Iowa State University

Iowa State University

2009-2011 Catalog

The University

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The University

Iowa State University is one of the most respected land-grant universities in the nation. Created by the Iowa General Assembly in 1858, the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm was designated the first land-grant college when Iowa became the first state to accept the terms of the federal Morrill Act in 1864.

The act allowed Iowa to sell federal land to finance a new college open to all, regardless of wealth, race or gender; offering a practical education in engineering, agriculture and military science as well as classical studies; and sharing research knowledge with all Iowans. Iowa State University officially opened in 1869 and was the first coeducational land-grant school.

In 1903, the nation’s first cooperative agricultural extension program was launched when Iowa State professors worked with farmers and county governments to establish demonstration farms and institutes.

It is our institutional commitment to the founding land-grant principles that has produced alumni who are leaders in their professions, research that has forever changed our society and knowledge-based information that has assisted the citizens of our state, nation and world community.

Iowa State’s Points of Pride

*The world’s first electronic digital computer was developed at Iowa State by math and physics professor John V. Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry, in the late 1930s. Their invention, the ABC computer, has been called the most important technological innovation of the 20th century.

*The university is a leader in virtual reality research and its most advanced virtual reality theater, the C6, is the nation’s first six-sided theater that totally immerses the user in images and sound.

*Iowa State’s faculty members are recognized for their scholarly efforts. They serve as editors and on editorial and advisory boards of national and international academic professional journals.

*Iowa State is one of the top three U.S. universities in the development of patentable biotechnology.

*Iowa State’s faculty includes two professors who have been recognized among the top 100 young technology innovators in the world.

*Iowa State’s faculty includes members of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

*Iowa State is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities that has a membership of only 62 major research universities in the United States and Canada.

*Iowa State’s learning communities program for undergraduate students is rated among the nation’s best.

*Every state and more than 100 countries are represented in Iowa State’s student body.

*Iowa State students have a reputation for winning national and international awards. They win contests for apparel design, NASA food technology, news writing for print and broadcast, computer software, vocal music, and music composition.

*Iowa State is nationally ranked for its beautiful campus and its central campus has been honored by the Association of Landscape Architects as one of only three university Centennial Medallion sites in the nation.

*Iowa State’s 600 works of art on campus make its public art collection the largest of any university in the nation.

*Iowa State’s Reiman Gardens has been recognized for having the nation’s most outstanding public rose garden.

*Iowa State holds two world records certified by the Guinness Book of World Records: one for making the world’s largest Rice Krispies Treat to celebrate that Mildred Day, an Iowa State alumnus, helped create the recipe for the popular snack food; and one for growing the tallest amaranth plant in the world.

*Iowa State’s wrestling program boasts 5 Olympic gold medalists – the latest being graduate Cael Sanderson at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Sanderson’s perfect collegiate wrestling record of 159 wins has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as the second most impressive feat in college sports history.

*Washington Monthly magazine ranks Iowa State among the top 20 public universities that do the best at serving the United States through educating economically challenged students, undertaking vital research that drives the U.S. economy and promoting the ethic of service to country.

*Iowa State is home to one of the 10 fastest university supercomputers in the U.S.

*Iowa State’s undergraduate programs for future entrepreneurs are ranked among the top 25 in the country.

*Iowa State’s interior design, architecture and landscape architecture programs are ranked among the best in the nation.

*With more than 100 majors, 1700 faculty and 600 clubs and organizations, Iowa State has built a reputation for almost unlimited academic and social opportunities in a personal and welcoming environment.

2005-2010 Strategic Plan


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

  • Create knowledge through world-class scholarship in teaching, research, and creative endeavors.
  • Share knowledge through outstanding undergraduate, graduate, professional, and outreach programs.
  • Apply knowledge to improve the quality of life for current and future generations.

In carrying out its mission, Iowa State will increase and support diversity in the university community. Diversity enlivens the exchange of ideas, broadens scholarship, and prepares students for lifelong, productive participation in society. See Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy in this section.


We accomplish our mission:

  • through innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement,
  • with honesty, integrity, and professional ethics, and
  • with sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of our state, nation, and the world.

Core Values

We value:

  • land-grant ideals,
  • a diversity of ideas, peoples, and cultures,
  • intellectual freedom,
  • leadership, and
  • excellence in all we do.


Iowa State University will be the best at advancing the land-grant ideals and putting science and technology to work.

Students will become broadly educated, global citizens who are culturally informed, technologically adept, and ready to lead. Faculty and staff will share a passion for creating, sharing, and applying knowledge to improve lives world-wide. Collaborations among partners both inside and outside the university community will flourish. The spirit of Iowa State University will be evident in the integration of the sciences and humanities and in the energy and creativity of its people.

Priorities for 2005-2010

Iowa State is a leading international, comprehensive university with a wide range of dynamic and diverse programs and initiatives. The university commits to continuously evaluating, improving, and evolving these programs as well as exploring and innovating new areas of inquiry and application.

Five priority areas and accompanying goals for 2005-2010 have been identified to reinforce existing strengths and pursue our vision.

Priority: Education

Strengthen undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to enhance student success at Iowa State University and beyond.


  • Improve the rigor, challenge, and international reputation of academic programs.
  • Strengthen students’ critical thinking, creative abilities, and communication skills.
  • Enhance students’ understanding of global, cultural, ethical, and diversity issues.
  • Create an environment that welcomes students to explore a variety of disciplines and career paths.
  • Increase interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, such as learning communities, service learning, internships, research experiences, and international exchanges.
  • Enhance programs for high-ability students.
  • Partner with K-12 schools and community colleges to facilitate transfer to and student success at Iowa State University.
  • Enhance services to enable students to find rewarding careers.
  • Develop, recognize, and reward excellent teaching.

Priority: Programs

Increase the number of graduate, professional, and research programs that are among the very best -- especially in areas that build on university strengths and address local and global critical needs.


  • Recruit and retain outstanding faculty who are or will be leaders in their fields.
  • Increase the number and elevate the overall quality of graduate and professional students.
  • Leverage strengths in science and technology to enhance research and scholarly excellence with emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives involving biological, materials, and information sciences.
  • Enhance areas of excellence in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that build on and complement the university’s unique strengths.
  • Improve facilities and support services for research.
  • Enhance the visibility of outstanding faculty members and staff, research accomplishments, and graduate and research programs.

Priority: Economic Impact

Translate discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services to strengthen the economies of Iowa and the world.


  • Expand the use of intellectual property developed at Iowa State University.
  • Strengthen educational and outreach programs aimed at Iowa’s economic, workforce, and technology development.
  • Foster an environment that encourages faculty, staff, and students to engage in transfer of technology and entrepreneurial activities.

Priority: Iowa Life

Elevate the state’s appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play.


  • Strengthen our partnerships and communications with Iowans to better identify, address, and solve problems.
  • Enhance the vitality of Iowa’s communities and well-being of its people.
  • Promote the wise use of Iowa’s resources and build a sustainable future.
  • Expand learning opportunities for Iowans of all ages.
  • Partner with Iowans to strengthen their communities’ economies and entrepreneurial capacities.

Priority: University Life

Ensure that the university is a great place to learn and work.


  • Recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to individual and organizational excellence and achievement.
  • Expand the diversity of people, ideas, and cultures, and nurture an environment in which diversity can thrive.
  • Achieve a sustainable balance between responsibilities and resources that will allow the university to efficiently and effectively realize its vision.
  • Foster an environment in which all members of the university community can contribute their fullest while pursuing satisfying personal lives.
  • Provide a rich array of extracurricular opportunities to learn, lead, and enjoy life.
  • Promote a university that conserves resources and enhances environmental quality.
  • Maintain the attractiveness of campus and improve the quality of its facilities.
  • Advance the excellence of the university through enhanced connections between ISU and its family of alumni and friends.
  • Ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs are models of academic success, integrity, and competitiveness.