Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Strategic Plan 2005-2010

Comments on Strategic Plan draft, Oct. 30

These comments refer to the second draft of the Strategic Plan for 2005-2010. The plan was released Oct. 11.


Stronger learning assessments should be emphasized

I agree that the second draft is much improved!

I have voiced this concern before, but will try again. I strongly feel that we need to include a goal that will extend and sustain the important work that has been done on our campus in relation to outcomes assessment. It should come under Priority one. This is a quote from the Higher Learning Commission: "An organization's commitment to and capacity for effective assessment of student learning will figure more prominently than ever in the accreditation relationship established between the Commission and that organization. An organization committed to understanding and improving the learning opportunities and environments it provides students will be able to document the relationship between assessment of and improvement in student learning.

These are some of my suggestions for a goal under priority one after re-reading the HLC Criteria for Accreditation:

strengthen the assessment and development of student learning outcomes.

develop and maintain effective systems for collecting, analyzing and documenting achieved student learning.

develop appropriate assessment and feedback loops to support continuous improvement of student learning.

Due to my recent increased involvement with Instructional Technologies and Distance Education, I would also like to suggest that e-learning be more clearly addressed in relation to student success and student learning. It seems to me that with the recent appointment of a CIO and major restructuring of IT services at ISU, the Strategic Plan should reflect and support this.


  • foster advances in e-learning.
  • support and enhance the implementation of effective e-learning strategies.

My last point! I am deeply concerned that by using" Average faculty salary by rank" as a measure of only the second priority (research), we are sending a clear message that teaching is not as valued. If it is to be included as a measure (and I understand that this is a presidential priority), I strongly feel it must also be a measure under priority one. There are no measures listed for the goal "develop, recognize, and reward excellent teaching".

Thanks again for all of your dedicated work.


Suggestions to help ISU


I received your alumni EMAIL, inviting my attention to the recent Strategic Plan, and your request for comments. This letter is in response to your request.

I compliment you on your efforts to develop a Strategic Plan. While some of my comments may be outside the scope of the Strategic Plan, or may already be in place, I would hope that there is value in some of these ideas:

Strategic Plan Overview - the plan should address:

  • Emphasize Marketing the University; increase public awareness of Iowa State University. Link the reputation and name recognition of CEO's, US Senators as ISU graduates with success at ISU. Public image and recognition is funding and enrollments.
  • Improve ISU Web site: add link for "scholarships and financial assistance" on main page ( Develop a database of scholarships by category; for example, under "Music-Choral" one should be able to find the "Robert McCowan Scholarship for non music majors".. .under "ROTC/NROTC" there should be links to the appropriate ROTC departments, etc.
  • Add to graduation requirements: one course in Financial Peace University (see how to reduce/avoid debt, manage budgets, saving for retirement. This simple graduation requirement will ensure your good will with parents and future graduates for generations to come.
  • Increase emphasis on Distant Learning opportunities. Explore the Apollo Group (symb APOL) business model (revenue generation potential), Develop markets for -pre/post retiree educational programs. Establish/emphasize linkage between Distant Learning and 1raditional on campus programs.
  • Develop courses that broaden awareness and understanding of entrepreneurial opportunities. Nationwide, students are showing less interest in IT/Computer Sciences because if declining employment potential, while accounting course enrollments are up. Entrepreneur Magazine states that 825 colleges currently offer classes in Entrepreneurship. As you know, the hometowns of many ISU graduates lack solid employment opportunities. Offering such a course of study should be viewed as "strategic" to the economic well being ISU graduates and of the economy itself.
  • lncent diversity of student coursework to broaden and explore areas of interest outside the traditional "required courses", Reduce the "risk of GPA failure" by increasing. Audit only/No Credit classes.

Thank you for including me in your request for public comment. I apologize in advance for the length of the attachment. No response to this letter is necessary.

Comments (pdf)


Add "economic development"

Under Mission:

  • Suggest Revision:
    • Apply knowledge to strengthen economic development and improve quality of life for current and future generations. [This is limiting and is already a part of improving the quality of life.]

Under Priority: "Translate discoveries into..."

  • Under Goals:
    • Suggest Adding:
      • Develop and market citizens' innovative and value-added technologies, products, and services.
      • Enhance Iowans' ability to evaluate, use, apply, and access [research based] available information, education, and technology.

Under Priority: "Partner or with Iowans tob..." [Partner implies a contractual agreement.]

  • Under Goals:
    • Suggest Adding:
      • Develop field-based research efforts that enhance the state's place competitiveness, public sector competitiveness, and private sector competitiveness.
      • Develop community-led solutions that address the most challenging societal and economic issues facing Iowans.
      • Enhance partnerships [collaboration] with organizations, agencies, and educational institutions that share ISU Extension's commitment to the people of Iowa.
      • Pursue positive leadership development for youth, communities, and organizations in Iowa.

Under Measures relating to 2nd Current Goal: "Enhance the viability of Iowa's Communities and wellbeing of its people."

  • Suggest Revision: Number of contacts [(e.g. personal contacts, web and other electronic contacts, receipts of publications and other products, etc.)] made by [University Extension].

International dimensions slighted

Some brief comments follow:

  1. international/global dimensions slighted
    • Maybe I missed something but I didn't see any reference to 1)the impact of ISU on the world, 2)ISU's role in intenatonalizing the viewpoints of students, or 3)the role that ISU can take to bring international perspectives, including different ways of thinking, new ideas, etc. to Iowa's communities and organizations. It could go in the vision or in separate sections, e.g., education, scholarship, and partnering with Iowans. We are doing all of our constituencies a disservice if we don't recognize ISU's interconnectedness with the outside world somewhere in the document. It looks like we have our heads in the sand.
  2. measures need rethinking
    • This section of each priority needs much more work.
  3. not enough bold thinking
    • I agree with the comment on the SP website that this document is a mix of too many ideas. Remember "becoming the (or our) best?" That got people thinking. I don't see why anyone will pay sufficient attention to this SP the way that it is now written.
Outside Org

Poor assessment

Thank you for responding. My concern has to do with the use of, or proper use of, good assessment criteria, data, and processes. What I have seen on the campus the last seven years alarms me. It appears to me that there is more politics going on than sound assessment for the good use of resources. This carries over to the departments, who then do a similar poor quality of assessment either because they do not know how to do any better, or because they are following the politics that plague the top planning team. While the planning capabilities of all departments should be a concern, the one on which I was commenting below concerns the ability of those in our education system to do proper assessment and planning. Such skills do not appear to exist, and yet education takes over half of our state budget. The 2001 Accountable Government Act requires all users of state funds to learn proper assessment skills in order to justify use of the resources to achieve results. Unfortunately the law is being ignored, costing Iowa taxpayers dearly.

ISU's engineering department does not appear to have the influence over the assessment process it should to improve the performance of the university. Neither does it appear those skills are translating to the other departments on campus so they can teach their students. The lack of those skills coming out of the university has an exponential affect on society, which then misuses the resources at its disposal. Education is supposed to be the foundation for how well society does in the future. What I presently see is rather frightening.

Not only has the student achievement of Iowa k-12 gone downhill for the last forty years (according to the data from the Iowa Testing Program), the average high school graduate is two years behind grade level (according to the DOE). U.S. students, generally, do not test well on international exams (according to the TIMSS), indicating other countries are doing a better job of educating their students (As evidenced by the higher quality of international students on campus compared to U.S. students). Rather than figure out the problems with the education system (which proper assessment techniques of delivery system and curriculum would have shown), our k-12 educators decided the problem lay with a poor quality of student coming to them (resulting in a tremendous amount of misused resources on fads that do no good because the proper problem is not being addressed). The Manhattan Institute released its latest assessment of the education system and found that Iowa has the 6th most teachable students in the nation but ranks 25th in ability to teach them. This clearly explains why student achievement has been going downhill for the last forty years (offset only by the regular renorning of the exams used for assessment).

If k-12 schools had better assessment skills only politics could be blamed for interfering with the proper use of resources to maintain student achievement at the high it enjoyed in the early 1960s (according to the data coming from the Iowa Testing Program). Universities must come in for a share of the blame for this situation because they educated those involved in this fiasco. For this reason the assessment techniques used by the strategic planning committee are of grave concern to me. If the latest effort represents the best effort, then we are in serious trouble.

Staff and three others, plus a faculty member

Add "economic development"

First, a positive comment on the addition of "Land Grant Ideal" language and the current inclusion of Extension . I would suggest the following:

Under Mission:

  • Suggest Revision:
    • Apply knowledge to [strengthen economic development] and improve quality of life for current and future generations.

Under Priority: "Translate discoveries into..."

  • Under Goals:
    • Suggest Adding:
      • Develop and market citizens' innovative and value-added technologies, products, and services.
      • Enhance Iowans' ability to evaluate, use, apply, and access available information, education, and technology.

Under Priority: "Partner or with Iowans to..."

  • Under Goals:
    • Suggest Adding:
      • Develop field-based research efforts that enhance the state's place competitiveness, public sector competitiveness, and private sector competitiveness.
      • Develop community-led solutions that address the most challenging societal and economic issues facing Iowans.
      • Enhance partnerships with organizations, agencies, and educational institutions that share ISU Extension's commitment to the people of Iowa.
      • Pursue positive leadership development for youth, communities, and organizations in Iowa.

Under Measures relating to 2nd Current Goal: "Enhance the viability of Iowa's Communities and wellbeing of its people."

  • Suggest Revision: Number of contacts (e.g. personal contacts, web and other electronic contacts, receipts of publications and other products, etc.) made by University Extension.

Emphasize outreach to businesses

As State Director of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers, an outreach activity of the College of Business of Iowa State University, I would be remiss if I did not encourage inclusion in the strategic plan, greater emphasis upon and support for the outreach assistance to business activities of the university. The Iowa Small Business Development Centers are funded from U.S. Small Business Administration dollars and state legislatively-appropriated dollars, with 13 centers around the state, covering all 99 counties annually. To insure that such outreach program receive the recognition deserved and financial assistance necessary, the ISU strategic plan should more specifically identify such business value-added activities and encourage further support from the university and from the legislature, via the Regents budget. Inasmuch as 97.5% of Iowa's businesses are "small" (under 500 employees), and the results of SBDC assistance, as verified by outside evaluation, are so significant to job creation and retention, tax payments, both federal and state, and generate new and further developed businesses supporting our communities, it seems more than appropriate that such outreach activities of the University are noted, encouraged and supported in the strategic plan.

Thank you for you consideration. Greater detail on the value of the SBDC to Iowa's economy, and thus the value to the university, is available.


Improve students' creative thinking

I would like to suggest the inclusion of one word under the second goal of the first priority as in the 2nd draft of the Strategic Plan.


  • Improve students' critical thinking and communication skills.
    • SUGGESTED: Improve students' critical AND CREATIVE thinking and communication skills.

Creative thinking is really something different from critical thinking and more should be done in our education mission to further this skill.

It includes but goes beyond artistic creativity and is important in all professions.

This proposal is supported by the Integration Committee of the Civil Engineering Curriculum. This has members from both LAS and ENGR colleges. It represents the opinion of more than ten professors and other academics. Probably beyond this number as the members represent a larger section of faculty.

The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Steering Committee

Establish centers of excellence in arts, humanities, social sciences

There is much in this second draft that incorporates issues the arts and humanities community feels strongly about, and we thank you for your hard work, and for your attention to the larger university community, specifically the arts and humanities.

We are, however, concerned about some of the changes you have made, which we don't believe are in the interests of supporting a distinctive university. We'd like to focus on those changes here.

  1. The current vision statement, "Iowa State University will be the best at advancing the land-grant ideal and putting science and technology to work" remains problematic for several reasons:
    • "Land-Grant Ideal" needs to be defined better. At the faculty retreat this spring, faculty members and administrators spent a great deal of time discussing the land-grant ideal. One of the recommendations was to broaden the view of extension to "include every aspect of the university and to view every component of the institution as a potential part of the process by which knowledge is extended. Indeed, the groups saw no reason to exclude any discipline or subdiscipline in the extension or outreach function. Such a broad view. . . that extension should not be limited to activities and programs in Iowa but should be international in scope opens the extension function to a much broader segment of departments and faculty than has traditionally been the case on this campus."
    • We have attached, as an appendix, the entire document discussing the land-grant ideal. Since it is referred to in the vision statement, it should be clear how we are understanding the land grant ideal.
      • Given the definitions in place regarding the land-grant ideal, "putting science and technology to work" seems redundant; as well, there's nothing new or transformative about this vision statement. A better, more distinctive phrase might focus on collaboration and integration among the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.
      • This draft changes the original bullet, which we understand President Geoffroy suggested, "Establish tightly focused centers of excellence in the arts and humanities that build on and complement the university's unique strengths in science and technology to "Enhance areas of excellence in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that build on and complement the university's unique strengths."
        • "Enhance areas of excellence" strikes us a bit fuzzy, and we would ask that you substitute "establish centers of excellence in the arts and humanities." In its 2004 report, Reinvigorating the Humanities:
        • Enhancing Research and Education on Campus and Beyond, The Association of American Universities specifically recommends that universities create flexible structures such as centers because they "provide rich opportunities for faculty leadership in the development of interdisciplinary research and instructional programs. Bridging traditional humanities perspectives and engaging with social scientists, these centers serve as exciting sites for new research opportunities for faculty and students, seminars, visiting appointments, and spaces for thinking in new ways about basic issues in the humanities." (42)
        • There are currently eighty centers and institutes on the ISU campus, only one of which is dedicated to the arts and humanities, and that one does not currently have funding beyond one more year.
      • We are also concerned about the reference to the sciences in this line: "Leverage strengths in science and technology to enhance research and scholarly excellence with emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives involving biological, materials, and information sciences." We would suggest that you end this sentence after "initiatives" to make it more inclusive.

Add water quantity important too

I appreciate the very long and detailed explanation on adding "water" as a important issue.

Please just remember that water QUANTITY will be just as important as water quality, now and in the future. Ask any agribusiness -- the concept of water QUANTITY is what dominates and drives our economy and livelihood.

Student Org

Promote international opportunities for undergrads

The Society of International Engineers would like to thank the committee for allowing us to provide feedback on the strategic plan draft.:

The Society of International Engineers (SIE) is a student club composed of:

  • engineering undergrads that have studied or worked abroad
  • who are interested in going abroad
  • and international engineering exchange students currently at ISU

This is our third year as an official student organization at ISU, and our purpose is to:

  • promote international programs to ISU engineering students
  • provide hospitality to engineering international exchange students at ISU
  • provide leadership opportunities for students.

SIE is sponsored by the Engineering International Programs and Services Office (EIPS) as an effort to meet the College of Engineering's goal that 33% of undergraduates have an international experience of six weeks or more.

We are writing to emphasize the importance of international opportunities in undergraduate education. Most of us have spent at least one semester abroad studying and/or working, and the experience has affected us profoundly. We know that they have made us more confident, more resourceful and more aware of the importance of diversity - all things that help to make ISU a better university.

We could not agree more with your decision to include "sensitivity and responsiveness to ...the world" as part of ISU's culture and "a diversity of ideas, peoples, and cultures" as a core value of the university. We especially enjoyed the vision statement, "Students will become well-rounded, global citizens who are technologically proficient, culturally informed, and ready to lead" which recognizes the interconnectedness of technical and cultural learning and leadership. These are the core values of our organization as well.

We know that some say international programs are not in keeping with ISU's practical values as a land grant school. However, we would like to suggest that providing students with more international opportunities actually helps the university meet its land grant mission. By training our students (i.e. the future of Iowa) to think globally we make it easier for diversity to thrive both on our campus and throughout our state. According to the strategic plan, "Diversity enlivens the exchange of ideas, broadens scholarship, and prepares students for lifelong, productive participation in society" - and this statement is what the land grant mission is all about.

In summary, we would like to suggest that the new strategic plan include an even greater emphasis on international opportunities for students, and that specific plans and goals be set. Why not match the initiative of the engineering college and set a goal that 1/3 of all undergrads participate in an international experience? Setting forward-looking goals in this area will help students create, share and apply knowledge. This will make Iowa and the world a better place.

Thank you very much for your time, and we look forward to your final draft of the strategic plan.

Staff and two others

P&S and merit staff left out

Strategic Planning Committee,

The second draft of the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan, though very sound overall, was a great disappointment. The heart of the failure, in my opinion, was where P&S staff (and Merit presumably) recruitment and retention goals were eliminated. The message may be unintended but it is quite clear: P&S and Merit staff play no significant roll in the future success of Iowa State University.

Here are the relevant portions of the first and second drafts:

First Draft:

  • Priority: Increase the number of undergraduate, graduate, and research programs known as the very best in their field, particularly in areas where the university's strengths address critical needs and opportunities.
  • Goals: Attract and retain outstanding faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students.

Second Draft:

  • Priority: Increase the number of graduate, professional, and research programs that are among the best - - especially in areas that build on university strengths and address critical needs and opportunities.
  • Goals: Recruit and retain outstanding faculty who are or will be leaders in their fields.

It is clear that the general importance P&S staff has either been forgotten or it has been defined within the second draft. Possibly a model of "trickle-down" retention and recruitment is implied. Again, in all cases, the message is clear.

ISU provides students opportunity to achieve their goals; the faculty (departments and colleges) are the rungs on the ladder of higher achievement and they must be strong. The P&S and Merit staff are the stiles that support the rungs, they must be strong. There are many analogies but the theme is always the same: the sum is greater than the parts, where one part fails the whole system fails.


Assess quality with creativeness

Goal: Recruit and retain outstanding faculty who are or will be leaders in their fields.

Measure: Number of books, refereed articles, book chapters, and reviews published.

  • In order to assess the quality and leadership of faculty in the arts, I suggest adding the following measure:
    • "Creative projects which push the boundaries of current aesthetic and/or social issues."

"Advancing land-grant" vague

Much appreciation is due to all of those who have worked so hard on the strategic plan thus far - thank you!

While I certainly agree with those who say that the second draft is an improvement, I think further improvements can be made. To be specific:

"The land grant ideal" is not fully spelled out. "Accessibility" and the teaching of "liberal and practical subjects" are the only substantial elements in the text in the yellow box. This doesn't seem to get us very far, yet the phrase "advancing the land grant ideal" is at the heart of the vision statement, replacing the phrase "educating students" in the first draft's aspiration statement. I find the vagueness of this phrase very troubling.

I also note that "be one of the world's leading universities in..." is replaced by "be the best at...." I believe that the "best" rhetoric has impeded this university's progress and should, at the very least, be muted.

Moving to page two: the first of the listed priorities seems to concern teaching/undergraduate education, and the second, research/graduate training. But there are no measures to show how teaching will be developed, recognized, or rewarded. Why is it that faculty salary by rank, and survey of faculty satisfaction, are measures for research but not for teaching?

I think that the "Balanced Scorecard" model that Brad Shrader presented at the Presidential University Lecture this week could well be applied to the first two priorities in the strategic plan. Just as stockholders' views are not the only measure of corporate vitality, Brad said, research measures are not the only way to gauge success at a university. The elements of the "Balanced Scorecard," including rewards for excellent performance, for innovation, faculty growth and learning, and student satisfaction should be integrated into the measures for Priority 1.

With sincerest appreciation for all you are doing -


Iowa State IS the land-grant institution

Current strategic plan draft wording:

The Land-Grant Ideal

  • Iowa State University was founded on the principles that higher education should be accessible to all and that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects. These principles are integral to the land-grant university, a special class of university created by the Morrill Act, passed by Congress in 1862. Iowa was the first state to accept the law's provisions. Iowa State University subsequently pioneered the idea of Extension - extending the university's knowledge to people throughout the state.

My response:

  • Many state schools have adopted the "land-grant ideal" because it has been so successful. We need to make certain that this sidebar headline and text make clear the distinction that Iowa State IS the land-grant institution for Iowa. The principles referred to in the first line of your text are land-grant principles, not just "principles."
  • For your reference: the actual act says a college "where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes on the several pursuits and professions in life."
  • Please do not use the phrase "open to all" without some clarification. Feedback from our prospective students to this phrase was that they perceive "open to all" to mean that we have no admissions standards. They reacted very negatively to this phrase and responded that they did not want to go to a school that admitted anyone, regardless of their academic preparation.

Here is the way we addressed that issue on the historical sign near Beardshear:

    • Iowa started an education revolution as the first state to accept the 1862 Morrill Act terms. 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 agriculture, engineering and military science as well as classical studies......

Strengthen the library

We have all heard the quote that a great university has a great library. I found the following reference while researching scholarly communication and it speaks directly to the preceding statement, I quote: "Comparing the reputational rankings of America's 25 greatest universities with the Association of Research Libraries rankings of its membership, the one-to-one relationship between reputational ranking and library quality is there for all to see."

Access to scholarly information is the foundation upon which excellence in teaching, learning and research are based. Given the importance of the library in supporting the work of outstanding students and faculty, as a faculty member and as Chair of the University Library Committee, I strongly recommend that the following goal be included in the list of goals under: Increase the number of graduate, professional and research programs ....

Goal: Building a library that strengthens scholarly and research excellence.

  • The library provides access to the resources that are the life blood of our scholarly and research activities and it would be misguided to think that we can enhance excellence in scholarship and research without building a library that supports excellence in these activities.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment upon our strategic plan


Information sources "vague"

I commend the strategic planning committee for its hard work. I have three main suggestions on the second draft.

  1. Under the second priority ("Increase the number of graduate ..."), change the phrase "information sciences" to "computer and information sciences".
    • This change is necessary because of the vagueness of the term "information sciences". To some, "information sciences" is synonymous with journalism; for others, it is synonymous with "library sciences". The term "computer and information sciences" is a more apt description of information sciences research strengths in Bioinformatics, Computational Intelligence, and related disciplinces where information processing models occupy a central role.
  2. Under the first priority "Strengthen undergraduate ... "), add a new goal "Educate a new generation of scholars, scientists, and technologists who are proficient in the skillful application of computer and information sciences across the curriculum (including basic and applied sciences, engineering, and humanities)".
  3. Under the second OR third priority add a goal "Enhance the physical infrastructure of the university through investments in new buildings to house state of the art laboratories and classrooms especially in targeted areas such as computer and information sciences, material sciences, and biosciences.

Environmental issues lack visibility

To the members of the strategic planning committee:

ISU Greening (a consortium of students, staff and faculty of ISU working to "green" Iowa State) was very pleased to see the "green" campus goals in the 4th priority area of the strategic plan -- we thank you for your leadership in integrating this concept into the strategic plan.

We remain very concerned about the overall lack of visibility for environmental issues in the current draft of the Strategic Plan. The mark of our time seems to be a disconnection between environment and society. The imminent challenge of our future will be re-integration of those concepts into how we approach solving problems and designing new technologies. We strongly encourage you to embrace the challenge of re-integration of environment and society into a goal for excellence in student education and university programs.

ISU Greening supports the comments submitted regarding using water quality as common ground for how this could be approached. Additionally, we would to provide the following goal suggestion for providing more robust attention to this very important issue:

"Provide strong environmental leadership for Iowa and become a national leader in integrating environment, education and entrepreneurial activity for students, faculty, and stakeholders. "


Promote faculty, departments

I am writing to ask that you consider the addition of a simple but extremely important goal to the strategic plan. I am convinced that this simple goal will dictate the success or failure of a number of the other goals and priorities currently laid out in the plan that are related to educational excellence.

Old goal: Develop, recognize, and reward excellent teaching.

Revised goal: Develop, promote, and reward faculty and departments who participate in interdisciplinary and experiential teaching, research, and service.


  • Based on faculty comments and what I have seen at ISU, I do not see any future for the success of these very necessary goals to encourage critical thinking, inter- and trans-disciplinary learning, and experiential learning without bringing the faculty along with the programs. We owe it to our students and our tradition as a land grant university to take this on as a challenge, and put some trial programs out there to ensure that we can deliver on our priorities.

Will it inspire stakeholders?

When it is all said and done, will our new ISU strategic plan inspire all of us stakeholders, as:

  1. An institution recognized as a world leader in Land Grant Principles?
  2. Recognized to be distinctly different, uniquely positioned, and critically more valuable to the average Iowan than the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa?
  3. Attractive to for-credit students of all ages and demographics across the world who take our classes and programs, but who may never step foot in Ames Iowa?
  4. Make me proud to stay that I work for Iowa State University?

Good luck with your work. Thanks for the opportunity to participate.


Include P&S, merit staff

Under the last priority, second goal: Do P&S and merit staff in non-academic departments consider themselves members of the 'academic' community? Should it say 'university' community?

Under the last priority, fourth goal: Is 'green' slang and should we use slang in an official document? Also, to some, it has a negative connotation of extremism.

Many of the stated measures don't measure outputs, but rather inputs -- which do indicate how important something is to us, but not how well we're producing or achieving. Also, I agree with many of the comments that sheer numbers are no indication of quality.


Too much emphasis on diversity

I normally have not involved myself in reviewing or commenting on strategic plans. I have been happy to focus on my work and doing it well. However, all of the emphasis placed on the strategic plan has called my attention to it this time.

I am happy with most of the plan. I do not know if it is possible to delineate more specific action steps at this time. Many of the items seem to be an affirmation of items which I would suppose are already in place. If there are particular new initiatives, maybe something could be done to highlight them as they represent new directions for the university.

However, one thing troubles me about the current plan. It seems to me that there is an inordinate amount of emphasis on diversity. I have been hearing about "diversity" here at Iowa State for probably 20 years now. I generally support the concept as applied to cultures, but all of the attention given to it recently blows it out of healthy proportion at least in my mind. I support noses on faces and assume that there is generally one to every face, but an inordinate of focus on the nose (or any other feature) neglects or distracts from the many other worthwhile features. That is my concern with what seems to be an inordinate focus on diversity in this draft of the plan.

I can see listing diversity among the "Core Values". I don't think I would list it so high, i.e., before intellectual freedom.

I don't know that diversity needs a special mention as the third goal under the first priority, but I can accept it.

I don't agree with listing diversity as the first goal under the fifth priority. Perhaps it can be moved down to the third position.

I especially find it curious (maybe to the point of grotesqueness) that diversity is listed specially under Mission. It really seems strange to mention it there or to have to mention it there. I thought the main mission was education. Broadening our perspective is one component of education, but I was not aware that we had been so "un-diverse" that diversity rated a special mention.

I think the reason I find myself reacting to this repeated emphasis on diversity is that it seems that "diversity" has been co-opted to refer specifically or primarily to "diverse" sexual orientation. Many of those "orientations" are in conflict with my religious beliefs. So while religion has long been in the list of characteristics that the university does not discriminate against, the addition of sexual orientation to the list and its continued place of prominence in "diversity" discussions leads to a bind. I don't see how the university can have it both ways.

I fully believe in non-discrimination of the basis of inherent factors which clearly include race, color, age, national origin, sex and disability. There is nothing the individual can do to change their status. But I do not automatically find it necessary to forbid discrimination according to status when that status is associated with a choice. While I do not support discrimination based on religion, marital status or veteran status, I could see a case made for it in certain situations. I know there is plenty of argument that sexual orientation is not a choice but an inherent factor. I have not found the evidence of it being an inherent factor to be compelling.

But now, nearly every time the "diversity" issue is raised, I sense the issue is really about accepting "alternate" sexual orientations and lifestyles. Like I said, that is in conflict with my religious beliefs. So, as the university seeks to facilitate an environment accepting(?) of those lifestyles, I find my beliefs and myself marginalized. The university climate has seemed less than accepting of my views for some years. The university is practically telling me that my beliefs are no longer valid or welcome in such an "enlightened", diverse atmosphere. This is particularly troublesome because I had not considered mine to be a minority position.

I can accept the normal non-discriminatory approach of "don't ask, don't tell". Some factors have no necessary bearing on our roles at Iowa State. The issues need not be raised and we can proceed in a collegial fashion ignoring such distinctions. I have learned or assumed that my religious ideas were not to be part of my workday activities. If I were to bring them up or persist in bringing them up, I might well be accused of proselytizing. However, the alternate sexual orientation community appears to be able to proselytize at will. Somehow that does not seem consistent with academic freedom.

Therefore, I find the frequent and prominent mention of diversity to be troublesome. I suggest it be scaled back and the paragraph be cut from the Mission.


4-H deserves a place in plan

Thanks for the opportunity for input. It is a difficult and tedious process to include so many voices but well worth it as it will be more likely to be embraced by all:

  1. I am delighted to see the inclusion of the Land Grant Ideal. Within Land Grant Ideal Side Bar - Modify last line to read " extending knowledge to people throughout the state and nation. Since Extension is a national entity and legislated nationally and did begin in Iowa.
  2. Goals and Measures don't seem to match up to me. With the bullet format I am looking across from each goal and expecting to see its appropriate measure. For example:
    • Goals
      • Improve the rigor and challenge of all academic programs (Measure) High Post-graduation status of undergraduate and graduate students including employment, GRE scores and admission to graduate school, location*, reflection on ISU experience.
        • Improve students' critical thinking and communication skills. (Measure) I didn't really see a measure for this one? Etc.
        • Measures also imply amounts or indications of change - Increased, decreased, High, low, etc.
        • * It is not clear to me what is meant by location here. (in the measures)
        • Goals also seem very broad and a bit vague which is okay but then measures are difficult.
      • When you refer to partnering with K-12 Schools to facilitate student success a good measure might include the number of contacts and impact of 4H School Enrichment, After School, Community Club and Special Interest activities. I believe recruitment for ISU students and development of communication and leadership skills would both be sorely impaired without the existence of 4H, it deserves a place in the strategic plan due to its 100+ years of existence and pioneering role nationwide. This is a program that brings national recognition to Iowa State and offers national and global opportunities for many students.
  3. Under second priority - What about Faculty salary?
    • "Average faculty salary by rank." Will be at what level? Will rise? Will compare to what?
  4. Does this include efforts of IMEP and CIRAS? And should these be specifically mentioned?
  5. As measures these can include evaluation of impacts made by these efforts as well.
    • Number of contacts made by Cooperative Extension Services.*
    • Number of other contacts made through conferences, web sites, or one-on-one visits.

*By referring to Cooperative Extension are you meaning all of Extension Services or only the USDA funded portions? Will this be clear to the general public? Would University Extension be better?

In general, I believe the first priority will appear to be your most important so I think it needs to be clarified and streamlined a bit and organized in an easy to follow fashion.


Boldly engage science and technology with social sciences, humanities, arts

As many have already said, I want to compliment the committee on this second draft. Many of the issues/recommendations that I and others sent to you have been incorporated on this second draft.

The comments/suggestions that I have are few...

  1. The Mission text that refers to faculty activities and scholarship outcomes would strongly benefit from paralleling more closely the university promotion and tenure document.
    • Mission: Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place
    • Create knowledge through excellent scholarship in teaching, research, and creative endeavors, [professional practice, and extension]
    • Share knowledge through outstanding [scholarship] and learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, distance and outreach programs.
  2. Vision. I suggest that the vision provide a more specific reference to the impact and role of science and technology - thereby providing us with a more comprehensive and exciting vision.
    • Iowa State University will be the best at advancing the land-grant ideal through boldly engaging science and technology with the social sciences, humanities and arts.
      • Priority 1. I suggest that the second goal could be strengthened to include "information literacy." Also, the measures should be expended to include improved learning outcome measures, and number of teaching awards.
      • Priority 2. The second priority relating to graduate, professional and research programs implies through its measures (Association for Research Libraries ranking and statistics) the crucial importance of the library to our research programs. In this context, I suggest that a clearly stated goal for expectations for the library be provided, and I strongly support a recommendation sent to you from David Hopper, the Chair of the University Library Committee. This recommendation was generated out of a recent meeting of the University Library Committee (college faculty and student representatives). He shared the text and his rationale for the addition with me, and I believe he states it very well.
        • Goal: Building a library that strengthens scholarly and research excellence.
      • Priority 3. Iowa's economy is closely tied to the global environment, and Iowa State University is perfectly positioned to assist the state.
        • Priority [3] -- Translate discoveries into viable technologies, products and services to strengthen Iowa's economy [within the global context].
      • Priority 4. Measures.
        • First measure. I would remove "credit" and "distance" given that courses for credit fall under undergraduate and graduate programs. Anyone taking a course for credit would be a student and this section refers to our outreach programs. Having credit courses here muddies this priority with the first priority - particularly since distance education students and on-campus students routinely are enrolled in the same course section.
        • Second contact. I don't think this is necessary given the third measure. Contacts are made by many faculty and staff involved with outreach outside of CES and Extension.
        • Third measure. I suggest a revision that would broaden the types of contacts.
          • Number of contacts made through conferences, website [hits, personal visits, telephone calls, electronic request forms, online chat services, e-mail, etc].

Comments on Strat Plan 2nd draft

I feel strongly that decisions for the university should be made by university people but I am grateful for the opportunity to submit a few thoughts for consideration. I will keep my remarks very brief and focused on the few points I think relevant.

Overall thought- I got the feeling, from the drafts and comments, that the direction is to make sure everyone is included, no one offended, and be everything to everyone (A very broad statement, I know). None of the organizations that I have consulted to-Delta, Bell South, Navy, CIA, Non-profits, or Technical organizations found that to be a successful strategy. A university is no different. You should have a clear mental image of the organization and where its going and how it will get there after reading the high level strategic plan. Can you do that?

  1. 2nd draft better than the first.
  2. Vision- I get a mental picture but does "best" mean a-in the world; b-nation; c-among similar land-grant universities etc. Its good to specify best in a specific class.
  3. Use of "global citizen" and "culturally informed" sounds grand and warm and may be the current buzzwords but by what definition(s) does a student obtain this. I would argue that they do not have any meaning with most people.
  4. Priority #1-Measures seem to promote activity rather than achievement. How does "FTE students by gender and race/ethnicity" achieve any of the goals? As an aside I did a small project in Texas to see how many High Schools had tracked their students to find the percentage that completed college or two year degree. They all knew how many started but not how many finished, which is the bottom line. If there was a way to connect the second measure in this priority to the high schools you could get some great data on what specific schools were doing to make their students more "college ready." Last measure is very good.
  5. Priority #2- State what those strengths are. Each of you knows what ISU does best. In the vision you say we will be the best and here you say "among the best." Again there is nothing wrong in setting a mark of being the best in a specific class. Measures in this priority very clearly focus on activity rather than achievement and could lead to not accomplishing this priority as written. Nothing, that I see, in any measure supports achievement of goal #1.
  6. Priority #3- Measures seem to promote activity rather than achievement. The colleges should be able to do magnificent strategic plans based on the guidance in the goals of this priority.
  7. Priority #4- Measures seem to promote activity rather than achievement.
  8. Priority #5-Agree with other comments about definition of a "green" university. Not sure how that supports the priority.
  9. No doubt the intention is for the strategic plan at this level to serve as the broad guidance to the individual colleges to write their strategies to support accomplishment of the university level strategic plan.

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Send your comments on the first draft of the plan to strategicplan by Oct. 29.