Jumpstarting Iowa State's New Strategic Plan

June 2, 2022


Dear Iowa State Community,

I am pleased to share that earlier today the state Board of Regents approved Iowa State University’s new Strategic Plan for 2022-2031. A copy of my presentation to the Board is available here. I want to share a brief overview of the plan and process and announce our intention to jump-start the plan with initial investments.

University-wide collaboration

The development of this plan was an excellent university-wide effort. Led by Peter Dorhout, vice president for research and chair of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, more than 500 faculty, staff, students and stakeholders participated through working group sessions, two dozen town hall meetings, and hundreds of survey and polling question responses.

A roadmap and a process

I appreciate the many members of the ISU community who shared their ideas and feedback to make this a truly innovative plan – a plan that is both a roadmap for how we move the university forward and a process for how we achieve what we want Iowa State to become over the next nine years. Our five “to be” goals are:  

  1. To be the most student-centric leading research university.
  2. To be the university that cultivates a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where students, faculty and staff flourish.
  3. To be the university that fosters lifelong learning.
  4. To be the university that creates opportunities and forges new frontiers.
  5. To be the trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.

Annual process for strategic investments

The plan includes a dynamic process that will begin this fall to regularly receive input, identify new strategic investments, and measure and evaluate our progress. This will be an annual opportunity for faculty and staff to apply for funding for projects that will advance our “to be” goals. Soon I will appoint a strategic initiatives director to oversee the process and ensure that each year, and at 3-year and 6-year checkpoints, we assess where we stand, infuse new ideas, and respond to new challenges and opportunities.

A website for the strategic plan will be ready in August and will include a system for submitting proposals. The annual process for proposals will begin in the fall. We’ll share more information about the website and annual process as soon as it’s available.

Jumpstarting the Plan

In the meantime, we’re going to “jump-start” the strategic plan with some initial investments. Hundreds of comments were received during the plan development process. This feedback was used by my senior leadership team and me to identify high-priority initiatives that align with our goals.

While there are many ideas worthy of investment, these were identified as having the greatest potential for immediate impact. These initiatives are presented at a high level as we will be working over the coming months on implementation plans. Using private flexible one-time funds, we’ll be investing a total of $10.5 million to support the following:

  • Deploying a university-wide student success initiative to increase retention and graduation rates, including a focus on first-generation and multicultural students and those students whose academic progress has been most affected by the pandemic. (Goals 1 and 2) 
  • Implementing the recommendations developed by faculty and staff through the “100 Ideas” project to increase university enrollment through improved recruiting of both new freshmen and transfer students. (Goal 1) 
  • Supporting colleges through the “Degrees of the Future” initiative with seed funding to start new academic degrees that meet student and employer demand. (Goals 3 and 4) 
  • Providing startup funds for Iowa State Online, a new university-wide online learning brand, strategy and support structure that will serve new markets of students and create a new revenue stream for the university. (Goal 3)
  • Enhancing the affordability of course materials for undergraduate students through Open Educational Resources and immediate access materials. (Goals 1, 3, and 5) 
  • Building and seeding interdisciplinary faculty research teams in areas where the university has a comparative advantage. (Goals 1 and 5) 
  • Accelerating the hiring of new faculty in key areas that track with both our research strengths and our emerging degree programs. (Goals 1, 4, and 5) 
  • Supporting the university’s research mission with research instrumentation and laboratory infrastructure improvements. (Goals 1 and 5)
  • Renovating two university child care facilities (ISU Child Care Center at Veterinary Medicine and University Community Child Care) to enhance learning, safety and the overall experience. (Goal 2)

Additional projects

There are a number of other priority projects underway across the university. A few include our continued work toward the goals in our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for Sustainability, our partnership with the Ames Laboratory to obtain federal support to strengthen our national leadership in critical materials and secure a new research facility, planning for our next campus-wide climate survey and development of a diversity, equity and inclusion action plan. We’re also working to expand capacity and staffing for violence prevention through our Green Dot program and promotion of mental health resources and support for our students.

Implementation plans

Members of the senior leadership team will oversee these initiatives and will work with campus partners over the coming months to develop plans for implementation. We look forward to sharing more information about each initiative when the implementation plans are finalized.

FY23 salary parameters

The strategic plan also indicates that salaries will continue to be a key priority to retain our talented faculty and staff. We expect to announce the parameters for FY23 performance-based salary increases next week in Inside Iowa State.

Thank you

Again, I want to thank everyone who was involved in the strategic plan development process, and my thanks to the entire ISU community for the excellent, mission-focused work you do every day to support Iowa State University.

Wendy Wintersteen, President