Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
June 11, 1999

Plant sciences initiative receives $2.2 million boost

by Linda Charles

Iowa State's plans to make the state a world leader in high- tech plant genetics research is one step closer to fruition with a $2.2 million state appropriation for a Center of Excellence in Fundamental Plant Sciences.

Only a few similar centers are expected to be developed. Those already proposed are a collaborative project headed by Monsanto Co. in St. Louis, one in Southern California sponsored by seed industry giant Novartis and a third to be located in the United Kingdom.

"We want to be in the front of this parade, not in the back row," said President Martin Jischke.

"This is an incredibly bold move that will draw on Iowa's strengths as a world center of crop- and animal-based agriculture," he added.

Iowa State has been building a foundation in biotechnology for more than 10 years, he said. Add to that the collection of seed companies and other entities involved in crop production in Iowa, and the state is in an excellent position to assume world leadership in high-tech plant science research.

The center will enable the state to expand this strong base and help Iowa State fulfill its land-grant mission by ensuring that results of future research are available to a variety of interests, not just a few large companies, Jischke said.

The state funding will be used to create new faculty positions, prepare facilities, buy equipment and conduct research. University officials hope additional funds will be appropriated in FY2001 to continue development of the center.

State appropriations for fiscal 1999-2000 also include an increase of $300,000 for ISU Extension's value-added agriculture programs. The new appropriations will broaden the Extension 21 initiative to improve Iowa's economy, help enhance Iowa's private and public sectors' competitiveness, and make the state a more attractive place to live, said vice provost for extension Stanley Johnson.

Through internal reallocations and new revenues in next year's budget, $16.8 million will be put toward programs that support Iowa State's six strategic planning goals, said Rab Mukerjea, assistant to the president for budget planning and analysis. Nearly 40 percent of the funds will go to Iowa State's top goal of improving undergraduate education, and 32 percent will go toward improving graduate education and research, Mukerjea said.

The total state appropriation to Iowa State will increase by more than $12.5 million to nearly $263.4 million next fiscal year, he added. That's almost a 5 percent increase from the current year.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will review the preliminary FY2000 budget this month. ISU will submit it for final approval in July.

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