College convocation welcomes new faculty and staff

Fall 2009 Convocation

The following remarks were given by Dean Wendy Wintersteen at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Fall Semester Convocation on September 16, 2009.

Welcome. It seems like the fall semester has just begun, but it’s already it’s been a busy, exciting season for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Our fall-semester enrollment is the highest in 30 years. We’re at 3,082 undergraduates and 706 graduate students. To achieve numbers like this takes a great effort in recruitmen and retention — thanks to all of you.

We held a successful CALS Alumni Barbecue at Reiman Gardens before the first football game Sept. 3. We hosted nearly 450 alumni and friends for good food and good conversations. And the Cyclones earned a victory against the Bison!

Last week a medallion ceremony was held at The Knoll to honor our newest endowed position, the Bruce Rastetter Chair in Agricultural Entrepreneurship. Kevin Kimle of the Department of Economics received his medallion and Mr. Rastetter was honored with his own donor’s medallion.

We dedicated the Borlaug Learning Center Sept. 2 at our Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Nashua. The turnout was amazing — more than 500 attended. This is a great new facility for research and extension, in honor of Dr. Borlaug. We have a great working relationship with the Borlaug Heritage Foundation in Cresc. This summer we had two Borlaug Scholar students interning there. Our Borlaug Scholar Award and Internship is sponsored by the Iowa State University Agricultural Endowment, which hopes to catch the attention of young Borlaugs and help cultivate future leaders in agriculture.

It was sad to hear of Dr. Borlaug’s death last weekend. He was the epitome of an agricultural scientist and humanitarian, and inspiring for all of us.

We’ve also said farewell recently to two great Iowa Staters: Louis Thompson, emeritus professor of agronomy and long-time associate dean, whose memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 24; and Lois Tiffany, emeritus professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, whose memorial service is Saturday, Sept. 19.

The BioCentury Research Farm dedication will be held Sept. 22. This could be a watershed moment as we begin research at this national model for developing the next generation of biofuels, biobased products and biorefineries.

The new composting facility is fully operational on our Dairy Farm. Next month, Oct. 13, there will be open house and tours. Research farms coordinator Mark Honeyman tells me that, so far, in 2009, about 6,000 tons has come into the facility, with 85 percent coming from the Dairy Farm. Other sources include the animal science teaching farms, ISU Dining, biomass research projects, the Plant Introduction Station, campus yard waste and campus greenhouses. The resulting compost will be used for many university projects, including amended soil for construction sites.

The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering ranked in top 3 for 2010 by U.S. News & World Report, in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Also, Iowa State University was featured in Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges: 2010 Edition,” which reflects opinions from thousands of students. I enjoyed reading comments in the 2010 edition like these:

  • “Iowa State holds true to its initial mission of providing affordable, practical education with a special focus on agriculture…”
  • “Today the school remains a great agriculture school…”
  • … “a strong pre-veterinary program…”
  • … “a great food science program…”

We have two Fulbright Scholars, one in agricultural and biosystems engineering and one in sociology, and both are graduate students in the sustainable agriculture program.

We are grateful that friends, alumni and supporters continue their generous giving. So far we’ve raised $108 million toward our $155 million goal in Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose. We raised just shy of $18 million the last fiscal year. We’ve raised millions to support faculty, students, programs and facilities.

A year ago at our fall semester convocation, I stood on the front steps of Curtiss Hall and outlined our hopes to transform the buiding into a truly modern, fitting reflection of the great opportunities in agriculture and life sciences for students, prospective students, parents, alumni and faculty and staff. On Sept. 3, it was my pleasure to help announce a major gift for the Curtiss Hall renovation. Neil Harl and his wife Darlene pledged $1.5 million toward the renovation of Curtiss Hall. Their gift will transform the ground floor into the “Harl Commons” where students can gather, study, communicate and feel part of a community.

You’ve probably seen the new banners hanging in the front of Curtiss Hall, recognizing our four Distinguished Alumni Award winners. They will be honored at ISU Homecoming next month. I must also tell you that production of the banners are the result of a generous donor to the College.

Entry-level salaries still looking good. Our Career Services office has released its entry-level salary survey of recent graduates. Twelve universities contributed data. Starting salaries remained impressive in several sectors. Mike Gaul has more information on the Career Services website.

The “Live United” volunteers were out in force last Friday. Thanks to all who participated in United Way of Story County’s Day of Caring. Campuswide, more than 500 volunteers worked on 68 community projects. The effort included teams from CALS, ISU Extension, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and many others. Your support means a great deal to our community. Please remember to give to the campaign.

Budget Issues

As you may have heard from recent meetings of the Faculty Senate and P&S Council and elsewhere, there is a chance that we will have a mid-year budget reversion, from 5 to 10 percent. We also could be looking at another sizable state budget cut for fiscal year 2011 — as large or larger than the $38 million reduction to this fiscal year’s university budget. It will depend on what’s reported late this fall with state tax revenue estimates.

Last year we took advantage of every tool available to us, including retirement incentives, to meet the reversion allocated to the College and to our Extension programs. The central College offices, our departments, centers and other programs contributed to meeting more than $5.3 million in cuts.

What we know for sure is this year we won’t have federal stimulus dollars that helped backfill or provide a bridge to ease many of last year’s reductions.

I believe the focus the University will want us to take is in efficiency and productivity. I also believe we need to continue to highlight the tremendous strengths the College has; the excellent return on investment of state dollars; and the relevancy of our programs for students and stakeholders.

With the Resource Management Model, there will be a strong focus on productivity and revenue generation. Tuition becomes more and more important. For the first time, for Iowa’s Regents universities, tuition now is a greater source of general education funding than state appropriations.

I’ve requested that department chairs begin to engage in conversations in their departments to provide us with feedback that may help all of us in dealing with these issues. In every way possible, we must work to develop a proactive plan. The budget will be a recurring topic at our Cabinet meetings throughout the academic year.

New faculty and staff

Early in the semester, I had a chance to meet new faculty at The Knoll with the President. Their excitement, energy and enthusiasm is awe-inspiring. I now invite department chairs and other college leaders forward to briefly introduce new faculty and staff members in the College. Let’s welcome all our new faculty and staff with a round of applause.

Convocation Program with New Faculty and Staff Since Sept. 15, 2008

ANR Extension award winners

Now I’d like Jerry Miller to come forward to recognize ISU Extension award winners in Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Ag and Natural Resources Extension award winners news release

Thank you

Thank you for coming. Have a great rest of the semester!