Sept. 16, 2010

Iowa State keeps an eye on 2050 in new strategic plan

by Anne Krapfl

Becoming a world leader in "advancing the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology and human creativity to work" is Iowa State's task under its new strategic plan approved Sept. 16 by the state Board of Regents. Specifically, the university will tackle 21st century challenges by integrating basic research, new technologies and entrepreneurial applications. The plan will guide university decisions and strategies through 2015.

Under development since last September (and informally 12 months prior) and involving hundreds of faculty, staff and students in the deliberation, the strategic plan is built around four priorities president Gregory Geoffroy outlined in encouraging the university community to look farther ahead than the period of a single strategic plan -- to the year 2050. The goals are:

  • Be a magnet for attracting outstanding students who seek educations that prepare them to make a difference in the world.
  • Be a magnet for attracting outstanding faculty and staff who create, share and apply knowledge to improve the quality of life.
  • Be internationally known for faculty, staff and students who address the challenges of the 21st century, including safe, nutritious food in adequate supply; sustainable energy sources; water quality and availability; a sustainable planet; and the health of plants, animals and humans.
  • Be a treasured resource for Iowa, the nation and the world because we improve people's lives.

Each of these goals is supported by two or three action steps that help define it.

"Developing this five-year plan while also envisioning what Iowa State University should be at the mid-point of the century has been an extremely valuable process," Geoffroy said. "The goals in this plan are important not only for Iowa State, but also for the unique contributions we make for the betterment of Iowa."

Board president David Miles praised the plan on three points: it sets high expectations, the university stays true to the land-grant mission, and Iowa State remains committed to being a valuable resource for the state of Iowa.

Measuring achievement

Planners identified 11 measures by which the university community will gauge progress on the strategic plan. These vary from fall student enrollments to graduation rates, from faculty and staff accomplishments to their salaries measured against peer groups, from the university's rank in National Science Foundation funding to the number of partnerships and clients served -- locally and internationally.

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman chaired a 23-member steering and writing committee that led the campus planning process and worked through more than a dozen strategic plan drafts in response to input from the university community.