Welcome to a new semester at Iowa State

January 25, 2021


Dear Iowa State Community,

Welcome to a new semester. The start of a new year reminds me that in ancient Rome, Janus was the god of endings and beginnings, depicted as looking both forward to the future and backward to the past. As the Roman calendar evolved, it adopted January as the month of transitioning from the old year to the new year -- filled with all of its promise, hope, memories and challenges.

Without a doubt, 2020 ushered in a year of unprecedented challenges that touched the entire ISU community -- health concerns from the pandemic, greater calls for racial justice and reform, economic stress, increasing numbers facing food and housing insecurity, and much more. But let us also remember and appreciate the dedication, hard work and creativity of all of our faculty, staff and students as together we responded to the sudden shifts in our work, studies and personal lives.

We are also reminded of hard-fought achievements and successes of the past year.

  • Academic Excellence. 11,000 students made the Fall 2020 dean’s list with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, reflecting the resiliency and resolve of our students, and the heroic efforts of our faculty, academic advisors, and student success professionals.
  • Talented Inventors. Iowa State faculty and researchers continued to demonstrate their talent in transferring research to the marketplace, putting Iowa State once again in the Top 100 worldwide universities granted U.S. patents.
  • National Leader in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Iowa State jumped to #11 in the country for undergraduate entrepreneurship, was awarded APLU's 2020 Innovation and Economic Prosperity in Innovation Award, and was recognized for excellence in entrepreneurship education as a USASBE Model Program.
  • Historic Season. The Cyclone football team capped off a historic season with a commanding Fiesta Bowl victory and #9 national ranking.
  • Hall of Fame. Simon Estes, F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, was named to the inaugural class of OPERA America's Opera Hall of Fame.

This list could be much longer. These achievements reinforce our belief that the new year of 2021 brings with it new hope -- that the light of progress will shine more brightly, and that the Iowa State community will bring forth constructive, thoughtful and creative responses to each challenge. 

While the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic persist, we know we can mitigate the risk with continued vigilance and diligence — we proved it last fall; we can keep proving it now. We are closely following progress on the vaccine, but we know it will be some time before it is widely available to the general public. The Cyclones Care behaviors – face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick – will remain a regular and required part of our daily routines. Please continue to refer to the COVID-19 Updates and Resources page often for the latest information. I also encourage you to access the many resources available to support your health and wellness and academic success.

As we enter this new year, let us be inspired by the beautiful words of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who spoke at last week’s presidential inauguration:

“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

 but what stands before us”

What I see before us is an extraordinary campus of scholars, leaders, and achievers. A community who believes deeply in our land-grant mission and our Principles of Community. Let us share the hope and promise of the new year by living these principles every day – respect, purpose, cooperation, richness of diversity, freedom from discrimination, and the honest and respectful expression of ideas.

Let us never miss an opportunity to show kindness, give comfort to those who are dealing with grief and loss or other struggles, and lift each other up to make our campus and our world a better place.


Wendy Wintersteen, President

This email was sent to all students, faculty, and staff at Iowa State University.