Iowa State University: Office of the President

The Strategic Plan for 1995-2000

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Land-grant heritage and values

Iowa State University is an internationally prominent university that seeks to become even better. Iowa State's aspiration to be the nation's premier land-grant university is closely linked to the university's historical and continuing mission as Iowa's land-grant university.

The enduring educational philosophy that characterized the nation's first land-grant colleges contains four key elements that are as relevant today as in the late 1800s. These defining characteristics are: access regardless of race, creed, gender, or economic background; the marriage of practical and liberal education programs; both applied and basic research; and service to the people of Iowa through outreach programs that help them make better decisions.

Iowa State University embraces its land-grant heritage and responsibilities with an institutional orientation toward science and technology. Building on the university's tradition of strength in science and technology, and the synergy between these areas and the liberal arts and social sciences, Iowa State seeks to become even stronger and more distinguished in its teaching, research, and outreach efforts.

Iowa State University is dedicated to educational service of the highest standard. It embraces the values of knowledge, honesty, integrity, hard work, cooperation, friendli-ness, and humane concern. Iowa State University is dedicated to fostering an environment in which differences among people are respected and mutual under-standing is promoted. Iowa State University encourages the highest aspirations and intellectual development of all students, faculty, and staff; it challenges them in the quest for new knowledge and its transmission, preservation, and application for the betterment of society. Iowa State University recognizes its responsibilities to a wide range of constituencies, addresses their needs and concerns, and draws from the potentials of its various constituencies, particularly its alumni, to improve and support the university.

Iowa State University is a community that is inspired by the beauty of its surroundings and dedicated to intellectual excitement and creativity. It is a community where ideas are vigorously debated and rigorously tested, that understands the value of science and technology in today's world, and that appreciates the richness of human experience expressed through the arts and humanities. Iowa State University is a community reaching out both to translate knowledge into action and to serve as a resource for strengthening and enhancing the social, economic, and physical environment of the state, the nation, and the world.

Three ideas, each closely tied to our land-grant heritage, capture the spirit of Iowa State University:

"Science with Practice" - ISU's motto that appears on the university's seal.

"We come to college not alone to prepare to make a living, but to learn to live a life," - quotation of M. J. Riggs, a graduate of the class of 1883, whose words are etched in stone above the stairs in the west entrance of the Memorial Union.

"It is simply service that measures success," - statement made by alumnus George Washington Carver.


Iowa State University aspires to become the premier land-grant university in the nation.

This aspiration was set forth in the first strategic plan for Iowa State that guided the university's development from 1990 to 1995. It continues to be our aspiration. The people of Iowa expect Iowa State University to be the premier land-grant university, and Iowa State intends to fulfill that expectation. Aiming to be less than the best is unacceptable.

The premier land-grant university enthusiastically embraces the special character and orientation of the land-grant universities and, thus, most effectively fulfills its mission and responsibilities. With a tripartite mission - teaching, basic and applied research, and outreach - the premier land- grant university achieves the optimum balance of efforts and overall performance in these three areas. For Iowa State University to be the premier land-grant university in the nation, it first must be superior in fulfilling its mission for the state of Iowa.

Aspiring to be the premier land-grant university in the nation also implies that we strive for excellence that is measured by national standards. We acknowledge our need to improve and change what we do and how we do it. We need to better serve those who have been underserved. We need to work in collaboration with others and expand partnerships with other educational institutions, government, and the private sector, building upon each others' strengths and focusing on what each can do best.

Publicly stating this aspiration expresses our willingness, desire, and commitment to stretch ourselves in our effort to become the premier land-grant university. Continuously improving what we, as individuals and as a university community, do and how we do it is as important as achieving the end result of being recognized as the premier land-grant university in the nation. It is the journey that is more critical than the destination during the next five years.

There is no single measure by which we can track our progress toward, or final achievement of, the goal of being the premier land-grant university. Instead, there are multiple indicators that we can examine over time to ensure that we are making progress and are continuing to improve. We will recruit and retain the highest quality of students, faculty, and staff, and increasingly our first offers to students, faculty, and staff will be accepted. We will identify and develop the potential of all students, faculty, and staff. Our students, faculty, and staff will reflect the diversity present in society. A key indicator is the extent to which others in the national educational community look to Iowa State as a model of excellence to be emulated by other land-grant universities.

The achievements of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be evident through increased national and international recognition, awards, and honors. Our graduates and their employers will be increasingly satisfied with the education Iowa State provides. National ratings of our undergraduate and graduate programs will continue to grow. External funding for research will increase further, and we will rank even higher among the leading public universities in private fund raising. Public and private agencies and organizations and businesses will turn first to Iowa State in seeking assistance with their efforts and problems.

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