Archive: Strategic Plans

2017-2022 Strategic Plan

Today’s world needs great universities like Iowa State.

The world will feel much smaller in 2050, when 9.6 billion people are sharing the planet. Resources will be more precious and balancing the needs of humankind and the health of our planet will become increasingly difficult. At the same time, people will use technology in new ways, and cultures will be interconnected like never before. Significant challenges lie ahead.

Iowa State University has been tackling problems and improving lives since it opened its doors a century and a half ago. Founded in 1858, Iowa State readily embraced the ideals of the land–grant university — open higher education to all, provide practical learning, and share knowledge and discoveries. ISU instructors soon gained a reputation for meeting Iowans where they lived, sharing university expertise in kitchens and farm fields. Today, faculty, staff, and students are continuing this tradition.

Download the plan (PDF).



Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.

Iowa State’s focus has always been its students. The university emphasizes learning by doing. ISU students take advantage of many opportunities to engage in real–world class experiences and cutting–edge research, to study in other countries, and to test their leadership skills in 800–plus campus organizations. They are tomorrow’s leaders and problem solvers and they’re ready to get started. In addition to educating students, Iowa State faculty and staff are conducting basic and applied research to improve lives and sustain the planet. They are boosting crop production, protecting natural resources, perfecting biobased fuels, refining wind turbines, designing human and animal vaccines, improving firefighting gear, fighting Parkinson’s disease, fostering economic growth and development, strengthening forensic science techniques, assessing the effects of media violence, devising defenses against cyber attacks, enhancing the quality of life through the arts and humanities, and educating the leaders of tomorrow. As a member of the Association of Public and Land–grant Universities, Iowa State is dedicated to conducting research and scholarship with local, national, and international impact.

As the land–grant institution in the very first state to adopt the Morrill Act, Iowa State University wholeheartedly supports the mission of sharing knowledge beyond the campus borders. It’s no surprise that Iowa State pioneered the first statewide Extension Service in 1906. The extension experiment – universities actively transferring their research and expertise to every corner of every state – was immensely successful across America and remains so today. More than a million Iowans annually benefit directly from ISU Extension and Outreach programs.

As the world has gotten smaller, the scope of Iowa State’s mission has increased. ISU faculty, staff, and students are dedicated to improving lives around the nation and the world. The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence is helping to improve forensic evidence to create a more objective criminal justice system. The Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods helps support a long–standing program to help Ugandans improve farming, launch home businesses, keep children in school, and build food security. Through these activities and many others, Iowa State presses forward on a mission to help make the world safe and sustainable for generations to come.


Iowa State University will lead the world in advancing the land–grant ideals of putting science, technology, and human creativity to work.

Iowa State University of Science and Technology lives up to its name in many ways. Half of its undergraduates major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The campus is a hub of creative and entrepreneurial activity. ISU and the city of Ames are home to a national laboratory; five federal research labs; world–class programs in genomic–based agricultural breeding, health, and biotechnology; renowned institutes in virtual reality, plant sciences, and the bioeconomy; and the only university in Iowa with ROTC programs for all military services. The Iowa State University Research Park, which helps move discoveries to market, has launched numerous startup companies, including some that are recognized worldwide for ingenuity and major contributions.

Iowa State University has the talent and the facilities to lead the urgent, global quest for solutions. Providing these solutions and preparing the next generation of leaders and problem–solvers requires efforts from across campus. It is the combination of all of our academic colleges, units, and departments that creates the community of scholars necessary for this work. This university is and always has been a community of practical, hardworking problem–solvers. Major investments in new research and educational facilities and an outstanding tradition of cross–disciplinary research bring all of ISU’s colleges and departments together with global partners. Iowa State is dedicated to the belief that with hard work and innovation, future generations will have ample food and fuel, good health, and a safe, bountiful planet.



Ensure access to the ISU Experience – including an exceptional education offering practical, global, and leadership experiences that shape the well–rounded citizens and informed critical thinkers needed in the 21st century.


SUBGOAL 1.1: Improve the ISU Experience for underrepresented students by enhancing a transparent diversity and inclusion environment.

  • Metric S1.1 Impact of campus climate on the educational experience of underrepresented students as measured by the comprehensive campus climate assessment system

SUBGOAL 1.2: Continuously increase retention and graduation rates for all students while closing the gaps in student success (as measured by retention and graduation rates) between student subpopulations (e.g., race/ethnicity, income, first generation, nationality, ability, gender, and veterans).

  • Metric S1.2A Track retention and graduation rates for student subpopulations
  • Metric S1.2B Student satisfaction with and access to quality student services

SUBGOAL 1.3: Provide learning opportunities to prepare students for lives and careers in a dynamic, global community.

  • Metric S1.3A Number of undergraduate students who participate in at least two high impact educational activities (e.g., course–based learning communities, study abroad, faculty–student research projects, capstone projects, service learning/community–based learning projects, honors program, internship/cooperative education)
  • Metric S1.3B The number of ISU students who impact economic development in Iowa by participating in high impact learning activities with Iowa public, private, and non–profit sectors

SUBGOAL 1.4: Continue efforts to provide an exceptionally high value educational experience.

  • Metric S1.4A Total cost of education compared with peer institutions
  • Metric S1.4B Student debt at graduation
  • Metric S1.4C Student placement rates
  • Metric S1.4D Student satisfaction with housing and dining options
  • Metric S1.4E Faculty, staff, and student satisfaction that technology meets their needs and drives innovation

SUBGOAL 1.5: Grow the impact and scope of our graduate programs.

  • Metric S1.5A Number of PhD degrees conferred
  • Metric S1.5B Graduate and professional student enrollment
  • Metric S1.5C Number of highly ranked graduate programs


ACTION 1.1: Continue to invest in areas identified by the Student Experience Enhancement Council.

  • Metric A1.1 Senior administrators report on annual progress

ACTION 1.2: Support innovations and enhancement of high–impact educational activities across the university for undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Metric A1.2 Senior administrators report on annual progress

ACTION 1.3: Build upon current activities to increase external funding to provide financial aid to enhance graduation rates and reduce student debt upon graduation.

  • Metric A1.3 Fundraising in support of students



Enhance the university’s research profile by conducting high impact research that addresses the grand challenges of the 21st century.


SUBGOAL 2.1: ISU will identify and invest in interdisciplinary priority areas as defined by President’s Interdisciplinary Research Initiative.

  • Metric S2.1 External funding, intellectual property license/option agreements, and citations related to the priority areas

SUBGOAL 2.2: Improve key research metrics.

  • Metric S2.2A Competitive federal R&D awards
  • Metric S2.2B Faculty membership in the national academies
  • Metric S2.2C Number of prestigious awards held
  • Metric S2.2D Research funding from industry, foundations, and other public and private sources
  • Metric S2.2E Number of citations
  • Metric S2.2F Number of postdoctoral scholars


ACTION 2.1: Continue to invest in areas that foster excellence in research and scholarly impact for all disciplines as identified in the President’s Enhancing Institutional Excellence Committee’s report.

  • Metric A2.1 Senior administrators report on annual progress

ACTION 2.2: Build upon current efforts to diversify research funding among competitive federal R&D sources and other major sources of research funding (including industry, foundations, and other public and private sources).

  • Metric A2.2 Annual sponsored funding awards disaggregated according to competitive federal R&D and other major sources of research funding

ACTION 2.3: Build upon current efforts to attract and retain excellent faculty through the Presidential High Impact Hiring Initiative.

  • Metric A2.3 Continue the Presidential High Impact Hiring Initiative and report the number of hires made through it

ACTION 2.4: Continue to invest in enhancing and modernizing research infrastructure including instrumentation and staffing.

  • Metric A2.4 Senior administrators report on annual progress



Improve the quality of life for all Iowans through services and programs dedicated to economic development and the promotion of healthy communities, people, and environments.


SUBGOAL 3.1: Increase the number of Iowa public, private, and non–profit sectors that receive direct assistance or benefit from engaging with the university’s programs, services, and initiatives.

  • Metric S3.1A Impact of ISU Extension and Outreach programs (e.g., number of Iowans participating in research–based educational programming in the areas of agricultural and natural resources, community, youth, family, and economic development)
  • Metric S3.1B Technical assistance provided through the Center for Industrial Research and Service (e.g., number of companies served, number of jobs added or retained, total dollar impact)
  • Metric S3.1C Business assistance provided through the Iowa Small Business Development Center (e.g., number of clients served, number of counseling hours, number of new businesses, number of jobs added or retained)
  • Metric S3.1D Technology transfer services provided (e.g., number of license/option agreements, total dollars in sales, number of companies started)
  • Metric S3.1E Growth of ISU Research Park (e.g., number of companies and affiliates, number of employees)


ACTION 3.1: Enhance and improve awareness of and access to research, technical, entrepreneurial, and professional development services for public, private, and non–profit sectors.

  • Metric A3.1 The number of external organizations and individuals utilizing university research, technical, entrepreneurial, and professional development services

ACTION 3.2: Increase awareness of, access to, and utilization of the university’s agricultural and natural resources, community, youth, family, and economic development programs and initiatives supporting diverse and underrepresented populations.

  • Metric A3.2A The number of individuals and organizations from diverse and underrepresented populations participating in university community, youth, family, and economic development programs and initiatives
  • Metric A3.2B The number of organizations owned by individuals from diverse and underrepresented populations participating in university community, youth, family, and economic development programs and initiatives



Continue to enhance and cultivate the ISU Experience where faculty, staff, students, and visitors are safe and feel welcomed, supported, included, and valued by the university and each other.


SUBGOAL 4.1: Develop and implement a comprehensive campus climate assessment system to regularly evaluate the climate at Iowa State University as experienced by all. Regularly evaluate, disseminate, and publicly report this data.

  • Metric S4.1 Continuous improvement in campus climate as measured by campus climate assessment system

SUBGOAL 4.2: Enhance the safety, health, well–being, and security of faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

  • Metric S4.2 As measured by the developed campus climate assessment system and current safety/security reporting mechanisms

SUBGOAL 4.3: Create, expand, and invest in opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to connect and build meaningful relations with others while recognizing the multiple intersecting identities, perspectives, and developmental differences people hold (aligned with the ACPA NASPA standard for social justice and inclusion).

  • Metric S4.3 Participation in these opportunities and the impact as measured by campus climate assessment system


ACTION 4.1: Enhance efforts to recruit, hire, train, and retain diverse employees.

  • Metric A4.1 Report on annual efforts and resulting changes in the number of diverse employees

ACTION 4.2: Enhance efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate a diverse student body.

  • Metric A4.2 Report on annual efforts and resulting changes in the number of diverse students

ACTION 4.3: Establish and deploy a visitors code of conduct.

  • Metric A4.3 Inclusion in university policies

ACTION 4.4: Supervisors will acknowledge and include employees’ efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the annual performance evaluation process.

  • Metric A4.4 Senior administrators report on annual progress


FY2017-2022 Strategic Plan Progress Updates