-grant universities, and I am a firm believer in the land-grant ideals.  If you've heard me speak at a Rotary Club or other engagements around the state, or if you listened to Erskine, you may have heard me say "I'm a land-grant guy."  I am … and I'm very proud of that. 

I believe that there is nothing more important than an educated citizenry, and land-grant universities opened the door to higher education for all.  And I believe there is nothing more powerful than knowledge that is put to a practical use … to solve a pressing problem, to improve our quality of life, and to create new economic opportunities. 

I am even more proud to be the president of a land-grant university that understands this, and a university that, more than any other, helped to define the land-grant movement, and one that is regarded far and wide … throughout this nation and indeed across the world … as one of the best, if not the best, in terms of carrying out its land-grant responsibilities. 

I have shared my philosophy for this great land-grant university with my senior staff, and it's real short:  When we make important decisions, we first ask: "What is the right thing to do for Iowa State University, and what is the right thing to do for the State of Iowa?"  I believe if we get that right, we'll be fine. 

I want to talk a little about the land-grant history from my perspective, and talk a little about philosophy so you know where I want to take this university.


III. Now back to our Land-Grant foundation

Our land-grant legacy has shaped our past and it will continue to guide our future. 

I believe there are three characteristics that are really central to defining "land-grant," whether that be a person or an institution.

The first land-grant characteristic that's important to me is being "down-to-earth" … rooted in the soil … both literally, as agriculture is one of our primary disciplines, and more broadly, as land-grant institutions were created to work side-by-side with the people of their states.  We are the antithesis of the ivory tower, and we should be.  I firmly believe this. 

The second characteristic is: Land-grant people have the ability to see the bigger picture.  We can see what can happen when a good idea takes root and grows … like a seed when planted and given the right nurturing, produces great results.

The third characteristic is: Land-grant people are known for being bold.  They are not afraid to take big and bold actions.  Again, I thank Erskine for rekindling this in me, and I remind all of you today of our heritage with a few stories. 

Vermont Senator Justin Morrill was a visionary when he authored the land-grant act.  He first introduced this legislation for a new kind of college in 1857, and he introduced it a couple of times, and it finally passed in 1859, but then it was vetoed by President Buchanan.  Sen. Morrill stuck at it though, and he reintroduced a modified bill in 1861, and a new president – Abraham Lincoln – signed it into law 150 years ago this summer. 

To me, this was one of the boldest and most visionary acts in the history of this nation.  It not only helped rebuild a nation devastated by war, but it also was a catalyst in an unprecedented economic and social evolution that took place over the next century and a half, and still continues today. 

Iowa State's first president, Adonijah Welch, was a bold visionary.  He saw the bigger picture of how important a land-grant university could be in the lives of a state's citizens.  He made sure that our core programs of engineering and agriculture were balanced with the liberal arts and sciences, so students would be broadly educated.  And he began outreach with his Farmers Institutes. 

Seaman Knapp, our second president, was another bold visionary.  He was instrumental in crafting the legislation that would become the Hatch Act, which made the experiment station approach to practical research a national system. 

Another visionary was a Professor of Agronomy here, Perry Holden, who envisioned a comprehensive statewide system of outreach, emanating from this land-grant university, but with a strong local control and focus at the county level.  This vision developed into the nationwide Cooperative Extension Service. 

Raymond Hughes, our 8th president, was yet another.  In the depths of the Great Depression, with few apparent resources, Hughes took the bold step of hiring a talented young artist named Christian Petersen as an "artist-in-residence" – at an institution of science and technology, no less – to give prominence to the arts and so students could actually experience the arts they were learning about.  It was one of the transformational steps in the development of this university, and today, I think our campus is a visual arts treasure.  We value this tradition and continue to build on the arts at Iowa State … and I hope you all enjoy seeing Petersen's beautiful "Fountain of the Four Seasons" running again in front of the Memorial Union!  Many of us had a chance to see it last night. It was beautiful.

The list goes on of Iowa State people who embody these land-grant traits.  And it includes the people of Iowa, who 150 years ago, took the bold step of becoming the first state in the nation to accept the terms of the Morrill Act creating these revolutionary institutions.  What a remarkable and incredible history we have!

IV. Vision: Bold innovation and partnering

We learn from the past but our focus, my focus from now on, must be on the future. 

My vision for Iowa State University is still a work in progress.  I hope it continues to be, because I want to be a listening president. I want to constantly get input. But I can tell you the vision that is forming:  It's not small.  It's big, it's innovative.  And I have very high expectations for the people of Iowa State and for this great university! 

Erskine taught me that most of us, and most of our leaders, think too small.  The great success of Iowa State over the past 154 years has resulted from bold leadership.  And now we must be bolder, and we must think bigger in terms of our goals and impact, if we are going to drive Iowa State from great … to greater … at a time when our state really needs us. 

Developing this vision will involve all of you – not just the faculty and staff of the university, but all Iowans and supporters of this university.  Iowa State University is for all people.  That's why land-grant institutions were called the "peoples' colleges."  And I come to this position with a spirit of collaboration and eagerness to work with all of you. 

So what are we going to do?

My first major focus:  Iowa State must continue to provide a high-quality educational experience. 

This university has worked very hard over the years to develop what I call a "brand."  We are known as a caring university, committed to helping students be successful and achieve their dreams, both as students, while they're here, and after they graduate.  We are a large university, with all the advantages that brings, but we have the feel of a small, friendly place, partly because of our small, supportive community, but mostly because our faculty and staff, the ones who work here really do care.  My first priority is to continue to be true to this brand and this culture, and to continue improving our retention, graduation and placement rates, which means keeping the academic and student service programs here strong. 

But just as important, we must be accessible.  And being accessible means being affordable.  And, of course, being accessible without quality is unacceptable.

One of the issues that captured my attention, since even before I arrived at Iowa State, was the student indebtedness issue.  And here in Iowa, we have one of the largest average student debt loads in the nation. And folks, we're better than that.

Land-grant institutions were created to be accessible … and affordable.  But in recent years, what's happened in many states, including Iowa, is that the state's investment in this critical public educational resource has declined, and in some states, including Iowa, the decline has been precipitous.  The result has been a dramatic rise in tuition, and an alarming increase in the amount of student debt. 

In July, I had the opportunity to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, chaired by our own Senator Harkin, on the issue of growing student indebtedness.  I shared that this issue is a top priority for Iowa State and what we are doing to aggressively address it.

Part 1. Holding down costs. 

I'm proud to say that as of this fall, Iowa State has the lowest tuition of the 11 universities in our peer group!  This is great, but simply being No. 1 on this list – or in this case No. 11 – is not enough.  We can and will do more because our students' debt load is still too high.  We have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the "overhead" on the education we provide.

I have charged my senior management team to review university operations and recommend efficiencies.  One of the areas they've started with is Human Resources, where we want to make our operations more efficient, more effective and less costly while supporting our faculty and staff and advancing the institution.

We will continue to become more energy-efficient, make better use of electronic and online systems for business operations, and streamline administrative functions.  We're currently doing that in the Colleges of Design and Human Sciences. We also intend to consolidate more of our online education course offerings so as to achieve greater efficiencies.  In fact, one such effort between the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently cut overhead costs by more than 60% in certain online course offerings.

Part 2. Provide better financial counseling for students and families.

Our financial award notice letters going to the students now show, very clearly, their current indebtedness and how much their payments are projected to be after graduation.  They also emphasize that the loans are optional and encourage other methods to finance their education.  And we are proud to be one of only five universities in the nation with a full-service Financial Counseling Clinic for our students.

Part 3. Be more creative in helping students to find lower-cost paths to a 4 yr. degree. 

One-fifth of our new students now are transfers from community colleges, and an increasing number of high school students come to us having already earned college credits (usually from our community college partners).  Both paths speed a student's time to graduation, reduce costs, reduce debt load, and we are working closely with every community college in Iowa to make the transition for these students to Iowa State as seamless as possible.

Part 4. Maximize revenue streams other than tuition to support academic programs.

In Iowa, there has been a nearly 50% decline in the state's share of educating students at our Regent Universities since 1981.  Fortunately, this year there is an increase in state support, so we hope that this downward trend has slowed or stopped.  I want to publicly thank Governor Branstad, the Regents and the legislature for reversing this trend. 

Governor, without your leadership, this would never have happened! 

You folks need to thank the governor when you see him.

I'm pledging to work closely now and in the future with our state leaders to ensure that the state continues to invest in its public higher education institutions so the people of Iowa can have access to a high-quality and affordable college education, and so Iowa can continue to reap the benefits of a highly educated citizenry and workforce.

Now students, listen to this paragraph.

And while tuition increases in the future may be unavoidable, we will work with the Regents to keep these at the lowest possible level.  You have my pledge to support the plan proposed by the regents this week to freeze undergraduate resident tuition next year.

And on top of that, I promise you at Iowa State University, we will not increase your student fees next year either!

Sen. Harkin and Sen. Grassley, next I'm going to say the federal government also has an important role to play.  Pell grants need to keep pace with inflation, and student loan interest rates need to be held down, both of which have been achieved this year and we are thankful for it.  I have thanked Congress for supporting us in these key areas and I plan to work very closely with our delegation to advocate for Iowa State's priorities. 

Finally, we as institutions have to do more to provide funding to help students pay for their education.  Last year, Iowa State completed its most successful private fundraising campaign in history, bringing in more than 867 million.  More than a quarter of that – 236 million dollars – was for student scholarships.  But we can and will do more.  Starting now, starting today, and over the next five years, we pledge to raise an additional 150 million dollars for student aid.  Iowa State's great alumni and friends will have another opportunity to come through for this university and our students will love this initiative as it builds into a full-fledged campaign in the next few years. 

Now as I testified in the Senate, we didn't get into this debt dilemma overnight.  It's taken decades of cost increases, state support decreases and poor financial decision-making to reach this critical debt level.  And we won't get out of it overnight either.  We're going to have to be creative.  We're going to have to be aggressive.  And we're going to have to be innovative but I promise you this is on the top of the list for me and my team.

The second major focus of my presidency is: Partnerships. 

Partnerships are central to what we, as a land-grant university do and should do.  We were created out of a partnership with the people we serve, and we exist to work in partnership with these people.  We work together, whether that's providing an education, researching a vexing problem facing agriculture or business, or helping a community improve the quality of life for its citizens. 

I want Iowa State to be known as the "partnership university."  More than that, I want to be known as the university that gets it right when it comes to partnering with others.  One size does not fit all.  We need to listen; we need to be more demand-driven in developing our programs and services.  –  Erskine, does that sound familiar?

We need to create the most innovative, flexible, and agile partnership model ever seen at an American university.  I want others coming to us expecting that we will be great partners, and they will know we're willing to look at any and all possibilities as long as they maintain the integrity of our academic enterprise. 

This is especially true in our mission to support the economic development of Iowa. 

Iowa State already has some excellent programs that help strengthen Iowa's business and industrial sector, some of them are:

  • the Center for Industrial Research and Service,
  • the Institute for Physical Research and Technology,
  • the Small Business Development Centers,
  • and the Iowa State University Research Park.

Individually, these all do an outstanding job, and they play an important role across the state in helping create and nurture new companies, as well as strengthen existing companies.  What's missing, I believe, is a fully integrated approach to economic development that truly leverages the full potential of this great university.

Therefore, I have asked the members of my senior leadership team to develop a detailed economic development framework that will better assist Iowa companies and communities to prosper and grow.  Elements of that framework will address a number of challenges associated with Iowa's ability to form new businesses, grow existing industry, support communities, and transplant companies to this state.  We will launch this new framework before the end of the year.  

Specifically I expect the new framework to provide clear value propositions which will immediately be applicable to companies, both small and large.  This will include items like STEM education, fulltime job placement, technology transfer, policy analysis, continuing education, and technical assistance.

This framework will connect faculty, staff and student resources with industry, communities, educational institutions, business associations, and state and regional economic development agencies to help Iowa prosper and grow.  Efforts will concentrate on the three state focus industries of bioscience, advanced manufacturing, and information technology.

The real goal here is to improve the quality of life for Iowa's citizens by enhancing the effectiveness of our economic development efforts.  Specifically, this comprehensive and differentiated approach will accomplish the following things here:

  1. It will connect and leverage our strengths in Research and Economic Development, and in Extension and Outreach, with those in the academic colleges;
  2. It will build upon strong existing partnerships;
  3. It will serve Iowans for the future by making ISU an easier and more friendly place for companies to do business; and
  4. It will significantly expand the university research park by providing new locations for innovative companies to grow and prosper.

I believe my experience in North Carolina has given me the confidence that we can accomplish this here in Iowa.  North Carolina has had significant success with its research-based economic development efforts, and I have been fortunate to be involved in many of these efforts.  I intend to use these experiences to both help steer this university in the direction it needs to take, and to work with the other segments of Iowa to develop a broad and bold plan for becoming a leader in the bioeconomy, and to implement that plan. 

Iowa has taken some great initial steps, but so have other states.  We are actually in a competition, and we need to ramp up our efforts – and I intend for Iowa State University to take a leadership role. 

The most important thing we can do for this effort is to assemble the workforce needed to lead it.  Again, we have an excellent foundation in place, with some of the top faculty in the world.  But we still have a relatively small number of our "core people," and many of them are spending a lot of time in other important activities, such as teaching our students, as they should.  But we need more top people to be successful. 

So under the leadership of Provost Wickert and the college deans, we are going to focus our efforts in faculty recruitment in areas critical to Iowa's economic future, such as the biological sciences, agriculture, physical sciences and engineering.  Our goal is to build this faculty in these areas by 200 positions over the next 18-24 months, and to continue growing aggressively beyond that.  Many of these will be new positions and some will be positions that become vacant.  But we do not … and let me repeat that … we do not intend to "strip" any faculty from other areas of the university.  Our academic programs must remain strong.  They are the real strength of this university.  Whenever possible, we will be looking for an opportunity to fill an existing position with someone who brings a proven track record in research or scholarship to us.  I understand this will take additional resources and I will find them.

Let me emphasize again:  We are not an "ivory tower" when it comes to generating knowledge. Innovation and prosperity realized through research requires that we move our basic research beyond the lab and allow it to continue in places where the public and private sectors come together. 

Therefore the ISU Research Park must continue to grow and be more aggressive in enabling start-up companies and existing companies to make use of our research and to locate and expand their facilities in the park.  We have a good research park, but I want to see it reach its full potential.  It will need to be expanded significantly from its current size in the coming months and years. 

In order to achieve these goals, effective today, the Research Park will now report directly to my office.  Among other things, I expect it to become the north anchor for the Capital Corridor project growing out of Des Moines, which clearly has the potential to be an important source of economic growth in central Iowa.  And I'm excited to be a leader in this public/private partnership. 

These are beginning steps.  If Iowa wants to be successful in the bioeconomy, we need to be bold … in our goals and in our investment in resources – in talented, creative, and innovative people. Finding them will help us move those goals forward. 

The foundation of any economic development effort, though, and indeed the foundation for our academic programs and for our outreach efforts, is research.  And I want to be absolutely clear that in order for Iowa State University to effectively carry out its land-grant mission, research and scholarly activity must be a priority here.

Iowa State has a solid research program.  This is evident in our increasing success in sponsored funding and several other measures, such as patents and licenses.  But I believe the research enterprise of this university can be expanded, especially in our core strengths.  We must also bring together different disciplines to address the extremely complex questions and challenges that face us today. 

While we must bring in new faculty to help us do this and continue to expand our research efforts, we also need to do more to support the excellent work of the faculty who are already here.  That is why I am announcing today one new Presidential Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research to support the creation of new, large-scale interdisciplinary and multi-organizational research programs.  It will provide "pursuit" funding of up to $500,000 per year for three years for up to three teams whose proposals are selected through an internal evaluation and competition.  There will also be a parallel smaller, companion program, directed at research areas that are still emerging. 

This initiative is intended to create a new culture of interdisciplinary and collaborative research at Iowa State, a culture that encourages "thinking big."  Specific details of this are available through the Provost's Office, but the process begins now, and we intend to have the first grants awarded by March 1. 

I'd also like to make another important point about our faculty.  Clearly, faculty are the most important resource of any university, and we must have a strong faculty if we are to accomplish our goals.  But that includes strength through inclusion.  In all of our searches, we really must emphasize inclusion.  We can do better in building a more inclusive faculty and staff, both to provide a better multicultural learning experience for our students, and to add to the diversity of ideas and approaches of our own academic community.  Soon, we will announce initiatives that are being developed with input from key campus groups, such as the University Committee on Women that will truly make a difference in the makeup of our community.

And speaking of inclusion, I also want to congratulate everyone at Iowa State for enrolling not only the largest student body in this university's history, but the largest minority student body in the university's history.  That is a tremendous accomplishment!  This increase is the result of outstanding efforts by all of you – student recruiters and the people who lead special programs like Science Bound and others that partner with area schools to encourage and prepare more minority students to go to college should all be commended.

Building on these efforts, I'm  announcing today a new partnership developed in cooperation with Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, with the King and Moulton schools in Des Moines to increase the number of lower-income and minority students enrolling at Iowa State.  By successfully completing this program, which involves ISU faculty and teacher-education students working with Moulton and King school faculty, King and Moulton students who complete this program will earn full-tuition scholarships to attend Iowa State University. 

You've heard me talk about partnerships: If Ako had tried to do this alone, or if I tried to do this alone, this would have never happened. This is a great example of a new Iowa partnership that's going to make a difference in this state. So thank you, Ako.

Finally, we need to enroll more graduate students to support the basic and applied research at this university. Graduate students are a vital resource to a major research university like Iowa State, and they are, frankly, underutilized here, and I expect the university to grow its graduate student population by 2,000 more students in the coming years. 


Strengthening our economy is not our only outreach responsibility.  We are also determined to make a positive difference in the lives of Iowans.  Through Extension and Outreach, we provide Iowans with access to education about issues that matter to them.  Our signature issues focus on the needs of our state, the priorities of the Governor, and the priorities of our institution.

We will continue strong Extension and Outreach efforts in agriculture, food and nutrition, environmental sustainability, community development, and business assistance.  And through K-12 youth programs, we will continue to build leadership, citizenship, communication, and life skills for Iowa's youth.  Our youth programs which focus on science, technology, engineering and math skills will support the Governor's STEM initiative and help create the next generation of scientists and engineers. 

Through Extension, Iowa State has implemented a statewide outreach program in health and well-being, and we are a partner with Governor Branstad's "Healthiest State in the Nation" initiative.  This effort utilizes research and programs developed right here by our own Research Center for Nutrition and Wellness.  We are also focusing inwardly on our own folks with a health and wellness initiative at the university through the development of a comprehensive "mind and body" wellness program.  The goal of this program is to promote a healthier and more productive lifestyle for our most valuable resources – our faculty and staff.  I have charged Human Resource Services with developing this plan and implementing it by this spring. 


This is my favorite part: I don't want to give the impression here today that Iowa State University of Science and Technology will become strictly a science and technology university, although that is our emphasis … or solely an economic development engine, which is a real need this state has.  Make no mistake: We will be a leading engineering, biosciences, and physical sciences university.  And we will help Iowans improve their lives in every way possible through outreach and development.  But we will not sacrifice any of the university's educational strengths that have brought us to this point in our history.

Iowa State is known for the high quality of its total educational experience, and this means high quality in the arts, humanities, social sciences and other disciplines.  

For example, our College of Design has been doing tremendous things under Dean Rico-Gutierrez's leadership, such as the wonderful exhibit at the Smithsonian's American Folklife Festival in our nation's Capital this summer, and I was thrilled to participate.  We have the remarkable Christian Petersen legacy in the arts, made stronger with the recent acquisition of "Two Panthers" that now sit across from the Petersen Museum in Morrill Hall.  Also of note are programs like the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, with its many affiliated departments and curricula, outstanding music and theater programs, and exceptional programs like the University Museums.  These programs will continue to play a vital role in the broad education and complete learning experience of our students, as well as in the delightfully eclectic character they add to our university and our community. 

And, as I noted earlier, and as you are all aware, we have a beautiful campus, from the spacious central campus and Campanile, to the south campus and Reiman Gardens.  These aesthetics are a tremendous advantage for Iowa State, especially in recruiting new students, faculty and staff.  We must preserve this environment and work to further enhance it. 

You may have noticed in recent months that there have been many improvements in the streets, sidewalks and grounds around the campus, such as the east campus gateway with all the beautiful flowers and the extensive work in front of the Memorial Union.  In this budget year, I have made significant investments in Reiman Gardens and University Museums, and soon we will be making major improvements to the grounds around the Iowa State Center.  These efforts will ensure that these places – all jewels in the crown that is Iowa State's beautiful campus – remain pristine and beautiful.   

In fact these improvements are part of a larger campus beautification plan, with special attention to areas where people first encounter this university – the streets, sidewalks, building entrances, and public venues.  I asked First Lady Janet Leath to be involved in this effort, and she has already become actively engaged.  And Janet and I plan to set an example by rolling up our sleeves and developing a new landscape master plan for the Knoll and implementing it.

I really want Iowa State University to shine in every way – from our students, faculty and staff; to our buildings, walkways and grounds; to our academic programs and to the many services we provide to Iowans. 

V. Conclusion/closing 

As I conclude my remarks today, and as we go about our daily activities … teaching, performing research and other scholarly activity, helping students succeed, conducting the normal business of our university and caring for our campus … I want you to keep in mind what an impact this university – through you – can have. 

In the book, The Butterfly Effect, there's a story about this university.  It's a story about Iowa State. It's the story of how a professor named Joseph Budd decided to take a new young transfer student from Simpson College under his wing, because in him, he saw an incredibly gifted young man.  That young man was George Washington Carver, who, thanks to Prof. Budd and others at this institution, realized his potential as a plant scientist, educator and humanitarian, and used those talents to literally change the world.  For in addition to his many contributions to plant science, one of the things Carver did in return after becoming a faculty member himself here, was to take another young, bright, talented person under his wing and nurture him.  That person was Henry Wallace, who used his education to take technology developed by universities, including this one, and create a company that introduced hybrid seed corn to the nation and the world.  That technology brought an agricultural productivity increase like none ever seen before, and one that has been instrumental in our ability to feed this world.  

It's absolutely amazing the impact we can have as educators and scientists, even in our really small actions.  So I want you to remember this story as you go about your daily activities here.  And I also urge you to remember these messages as we work to build on the tremendous history and heritage of this great university:

  1. First, let us all do everything we can to leave this university better than we found it.
  2. Second, take every opportunity to look beyond your own area to see how what you do impacts the bigger picture that is Iowa State University and this great state of Iowa.
  3. Third, look at every task as an opportunity to be innovative, be interdisciplinary, and to create partnerships. 
  4. And fourth, be bold. 

Innovation, boldness and partnerships created these revolutionary land-grant institutions and made them the great institutions they are today.  These same characteristics will carry us forward as we take Iowa State University from great …to greater! 

Go Cyclones!!