President Wendy Wintersteen

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on Nov. 20, 2017, after a nationwide search, followed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The first woman to hold the university’s highest office, Dr. Wintersteen has served Iowa State for more than 40 years in several capacities.

As president, and with the support of her administrative team, Dr. Wintersteen is advancing Iowa State University for the 21st century with priorities focused on enhancing student success; recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and staff; strengthening innovation and research excellence, establishing a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports new businesses and economic growth, cultivating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, and growing state and private support for the university, its faculty, staff, and students.

Under her leadership, Iowa State is enhancing its value to students and the state. ISU is nationally recognized for innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education – ranked #11 in the country for entrepreneurship by the Princeton Review, out of 300 universities. The university’s new brand campaign, Innovate at Iowa State, and the opening of the new Student Innovation Center build off ISU’s long-standing culture of innovation and leadership in infusing entrepreneurship into the curriculum.

ISU boasts a 95% placement rate for its graduates, and unprecedented support from private donors for student scholarships, faculty positions, programs, and new facilities. Research grant funding levels for faculty are reaching new records, as faculty and staff address complex scientific and global challenges, improve our quality of life, and create economic opportunities to make Iowa more competitive. ISU extension and outreach programs operate in all 99 counties to benefit more than 1 million Iowans each year.

Prior to becoming president, Dr. Wintersteen served for eleven years as the endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. During her tenure, Iowa State’s agricultural programs ranked in the top 10 worldwide, CALS enrollment rapidly increased to become the third largest college of agriculture in the nation, research grants increased markedly, awards for teaching excellence grew, and the college achieved a 98% placement rate for its graduates.  

Dr. Wintersteen began her career working in eastern and central Iowa as one of the first female ISU Extension associates in integrated pest management. She then completed her doctorate in entomology at Iowa State and rose through the ranks to become a professor of entomology (with a brief stint at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.), followed by progressively senior administrative roles in extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Dr. Wintersteen was selected in 2020 to be part of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation to develop a comprehensive national strategy to increase innovation through diversity and increasing opportunities for all Americans. She is a member of the Council on Competitiveness and the Council's flagship initiative, the National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers. She's also a member of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Council of Presidents and was selected to serve on the APLU Research Intensive Committee. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Big 12 Conference; the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a coalition of 11 public research universities aimed at making college degrees more attainable for underrepresented students; the Cultivation Corridor, a regional economic initiative to establish Iowa as the global center for excellence in agbiosciences, advanced manufacturing, and technology sectors; and Bankers Trust. She is part of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council Executive Committee and the Business Education Alliance. She also serves on the World Food Prize Council of Advisors.

She was selected for the 2018 Women of Influence award from the Des Moines Business Record.

Dr. Wintersteen holds a bachelor’s of science degree in crop production from Kansas State University and Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University. She is married to Robert Waggoner, author and former businessman. 


President's Spouse, Robert Waggoner

Robert Waggoner worked for a small manufacturing business in sales and marketing for 26 years before switching careers a decade ago to write books on lucid dreaming – the scientifically validated ability to realize you are dreaming while in a dream state. His two books, Lucid Dreaming – Gateway to the Inner Self and co-authored Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple, have had multiple printings and several translations. He gives presentations at universities and conferences around the world and is the past president and current treasurer of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), which publishes the scientific-refereed journal, Dreaming.

He has been interviewed or consulted about the practice of lucid dreaming by CNN, CBS News and ABC News (KABC – Los Angeles).

He graduated summa cum laude from Drake University with a degree in psychology.


Updated: Dec. 21, 2020

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen
President, Iowa State University

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Robert Waggoner and Dr. Wendy Wintersteen

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen and Mr. Robert Waggoner

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