Wintersteen delivers funding request to legislators

Iowa State is asking the 2024 Iowa Legislature for $14.5 million in new funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The request includes:

  • $10 million above this year's $2.8 million in state support for efforts in STEM innovation and workforce development.
  • $4.5 million in new general operating support for priorities such as student financial aid, student support services, and faculty and staff retention, as well as to address inflation. That's about a 2.6% increase to this year's $174.1 million general university appropriation.

President Wendy Wintersteen joined her regent university peers to present their FY 2025 funding requests and respond to questions from the joint Education Appropriations Subcommittee Feb. 12 at the Capitol.

Noting that Iowa State's general university appropriation has been the same since FY 2023, she said the additional funds would help the university with high inflation and rising technology costs.

"We believe this is an investment that would be a good return to Iowa taxpayers," she said.

How ISU would use $10 million more for STEM development

Wintersteen outlined three priorities for additional state support in STEM workforce and innovation:

  • Hire additional faculty to grow high-demand degree programs in STEM disciplines. Some of these align with Iowa's "Hot 50" jobs. Examples Wintersteen provided are: architecture, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, computer science, digital agriculture, engineering, finance, marketing, healthcare management, veterinary medicine, K-12 STEM teachers.
  • Strengthen manufacturing in the state through three initiatives. The first would prepare a future workforce by expanding student internships with manufacturers in rural areas and creating CyTech Labs in which student teams work via CIRAS to assist Iowa manufacturers with their specific challenges. The second would capture the technology at CIRAS' successful Digital Technology Lab in the ISU Research Park in a trailer that could travel to locations across the state to help manufacturers increase efficiency and profitability. The third is further investment in digital agriculture (plant and livestock) research and programming.
  • Support rural vitality to attract and retain a rural workforce. The first strategy would expand Extension and Outreach's Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program (collaborating with the state's Economic Development Authority), which helps communities with populations under 20,000 assess their housing needs and identify solutions. A second would expand access to Extension and Outreach's Mental Health First Aid program among rural businesses and farm families. The program trains people to identify early signs of mental health issues; it's not a counseling service.

Wintersteen highlighted several university centers that exist to strengthen economic development across the state, including the ISU Research Park, the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), Iowa's Small Business Development Centers, ISU Extension and Outreach teams in all 99 counties, Digital Ag Innovation Laboratory, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the BioCentury Research Farm.

"We are focused on workforce and economic growth for Iowa," she said.