Strategic Plan 2017-2022

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University addresses societal challenges through our mission of impactful education, research, and extension and outreach. Working together, we enhance the vitality and sustainability of Iowa and the world, and the well- being of Iowans and global citizens. The challenges are many, and they include food security, food safety, climate change, environmental stewardship, renewable energy, and human health. We accomplish our goals through attracting, training, and supporting outstanding students, faculty, and staff who focus their efforts on high-impact problems. We manage fiscal and human resources wisely and collaborate strategically to provide the infrastructure and opportunities for achievement at the highest level. We tell our story of achievement and success through the voices of faculty, staff, and students.

Students, our top priority. Our graduates are civic-minded, globally oriented, and well- prepared to tackle societal challenges as leaders. We develop relationships and enhance external support that enables students to explore diverse career paths available through agriculture and life sciences. We broaden perspectives by involving diverse people, ideas, and cultures.

Supporting our outstanding faculty and staff. We inspire faculty and staff to work together to enhance the quality of life in Iowa and the world. We recognize and reward excellence in teaching, research, extension and outreach, and service. We support faculty and staff in efforts to transform innovation into entrepreneurial activities, and to instill the spirit of innovation in our students.

A broad, impactful portfolio in research and extension and outreach. We leverage knowledge from multiple disciplines to solve complex problems, an approach critical not only to find solutions, but also to secure funding needed to support research. We specialize in agricultural innovation that advances knowledge, develops applications, and invents products that support and sustain humanity. As a result of our work, the food, fuel, fiber, energy, and other resources we all depend on will require fewer inputs with less waste, creating a more sustainable future. Our research and extension and outreach programs promote economic growth and job creation. They engage alumni, friends, stakeholders, and partners, and provide science-based information for better decision-making.
Educate future leaders, conduct innovative research in agriculture and life sciences, and share knowledge that advances the well-being of Iowans and people worldwide.

A better, sustainable future for the people of Iowa and the world.

Ethical, mission-oriented engagement enables us to work transparently and with integrity. We gain a broad perspective by following ISU’s Principles of Community and learning from those with diverse experiences, backgrounds, interests, and expertise. Through inspired innovation, we transform foundational research discoveries and education into practical solutions that solve real-world problems.

Priority 1. Support students as they seek to make a difference in the world.

We prepare well-rounded, civic-minded graduates ready to take on societal challenges. We pursue external support that helps students explore their passions. We encourage students to join dialogues on new ideas and perspectives with those they encounter on campus and in national student exchange and study-abroad experiences. We engage with K-12 schools and community colleges to facilitate students’ successful transition to our degree programs.


  • Deliver high-quality, highly experiential educational programs, providing opportunities for students to grow in cultural competency, global awareness, and the ability to communicate within and across disciplines.
  • Create a welcoming, inclusive environment where all students can succeed.
  • Instill in students a strong work ethic, inspiring them to take ownership of their learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

Priority 2. Foster a highly collaborative environment for faculty and staff that inspires excellence and innovation.

We support faculty and staff as our greatest assets in driving innovation and enhancing learning. We foster collaborations necessary to expand the breadth and depth of their work and to spur diversity of thought into action that benefits the future of Iowa and society.


  • Recruit and retain the most talented, creative people who apply diverse knowledge, expertise, and experience to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • Embolden faculty and staff to serve as models of professionalism, understanding, respect, and lifelong learning for students, colleagues, and stakeholders.
  • Reward achievement in advancing our mission.
  • Support a satisfying work-life balance.
  • Invest in leading-edge facilities, equipment, and infrastructure critical for high-quality education, science, and entrepreneurial activities

Priority 3. Strengthen leadership in research that generates new discoveries and informs with science the practices and decisions that improve lives and livelihoods.

We advance agriculture and life sciences research to address major societal challenges, including food and economic security, productive and sustainable food systems, stewardship of natural resources and biodiversity, biorenewable energy, and climate adaptability. We explore new ways to integrate research results with extension and outreach programs to promote economic growth and opportunities.


  • Generate and share basic and applied research results that improve approaches to persistent and emerging societal challenges.
  • Transform discoveries into viable technologies and services, insightful data for policies, and essential science-based information for public use.
  • Stimulate innovation through collegial exchange of ideas and dynamic collaborations across scientific disciplines

Priority 4. Respond through extension and outreach to the needs identified by Iowans and people around the world.

We strive to make Iowa communities vital and Iowans more resilient in changing times. We
promote economic success and sustainability. We work to build a community of informed and empowered citizens, alumni, partners, and stakeholders who value, understand, and adopt science-based approaches to better living. We foster healthy communities, people, and environments, especially among marginalized groups. We engage and support alumni, friends, and stakeholders. We recognize that sustaining the environment is a priority and a shared responsibility.


  • Translate and communicate the contemporary developments in science and technology that positively impact daily lives.
  • Collaborate with partners and stakeholders to overcome challenges and maximize opportunities.

Strategic Plan (PDF)

December 2017