Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Strategic Plan 2005-2010

Comments on Strategic Plan draft, Oct. 27

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


Promote ethics in student education

I am generally pleased with the second draft of the Strategic Plan 2005-2010

I remain disappointed that there is no apparent emphasis on ethics in the education of students. I am concerned that we take good students, train them to be strong leaders in a variety of fields, but do not adequately prepare them for maintaining high ethical standards in their careers. This inadequacy can degrade their quality of life and further contribute to societal ills.

I would like to see ISU promote an environment in which good ethics are a trademark of the college culture and where students are enabled to identify and deal with the temptations and demands that exist in the special interest environments they may encounter in their careers.

Thank you for considering my comments,


Communication sciences should be added

I am writing today on behalf of the Greenlee School to share concerns with you and the Strategic Planning Committee about the failure to mention communication science in the second draft.

Professors and I are asking the Committee to make a minor change that strengthens the document and adds an important missing measure in reference to the largest unit in the largest college at ISU: Journalism and Communication.

The following recommendations, which amount to a mere seven words (in red), were passed unanimously by the School's Long-Range Planning Committee:

Second Priority; Third Goal

Leverage strengths in science and technology to enhance research and scholarly excellence with emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives involving biological, materials, and communication and information sciences.

Explanation: Information sciences connote "technology" and the absence of the word "communication" leaves content out of the equation.

Second Priority; Eighth Measure

National Research Council rankings and national accreditation of units.

Explanation: National accreditation is an important measure of the best programs.

The Long-Range Planning Committee has noted that the second draft is much better from a more comprehensive university perspective. It reports in a memo to me:

"The addition of 'professional' in several areas and two mentions of communication are positive. However, we are concerned that communication is associated with ISU Comm and does not address the Greenlee School's place in the institution."

The term "professional" does not define our graduate programs and research emphases.

Our new hires--we have seven of them on staff with two more to come next year--are researchers from some of the best Ph.D. programs in the country. Our senior professors (Lulu Rodriquez, Eric Abbott, and Jane Peterson) are among the ranks of the most accomplished researchers in the institution. Their work is quantitative and often about policy, food science and risk assessment.

It is important to note that "communication science" should not be confused with technology and computer science, which provide the software and equipment but not the scientific content.

References to "communication science" and "accreditation" are important on many fronts. The most recent example is our School's taking the lead in the Battelle initiative--precisely because we do science communication. We participate in Homeland Security and agro-terrorism research projects. We have support from the bioscience and agri-business industries because we know about risk assessment--something that ensures the success of patents and start-ups. Moreover, our emphasis in science communication distinguishes us from the University of Iowa's journalism school, which is known as being more theoretical and less application-oriented. We have worked hard to hire top researchers and to align ourselves with the institution's "science with practice" mission and hope to apply our knowledge in the land-grant tradition.

We ask once again that the Strategic Planning Committee add to the plan our seven essential words.

Finally, the Long-Range Planning Committee recommends a correction:

Second Priority; Third Measure

Graduate student enrollment and average of GRE (replace GRE with: graduate entrance exams scores) of graduate students admitted.

Explanation: Graduate students take GRE, GMAT and other graduate entrance exams.


Add items to "strengthen economy" goals

Excellent mission statement and addition of the land-grant idea. I would like to suggest the following additions or inclusion of these goals: Under the priority of "Translate discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services to strengthen Iowa's economy."

  • 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 the priority of "Partner with Iowans to enhance the state's appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play."
  • 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.

Thanks for the opportunity to make additional comments.


"Proirities" should be "goals"

The priorities should be goals... the goals should be STRATEGIES....The measures should be initiatives or actions to achieve those goals. A strategic plan should have strategies. The draft looks better.

Faculty Emeritus

Extension influence for greater than Iowa

I am pleased to note that the second draft of the Strategic Planning 2005-2010 report recognizes the land grant orientation of Iowa State University. Moreover, I am pleased that the fourth of the five goals mentions the Cooperative Extension Service and states that one measure of the goal is to "[M]onitor Iowans on the experience with and perception of Iowa State University and its responsiveness to the needs of people, community and the state's environment.

However, the stated priority does not recite with sufficient specificity and particularity the scope of the priority area. It is much more than partnering with Iowans "to enhance the state's appeal as a place to live, learn, work, and play."

First, Iowa State University's influence in the extension realm is far greater than Iowa and may well become larger with the emergence of regional centers for extension activity. I would suggest that one of the goals be to seek to become a regional (or even national) center for extension or outreach in areas of acknowledged strength of the institution, particularly in Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and Family and Consumer Science. Congress has signaled that extension should move toward a regional structure to complement state-level programs.

Second, there is no mention of the international arena as the great frontier for extension activity, despite the importance to global stability of providing assistance to Second and Third World countries.

Third, I would suggest restating the priority to read-- Increase the emphasis on making Iowa State University a leader in extension education at the local, state, national and international levels by maintaining the capacity to address real world problems throughout the world and the capacity and willingness to respond to impediments to economic, social and institutional development on a truly global basis.

Finally, I would suggest adding, as a measure, progress in developing and implementing extension centers of excellence in Iowa, regionally, nationally and internationally.

I would submit that there is no higher mission for Iowa State University than to engage problems beyond our borders in partnership with other countries and institutions in those countries with an objective of increasing global harmony and working for a better life for individuals in countries that are struggling with a range of problems including resource use, governmental reforms, economic development, world trade, social upheaval and internal conflict. Those are the areas that should be included in demonstrating a modern-day commitment to the land grant tradition.


"Land-Grant" statement a good addition

Thank you for the addition of "The Land-Grant Ideal" statement in the second draft. I feel that all three parts of the Land-Grant mission . . . teaching, research and extension . . . are very important parts of Iowa State University to the citizens of our state. University Extension does just what our name suggests . . . we are an extension of ISU to bring the research and knowledge of ISU to the citizens of Iowa. This is important.

Under Mission: As economic development is an important part of the 2010 Plan for Iowa, I would suggest the following revision of bullet #3 Apply knowledge to strengthen economic development and improve quality of life for current and future generations.

Under Priority #1: "Strengthen undergraduate . . ."

Bullet #8 - As a state, I believe our goal is to educate people to live, work and become leaders here in Iowa. Yes, some will leave Iowa, but hate to see it listed in our priorities. I would rather see it written as: Enhance services to enable students to find rewarding careers in Iowa.

Under Priority #3: "Translate discoveries into..."

Under Goals: I 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: I 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 well-being 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.

Thank you for this opportunity.


Extension makes Iowa State unique

As an ISU employee in the field, I have a strong bias towards and commitment to the Land Grant philosophy and it's extension/ outreach component. A Land Grant university has teaching, research and extension/ outreach components. and responsibilities. Extensive extension/outreach programs make ISU unique among and the envy of other Iowa colleges and universities. The Extension system provides an "avenue", a "unique presence" in every county, a direct link to individuals of all ages throughout the state as well as an established network of contacts with public servants, agencies and organizations at the county, state and federal levels.

In the late 1980's a blue ribbon committee recommended that equal emphasis be given the three components at Iowa State. In the early 1990s the university responded by establishing the Provost position with separate Vice Provost positions for Academic Affairs, Research and Extension. The first two Strategic Plan drafts are largely focused on teaching and research. These current drafts could be adopted by any college or university with minor revision as their own and do not adequately convey the expectations, opportunities and positive impact of a land grant university with a viable extension/ outreach component.

The first draft of Strategic Planning 2005 - 2010 included the Land Grant Philosophy in the "Founding Ideas" paragraph. One was hard-pressed to find any reference to the Extension/ Outreach component in the "Priorities and Goals" section.

The second draft contains:

1.a paragraph on " The Land Grant Ideal". This indicates that ISU "pioneered the idea of Extension" and suggests a historical fact rather than a future direction.

2. A suggested measure of the 4th priority as the "Number of Contacts made by Cooperative Extension Services". The Cooperative Extension Service is only one part of University Extension which partners with and has direct contact with Iowans throughout the state. Number of contacts is also an incomplete, superficial measure of positive impact.

For the past year and a half, a select committee of staff and clientele statewide have been developing a Futuring Plan for Extension. Dr Steve Padgitt on campus and Dr Duane Acker from Atlantic, co-chaired this Futuring Committee. They could no doubt suggest Extension/ Outreach Priorities, Goals and Measures to complement the existing drafts which focus primarily on academic affairs, campus faculty and research.

The budget cuts of recent years have affected ISU at all levels. The Extension Service is struggling to maintain an acceptable level of service to the clientele of Iowa. If the University's Strategic Plan contains no Extension/ Outreach priorities or goals to fulfill it's Land Grant responsibilities, it will be difficult for Extension to obtain the necessary assistance and support from the Board of Regents and our traditional political base at county, state and federal levels. It will be increasingly difficult to maintain a viable and visible presence across the state.


Diversity added but needs some tweaking

Many of the previous suggestions made by the Division of Student Affairs regarding the first draft of the Strategic Plan appear to be included in the second draft of the plan. In particular, a stronger message regarding diversity was evident in the second draft. In addition, the campus climate survey was identified as having critical elements to include in the document. This is now listed as a measure under the fifth priority: "Ensure that the university is a great place to learn and work"

In one area, the goal and the measure are not congruent. Priority 1, "Strengthen undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to enhance student success at and beyond Iowa State University," indicates that one measure is undergraduate student persistence in reference to specific student populations (gender, race/ethnicity, first generation college students, and transfer students). However, there is no goal under Priority 1 that indicates the need to create meaningful connections between and among students, faculty and staff in order to encourage that persistence. There is no information included about resources and services or experiences that contribute to retention. The creation of such connections should be highlighted as a goal that leads to persistence.

Under Priority 2, a goal to "increase the number and elevate the overall quality of graduate students" is stated. However, a similar emphasis is not placed on the quality of undergraduate students. Stronger emphasis on the quality of undergraduate students should be included. In reference to undergraduate students who are transfers to Iowa State University, the language regarding "seamless transfer" was stronger in the first draft of the Strategic Plan. Emphasis should be placed on strengthening the language to reflect a stronger statement about "seamless transfer."


Nice job

The new draft is excellent and incorporates many comments provided on the first draft. Nice job.

The challenge now must be paring back a bit to the crucial aspects. Some measures are elaborated more than others. The brief indicators are better although specificity is fine. time to degree, retention, etc. should not be too specific. We soon will be living with the new "compacts" and agreements that permit community college and even high school credit to "count" toward an ISU degree. Combined with the options for distance ed, it will be less meaningful to count consecutive residential (on campus) semesters for either undergrad or grad student. Also, is a fast time to degree always good for graduate students? Programs can be too quick to be meaningful. Shorter is not always better. Perhaps leave this section more vague as we work such things out among ourselves and with our partners?

I like the land grant piece, and the way the plan refers to it as a core tenet. As an extension person, it feels more welcoming.


Water resources/quality should be added

The attached memo and proposal provide strong support for adding water resources/water quality as a focus area to Iowa State University's 2005-1010 Strategic Plan. The proposal is supported by a broad base of faculty and staff from the following departments. Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Agronomy Animal Science Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Economics Geological and Atmospheric Sciences Horticulture Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Natural Resource Ecology and Management Sociology National Soil Tilth Laboratory We encourage you to review these materials in detail. We feel they make a convincing case that water resources is the area where Iowa State University can become the consensus national leader within the period of the next strategic plan.

This memo proposes a small but significant change to Iowa State University's 2005-2010 strategic plan. We propose that water resources/water quality be added to the item "Leverage strengths in science and technology to enhance research and scholarly excellence with emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives involving biological, materials, and information sciences." Water quality is the number one environmental issue in Iowa, the Midwest and the USA. Researchers at Iowa State University are recognized nationally for their trans-disciplinary, basic and applied science associated with timely and innovative solutions to improve water quality, sustain agricultural production and enhance quality of life. As argued strongly in the accompanying proposal, Iowa State's greatest potential to achieve internationally recognized excellence in research and scholarship is to emphasize those areas of strength in which we have a comparative advantage. We have the greatest impact on the base of scientific knowledge and applications improving the general welfare by concentrating on the production and distribution of research and educational programs where we have an advantage relative to other universities, not just inherent internal strength or potential. The current strategic plan proposal is more focused than previous strategic plans and recognizes economies of size and scale in concentrating resources in specific areas. The proposed areas of emphasis - biological, materials, and information sciences - build on recognized or potential strengths and are consistent with received wisdom concerning areas with significant potential for scientific progress and with the stated priorities of external funding agencies. These two factors, scientific and funding potential, however, are common to all competing institutions. The hard question is the extent of Iowa State University's comparative advantage in these three areas relative to peer institutions such as the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of California, Davis, and Michigan State University.

In water resources research, education, and engagement Iowa State University has a distinct comparative advantage not only relative to peer institutions, but to other strong programs such as the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Stanford University. While research by many of the top public and private universities on the two coasts and the Great Lakes does much to increase our knowledge of point source pollution such as municipal and industrial waste, there are major gaps in the knowledge base on non-point source pollution related to origin, transport, toxicity, prophylaxis, production practices and profitability, recreational and other amenities, and aggregated watershed and river basin effects. Iowa State University holds a unique position to conduct high quality research and educational programs on water quality. We are located in the heart of the world's largest natural experiment in non-point source pollution generation, monitoring, and control. We have an outstanding track record and national prominence in water quality research and practice. Research on the hydrology of intensively managed landscapes, buffer and filter strips, benefits of inland water quality improvement, design of efficient urban systems for small communities, monitoring of phosphorous, and systems analysis of watersheds are but a few of the areas mentioned in the accompanying document where Iowa State is the national leader. The direct benefits to the state of research and education programs on water quality are obvious. There are also clear economic benefits to the state from the provision of safer water in terms of health and quality of life. These benefits, of course, extend far beyond the boundaries of the state, and particularly to the developing world. Water quality research and education programs pull together faculty and staff from across colleges and involve public and private agencies. Water quality is the unique area where Iowa State University can become the consensus national leader within the period of the proposed strategic plan. We strongly propose that you add water quality as a focus area to the strategic plan.

See proposal

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