Nine priority projects will jump-start next strategic plan

Meeting June 2 in Iowa City, the state Board of Regents approved Iowa State's 2022-31 strategic plan, a nine-year guide to an annual process that will identify priorities and direct funding to projects and initiatives that address them.

With the first planning process set to get underway this fall, President Wendy Wintersteen announced the university is jump-starting the strategic plan now with a $10.5 million investment in nine projects that address one or more of the plan's five aspirational statements. She said the funding will come from private gift funds available to her for discretionary one-time use. Following the board meeting, she outlined the projects in a memo the campus community.

The projects have a one- to three-year timeframe and include strategies to boost enrollment, add high-demand degree programs, hire faculty in critical areas, build research teams and modernize research facilities. One invests $600,000 -- plus an additional $442,000 in university funds -- at two campus childcare facilities to address a critical worklife issue for employees with young children.

"While there are many worthy initiatives we could have chosen to jump-start our plan, these were identified through campus feedback and input during the plan development process as high-priority areas that can have an immediate impact," Wintersteen said.

Wintersteen has appointed members of her leadership team to oversee the nine initiatives and work with campus partners in the coming months on implementation plans.

Jump-start projects

Wintersteen summarized these nine projects in the jump-start effort:

  • $3.5 million to support faculty hires in key areas that track with Iowa State's research strengths and emerging degree programs.
  • $1.5 million to start academic degrees that meet student and employer demand -- also known as the "Degrees of the Future" initiative.
  • $1.5 million to launch a university-wide initiative to increase student retention and graduation rates, with a focus on first-generation and multicultural students and students whose academic progress was most impacted by the pandemic. This project emerged from Learner Success Lab recommendations.
  • $1 million to more effectively recruit freshman and transfer students to build overall enrollment. The strategies come from faculty and staff members' "100 Ideas," for example, new certificates from collaborations with Iowa employers and community colleges.
  • $1 million for unique, major research instrument purchases and lab infrastructure improvements.
  • $600,000 to develop Iowa State Online, a university-wide brand and support structure that will bring online education programs under a single umbrella.
  • $600,000 (plus $442,000 in university funds) to renovate two campus childcare facilities, at College of Veterinary Medicine and on North Stange Road, to improve learning, safety and comfort for the children of faculty, staff and students.
  • $500,000 to build and provide seed funding for new interdisciplinary faculty research teams in areas where Iowa State has a competitive advantage, for example, water management, carbon sequestration, advanced materials and cyber.
  • $300,000 for open educational resources and immediate-access materials in undergraduate high-enrollment courses to ease textbook cost for students.

Each project supports between one and three of the aspirational goals in the 2022-31 strategic plan, as summarized below.


Support for the five aspirational goals

Strategic goal

Number of jump-start
projects supporting it

Total jump-start investment

To be the most student-centric leading research university.


$3.8 million

To be the university that cultivates a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where students, faculty and staff flourish.


$1.3 million

To be the university that fosters lifelong learning.


$1.5 million

To be the university that creates opportunities and forges new frontiers.


$1.9 million

To be the trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.


$2.0 million



$10.5 million


Project leadership

Wintersteen said she'll hire a strategic initiatives director to oversee the strategic plan process, an annual opportunity for faculty and staff to apply for funding for projects that help achieve the plan's goals.

"Each year, as well as at three-year and six-year checkpoints, we'll be able to assess where we stand, infuse new ideas and respond to our dynamic landscape," she said.


Related story

There's still time to share comments on the strategic plan draft, Feb. 24, 2022