Comments on Strategic Plan draft, Sept. 17
These comments refer to Aug. 30, 2004, first draft the Strategic Plan for 2005-2010. The draft is very much a work in progress. Still to come in future drafts are strategies and action plans to achieve goals, and measures that will be used to assess success of those efforts.
A few suggestions
Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010
Iowa State University faculty, staff, and students are committed to:
Iowa State University was founded on the ideas that higher education should be open to all, universities should teach practical subjects, and faculty should share knowledge with people throughout the state. These three ideas are integral to land-grant universities, a new class of universities created by the Morrill Act, passed by Congress in 1862. Iowa was the first state to accept the law's provisions.
Iowa State University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive University, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities and the National Association of State Universities & Land-Grant Colleges.
Capitalize on land-grant strengths
The leadership role of Iowa State University as a Land Grant Institution is neither explicitly stated or implied. Even without explicitly using the term 'Land Grant Institution', the University is built upon the unique foundation of teaching, research, and extension. This three-fold advantage truly makes Iowa State University -- the 'peoples' university. Iowa State University must capitalize on these strengths to build the broad-base of support necessary to sustain and grow the institution.
The draft document needs to articulate the role of Extension and Extension's significance in the realization of social and economic development objectives set by citizens of the state's 99 counties. Extension leadership is essential as community-based initiatives are developed to address the complex issues, opportunities, and problems facing the state. As Extension faculty and staff bring the University to the people, the outcomes will be helping Iowans work together, creating a vision for the future, and making a difference at this critical time in our state's history.
Responsibility to be "people's college"
Clarify that Extension programming is a responsibility of a land-grant institution - Iowa State University, designated as a 'land-grant' university, has the responsibility to be a 'people's college' to the entire state of Iowa. For those who do not have the opportunity to enroll in the university but still need the research and practical knowledge and skills in order to improve their quality of life, ISU outreach and Extension are essential to their lives and to the economic and social fabric of the entire state of Iowa. I strongly urge the committee to carefully read the comments already made on the mission and vision of ISU in Extension outreach as well as academics and research. Please, if you haven't yet done so, become acquainted with your own ISU Extension program in this state to see where all it needs to fit into this report.
Extension not mentioned
I always thought that a land grant university had three main tasks---teaching, research, and EXTENSION. I did not see Extension mentioned at all in the plan.
I would like you to add the word Extension in the sentence that starts with SHARE KNOWLEDGE.
In the aspiration part to add something about Extension and Extension offices.
2nd priority -- add Extension to the priority sentence.
Also you need to mention something about life long learners and the concept of an engaged University.
View plan from prospective humanist's eyes
I congratulate you on shaping a document that's clear and concise--that's not an easy job, given the charge of the Committee!
In reading over the document, I tried to discern how the humanities were characterized. Although the humanities are briefly invoked, and readers might infer their presence from some of the generic statements about research and education, for the most part the humanities are simply invisible. To remedy this, I recommend are the following:
One final note: A test--for me at least--as to the efficacy of the strategic plan would be to imagine how a tenure-track job candidate might view the document. In all honesty, I believe that few humanists would be very excited about coming to Iowa State University, were they to base their decision on this draft. I urge you to revise the strategic plan so that humanists--those already here and those we wish to recruit--will find ISU a receptive environment in which to work.
No mention of Extension
I am concerned that the strategic plan for ISU, a land grant university, makes no mention of extension education. Under mission I'd suggest a statement, such as "Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, Extension education and other outreach programs."
Under CORE values, "being an engaged university in each county of Iowa"
would be a meaningful addition.
Liberal art an afterthought
I would like to echo the concern that the strategic plan draft seems to focus entirely on the scientific and technical, with liberal arts or any sense of ISU as a comprehensive university only being addressed as afterthought. I hope the next draft will address these concerns.
Arts, humanities and footnote
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that ISU continues to lose quality faculty when our strategic plan only reflects part of what we really do. Based on the present wording ISU shows little regard for the humanities and has succumbed to the profit-driven, scientific aspect of teaching and research. It is unfortunate that a so-called liberal arts university and land-grant institution has relegated the arts and humanities to a footnote.
ISU can drive change in Iowa
I understand (and applaud) the stated aim of keeping the strategic plan brief. However, I believe that it is critically important to properly define the relationship between ISU and the state of Iowa in the preamble to this strategic plan. This relationship justifies our mission and aspirations. More importantly, our ability to achieve the goals in this strategic plan is underpinned by our relationship with the citizens and government of this state.
I believe the critical questions are:
As we all know, population growth in Iowa has been virtually stagnant since the second world war. Furthermore, Iowa is consistently located in the lowest quartile in many economic growth indexes (e.g., http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/newsrel/GSPNewsRelease.htm). A powerful argument must be made that in collaboration with the state government, ISU can be the driving force for change in Iowa. Without commitment from state government, goals like "leading the nation in patents awarded" will have little effect on the citizens of Iowa.
Little attention to humanities
I am upset to see that very little attention has been given to the role the arts and humanities play in the success of our students. If ISU wants to be an institution that truly seeks excellence, we need to reassess radically the strategic plan and its perplexing lack of understanding of the importance of the role of humanities at this university.
Connection to human culture essential
What follows is a slightly tinkered version of a memo I sent to the Department of English chair at a time when our Administrative Committee, upon which I serve by virtue of my role as Assistant Chair for Faculty Development, was considering the prospect of a collective response. I hope its "in house" tone of voice does not prevent you from hearing and grasping the concerns I am expressing....
The key notion in so much of this Strategic Plan discussion is that "knowledge" NOT be understand primarily, much less exclusively, as "scientific" in the narrow sense. Moreover, the idea that knowledge must be "shared" to matter, to BE knowledge, puts a premium not only on language and communication but on the notion of COMMUNITY. Even a university chiefly known for its scientific and technical excellence cannot be a community without a human culture, and without a strong connection to the larger human culture it cannot hope to succeed in knowing which "new knowledge" is pertinent or valuable.
Put otherwise, pairing leadership in "educating students" and in "putting science and technology to work" in the Aspiration statement nearly implies that the two leaderships are the same, that we are educating students IN ORDER to put science and technology to work.
Some of our students will NEVER do that, and we probably shouldn't want them to. Nor is it true that every science or technology should be loosed upon the world.
Someone needs to address the zero-sum game aspect of the first priority, especially if the bullet clauses imply that we, for example, retain outstanding faculty ONLY in those areas where we "address critical needs and opportunities." The bargain the regents are currently trying to make with the legislature implies that some degree of zero-sum gamesmanship will be practiced, if internal reallocations are the price we must pay for greater state support.
All the more reason, then, that we define "critical" in ways that assure that humanities departments are not, perpetually and without question, on the losing end of these calculations.
I would see the third priority, of enhancing life on campus and throughout Iowa, as priority number one, not number three.
Ames lab eager partner in ISU success
We would first like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for its hard work on this important document. We understand that in a university setting with such a diversity of programs and backgrounds it is difficult to assemble a comprehensive plan that addresses all of the important goals and priorities of its constituencies.
Your work on the Strategic Plan so far, provides an excellent outline for forward motion. Our comments below are intended to help "fill out" some of the details of the Plan with an emphasis on the role of the Ames Laboratory, an important member of the Iowa State University community and the only major Department of Energy National Laboratory totally integrated into the campus for a tier 1 research university. The presence of a national laboratory on the ISU campus is a unique occurrence that has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact upon the science and engineering departments of the University:
The Laboratory is a point of pride for the University that has not always been fully exploited in important functions such as faculty and student recruitment and public awareness. In areas such as condensed matter physics, materials science and chemistry, the Laboratory's programs enjoy strong international reputations. While this has translated to high national rankings for Departments like Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy, the full extent of the Ames Laboratory/ISU connection is not widely recognized outside of the University. It will undoubtedly benefit the University to strongly promote the role of the Laboratory in documents such as the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan. Below, we provide some specific suggestions of how the Ames Laboratory positively contributes to the Priorities and Goals as stated in the draft strategic plan.
The first stated priority is to "Strengthen the undergraduate experience to enhance student success at and beyond Iowa State University." One specific suggestion that we have is to broaden the scope of the priority to include all students, both undergraduate and graduate, in this statement. The presence of the Ames Laboratory on our campus certainly provides unique opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students working towards their degrees. Indeed, approximately 25% of the Laboratory workforce consists of graduate students from departments within LAS and the College of Engineering. In addition, the Laboratory's groups actively participate in programs such as summer internships and provide work study positions for undergraduates.
The Laboratory's efforts in working with ISU to promote science and math education in Iowa schools is perhaps best exemplified by the Science Bowl held each year on campus. Since 1991, over 220 students from 134 Iowa High Schools have participated, with the winning teams moving on to compete effectively at the regional and national levels. But perhaps most importantly, as noted in a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education concerning the relationship between ISU and Ames Laboratory.
This openness and access is largely what defines the unique relationship between the Ames Laboratory and ISU.
The Ames Laboratory has several scientists and programs at the leading edge of emerging scientific disciplines specified in the second stated priority of the draft plan. For example, Edward Yeung, a program director in Ames Laboratory's Basic Energy Sciences program, is world renowned for his analysis of the contents of a single red blood cell, as well as the development of a myriad of novel analytical instrumentation. In the area of materials science, the Ames Laboratory research programs are world leaders in the development of new materials such as quasicrystals, magnetic refrigeration materials, photonic band gap materials, and magnesium diboride, a new superconducting compound. These scientists also transform their discoveries into useful products and technologies. Since 1984, Ames Laboratory scientists have been awarded 15 R&D100 awards, often termed "the Oscars of applied science", for applications as diverse as Multiplexed Capillary Electrophoresis and the Thermite Reduction Process.
Looking toward the future, new Ames Laboratory programs such as the Biorenewable Resources Consortium are partnering with researchers in engineering, the physical sciences, economics, biology and plant sciences to study the conversion of renewable resources such as biomass and plant oils into bio-based materials. This research has already resulted in shape-responsive plastics from soybean oil, polymers from sugars via microbial transformations, and a cost-effective catalyst for the conversion of waste greases into bio-based fuels. Another new initiative, the Midwest Forensics Resource Center, has connected with physical scientists, engineers and crime laboratories across the Midwest. Their scientists have developed improved techniques to detect fingerprints and other crime scene evidence. Thus we would hope that the Ames Lab would be part of any strategic plan for the future of Iowa State. Certainly the Lab intends to be an eager partner in helping to make this future an ever brighter one.
Arts also educate, enrich
The plan appears to recognize only the entertainment value of the arts. Please remember that the arts also educate and enrich.
Increase integration cross discipline initiatives
I would suggest increasing the integration of cross-disciplinary curricular initiatives which support the humanities, social sciences, and technology at ISU on an equal footing. Such a project has been launched through the Languages and Cultures for Professions program which involves collaborations between Foreign Languages and Literatures (LAS) and the Colleges of Business and Engineering. This involves students and faculty in curricular collaboration and strengthens emphases on diversity and internationalization
I believe that the draft defines the mission and priorities of the university in too narrow a way. Bolstering areas of strength should never result in the reduction of academic-intellectual diversity. Tying research to patent-seeking and technology-transfer possibilities is too much a way of harnessing intellectual production to the demands of the market. Do not cut down on humanities and social sciences: all students, including scientists, technicians and administrators, need what they can learn of values, communication, critical inquiry and cultural understanding. Campus life can be enhanced only if Iowa State provides for a truly well-rounded education, not some kind of one-dimensional vocational training!
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to comment. I have put some suggested changes in CAPS.
Under Mission and sharing knowledge -
Under core values
Award for technology transfer
I applaud inclusion of the third priority in the first draft of the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan which states:
I am also pleased to see the following among the goals related to that priority:
Furthermore, these statements seem to be consistent with the present criteria for promotion and tenure at Iowa State University.
However, it does no good to include such statements in the strategic plan or in the promotion and tenure guidelines if faculty at the department level are allowed to ignore such contributions by talented young assistant professors. In my own Department of Mechanical Engineering, an outstanding assistant professor has recently been denied tenure even though ISURF has filed applications for five patents in her name, and she has founded a start-up company that is already showing real promise of success. If we truly wish to excel in this area, we must reward those faculty who engage in these activities. If faculty at the department level disregard such principles, then the administration must step forward and provide the leadership necessary to change the culture on campus.
Engagement and outreach left out
The Land Grant Mission includes Teaching / Learning, Research / Discovery, and Engagement / Extension. While Extension and Outreach can be read into the mission and into the last priority and goal, the casual reader will see no mention of any ISU activities beyond the boundaries of campus.
Engagement / Outreach and Extension is the mechanism by which Iowa State University provides knowledge-based educational programs to the citizens of Iowa to improve the quality of life. This connection to the people of Iowa is essential to the prosperity of Iowa State University and the entire regents system.
I encourage that Engagement / Outreach and Extension be displayed more prominently in the 2005 - 2010 ISU Strategic Plan.
Extension's role ignored
I have reviewed the draft plan. Overall, I think it is a mistake to diminish the importance of ISU's land-grant mission and to focus too narrowly on "science and technology" at a comprehensive university. I believe the draft plan over-emphasizes the role of undergraduate education, fails to acknowledge the importance of a wide range of grounded research at a land-grant, and totally ignores the role of Extension and its unique, defining mission at a land-grant university. I would also like to see the university to aspire to have a greater international role. Specifically, I suggest:
Planning Committee: Per your request, I am sending you possible comments and suggestions to the Strategic Plan 2005-2010. I hope that this helps. Thanks.
Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, [Extension] and [outreach] education programs.
Make Iowa and the world a better place by preparing students to be world citizens and leaders [and through Extension education provide knowledge-based programs to Iowa citizens of all ages improving the quality of life.] ...
Iowa State will be one of the worlds leading universities in educating students and putting science and technology to work.
Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010
Priority Strengthen the undergraduate experience to enhance student success at and beyond Iowa State University.
Priority Increase the number of undergraduate, graduate, research [and extension] programs known as the very best in their field, particularly in areas where the university's strengths address critical needs and opportunities.
Priority Achieve preeminence in translating new discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services with a focus on fueling Iowas economy and building a sustainable future.
Priority Enhance the quality of life on campus and throughout Iowa.
Core Values: Iowa State University faculty, staff (including Extension educators), and students are committed to:
Place for critical thinking, international understanding
I am surprised at the absence of specific mention of critical thinking, international understanding and cooperation, and environmental concerns.
Below are suggested places where these concepts might fit.
These concepts should be specifically mentioned in student preparation:
Under technology transfer:
Culture is the driving force
As an artist, one of the things that has always bothered me at this university is the exclusion of the importance of the humanities from its mission statement. My feeling is that this is rather poor judgment for a land grant institution to emphasize "Science and Technology" as its focus, while purposely excluding everything else from the statement that really makes this place a first rate "Land Grant Institution." Our mission statement should emphasize how Iowa State as a university is engaged with the society it serves. This is truly the intent of the land grant act. Because it appears that we are trying to dance around this issue, we will never reach the status of a place like the University of Illinois.
The Land-Grant Act (also called the Morrill Act) promoted the notion that a student might attend college to learn to grow corn, build a bridge, "even raise a child."
IF I MAY RAMBLE FOR A COUPLE LINES:
I truly think the mission statement of the music department, after we take out all the big words, is based on the belief that learning and performing music is important because we are providing people with the skills and tools to both appreciate and create culture.
Culture is largely the result of the creative ability of a society, and probably nowhere is our creativity better expressed than with music (All of the Arts). For example music can be taught through traditions, demonstrated, and nurtured through performance. In addition it requires personal expression, technical ability, analytical skills, aesthetic sensitivity, and represents the past, present and future.
Therefore if the present administration truly believes that Science and Technology is the preservation of culture we are hitting the Land Grant mission on the mark. I however belive that it is the other way around, and believe that culture is the driving force that creates the need for Science and Technology.
If you go through this new mission statement, every time the word society, creativity, or diversity pops up, can this administration really say that these things are provided by science and technology? It seems more realistic that science and technology are more of a byproduct a culture's creative aspirations, and perhaps exposure to diversity (or adversity) is the driving force for a society striving to express and preserve itself.
If this makes sense then why are the arts, an essential element of culture, left completely out of the statement?
Extension makes us unique
ISU is a land-grant institution. The three major components of a land-grant institution are research, teaching, and extension. Extension is what makes us unique in Iowa. It seems to have been missed in the strategic plan draft. I would suggest the following:
Mission (Suggested Changes) Change sentence beginning with "Share knowledge" to "Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, and Extension education including distance education programs. " Delete the sentence beginning with "Make Iowa and the world a better place" and insert "Through Extension education, provide knowledge-based programs to the citizens of Iowa to improve the quality of life."
Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010 (Suggested Changes) Under the 3rd priority, add the following goal: " Lead the nation in market-tested statewide Extension programs to grow Iowa's economy. " Under the 4th priority, add the following goal: "Through Extension, education programs in every Iowa County enhance the quality of life for families and youth. "
Core Values (Suggested Changes) Add the following: "being an engaged university in each county of Iowa."
Extension integral part of ISU
I would like to see Iowa State University Extension included as an integral part of the 2005-2010 strategic plan for ISU. Some suggestions below in brackets. We are the public service and outreach education arm of Iowa State University and reach many ISU clients through contact at a local county Extension office location and education programs at local, county and area level. We are able to help clients locate and use many ISU resources and thus share knowledge to make Iowa a better place
Iowa State University's mission is to create and share knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.
Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, and distance education programs.. [Please include the words "and Extension" after distance education programs.]
Make Iowa and the world a better place by preparing students to be world citizens and leaders [and by engaging Iowa citizens of all ages in Extension programs aimed at improving the quality of life.] In carrying out its mission, Iowa State University is committed to diversity in its students, faculty, staff [and Extension clientele] and access to those excluded or impeded from realizing their full potential. Diversity enlivens the exchange of ideas, broadens scholarship, and prepares students for lifelong participation in society.
Iowa State will be one of the world's leading universities in educating students and putting science and technology to work.
Iowa State University will be home to faculty, staff, and students who share a passion for discovery and for applying science and technology to make a difference. Their enthusiasm and talent will attract many partners from outside the university community. A "can-do" spirit will permeate campus [and Extension learning centers located off-campus in each county Extension office] as collaborators work together to find new ways to improve Iowa and the world.
Priority Increase the number of undergraduate, graduate, research [and Extension] programs known as the very best in their field, particularly in areas where the university's strengths address critical needs and opportunities.
Priority Enhance the quality of life on campus and throughout Iowa.
Encourage international experiences
I am a senior in Civil Engineering and Spanish from Des Moines. I owe a lot to ISU and am interested in seeing it become the best it can be, so I recently read the draft of the new strategic plan.
I am happy to see the renewed focus on experiential learning, entrepreneurship, transfer technologies and developing sustainable solutions.
As an engineer I have at times felt stifled by the number of pure math, science and engineering theory courses I am required to take. Of course these classes are necessary for engineers, but I believe that more flexibility in the curriculum would allow ISU engineers to find out more about what they can expect to do with the things they have learned, and thus make those engineering classes more meaningful. This could be in the form of optional classes on technology transfer and engineering business or simply the option to take more LAS classes. I think that exploring a variety of curriculums as un undergraduate is key to plotting a good career path, whether in engineering or elementary education.
The one thing that bothers me about the strategic plan is that it makes no mention of increasing international opportunities for students (or faculty).
The draft repeatedly mentions terms such as "making Iowa and THE WORLD a better place", and "preparing students to be WORLD citizens" but then suggests no means to achieve this goal.
As an undergraduate I have participated in study abroad trip to Peru and spent a semester studying and working in Spain. I will be one of the first students to graduate from the Language and Cultures for Professions (LCP) program - a collaboration between the Co. of Eng. and the Dept. of FLL that offers a second major in a foreign language with a curriculum focused on preparing students to work in the global marketplace. I am also involved in promoting the college of engineering's international programs, with providing hospitality to international exchange students here at ISU, and with a group that helps students to use their technical skills to solve problems in the developing world.
My international experiences have defined my time at ISU. They have changed the way I look at the world and my goals for the future more than I could have imagined 3 years ago. I feel that promoting international experiences to undergraduates is the best way to turn ISU into a place that embraces diversity and cares about making the WORLD a better place.
Therefore, I think that encouraging students to pursue international experiences deserves a place in the new strategic plan.
Include humanities, globalization
Iowa State University is a Land-Grant University. The land-grant concept created the Cooperative Extension Service. Where is there mention of Extension in the ISU Strategic Plan? No mention of it concerns me as a 4-H alum, ISU alum and ISU employee. Some suggestions for where to add it:
Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, [Extension] and distance education programs. Make Iowa and the world a better place by preparing students to be world citizens and leaders [and by engaging Iowa citizens of all ages in Extension programs aimed at improving the quality of life.] A "can-do" spirit will permeate campus [and off-campus learning centers including Extension offices] as collaborators work together to find new ways to improve Iowa and the world. Increase the number of undergraduate, graduate, research [and extension] programs known as the very best in their field, particularly in areas where the university's strengths address critical needs and opportunities.
Land-grant mission missing
Mission - Share Knowledge Are we no longer a land grant institution? The way this mission is written, it seems we have chosen to ignore that and just have two regents institutions.
Mission - Better Place Add - Through Extension education provide knowledge-based programs to the citizens of Iowa to improve the quality of life.
Under Priorities and Goals - Modify the first bullet that currently refers to "high-ability students" to read - "programs with special emphasis for students with well-identified interests." At the end of the first bullet - delete - "areas such as biosciences, materials sciences, and information sciences."
Rationale - Colleges can dwell on these specifics later.
Under "fueling Iowa's economy' - add: Lead the nation in market-tested statewide Extension programs to grow Iowa's economy.
Under "Enhance the quality of life" add: Through Extension education programs in every Iowa County, enhnce the quality of life for families and youth.
Under Core Values: Add - Being an engaged university of each county of Iowa.
Reflect land-grant mission
It is important that this document reflect ISU's Land-Grant mission, which includes three equally important thrusts: Research, Teaching and Extension. The following proposed changes are intended to give greater emphasis to extension in the planning document.
Under Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010
Under Core Values
I am pleased to see the development of a simple and concise strategic plan for ISU with basic concepts that should require little or no modification during the 2005-2010 period. I am generally satisfied with the first draft and offer for your consideration two points that might be more specifically covered in the plan.
These two points may be inter-related. Many students come from sheltered, deprived and/or foreign experiences and, upon graduation, may be thrust into a career where new, unfamiliar and defining decisions and actions are required. These include finances, health care, retirement planning, debt management, automobile, ethical practices, dress, etc. Background information on what to expect, what is expected, important considerations and where and how to get information can help assure a smooth start, minimize financial mistakes, provide ethical guidance and make for a better quality of life.
With respect to ethical standards, ISU can make a meaningful contribution toward improving the moral and ethical practices in this country. We are taking students from diverse backgrounds and preparing them to be leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers and recognized achievers in many fields. These will be the people who can really establish and implement good ethical practices in their broad fields of influence.
I can envision these two points being supported throughout the University during the students experience at ISU. I can also envision these two items being covered in a required course for all graduating students in their senior year.
ISU's strategic plan as outlined has a good foundation but left out a very important part of the university's mission, Extension. As a land grant university, ISU has a responsibility and obligation to serve the needs of Iowans and add to the research base of knowledge. Following are some major points to be considered as revisions are made to the strategic plan. -Sharing knowledge through Extension is what we have done best for over 75+ years and we need to maintain this vital link with Extension as an outreach program and distance learning program opportunity. -The "can-do" spirit should include off-campus learning centers such as Extension offices as an aspiration of the university. -Attracting faculty, staff and extension educators as well as students should be a major goal of ISU to address critical needs and opportunities. -Every employee of ISU has a certain responsibility to recruit potential students to the campus and we can utilize the 100 Extension offices currently in place in every county in Iowa. Wouldn't the other regent institutions love to have 100 recruiting offices across the state? -Enhancing the quality of life includes life-long learning through Extension programming in areas of families, youth (4-H), and communities throughout the state. -Core values include the land-grant concept, an engaging university, and life-long learning opportunities.
change to: Share knowledge through outstanding learning-centered undergraduate, graduate, professional, Extension and distance education programs. change to: Make Iowa and the world a better place by preparing students to be world citizens and leaders and by applying knowledge in ways that help the people of Iowa improve their quality of life.
Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010
Priority: Enhance the quality of life on campus and throughout Iowa. Add a goal: Through Extension education, enhance the quality of life for communities, families and youth throughout Iowa.
Add bullet being connected to all the people of Iowa.
Following your request, this is to offer some comments on the first draft of the University's next strategic plan. First of all, we wish to offer our thanks and support to the colleagues involved in the difficult task of attempting to draft a novel course for the university. We do find, however, many issues that we are unhappy with and that should warrant a careful re-examination (inevitably, perhaps, given the interim nature of the present draft). Below we respectfully wish to expand on our most serious concerns. We jointly forward these comments as they are a result of a few conversations we have had on this matter.
Aspiration: "Iowa State will be one of the world's leading universities in educating students and putting science and technology to work"
The goals delineated in the Aspiration statement differ from those articulated in the Mission statement in two significant ways:
Priority # 1, "Strengthen the undergraduate experience to enhance student success at and beyond Iowa State University"
This is a laudable priority, but perhaps the specific goals outlined in this draft deserve further analysis. How consistent are the goals to "improve the rigor and challenge of all undergraduate programs" and to "increase the percentage of students from all backgrounds who complete degrees"? Should we perhaps be clearer on whether we want to prioritize quality or quantity? (To say "both" may be admirable, but some may construe it as disingenuous).
Of concern is also the goal to "enable seamless transfer of students from community colleges to Iowa State University." The question here is how consistent that may be with the aforementioned goal of improving the rigor of our programs (we trust that we all agree that the quality of education at community colleges is inferior to that offered by Iowa State University). But there is also the strategic issue of whether ISU stands to gain from that. At a time when declining student enrollment at ISU is perceived as an increasing problem, to work toward a model in which more and more students may elect to come to ISU for a smaller share of their college education may be counterproductive.
We should also note that, in view of the declining student enrollment at ISU, and of the forecasted declining number of high school graduates in Iowa, maintaining a viable size of quality undergraduate students may have to rely increasingly on out-of-state students. To be versatile in that pursuit, we believe that it is essential for ISU to offer the complete portfolio of excellent programs--including social sciences, arts and humanities--that should be the hallmark of a major university.
Priority # 2, "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"
We are concerned about the presumption that the emerging needs of the state and nation can be effectively identified ex ante (which, from ISU's perspective, apparently can be reduced to emphasis on selected areas such as "biosciences, materials sciences, and information sciences"). History would suggest that governments and bureaucrats are notoriously poor at identifying the "critical industries" of the future--which is one of the reasons the pursuit of an "industrial policy" is a discredited economic policy doctrine.
The overemphasis on "interdisciplinary research" is also questionable. Interdisciplinary research may be highly productive in areas in which new knowledge has rendered obsolete conventional classifications of knowledge, but in other disciplines traditional classifications may remain highly useful. Arguably, "interdisciplinary research" should not be an end in itself, but rather its usefulness needs to be judged by its efficacy in creating and disseminating knowledge. Encouraging worthwhile interdisciplinary research should not come at the expense of discouraging excellence in disciplinary discovery activities.
Priority # 3, "Achieve preeminence in translating new discoveries into viable technologies, products, and services with a focus on fueling Iowa's economy and building a sustainable future"
This is perhaps the priority that most concerns us. As formulated, it clearly departs from the more mainstream view that a university ought, first and foremost, to be engaged in creating new knowledge. But the most worrisome attribute here is the apparently naC/ve view that a direct university involvement in translating new discoveries into viable technologies and products is critical. Among other things, this view neglects the impact on development that universities have had (and continue to have) by creating human capital through the education of the future pool of skilled labor. What is being addressed here is a quintessential economic problem, and the economic analysis that we are aware of would be rather skeptical of the presumption underlying priority # 3. Knowledge and technology, of course, represent the engine of economic growth. But in the age of globalization, the idea that one can effectively fence out the effects for the benefit of a local economy is untenable. Economics would suggest, for example, that there is simply no reason to expect that an innovation created at ISU will be predominantly exploited by firms based in Iowa unless these innovations utilize some resource that is unique to Iowa.
There are two clear risks in the goals articulated in priority # 3. The first danger is that considerable resources may be spent in the vain pursuit of an objective (increased local economic growth) the realization of which depends on too many other factors that are outside our control. Second, there is a risk that the focus on the local effects of university activities may seriously bias excellence and the pursuit of activities with a much larger payoff on a global scale. After all, the Mission articulated in the current draft of the strategic plan includes the goal to "make Iowa and the world a better place...". Inevitably, when it comes to economic development, what is good for the world may not necessarily be good for Iowa and vice versa. It is our considered opinion that the presumption articulated in priority # 3 should be carefully reconsidered by the strategic planning committee.
More attention to arts, humanities
I don't see enough attention given to the role of Arts and Humanities in the plan. I wonder how Iowa State University is planning to seek excellence in Education, when little is done to promote Humanities. The success of our students can't be achieved with this new strategy.
Staff, Faculty and Admin. team
Add international learning component
The College of Engineering's International Task Team (ITT) is made up of faculty who are study abroad program coordinators and staff who assist the study abroad process. At a recent meeting, ITT members discussed the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan draft. There was consensus on the following feedback:
We are pleased to see that reference to the "world" was mentioned frequently. However, we are concerned that the lack of more specificity leads to ambiguity regarding the importance of international learning.
We ask that you consider adding the following four short phrases that will not add to the length of the document, but will enhance the clarity of the University's vision and commitment to international learning:
Priorities and Goals for 2005-2010:
Increase the number of students who participate in experiential learning and international experiences.
Priority: Enhance the quality of life on campus and throughout Iowa:
Again, we thank you for your dedication and hard work to create a planning document that is critical to guiding us during the next five years.
Encourage students to study abroad
I think the first draft was very well done, yet I see something very important missing. My international experience was extremely important and more importantly just a great experience. I think ISU should strive to push as many students as possible to study abroad, especially seeing how the workforce is becoming more global. Thank you very much for your time.
Preeminence in information sciences important
I am pleased to note that achieving preeminence in "information sciences" research, graduate and undergraduate education features prominently in the current draft of the strategic plan.
Information Sciences are concerned with the theory and practice of representation, acquisition, processing, communication, and use of information. Information Sciences are transforming the basic and applied sciences including biological, physical, and cognitive, and social sciences and engineering.
No modern university can hope to excel in any area of human inquiry without significant strengths, depth, and breadth in information sciences in general, and the foundational disciplines such as Computer Science and Statistics in particular. In what follows, I will focus primarily on the role of Computer Science in Information Sciences, although I will occasionally touch on Statistics, along with a couple of representative interdisciplinary programs in Information Sciences.
Computer Science is transforming society and the university in more ways than most observers realize. The impact of computational tools that have been made available (hardware and software for personal computing, the World Wide Web, high performance scientific computing, distributed databases, electronic commerce, health informatics, bioinformatics, agile enterprises, scheduling and inventory management, smart homes, intelligent highways, disaster management, wired and wireless communications, computational drug design, computer assisted surgery, smart prosthetic devices, multimedia art, virtual worlds, precision farming) are fairly well known.
What is not so obvious is the conceptual impact of Computer Science.
Algorithms - precise recipes for information processing - which are the objects of study in Computer Science, provide for study of complex biological, social, and cognitive processes, what calculus provided for the study of physics. Algorithmic models are transforming the way biologists think about information processing in living organisms, the way economists think about bounded rationality, and the way physicists think about quantum information and entanglement. Experimental work on computing science is transforming the way biologists think about evolution and the origins of life, the way economists think about evolving strategies of economic agents, the way that psychologists think about cognition, and the way that philosophers think about ethics, justice, and the social contract. As a recent article in New York Times put it rather pointedly albeit provocatively, "All Science is Computer Science!"
Computer Science plays a central role in facilitating major advances in human capability to generate, model, and represent more complex and cross-disciplinary scientific data from new sources and at enormously varying scales; to transform this information into knowledge by combining and analyzing it in new ways; to deepen our understanding of perception, learning, cognition, language, and communication; and to collaborate by sharing knowledge and working together.
Computer Science is fundamentally transforming the way we understand ourselves and the world around us.
No modern university can hope to excel in any area of human inquiry without significant strengths, depth, and breadth in information sciences in general, and the foundational disciplines such as Computer Science and Statistics in particular. ISU has been home to a nationally renowned department of Statistics for decades. Computer Science is among one of the most significant emerging areas of strength at Iowa State University.
Any plan to achieve preeminence in information sciences at ISU by increasing the number of Information Science programs at ISU that are nationally recognized as being among the very best in the respective fields has to therefore build on the existing and emerging strengths in the core Information Science disciplines of Computer Science and Statistics. The plan must also recognize and strengthen areas of interdisciplinary
research and graduate and undergraduate education in information sciences in areas in which ISU is well positioned to achieve national prominence.
For example, ISU has successfully exploited its strengths in Biosciences, Computer Science, and Statistics to establish highly successful research and graduate training programs in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology - which is arguably one of the strongest graduate programs at ISU, and one of the top such programs in the nation.
In Computational Intelligence, Learning, and Discovery , given its strengths in Computer Science and Statistics, IISU has the potential to achieve national prominence by responding to emerging opportunities and challenges in data-driven knowledge acquisition and collaborative discovery in emerging data intensive sciences such as Agricultural Informatics, Environmental Informatics, Geoinformatics, Chemical Informatics, Security Informatics,
Enterprise Informatics, Engineering Informatics, e-Science, e-Government. Given ISU's traditional strengths in the relevant areas of basic sciences, agriculture, and engineering, offer unique opportunities to establish state of the art interdisciplinary research and education programs that can help ISU become one of the top land grant universities in the nation.
ISU also has significant strengths in Computational Science and Engineering, the systemic application of high performance computing to large-scale problems in science and engineering, is a growing area involving faculty from many departments (physics, chemistry, meteorology, applied mathematics, computer science, and every field of engineering) that is rapidly extending the large-scale applications of the tools of computing and sometimes, in a positive feedback loop, also contributing to the further development ofComputer Science and Engineering.
If ISU is to excel as a modern university, then it must excel in information sciences. This excellence must be promoted both in the core and foundational information science disciplines, namely Computer Science and Statistics, and in an array of interdisciplinary activities involving areas of national need where ISU has significant existing strengths.
Dilapidated buildings that house Computer Science and Statistics Departments, poorly equipped classrooms, inadequate laboratory and office space for faculty, research staff, and graduate students represent a significant hurdle to maintaining current strengths in Information sciences and promoting and nurturing new interdisciplinary programs that can achieve national prominence. Significant and immediate investments have to be made in the physical infrastructure - to house state of the art research laboratories, classrooms, and faculty and graduate student office space to meet the needs of growing Information Sciences research and Education programs, including in particular, the core disciplines of Computer Science and Statistics, and interdisciplinary programs in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB), and Computational Intelligence, Learning, and Discovery (CILD), among others.
The means of promoting excellence in Information Sciences must be more flexible than an ordinary academic department or college. What is needed is a mechanism for supporting not only existing or planned areas of education and research in information sciences, but also the ongoing, spontaneous formation of highly qualified teams of faculty to pursue new areas of education and research in information science as they emerge.
Such faculty-initiated activities have already paid off handsomely in areas like Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and similar targeted infusion resources in some of the other areas of Information Science is likely to elevate ISU to a position of national preeminence in Information Sciences. The mechanism used to foster information sciences research and education must be able to respond quickly to the needs and opportunities presented by a rapidly developing field, it must ensure high standards for the activities that it promotes, and it must also allow for the occasional disbandment of teams as topics become outdated or interests shift elsewhere. The means of promoting excellence in excellence should also promote its visibility in order to attract and retain high quality faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and funding from the state, industry, and federal agencies. This visibility should be more unified then the multi-faceted research and education in information sciences that it represents, and it should enable bodies that rank university programs (e.g., the National Research Council) to get a unified view of computing and information science research and education at ISU.
Specify what "science" means
I would like to briefly comment on the mission statement in the first draft of the strategic plan. I am a cognitive psychologist. From my perspective, psychology is a science, so psychology should be covered in the aspiration statement that ISU will put science and technology to work. Yet for many, psychology is a social science, not a science. That is, science without a qualifying descriptor refers to natural science. Consider that in LAS there is a division of social science and a division of science & mathematics. My question is: What does science mean in the Strategic Plan? If it is meant to include social science, then to prevent possible misunderstanding, that should be made clear in the next draft. If it is not meant to include social science, then my question is why? The creation and sharing of knowledge related to human cognition, emotion, and behavior are surely components of ISU's mission of making Iowa and the world a better place.
General comments not tied to text revisions
Comments tied to text revisions suggested below
Suggestions for text revisions
Strengthen the tie among the broad range of disciplines:
Consistency with University Promotion and Tenure Document
Realistic expectations for enrolling students and life long learning for our graduates
Goal for attracting and retaining the best faculty, staff, and students
Suggested additional text:
The Iowa State University was founded on the ideas that higher education should be open to all, universities should [provide a liberal arts education incorporating] practical subjects, and faculty should share knowledge with people throughout the state. These three ideas are integral to land-grant universities, a new class of universities created by the Morrill Act, passed in 1862. Iowa was the first state to accept the law's provisions.
Send your comments on the first draft of the plan to strategicplan by Sept. 17.