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Strategic Plan 2005-2010

Comments on Strategic Plan draft, Oct. 18

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


Give more recognition to Distance Education

Besides a brief nod to Distance Education under the priority titled "Partner with Iowans to enhance the state's appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play," there is no other acknowledgement of this very important higher ed alternative to face-to-face instruction. There must be greater recognition of Distance Education (aka Online Learning and E-learning) within ISU's Strategic Plan, either within the "Strengthen undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to enhance student success at and beyond Iowa State University" priority or the "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" priority. Doing this would demonstrate institutional approval of this critically important instructional technology.


Use university's full name

In addition,

  • the fourth bullet item under Mission should add "University" after "Iowa State".
  • the first words under "Priorities for 2005-2010" should add "University" after "Iowa State".
  • the last bullet item under Measures under Priority one should change "ISU" to "Iowa State University".
  • the seventh bullet item under Measures under Priority two should change "ISU" to "Iowa State University".
  • the fifth bullet item under Measures under Priority three should change "ISU" to "Iowa State University".
  • the fourth bullet item under Measures under Priority five should change "university" to "Iowa State University".

It is best to spell out "Iowa State University" because "University" is significant to those that will read this document and "ISU" can represent "Indiana State University", "Illinois State University", etc. As parts of the Strategic Plan are used for various purposes, having the full name helps the various sections to maintain their reference to Iowa State University since the full name will exist in each section. Thanks.


Very positive improvements

THANK YOU! I will need to review this in greater depth, but a quick glance reveals some very positive improvements. This revised version makes me feel like a valued part of the future of this educational institution. Nice job with the Land Grant Message


Like the changes

I like the changes. The focus is directed toward how the University is serving Iowa and diverse clients. It isn't as narrow in it's view of growth as the first plan. It should be valid for the time period it is written to cover.


New draft more full-bodied, inclusive

Thank you for placing emphasis on our land-grant legacy, and its modern application through distance and continuing education programming. I also appreciate the value placed on monitoring Iowans on their experience with and perception of Iowa State University and its responsiveness to the needs of people, communities, and the state's environment.

This second draft appears to be more full-bodied, and inclusive of the most important facets of this university and its responsibilities to constituents. Well done.



I'm very pleased with the second draft of the Strategic Plan. Congratulations!


More emphasis on humanities, social sciences, creative work, culture

I think the 2nd draft is a nice improvement over the 1st draft. Thanks for the tough work.

I still believe there is not enough emphasis on the humanities, social sciences, creative work, and culture.

For example: the 3rd priority reads: "translate discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services to strengthen Iowa's economy." This might be a missed opportunity. Perhaps something like "translate discoveries into viable technologies, products, services, and creative expressions to strengthen Iowa's economy and cultural environment."

There is a stated goal in the 4th priority calling to enhance excellence in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, but there isn't any strong mention of promoting those issues toward any significant end. Since these areas are so important to the University (LAS is the biggest college) maybe they should have more of a priority. A liberal arts education should be a priority, along with the advancement of science and technology.

Thanks for your time and dedication.


Extension contributions recognized

I am pleased to see that Extension contributions have been recognized and included in the second draft.

I have one suggestion for the section on "Partner with Iowans to enhance the state's appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play." Add a new measure: Number of partnerships/partnership programs established with collaborating groups/agencies/organizations.


Success not always measured by graduation rates

Student success is not always measured by graduation rates. Many students come to campus with goals that do not lead to graduation. Some post-baccalaureate students come to get a teaching license or do a dietetic internship without getting another degree. They may enroll as undergraduates, but they do not graduate. That does not mean they are unsuccessful. They have met their goals.

In the measures of goals you list graduation rates. The best measure would be students meeting their academic goals.


Add Extension references

I was pleased to see the inclusion of extension in the strategic plan. Unfortunately, the primary reference is historic. I suggest the following modification to the 2nd bullet of the mission statement:

Share knowledge through outstanding, learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, and outreach [and extension] programs.

Under the Priority - "Partner with Iowans to enhance the state's appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play", I suggest the following modification to the 2nd measure:

Number of contacts made by Cooperative, [ISU] Extension Services.

Under the Priority - "Translate discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services to strengthen Iowa's economy.", I suggest the following modification to the 2nd measure:

Participation in educational and outreach [and extension] programs aimed at Iowa's economic, workforce, and technology development.


"ISU Extension" rather than "Cooperative Extension"

In measures, we may hear from other Extension folks about use of the phrase "Cooperative Extension." I think the phrase means something different -- may be linked more directly to musty funding title/legislation rather than the actual work/activities. Instead, simply saying "ISU Extension" may be a more appropriate phrase.


Salary comparisons should take cost of living into account

I don't know if the measure proposed by the strategic plan is that typical comparison of faculty salaries at peer institutions. I am always dismayed when I see that because I don't see any consideration of the cost of living in the various towns/cities where these institutions are located. I always think any Iowa citizen of average intelligence would see that one should consider the cost of living in Ames vs. the cost of living in these other areas when comparing salaries. I would assume benefits are comparable at the various institutions, but that is another important factor.


New plan should be more "actionable" than current

This second draft is better than the first. I'm sure you have thought about the following issues, but I am just curious:

Will this plan be linked to the colleges and units so the tactical part is translated into specific goals that colleges and units must do to make this plan and its vision a reality? I am hoping this plan will be more "actionable" than the 2000-2005 plan.

If our vision is to "be the best at advancing the land-grant ideal and putting science and technology to work", what metric tells us where we are now?

What is our current rank against this vision?

Do we have measures of what the higher-ranked institutions do better than ISU?

Are specific tactical plans being developed to improve in those metrics to overtake our competition?

There continues to be justifiable concern about faculty salaries and retention. I don't see much concern about P&S salaries and retention - why? As a P&S employee, I don't see much recognition within the university community of the importance of what we do.


Hub a good spot for good coffee

As you know, quality of life issues are very important for showcasing our University and attracting top faculty, staff and students. Here's a simple idea that would give a big boost to the quality of life here at

ISU: wouldn't it be nice to be able to get a good cup of coffee on central campus? I suggest that the Hub would be a great place for a Starbucks-style coffee shop. Right now the Hub's ideal central campus location is put to less than ideal use as a rather forgettable vending machine/copy center combo. I notice in the latest "Inside Update" that ISU Dining has opened a new coffee service in Lagomarcino. That's fine, but the Hub would be a much better coffee-spot for students and staff. Better yet, convert the Hub into a comfy and inviting Coffee House. I'm sure it would be one of the most popular places at ISU!

P.S. Thanks for providing the opportunity to comment.


Some suggestions on measurements

  • Number of credit and non-credit course registrations in distance and continuing education by age.
  • Number of contacts made by Cooperative Extension Services.
  • Number of other contacts made through conferences, web sites, or one-on-one visits.

Under the above measurements on the proposed plan, I have a bit of concern in regard to the above three bullets. The first bullet calls for registrations by age. Age is not something that we currently collect in non-credit course registration and would require an additional implementation system that would challenge our current process and add additional expense. I am not sure of the value vs the cost in this. A simple solution would be to eliminate "age" on the first bullet. Extension currently collects non-credit course participation numbers (contact numbers) and they are fed into the non-credit course registrations. Extension also collects a second set of numbers of contacts that are "other than" non-credit course registrations. That is probably the number the second bullet is referring to? A more clear statement would be "Number of contacts made by Cooperative Extension Service, other than non-credit course registrations." This recognizes that Extension contacts are non-credit course registrations and other than non-credit. The third bullet is a combination of items that adds to the confusion for those of us who do the reporting. For example, conferences would also be reported under non-credit course registrations. Web site user numbers are so large that they really need to be separated out from other numbers. One on one visits are currently reported under number of contacts made by Cooperative Extension Service. I would suggest eliminating the current third bullet and in its place add one that that speaks to web sites only, given so much work in that area today. As a person who feeds data into the reports, and has worked for years to gain consistency within the Extension reporting system ( including distance and continuing ed) , I would be glad to visit further with you as to specifics or sharing examples, if that would be helpful. JA


Delete "learning-centered"

Dear Planners:

  1. I believe that the following is poorly worded:
    • "Share knowledge through outstanding, learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, and outreach programs."
    • The first comma should not be there. (Read the phrase aloud.) "learning-centered" is either redundant or code for a particular educational philosophy that is not universally held (I don't hold it and, in fact, hold that it is counter-productive to real learning). I suggest it be deleted.
  2. I find the use of the word "partner" as a verb to be an embarrassing instance of "org-speak":
    • "Partner with K-12 schools and community "

Strengthen enrollment, improve internet connections and web

I would like to say my 2 cents here. Iowa State University's main focus in the coming years should be strengthening enrollment which has been continuously dropping.

This accounts to the budget cuts, you need to ensure that further budget cuts are not in place due to which a majority of international students will stop attending, or transfer out of Iowa State University.

Another major area ISU needs to work on is 24-hour facilities like computer labs, faster internet connections to major universities across the country.

And a better web designer for our school website is a certain thing too!


Extension needs more prominent role

Plan is fine for ISU and Ames, but seemingly not enough connection with the rest of the State. A potential disconnect with the daily struggles of common Iowans trying to make a living on farms, in small businesses, etc.

My bias would appreciate a more prominent role regarding Extension.

Evaluation criteria could be met and yet potentially yield no real positive impact on the State of Iowa with the exception of the number of companies in the ISU Research park and possibly some new inventions.


More balanced; add "education" to areas of excellence

I have reviewed the second draft of the plan and find it much more balanced. My concerns about attention to diversity, the arts and humanities, and the land-grant mission have been adequately addressed. I still find no mention of education as an area of potential excellence. This area could be easily added in the following goal:

  • Enhance areas of excellence in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that build on and complement the university's unique strengths.

Thanks for listening to the earlier feedback and significantly improving the statement.

Faculty Group

Commit to enhancing civic education

The undersigned are participants in the NSF-funded initiative Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities (SENCER; encouraging the teaching of science through civic issues. We are excited by the way that focusing on realistic community problems can both enliven basic science classes and also bring students to a new appreciation of the importance of civic involvement.

We also believe that the SENCER teaching model is a particularly good fit with ISU's traditional land grant mission of not only preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers, but preparing all citizens to be active participants in public life. This is expressed well in the draft Vision statement, when it states that "students will become well-rounded, global citizens who are technologically proficient, culturally informed, and ready to lead."

As currently written, however, the strategic plan's Priority for undergraduate education speaks of enhancing student achievement in very general terms. Although we strongly endorse efforts to improve students' critical thinking and communication skills, we want to encourage the Committee to make a specific commitment to enhancing [civic] education at ISU.

  • Jean Goodwin, English
  • Thomas Isenhart, Natural Resource Ecology & Management
  • Steven Jungst, Natural Resource Ecology & Management
  • Barbara Krumhardt, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology
  • James Pease, Natural Resource Ecology & Management
  • Lita Rule, Natural Resource Ecology & Management
  • Janette Thompson, Natural Resource Ecology & Management

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