Freshman enrollment climbs 6% from last fall

Students take in ClubFest at outdoor tents

Students take in ClubFest along Morrill Road west of the Memorial Union Wednesday afternoon. Several hundred of Iowa State's 900+ clubs and organizations recruited new members at the semi-annual back-to-school tradition -- held in and around the MU this semester. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

A friend encouraged James Morrissette to add Iowa State to the list of colleges he was considering for engineering programs. The first-year student from Illinois took his friend's advice and found Iowa State checked a lot of boxes.

Freshman James Morrissette

James Morrissette

"I was looking to make sure I got some hands-on work through the mechanical engineering department or maybe in the Student Innovation Center. I was also looking to find whether or not there were clubs related to space and technological advancements," Morrissette said. "I took a look at Iowa State and the next thing you know we checked off every box."

Morrissette is one of 5,387 first-year students at Iowa State this fall -- an academically strong class with a grade point average of 3.7. Like many first-year students, Morrissette participates in one of Iowa State's 90+ learning communities. He joined LEAD: Leadership through Engineering Academic Diversity after participating this summer in APEX (Academic Program for Excellence), an eight-week program for multicultural students. It's these experiences and opportunities that students value at Iowa State.

Top 5 undergraduate majors

Mechanical engineering
Electrical and computer engineering
Animal science
Aerospace engineering

"With nearly 60% of our students enrolled in a STEM major, Iowa State continues to demonstrate its leadership as the university of science and technology," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "Students are eager to embrace Iowa State's innovative mindset and enhance their classroom learning with undergraduate research, learning communities and many experiential opportunities such as those offered in our new Student Innovation Center."

Enrollment at 30,708, increases in first-year students

Iowa State's total fall enrollment of 30,708 includes 25,808 undergraduate, 4,264 graduate and 636 veterinary medicine professional students representing all 99 Iowa counties, all 50 states and 112 countries.

While overall enrollment is down 1,117 students from last year, the university saw a 6% increase in new first-year students and a 1% increase in new graduate students. Laura Doering, associate vice president for enrollment management, said the larger incoming class is a credit to the university's efforts to support students throughout their time at Iowa State.

"Students come to Iowa State for quality academic programs, excellent value, career placement opportunities and the support services to succeed. We are here to help them reach their potential and earn a degree that will benefit them throughout their lifetime," Doering said.


Fall 2021: Enrollment by college

Agriculture and Life Sciences








Human Sciences


Liberal Arts and Sciences


Veterinary Medicine (graduate and professional)


Interdepartmental units and graduate undeclared





Meet Chris Johnsen, P&S Council president


Chris Johnsen is the P&S Council president for 2020-21. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

What are the priorities for your presidency?

Position: Manager of extension store and distribution center, ISU Extension and Outreach
Years at ISU: 17
Contact: 294-5247,

My priorities align with our strategic initiatives. There are some initiatives that have carried over. We're getting there on meaningful supervisor training, but we're obviously not done. We feel that's really important and will aid in retention, recruitment and overall employee satisfaction. You look outside the university, and surveys say one of the No. 1 reasons people leave their jobs is their supervisor. Another priority is having the university prioritize annual performance raises in the budget model. We saw a glimmer of that with a 2.1% increase this summer and a discretionary increase yet to be applied. That should not be something that just comes when there's a surplus. It needs to be allocated and accounted for. Those who are performing well should receive raises every year.

Why did you choose to lead during this time?

People have been asking me to run for a couple years, but I was still coming off grad school and needed to let my foot off the gas a little bit. When I decided it was the right time for me, I did not know that I would be coming in as president-elect during the start of the pandemic. If I revisited that decision a year and a half ago knowing what I know now, I'd don't know if I would run. But I saw the great leadership from Sara Parris as she navigated the council presidency during the pandemic, and I hope to do as well as she did.

How do you view having the council meetings back in person?

I'm excited, yet cautious. Seeing people in the Memorial Union, you get a better sense of the breadth of knowledge and information that is represented in our council members. We're cautious because we might not be able to do it the entire year. We don't know what's coming. But it's great to be back together. We've had enough of Webex. In-person meetings encourage engagement during the meeting and that collegiality among council members before and after the meetings.

What's one thing you wish professional and scientific staff understood better?

That we're here as your advocate. If you don't know who represents you on council, the council website has that information available at your fingertips. That can be in a division, like academic affairs or student affairs, or more granular, like who represents you from, say, the College of Business or ISU Extension and Outreach. If you have concerns, reach out to your councilors. We may not be able to move a mountain, but we are here to be your advocate. Like with our strategic initiatives, you might not see immediate action or change. But this is a way for your voice to be amplified in the meaningful way of shared governance.

Who is someone you admire and why?

As I look around my office and see Cyclones memorabilia and Hall of Fame athletes, there is one theme for those individuals and their pursuit to get where they did. They were all relentless. There also is one individual not related to sports: Steve Jobs. I admire him beyond the small rectangular piece of equipment that is never far from reach and sometimes actually used for phone calls. I admire him for his ability to "think different." For his relentless desire for innovation. For his own admiration for people who change things, seeing their genius and desire to push the human race forward. To quote Steve, "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

Meet Andrea Wheeler, Faculty Senate president

Andrea Wheeler

Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

What are the priorities for your presidency?

Position: Associate professor of architecture
Years at ISU: Eight
Contact: 294-3796,

My role is to facilitate faculty participation in the shared governance of the university. Our environment is challenging at this time and impacted by a global pandemic. These current circumstances present many different challenges for faculty at work and home. Our faculty have expressed anxiety about the continued risk posed by the coronavirus and the delta variant. Over the summer, Faculty Senate executive board has expressed its support through emails, a faculty petition and to the growing concern for the need for increased mitigation strategies on campus. It is our expectation that mitigation strategies on campus are informed by scientifically based health information and established policies and procedures. 

Why did you choose to lead during this time?

I choose to lead during this time to support faculty in the free exchange of ideas, the development of policies and participation in decision making that affects the institution. Several important items will come forward this year, including updating the required U.S. diversity requirement. This project has progressed for many years in senate committees and councils, and has met some obstacles. As an item on our agenda, it has provoked debate and rightly elicited strong feelings. We are now in a position to begin to implement recommendations and support faculty in updating their classes. House File 802 has also caused anxiety for faculty over the summer. I am confident faculty and instructors at Iowa State are highly knowledgeable in their fields and skilled in making decisions concerning course content. I am equally confident our faculty are outstanding teachers able to facilitate open discussions on complex topics.

How do you view having the senate meetings back in person?

I am very happy to be returning to an in-person meeting and to see my colleagues in the Memorial Union. While returning to in-person meetings will benefit the meeting discussion, I recognize there are senators unable to meet in person, and I have been working on the possibility of a hybrid option for senate meetings. Sadly, for the first meeting in September, this is not possible. We need to ensure that the senate meetings provide all senators with an environment for free and equal participation. I will continue to work on the possibility of meeting flexibility, and we will include a review of our parliamentary procedures.

What is one thing you wish the faculty understood better?

Faculty Senate is for all faculty. I wish that those who may feel that senate is not for them would reach out, lean in and participate. We need all faculty opinions to be heard, and it is my responsibility as president to ensure that there is a suitable environment in our meetings for this to happen.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I was a first-generation college student, and it took some time to recognize how important mentors are to me. I have made efforts during my time at Iowa State to seek out mentors across campus. We have some amazing professors in our community -- skillful, experienced scholars and academics -- and those with many years of knowledge of the university. These people are community-builders on our campus who are rarely recognized for this work.

Next year's funding requests are on regents docket

Iowa State will ask for nearly $8.5 million in additional operating support from the state next year. The state Board of Regents will approve its state funding requests for the fiscal year that begins July 1 when it meets Sept. 15-16 at the ISU Alumni Center. All of the meeting's open sessions will be livestreamed on the board's website. The meeting agenda also is online.

By law, funding requests for the next budget year are due to the state by Oct. 1. With flat state support in the current year, preceded by a $3.2 million reduction in state support in FY21, Iowa State seeks $7 million in additional funds for priorities such as student support services, student financial aid, retention of talented faculty and staff, expanded programming in innovation and entrepreneurship and a greater capacity for online course delivery to serve more kinds of learners.

The proposed request also includes nearly $1.4 million more in economic development funding:

  • $376,519 in recurring funds to fully fund, based on the FY20 request, the three state biosciences platforms managed by Iowa State (biobased products, vaccines and immunotherapeutics, and digital and precision agriculture). The University of Iowa manages the fourth, medical devices.
  • $1 million in one-time funds to serve as matching funds for two U.S. Economic Development Administration regional "challenge" programs: one that spurs industry growth, and another that builds coalitions of educators and industry representatives to design and implement STEM instruction to address private sector needs.

Multi-year state capital requests

As part of the Oct. 1 submission to the state, the regents will include two Iowa State projects in their five-year (FY2023-27) capital funding proposal:

  • $60.8 million over four years (FY23-26) for an estimated $64.3 million addition to the under-construction Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, scheduled for completion in August 2023. With the addition, the VDL could consolidate all testing, research and support programming under one roof and address issues of space quality and quantity. As proposed, the two phases would total about 142,000 square feet.
  • $18.9 million over four years (FY24-27) to replace LeBaron Hall and renovate a piece (6%) of MacKay Hall. A proposed $21.5 million in private gifts and $14 million in university funds would round out the funding for the two-phased, estimated $54.4 million project.

Facilities requests

Iowa State will seek the board's approval next week for two building projects:

  • A budget ($2.85 million) and description for a proposal to replace the 43-year-old external office windows on the College of Design building. Earlier attempts to repair the windows weren’t successful. The project also will replace the sealant around the concrete panels between the rows of windows. Work would begin in the spring and wrap up by the end of the 2022 calendar year. University funds would cover the project.
  • Begin planning for a two-story north addition and infill to the east side of the one-story perimeter to Town Engineering Building, as well as renovate approximately 25% of existing space. The project (estimated at $25 million) would be funded completely by private gifts. The space would add teaching and research labs, classrooms, collaboration areas and offices for graduate students.

Iowa State also will seek board permission to close four outreach or research programs due to ceased funding, a leader departure or both: Center for International Agricultural Finance, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, Center for Arthropod Management Technologies and Center for Nanotechnology in Cementitious Systems.


Presentations scheduled during the two-day meeting include:

  • Public comment period (priority given to topics on the September meeting agenda), to the full board, last item Wednesday afternoon
  • Freedom of expression at public universities, Todd Pettys, law professor at the University of Iowa, to the board's free speech committee, Wednesday morning
  • Lessons learned as a result of actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, university representatives, to the board's academic affairs committee, Wednesday afternoon
  • Creating a "C-change" in science, production and conservation, Lisa Schulte Moore, ISU professor of natural resource ecology and management, to the full board, Thursday morning

Gameday field of flags will honor 9/11 victims

ISU's Air Force ROTC, with support from the division of student affairs, ISU police and recreation services, will coordinate a "Field of Flags" Saturday, Sept. 11, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. One 12-by-18-inch flag from their country of origin will honor each of the 2,977 victims who perished on the ground or in an airplane when suicide terrorists commandeered four commercial jets that morning in 2001.

The southeast recreation fields, east of Jack Trice Stadium, is the site for the Field of Flags. An anticipated 40-50 student volunteers, many of them enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program, will begin setting flags at 7 a.m., shortly after sunrise, and begin removing them at 6:30 p.m.

Capt. Eric Davis, U.S. Air Force and assistant professor of aerospace studies, developed the plan last spring.

"Most students were not born yet or were very young during the attacks. I think it's important that they be able to see the loss that occurred," he said. "The location, near the football stadium, was selected to reach a wider audience during the biggest football event in the state."

Davis noted that about 550 of the 9/11 victims were citizens of more than 90 other nations. Following Saturday's memorial, the United States flags will be donated to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, Adel. The intent, he said, is to gift the flags from the other countries to their respective embassies.

Pregame tribute

A 9/11 tribute prior to the start of the 3:30 p.m. football game between Iowa State and the University of Iowa will include a moment of silence and flyover by three helicopters. A piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center towers will be displayed on the field during the national anthem.

Extension's garden project grows across the state

From beets to zucchini, the Growing Together Iowa project helps counties combat food insecurity by donating produce grown in community gardens to food pantries.

Perishable and relatively expensive, fresh fruits and vegetables are the most requested items at pantries, said Katie Sorrell, ISU Extension and Outreach policy, systems and environment change coordinator.

"The ultimate goal of Growing Together Iowa is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for low-income Iowans," she said.

Growing Together Iowa

Volunteers at the Eldora community garden harvest produce in June to donate to a local food pantry. Contributed photo.

Each year, extension offices apply for mini-grants ranging from $2,200 to $4,000. Those funds are used to plant community gardens led by Master Gardeners, who partner with food pantries in their communities. Growing Together Iowa is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and ISU Extension and Outreach.

Community gardens continue to grow in counties across the state, increasing from 14 in 2016, the first year of the project, to 33 this year. That effort was recently enhanced with an $85,000 gift from Amerigroup, a health insurance and managed health care provider.

"Normally, we use SNAP education funds to pay for all the expenses of the gardens, but the money from this gift will be pushed out to the 33 counties in the mini-grant program and cover those expenses," Sorrell said. "At the national level, SNAP-ed funding was cut a little, so this protects the program into the future."

SNAP education funds support evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions and projects. The Growing Together Iowa project provides nutrition education at the gardens and pantries.

 The gardens

Gardens vary in size and produce based on community needs and volunteer availability. Sorrell said food pantries help determine what to grow, with one community emphasizing beets for its significant Russian population.

"Every county in Iowa is unique, so our goal is for the end user to dictate the project," Sorrell said.

Master Gardeners lead the project but receive help from ISU faculty in horticulture, food safety and nutrition education. Graduate students also conduct research and evaluation on the project each year. Volunteers come from all walks of life, ranging from high school students to senior citizens.

Work on the gardens begins in February with the ordering of seeds, erecting fencing and constructing raised beds. Gardens can be found throughout a county -- at an extension county office, fairgrounds or a college campus.

Sorrell said the pandemic emphasized the need for gardens with an increase of people utilizing food pantries for the first time. The gardens also provided a sense of community in a time when face-to-face interaction was limited.

"For people who are more vulnerable, the gardens gave them a chance to see others outside while still physically distancing," she said. "We actually saw an influx of volunteers during the pandemic."


Over the past five years, Growing Together Iowa donated 441,000 pounds of fresh produce, and the financial gift will allow gardens to donate another 110,000 pounds.

The project has garnered attention across the Midwest.

Michigan State University, East Lansing; Purdue University, West Lafayette; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Montana State University, Bozeman -- land-grant universities -- have joined the Growing Together project.  

Each university collects the same data, allowing it to be shared and learned from.

"We were the model that other states have followed and set up the mini-grant donation garden project," Sorrell said.

Save the date and a few recommendations

A program and reception honoring the 2021 recipients of university faculty and staff awards returns to the fall calendar this year after a brief hiatus due to COVID-19. Save the date on your calendar: Monday, Oct. 25, 3:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. And while it's open, here's a smattering of other Iowa State community events to consider penciling in this semester:

Sept. 9, Taping of the weekly TV program, "U.S. Farm Report" (11 a.m., west steps of Curtiss Hall)

Sept. 11, Field of Flags memorial, honoring the victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks (7 a.m.-7 p.m., southeast recreation fields)

Sept. 17-19, Family Weekend, dean of students office

Sept. 22, Open house, SHOP food pantry

Sept. 27, Lecture, "Latinx in the USA: Music as a Cultural History," Catalina Maria Johnson

Sept. 28, Deal Endowed Leadership Lecture, "Be the Glue: The Business of Being a Family in a Family Business," Chris Cornelius

Sept. 30, Dedication of the Student Innovation Center, Zoom attendance open to the public (password Iowa State)

Sept. 30, Lecture, "The Improvisor's Mindset: How to Stay Present, Adapt and Thrive," Dion Flynn

Oct. 8, The Fab Four: The Ultimate Beatles Tribute

Oct. 9, Graduation ceremony for 2020 and spring 2021 graduates

Oct. 9, Bacon Expo

Oct. 12-13, Iowa State Conference on Civility and Deliberative Democracy, theme: U.S. energy choices, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics

Oct. 20, Art walk: Abstraction in public art, university museums

Oct. 17-23, Homecoming Week, ISU Alumni Association

Oct. 25, University Awards Ceremony

Nov. 5, Band Extravaganza, Cyclone Marching Band, Wind Ensemble and Jazz One

Nov. 10, Country music concert, Levi Hummon and Roman Alexander, MU Maintenance Shop

Nov. 11, Tribute to Sousa, Wind Ensemble

Nov. 12-14, Performance, "Street Scene," ISU Theatre, Opera Studio and Symphony Orchestra

Dec. 5, Holiday Festival Concert, Iowa State Singers, Cantamus, Iowa Statesmen, Lyrica and the Symphony Orchestra

Dec. 17-18, Graduation weekend