Leath: Think big, innovate, be bold

Leath on stage, flanked by Provost Jonathan Wickert and Agricult

Leath shares his vision for Iowa State in his installation address. Photos by Bob Elbert.

President Steven Leath Sept. 14 announced a goal to raise $150 million in private gifts for student financial aid over the next five years.

Leath unveiled the goal in his presidential installation address: “Educate. Innovate. Achieve!” Leath, who assumed the leadership post last January, was installed as Iowa State’s 15th president in a ceremony at Stephens Auditorium.

In his installation remarks, Leath noted the generosity of Iowa State alumni and friends who pledged gifts for student scholarships in the most recent comprehensive fundraising campaign, which concluded in 2011.

“We as institutions have to do more to provide funding to help students pay for their education,” Leath said in his address.

The call for additional private funding for financial aid is part of Leath’s first priority: To insure that Iowa State continues to provide a high-quality educational experience. He noted that Iowa State is known as a caring university, one that is committed to helping students achieve their goals before and after graduation.

“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 strong,” Leath said. “But just as important, we must be accessible. And being accessible means being affordable.”

Measures to curb student debt

To address the problem of growing student debt, Leath announced a four-part plan:

  • Hold down costs by continuing efforts to run the university more efficiently. He pledged support for the proposal before the Board of Regents to freeze tuition next year for resident undergraduate students, and he said student fees would not be increased next year. Student fees support such benefits as reduced rates for concerts and athletic events, free use of the CyRide bus system and recreation facilities.
  • Provide better financial counseling for students and families. Iowa State is providing more information to students about their existing debt and what it will be after graduation.
  • Be more creative in helping students find lower-cost paths to a four-year degree. More students are coming to Iowa State having already earned college credits, and 20 percent of new students are transfers from community colleges.
  • Maximize revenue streams other than tuition to support academic programs. The state’s share of support for Iowa’s three public universities has dropped nearly 50 percent over the last 30 years. Leath thanked Gov. Terry Branstad, the Legislature and the Board of Regents for reversing that trend this fiscal year.
President Leath and Board of Regents President Craig Lang

ISU President Steven Leath and Regents President Craig Lang share a good-humored moment on stage. 

Partner with others

Leath said another major priority for his administration will be developing partnerships.

“I want Iowa State University to be known as the ‘partnership university.’ More than that, I want us to be known as the university that gets it right when it comes to partnering with others,” Leath said. “One size does not fit all. We need to listen; we need to be more demand-driven in developing our programs and services.”

He noted this applies in particular to the university’s role in Iowa’s economic development. He applauded existing Iowa State programs that are devoted to strengthening business and industry, but said he wants to initiate a more integrated approach that maximizes the university’s potential.

“I have asked members of my senior leadership team to develop an economic development framework that will better assist Iowa companies and communities to prosper and grow,” Leath said. “Efforts will concentrate on the three state focus industries of biosciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology.”

Economic development to assist Iowa companies, communities

He listed four specific objectives:

  • Leverage the strengths of Iowa State Extension and Outreach, research and economic development and the colleges
  • Build upon existing partnerships
  • Serve Iowans better by making it easier and more friendly for companies to do business with Iowa State
  • Significantly expand the Iowa State Research Park

Leath, who was directly involved with research-based economic development in North Carolina, said the state of Iowa has taken positive steps, but more effort is needed.

“We are in a competition, and we need to ramp up our efforts – and I intend for Iowa State University to take a leadership role,” Leath said.

One important role for Iowa State, he said, is to expand faculty expertise in areas that are critical to Iowa’s economic future, such as the biological sciences, agriculture, physical sciences and engineering.

He announced that senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert and the college deans will seek to add 200 faculty positions in these key areas over the next 18 to 24 months. Many of the new faculty, he said, will fill new positions and some will fill vacant positions. He emphasized faculty positions would not be decreased in other disciplines to meet this goal.

Research park expansion

As part of his emphasis on partnerships and economic development, Leath announced that the research park now reports to his office. The Research Park previously reported to the VP for Research and Economic Development. Leath said he envisions the park becoming the “north anchor” for the Capital Corridor project, which seeks to further develop the Ames-Des Moines region.

Other initiatives

In his installation address, Leath also announced initiatives to:

  • Make available up to $1.5 million per year for three years for up to three interdisciplinary research projects selected through evaluation and competition. The intent is to encourage and expand research efforts.
  • Expand the number of graduate students to support research
  • Enhance campus beautification, including the Iowa State Center grounds, and further invest in University Museums and Reiman Gardens; Leath noted that first lady Janet Leath is actively engaged in this effort.
  • Promote diversity on campus by supporting several recommendations proposed by the University Committee on Women and other key groups, and also by partnering with King and Moulton Elementary Schools in Des Moines to help increase the number of lower income and minority students enrolling at Iowa State
  • Promote a healthier and more productive lifestyle for faculty and staff; human resources services is developing a plan, which will be implemented next spring
Student chats with Leath at the installation reception

A student chats with the president at the installation reception. 

Commitment to arts, humanities, social sciences remains strong

Leath told his installation audience that the emphasis on the physical sciences, engineering and economic development would not diminish Iowa State’s commitment to the arts, humanities and social sciences.

“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 of this university and community,” he said.

Employees will be honored at Friday ceremony

The university community is invited to the 2012 university awards ceremony on Friday, Sept. 21 (3:15 p.m., Memorial Union Sun Room). Recipients of the university's most distinguished awards for faculty and staff will be honored. A reception will follow in the South Ballroom.

Following is a list of the members of the university community who will be honored, along with explanations of their awards.

Distinguished Professor

The title of Distinguished Professor, first awarded in 1956, is presented to faculty members whose accomplishments in research or creative activities have had a significant impact on their discipline, and who have demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility. A $6,500 increment in base salary is granted, and the awardee retains the title for the remainder of his or her career at the university.

Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering
Dan Shechtman

Research scientist, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
Professor of materials science and engineering
Shechtman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 1982 identification of quasicrystals. His revolutionary discovery changed scientists' understanding of how atoms arrange themselves in solids, which has impacted subsequent research and understanding in materials science, chemistry and condensed matter physics.

Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences
Jonathan Wendel
Professor and chair of ecology, evolution and organismal biology
Wendel is considered a world leader in the study of the evolutionary and genomic consequences of genome doubling – or polyploidy – and especially how gene function changes in response to instances of gene duplication. Wendel has received several awards for his teaching, research and departmental leadership.

University Professor

The title of University Professor is bestowed on a faculty member who has acted as a change agent by having made significant contributions to the university, and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility. A $6,000 increment in base salary is granted, and the awardee retains the title for the remainder of his or her career at the university.

Steven Herrnstadt
Professor of art and design
Herrnstadt has integrated art and design with digital technology, creating opportunities for faculty, students and staff in the College of Design and beyond. He is a founding faculty member of the interdisciplinary human computer interaction graduate program. Herrnstadt also helped biology faculty create Meta!Blast, the educational video game with accurate 3D representations of cell parts.

Gordon Miller
Professor of chemistry
Miller continuously works to strengthen the chemistry curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students in chemistry. He established a mechanism to introduce first-year students to research opportunities, and he enhanced lab safety with new lab courses and procedures for students, staff and faculty. He has an active and widely recognized research program in complex alloys and magnetic refrigeration.

James Oliver
Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and aerospace engineering
Since becoming director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center in 2003, Oliver has expanded the center's research efforts from engineering-centric to university-wide, and its faculty collaborators now come from every college. Iowa State's human computer interaction graduate program, which he helped develop a decade ago, has become one of the largest and most prominent in the country and a model for interdisciplinary programs.

Regents Award for Faculty Excellence

The award is presented by the Board of Regents to recognize faculty members who are outstanding university citizens and who have rendered significant service to the university or the state of Iowa. A $1,000 award is granted.

Thomas Greenbowe
Professor of chemistry and of curriculum and instruction
Greenbowe is considered by many as the "go-to guy" when it comes to chemistry education in Iowa. Since coming to Iowa State in 1990, he has taught chemistry to 25,000 students and has been an active learning workshop facilitator for 2,500 chemistry teachers. He has generated more than $5 million in external grant support.

Helen Jensen
Professor of economics
Jensen's research on the economics of nutrition addresses some of the most pressing issues challenging our nation today -- hunger, obesity, food safety, animal health, biological terrorism, food prices and food sufficiency. For the past 22 years, her advice and counsel have been sought out by policy makers, the food industry and consumer groups on the state, national and international levels.

Suraj Kothari
Professor of electrical and computer engineering and of computer science
Kothari has provided outstanding teaching, research and service to Iowa State for 28 years, bringing in nearly $6 million in external funding, publishing 70 scientific articles, obtaining four patents and supervising 56 master's and doctoral students. He also was the catalyst behind the new software engineering degree program launched in 2007.

Daniel Loy
Professor of animal science
As a faculty member and extension beef specialist for the past 30 years, Loy has led the development of technological improvements for beef producers to make their operations more efficient and Iowa beef more competitive economically. He currently serves as director of the Iowa Beef Center, the university's extension program to cattle producers.

James Werbel
Professor of management
Werbel teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses, consistently receiving high marks from students. His strong research record includes the publication of more than 40 refereed articles in leading management journals, four books and monographs. Werbel also has led four Fulbright Scholar assignments.

Regents Award for Staff Excellence

The award is presented by the Board of Regents to recognize members of the Professional and Scientific or Supervisory and Confidential staff who are outstanding university citizens and who have rendered significant service to the university or the state of Iowa. A $1,000 award is granted.

David Baker
Extension program specialist
Baker's passion for helping young farmers is evident in his role as an Extension specialist for the Beginning Farmer Center. He has facilitated matches for 64 young people with non-related retiring farmers, and he has worked with more than 260 families to help transition their farming operations to the next generation.

Nathan Brockman
Curator, Reiman Gardens
Brockman is curator of the Butterfly Wing at Reiman Gardens where he involves university classes in his workshops and projects, and incorporates his own interests in origami, kite flying and hydroponics into programs for visitors. In addition, he has made the butterfly rearing process more efficient, and conducted butterfly longevity research.

Stephen Heideman
Program coordinator, department of chemistry
Heideman has spent 33 years making sure the laboratories and support systems in the chemistry department operate smoothly and correctly. As laboratory coordinator, he plays a key role in laboratory experiments and assessments, equipment acquisition, renovations and new construction, as well as information technology resources and online course management.

Laura Moreland
Office copy center supervisor, Printing and Copy Services
Moreland joined ISU in 1983 in the administrative data processing department and transferred to Printing and Copy Services the following year. She has held various positions within the office and production areas of the copy centers. She has an extensive knowledge about printing processes and digital files, which has helped many clients.

Louis Thompson Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

Established by the late Louis Thompson, emeritus associate dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the award recognizes an outstanding teacher who is dedicated to helping undergraduate students. A $1,500 award is granted.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden
Professor of horticulture
VanDerZanden has been recognized by the American Society for Horticultural Science and the North American College Teachers of Agriculture for her exemplary knowledge and teaching effectiveness in preparing future professionals in horticulture. She is the co-author of three college textbooks, and has created an interactive online case study program that is used by several other universities.

Curtis Youngs
Associate professor of animal science
Youngs has developed several novel courses at Iowa State, including a bioethics honors seminar and the only embryo transfer lecture and lab course available to undergraduate students in the United States. His courses are among the most popular in the department, and graduating seniors consistently rank him first or second among faculty who teach required courses.

James Huntington Ellis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching

Established by a 1928 Iowa State graduate, the award recognizes a faculty member for exceptional achievement in teaching introductory courses. A $1,500 award is granted.

Kenneth Holscher
Associate professor of entomology
Holscher has provided teaching excellence for students at Iowa State for three decades, and he has shown a superior proficiency for engaging students in large introductory classes. Part of his teaching philosophy is never to forget what it's like to be a student. His student evaluations are high, and he has received seven teaching awards from student organizations.

Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award

Established by a long-time staff member of the Graduate College, the award recognizes superior performance by a member of the graduate faculty in enriching the student-professor relationship and enabling students to finish their work in a timely and scholarly manner. A $1,500 award is granted.

Jack Dekkers
Professor of animal science
Dekkers leads the animal breeding and genetics research group. Graduate students in that group, both past and present, say he has been their greatest professional mentor; that is he one of the most intelligent, fair and articulate professors they have worked with; and that he has taught them how to look at scientific problems differently.

International Service Award

The award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding international service in teaching, research or administration within the United States or abroad. A $1,500 award is granted.

Chad Gasta
Associate professor of world languages and cultures
Gasta's contributions to internationalization significantly have impacted curricula and programs across the university. The result has been new collaborations among disciplines, departments and colleges. His leadership of the study abroad program in Spain has included faculty from multiple disciplines, providing more than 500 students with a unique learning experience.

Award for Departmental Leadership

The award recognizes outstanding departmental leadership that helps faculty members meet their complex obligations to undergraduate teaching, graduate mentoring, research and service. A $1,500 award is granted.

Patrick Halbur
Professor and chair, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine; and professor of veterinary pathology
Halbur made the transition from private practice to academia in 1990. His record has been one of stunning advancement, both for himself and in the programs he has led. He has been a section leader, interim associate dean, interim department head and since 2006, chair of VDPAM and executive director of the vet diagnostic lab.

Award for Early Achievement in Teaching

The award recognizes a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching performance unusually early in his or her career. A $1,500 award is granted.

Jana Byars
Assistant professor of history
Byars is a scholar on early modern Europe and the Mediterranean region. She is described by colleagues and students as a "dedicated and passionate teacher," and her students praise her energy and commitment. Byars' teaching style emphasizes critical thought, discussion and writing.

Chun Kit (Jason) Chan
Assistant professor of psychology
Chan incorporates research on the effects of testing on memory, false memories and eyewitness testimony into his courses on cognitive psychology and research methods. Students say they don't mind taking his tests because it's like being a part of his research. Chan involves undergraduate students in his research lab, which they attribute to their future success.

Joseph Zambreno
Associate professor of electrical and computer engineering
Zambreno's teaching excellence encompasses undergraduate and graduate courses, laboratory development and instruction, honors programs, student research supervision, student mentoring, student design competition, innovative pedagogy and scholarship of teaching and learning. He also has strengthened the curriculum through his research into computer architecture and computer security.

Award for Academic Advising Impact

The award recognizes outstanding performance by an academic adviser over an extended period of time. A $1,500 award is granted.

Kevin Schilling
Associate professor of music and theater
Over the last 30 years, Schilling has advised more than a thousand students and has trained all of the current department advisers in the department of music. He is the permanent head of the department's curriculum committee, and he has developed and implemented a series of seminars to help students design and navigate their degree programs.

Award for Early Achievement in Academic Advising

The award recognizes outstanding performance by an academic adviser early in his or her career. A $1,500 award is granted.

LeQuetia Ancar
Academic adviser, agricultural and biosystems engineering
Ancar is consistently evaluated as one of the top advisers in her department. Her colleagues say she is an outstanding mentor for all aspects of the student experience. She coordinates the Technology Learning Community, and plays an important role in the department's recruitment, retention and diversity activities.

Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research

The award recognizes a faculty member who has a national or international reputation for contributions in research, and who has influenced the research activities of students. A $1,500 award is granted.

Carolyn Cutrona
Professor of psychology
An accomplished social science researcher, Cutrona's research focuses on close relationships and the role of contextual influences on well-being and social relationships. She has published nearly 85 tier-one journal articles and chapters, and has received more than $12 million in research funding. Cutrona's work has been cited nearly 8,500 times, and her research has influenced generations of social scientists and policymakers.

Brent Shanks
Mike and Jean Steffenson Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Shanks is director of the National Science Foundation's Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (C-BiRC). Its success under his leadership has resulted in NSF committing to a second five years of funding, for a total commitment of $30 million. Shanks' own research in catalysis has raised more than $40 million.

Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Research

The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary research performance or scholarship accomplishments as documented by peers and experts in the field. A $1,500 award is granted.

Hui Hu
Associate professor of aerospace engineering
Hu has developed an array of test techniques, including multidimensional flow vector and temperature field, quantum dot thermal, and laser-induced fluorescence. The scope of his work ranges from wind turbines to microfluidics, insect flight, fuel atomization and aircraft icing. He has obtained more than $7 million to support his research.

Daniel Nettleton
Laurence H. Baker Endowed Chair in Biological Statistics and professor of statistics 
Nettleton is recognized internationally for his original and effective methods for solving some of the most challenging statistical issues arising from genomics and bioinformatics research. His numerous groundbreaking contributions in statistics, genomics, bioinformatics and plant and animal science have helped several research groups at Iowa State become world leaders. 

Award for Early Achievement in Research

The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments unusually early in his or her professional career. A $1,500 award is granted.

Mayly Sanchez
Assistant professor of physics and astronomy
Sanchez is a leading researcher in the study of the neutrino, one of the most elusive elementary particles in matter, including its oscillation properties. Sanchez's outstanding leadership qualities are evident through her collaborative research at the Fermi National Laboratory, Batavia, Ill.

University Professional and Scientific Research Award

The award recognizes excellence in research in a Professional and Scientific staff member who has been at Iowa State for at least five years. A $1,500 award is granted.

Sergey Bud'ko
Scientist, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
Adjunct professor of physics and astronomy
Bud'ko has made significant contributions to condensed matter and materials physics for 25 years. As a permanent member of Distinguished Professor Paul Canfield's internationally acclaimed research team, Bud'ko has made numerous discoveries and observations that have contributed to advancements in magnetic materials and superconductivity.

Award for Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa

The award recognizes individuals or teams of faculty or professional and scientific staff for outstanding ISU-based achievements in advancing the economic development of the state of Iowa. A $1,500 award is granted.

David Bogaczyk
Director of the Iowa procurement technical assistance program for the Center for Industrial Research and Service
Bogaczyk helps Iowa companies win contracts with local, state and federal government agencies. Under his direction, Iowa companies have received contracts totaling more than $500 million with these agencies, enabling them to expand, add thousands of jobs and strengthen Iowa's economy. He also established the Iowa Veterans Procurement Conference to assist veteran-owned businesses.

Delbert (Hank) Harris
Professor of animal science and of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine
Harris has accomplished what many entrepreneurial faculty dream of: Establish his own business while maintaining faculty excellence. As a faculty member, he has developed the multi-site approach to hog production, which helps large producers avoid large losses from herd diseases. He also has started two successful pharmaceutical companies that serve the livestock industry.

Award for Achievement in Intellectual Property

The award recognizes individuals or teams of faculty or professional and scientific staff for outstanding ISU-based achievements in producing intellectual property. A $1,500 award is granted.

Nick Christians
University Professor of horticulture and agronomy
Christians discovered that corn gluten meal could serve as a 'green' weed control and source of nitrogen for desirable crops. He refined and developed his discovery with a zeal that has become his trademark at Iowa State. Thanks to his initial discovery, subsequent patents and a broad array of commercial products, Christians has brought honor, acclaim and monetary benefit to the university, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the horticulture department.

Professional and Scientific Staff Excellence Award

The award recognizes contributions made by a professional and scientific staff member within and beyond the university, and career progress demonstrated by accomplishments at Iowa State. A $1,500 award is granted.

Kerry Dixon-Fox
Architect and capital project manager, facilities planning and management
Dixon-Fox has been helping Iowa State become a more efficient, sustainable and beautiful campus for 17 years. As a project coordinator and former customer relations specialist, she has helped numerous campus units improve their facilities and services. As the coordinator of sustainable campus design and construction, she also is a leader of the university's LEED initiative.

Soma Mitra
Academic fiscal officer, College of Business
Mitra's colleagues praise her abilities in fiscal management, budget analysis, and human resource policies and procedures. They also say she volunteers for anything that benefits the college. Her volunteering enthusiasm carries over into several professional organizations and community activities.

Patricia Swanson
Extension families specialist in human development and family studies
Swanson's work in personal finance at Iowa State, statewide and nationally over the past 18 years has benefited thousands of clients and brought significant recognition to the university.  She has been a pioneer in the use of educational technology and has a long record of outstanding service and leadership to her professional associations.

Carroll Ringgenberg Award

Named for a former long-time staff member in purchasing and facilities, the award recognizes a professional and scientific staff member who has been employed by the university for at least 10 years and has demonstrated constant and contagious dedication and goodwill for Iowa State. A $1,500 award is granted.

Nancy Qvale
Administrative specialist, department of civil, construction and environmental engineering
Qvale's experience and broad range of knowledge make her the "go-to" person in the department. Her positive personality and generous ways attract those seeking help. Qvale's colleagues say she is dedicated to Iowa State and has a strong desire to continually make the university a better place.

Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award

The award recognizes a professional and scientific staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments unusually early in his or her professional career at Iowa State. A $1,500 award is granted.

Nancy Girard
Program coordinator, University Museums 
As the educator of visual literacy and learning for University Museums, Girard is committed to arts education. She has developed innovative ways to reach new audiences and create connections with other disciplines. Her visual and art literacy programs have reached more than 12,000 students on campus since 2009.

Ann Staudt
Program coordinator, department of agricultural and biosystems engineering
Staudt is responsible for conservation education outreach programs, including "Conservation Station," a 22-foot trailer equipped with a rainfall simulator and interactive demonstrations, and "Conservation Pack," a program she created to show how people can work together to improve the environment. The programs have been experienced by 15,000 people at 114 community events since they were launched in 2010.

Award for Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice

The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding performance in statewide leadership in extension or professional practice and who has achieved national recognition for outreach activities. A $1,500 award is granted.

John Mabry
Professor of animal science and director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center
Mabry is widely recognized for effectively strengthening Iowa's pork industry, being named an Honorary Master Pork Producer by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pork Board.

Award for Distinguished Service in Extension

The highest award bestowed on an Extension professional, it recognizes sustained distinguished performance and educational contributions to Iowa State's clientele through extension programs. A $1,500 award is granted.

Sherry Glenn
Assistant vice president for Extension and Outreach
In her 25 years of service to Iowa State, University Extension and Iowa, Glenn has played a key role in many of Extension's transitions. She has successfully obtained more than $3 million in grants to support projects, written and led award-winning diversity education programs, led international development teams, and served on numerous task forces and special assignment teams.

Award for Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice

The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in extension or professional practice unusually early in his or her career. A $1,500 grant is awarded.

Michael Anderson
State 4-H program specialist
In his six years with ISU extension, Anderson has brought significant innovation and forward-thinking to the 4-H livestock program. Under his leadership, Iowa was the first state in the nation to transition 4-H livestock enrollment and identification to an online system, and the first to create a comprehensive online livestock judging program. He also coordinates the 4-H livestock shows at the Iowa State Fair each year.

R.K. Bliss Extension Award

Named for the director of Extension from 1912 to 1946, the award recognizes outstanding achievement of an Iowa State Extension staff member for developing an overall or continuing extension education program. A $500 award is granted.

Cindy Baumgartner
Field specialist, family and consumer sciences extension
Baumgartner has served the people of northeast Iowa with excellence and distinction, first as a 4-H and youth specialist and currently as a nutrition, health and wellness educator. She co-authored the award-winning national 4-H character education curriculum, "Boomerang," and has written several other widely used nutrition, food safety and health curricula.

Endowed chairs and professorships

Holders of endowed chairs and professorships who were installed in their positions during the past academic year or who will be installed shortly are:

Bruce Babcock
Professor of economics
Cargill Chair in Energy Economics

Jennifer Blackhurst
Associate professor of supply chain and information systems
Walker Professorship in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Christina Bloebaum
Professor of aerospace engineering
Dennis and Rebecca Muilenburg Professorship

Eric Burrough
Assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine
Boerhinger Ingelheim Vetmedica Professorship in Food Animal Infectious Diseases 

Sumit Chaudhary
Assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering
Northrop Grumman Professorship in honor of Fred O'Green

Kristen Constant
Professor and chair, materials science and engineering
Wilkinson Professor in Interdisciplinary Engineering

Ian Dobson
Professor of electrical and computer engineering
Arend J. and Verna V. Sandbulte Professorship

Jonathan Fox
Professor of human development and family studies
Ruth Whipp Sherwin Endowed Professor

Randall Geiger
Professor of electrical and computer engineering
Tunc and Lale Doluca Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Eulanda Sanders
Professor of apparel, educational studies and hospitality management
Donna R. Danielson Professorship in Textiles and Clothing

Levi Stanley
Assistant professor of chemistry
Carlyle G. Caldwell Endowed Chair in Chemistry

David White
Associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering
Richard L. Handy Professorship

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!! 

Five Questions for Katie Baumgarn


Room scheduler Katie Baumgarn in 205 Carver, a 2012 replica of 305 Carver, which she helped design six years ago to make a large, unsloped classroom more user-friendly. Her solution: raise the back rows of students instead of raising the floor. The first five rows of movable tables and chairs are about hip-height; the last three rows are closer to rib-height. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Katie Baumgarn leads a three-person team charged with scheduling all Iowa State classrooms available for general use -- whether for classes, final exams, night exams, student club meetings or special events (for example, Odyssey of the Mind or new student orientation). Variables in their equation include the needs of students and faculty with disabilities, growing enrollment and class sizes, and back-to-back room requests. As of Sept. 1, the team had completed a preliminary run through a spring 2013 class schedule (mid-October is the more typical timeline).

The basics:

  • Name: Katie Baumgarn
  • Position: Coordinator of instructional facilities
  • Years at Iowa State: 28+
  • Education: Bachelor's degree in home economics education with a minor in child development; master's degree in curriculum and instructional technology, both from Iowa State

Throw some numbers at me. What kind of space does the room scheduling team coordinate?

We manage 214 general university classrooms in 36 buildings. It's roughly 4 percent of all the indoor space on campus. The smallest seats 12 students (1157 Sweeney); the largest 431 (Hoover auditorium). All but approximately 10 of them are media-ready and those 10 are on our [renovation] list. In any given hour, that's 14,171 student seats.

In an average semester, we're trying to find homes for 5,000 to 6,000 class sections for somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 courses. (Departments control their own teaching laboratories and classrooms.)

We use the Schedule 25 computer program, but we always have 200 to 225 of what I call homeless classes – ones that don't get scheduled by the software. Typically, there's a discrepancy with the (enrollment) number. Maybe two sections merged or a department decided to move something to a lab, but we didn't know that yet. So we follow up on those and find them a home.

Answers to more questions

Room scheduling FAQ

So there's not much wiggle room in the system?

People want to stay in that prime time, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are rooms that are open at 8 in the morning and after 2 o'clock, even more when you hit 3:10 and 4:10 p.m. It also depends on the size of the class. A class of 80 students? There might not be anything, but larger classes? Yes, we're going to find rooms. The fact that most of our classrooms are media-ready gives us great flexibility in scheduling.

We spend hours, hours, trying to fix things for folks. One request for a change could result in five or six moves, involving other faculty and departments, and if everyone along that chain agrees to the change, we can say yes. We don't like to say no, but 214 rooms isn't a lot of space for the classes we have to schedule.

Last fall, we had two hours when there were no large classrooms (50-431 seats) at all for either a Monday-Wednesday-Friday or a Tuesday-Thursday sequence. This fall, there are four hours in the M-W-F sequence there are no rooms available, and two hours again on T-Th.

I'm trying to let departments know that if they have some new ideas on how and where they want to teach classes, I'd like to come over and visit with them. We want to be as supportive as possible with the limited resources we have. We just need to work out a plan.

If someone offered you $5 million worth of classroom construction or renovation, what's on your wish list?

I'd say a room or two that holds 150-180 students, or as we're growing, even 180-200 students. But as I said, we still have rooms; you just have to go to that time of the day, and the students will come, I know they will. If it's the right class, for example a required one, and you only offer it one time, that class will fill.

What's your "If I had a dime for every time I heard that" ... ?

Faculty requests to teach back-to-back classes in the same room.

What's the best part of your job?

I really enjoy helping plan classroom renovations. Faculty and departments let us know when rooms need some upgrades. We also look at room use, which helps identify rooms needing a face-lift. We have a wonderful partnership with [Information Technology Services] classroom services, which also gets comments. So [classroom services manager] Matt Darbyshire and I compare our lists and plan our attack. The Maintenance Improvement Committee has blessed me with a pool of $250,000 per year to get some work done.

We're trying to create more rooms (for 48 to 100 students) that offer flexible seating for a more cooperative learning environment. Faculty are moving that way and students seem to enjoy it.

In other rooms, we've added white boards all the way around the room. We just partnered with ITS and CELT on an old, old room in Gilman that looked like a Harry Potter classroom. In there, we're using for the first time what's called a huddle board -- a white board for small group use that then can hang on a rail at the front of the class for large group sharing. It's fun to introduce some new ideas.

Partial shutdown scheduled for semester break

Iowa State will be partially closed for an 11-day stretch during semester break again this winter. The Dec. 22-Jan. 1 period includes three university holidays (Dec. 24, 25 and Jan. 1), four weekend days and four workdays (Dec. 26-28, 31). Employees who don't work on the four workdays would be required to take paid or unpaid leave for those days.

Senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden noted that this is not a mandatory closing. And it is not intended to limit units' decisions to operate.

"Units involved in critical services, maintenance and research programs will remain in operation," he said. "There may be partial staffing in some units. Supervisors should set their operating schedules in consultation with their deans or vice presidents."

However, because classes aren't in session, university activities slow down and many employees plan to be gone for the holidays, Madden said he and other university officials are encouraging units and employees to take advantage of the partial closing. He said he anticipates most Iowa State facilities will be closed and locked during the 11-day period, just as they are on holidays or weekends.

The partial shutdown also helps with utility savings. Reduced demands for electricity and steam (heat) have saved the university close to $5,000 per day in previous years. Savings last year were smaller due to unusually mild temperatures.

Leave contact info, check voicemail

Units that shut down over the extended break will need to leave emergency contact numbers on websites and voicemail, turn down thermostats, turn off equipment and designate someone to periodically check work spaces for plumbing, heating or cooling problems. Voicemail messages that may come in to administrative offices' main numbers need to be checked on a regular basis and responses made to customers and service requests.

"We encourage units to work out partial closing plans for the semester break, communicate them to staff and post them on their websites as soon as possible so that students, customers and staff members can make their personal plans," Madden said.

This winter marks the fourth year for a partial shutdown during the semester break. The strategy was first implemented in December 2009 as part of a much larger plan to meet a $24.5 million midyear state budget reversion.

Design on Main connects College of Design with Ames community


Associate professor of art and design C. Arthur Croyle (holding white card) leads a graduate seminar in the College of Design's downtown facility. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The College of Design is joining Main Street with a satellite facility for classes, exhibitions and community outreach.

The college's newest venture -- Design on Main -- occupies about 7,000 square feet of a former antiques mall in the Main Street Cultural District. The space encompasses the east side of the lower level (203 Main) and both sides of the upper level (205 Main) of the more than 130-year-old brick building.

Open house

Sunday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
203-205 Main St.

The facility provides studio space upstairs for 20 graduate students in the integrated visual arts (IVA) program and a small gallery space to showcase artwork and other projects at street level. The college is deciding how it will use the rest of the building, but it could house new master's degree programs, faculty research or community design projects, said Mike Miller, College of Design director of operations.

"The college benefits in several ways," Miller said. "This solves some space issues as we grow; we may move existing programs to Main Street, which frees up space on campus, or start new programs downtown.

Ames connection

"It also allows us to be more connected with the community," he said. "Many of our classes work directly with Iowa communities. The first floor gives us a way to share what we do with a wider audience."

The college will host an open house at Design on Main during the Octagon Art Festival Sunday, Sept. 23 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Visitors can tour the facility and view artwork and design projects by College of Design students and faculty. Graduate visual arts students also will give public painting demonstrations, and staff will be available to answer questions.


The College of Design's new satellite facility is at 203-205 Main St. Photo by Bob Elbert.

"Through this College of Design initiative, the whole university becomes more visible in the Ames community," said Design dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez. "We believe our success is linked to the success of the community. We welcome residents to learn more about what we do, and we're eager to learn more about how our research, outreach and creative activities can contribute to the vitality of downtown, of Ames and of Iowa."

The IVA program is excited to be the first tenant in the new location and pioneer the college's presence downtown, said C. Arthur Croyle, associate professor and program director, who leads a graduate critique seminar at the facility.

"It's an opportunity for graduate students to develop an identity and be a part of the larger arts community," Croyle said. "They will gain a higher profile as well as experience interacting with the public and curating their work for display."

Croyle also anticipates opportunities for collaboration with other college programs.

"I can't wait to see what other units move in and how we'll work together. We'll all be in the same place, surrounded by the city, which should foster some interesting collaborations and new opportunities to engage the community," he said.

Council learns more about professional development program

Professional and Scientific Council members learned more about a budding professional development program, including a spring conference, at their Sept. 13 meeting. All P&S employees were asked for their input on professional development issues in an online survey emailed last week.

"Hopefully, [the survey] will give us a lot of input on topics, timing and logistics for our conference," said David Meisinger, chair of the P&S Council's professional development committee.

Meisinger said the conference -- likely to be held in the Scheman Building in early April -- will follow the theme of "understand value and build value." He said the cost will be nominal, thanks to a $25,000 strategic initiatives grant awarded to the council last fall.

But a spring conference is not the only part of the professional development program. Meisinger presented the "Four Cs" of professional development, which would add courses, coaching and community building to the conference component for a holistic approach.

"We want to make this whole program so broad and well-rounded, it's not just a conference and a one-time thing," Meisinger said. "We want to make this sustainable, something that will last a long time."

Bring a coworker

Past president Dan Burden encouraged council members to bring up to four additional P&S employees to the council's Oct. 4 meeting (2-4 p.m., Memorial Union Pioneer Room). He said a portion of the meeting time will be used for focus group discussion of professional development. The input will be used, along with the survey results, to help create the professional development program.

Other news

  • Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told council members that more than 125 nominations were submitted for the College of Engineering dean post. He said interviews should take place this fall, and a candidate should be in place by the end of the calendar year.
  • Associate vice president for human resource services David Trainor said a consultant has been hired to design a comprehensive wellness initiative. He said it would be "transformational," and include more than just physical aspects (such as financial literacy, stress and community engagement).
  • Trainor also shared a preliminary report on the University Benefits Committee recommendations, which would make no major changes in 2013 to employee health and dental plans.

'Science Guy' to kick off Engineers Week

Bill Nye 472

Engineers Week 2012 kicks off this year with a free public lecture by Bill Nye, the "Science Guy," Sept. 21 in Stephens Auditorium (7 p.m., doors open at 6:15 p.m.). Nye, formerly a mechanical engineer at Boeing, parlayed his stand-up comic skills into an Emmy Award-winning educational TV show on PBS Kids in the 1990s. Nye now serves as executive director of the Planetary Society and has regular host and guest appearances on several TV shows. Expect a blend of entertainment and science in his talk, "You Can Change the World." Contributed photo.