Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Strategic Plan 2005-2010

Got a comment?

Send ideas to strategicplan@

Report Brief

Renewing the Covenant: Learning, Discovery, and Engagement in a New Age and Different World


The Kellogg commission issued this report as their culminating statement to the series of reports, Returning to our Roots. The report conveys the Commission's stance on the need for a renewed and binding covenant between our institutions and the public they serve, and the direction in which our public universities need to go to accomplish this in a new age and different world.


  • What then does the term "public university" mean today? The irreducible idea is that it exists to advance the common good.
  • As the new millennium dawns, the fundamental challenge with which we struggle is how to reshape our historic agreement with the American people so that it fits the times that are emerging instead of the times that have passed.
  • Historically, the covenant between public universities and the American people has been grounded in wide access, excellent curricula, research of value to people and communities, and public governance and financing.
  • Despite progress, access remains an unfinished agenda. Severe racial, ethnic, and economic disparities characterize enrollment and graduation rates in American public higher education.
    • By age 24, 48% of young men and women from high-income families have graduated from college, compared to only 7% of low-income young adults.
  • The second part of the original covenant was an essential notion: Knowledge has consequences for individuals and utility for the larger society. In this part we can point to remarkable accomplishments.
    • The intellectual force behind the economic development of many of our states and their communities.
    • Incredible increases in agricultural productivity.
    • Provided the scientific base on which the nation's defense, diplomacy, and economic competitiveness have depended throughout the second half of the 20th century.
  • The third leg of our pact is the overarching public nature of our mission, programs, and governance. Whether we are land-grant institutions under terms of the original Morrill Act in 1862, historically black land-grant institutions provided for in the Second Morrill Act in 1890, tribal land-grant colleges, or public institutions with no land-grant designation, our institutions have one thing in common: Each of us is publicly created, publicly supported, and governed by public bodies for public purposes. Our mission is a mindset as much as a program.
  • The Commission believes that the public also has some responsibilities. One suggestion for meeting those responsibilities is by adding a Higher Education Millennial Partnership Act to the list of historic federal enactments that have enriched the United States (e.g., the Morrill Acts of 1863 and 1890, the Hatch Act of 1887, the 1914 Smith-Lever Act).
  • The following table presents a legislative framework for New Covenant for the 21st Century.

A Legislative Framework for New Covenant for the 21st Century

Stakeholder Existing Covenant Covenant for the 21st Century
FEDERAL Seed funds from sale of the public's lands to establish public universities Support to enable public universities to attain the technological infrastructure needed for advanced information technology operations.
Support for basic research Support for discoveries and new policy encouraging private investment in university-based research and research parks.
Support for student aid. Tax policy establishing educational savings accounts, available throughout a students' lifetime.
STATE Establish public universities. Provide continuing support and create partnerships with public institutions to engage with public needs.
Provide basic financial support. Commit to strengthen academic governance through appointment process for boards and presidents.
Commitment to low tuition. Leadership to maintain affordable access, respond to challenges of globalization.
UNIVERSITY Teaching, Research, and Service. Learning, Discovering, and Engagement.
Access for the sons and daughters of low-income and working families Access for the full diversity of America and lifelong learning contracts with students.
Research and services focused on agriculture and mining challenges of the time. Discovery and engagement focused on pressing educational, social, economic, scientific, and medical challenges of our times.


The Kellogg national commission framed seven commitments it believes public higher education must make.

  • Educational opportunity that is genuinely equal because it provides access to success without regard to race, ethnicity, age, occupation, or economic background.
  • Excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and professional curricula, continuing the public tradition of liberal and practical learning, preparing graduates for both their immediate and long-term futures.
  • Leaning environments that meet the civic ends of public higher education by preparing students to lead and participate in a democratic society.
  • Complex and broad-based agendas for discovery and graduate education that are informed by the latest scholarship and responsiveness to pressing public needs.
  • Conscious efforts to organize the resources and expertise at our institutions to bring them to bear in a coherent way on community, state, national, and international problems.
  • Systems and data that will allow us periodically to make an open accounting of our progress toward achieving our commitment to the public good.
  • Intensive, on-going monitoring on the progress and implementation of the Kellogg Commission's recommendations.


National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. (2000, March). Renewing the covenant: Learning, discovery, and engagement in a new age and different world. Washington, DC: Author.

Submitted by R.M. Johnson, March 2004. This is a report summary and excerpts are quoted directly from the text.

The campanile

Iowa State was the first chartered land-grant institution.