A Message from Interim Endowed Dean Joe Colletti

At our CALS Spring Convocation on March 8, nearly 150 people gathered to celebrate the achievements of our faculty and staff. We presented more than 20 awards to 40 recipients. It’s our people who make the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences the world-renowned institution it is. We’re about excellence in everything we do. Our Spring Convocation is all about honoring those excelling in the classroom, in the lab and field, and in partnership with programs and communities around Iowa and the world.

I’d also like to expand briefly on comments I shared at the awards convocation:

CALS Endowed Dean search. The CALS Endowed Dean position announcement was posted early in March. We need your nominations on great, qualified candidates. Send your nominations to search committee co-chairs David Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Ivy College of Business, or Guru Rao, associate vice president for research. Recruiting a diverse pool is a priority. The committee met and received a primer on diversity and inclusion from Dr. Susan Lamont, our CALS equity advisor. This week, the search committee will announce two listening sessions for late March to hear directly from you regarding qualities desired in the next dean, as well as the opportunities and challenges for CALS. Stay tuned for more details on dates and locations.

Budget and tuition. The state revenue estimating group met on March 9. The state’s revenues looked brighter, but we may still need to address a mid-year reversion before June 30. We also await tuition decisions by Regents. Part of their discussion may be a differential tuition proposal that includes more majors from CALS and across campus. Last year we held several informational meetings for students in anticipation this might occur. The Regents will consider tuition in May, with a final vote in June.

Diversity and inclusion. I was proud to represent CALS as the major sponsor, along with College of Human Sciences, of this month’s annual ISCORE Conference. We need to continue our momentum in improving diversity and inclusion in our college and across campus. We need to continue to listen and pay attention to all our students and understand the struggles they may be going through. I believe CALS has made significant steps. In my remarks at ISCORE, I pointed out that CALS is the only college that has both an Assistant Dean for Diversity and a Multicultural Liaison Officer — Theressa Cooper and Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky. I also gave a lot of credit to Dr. Lamont, our long-time equity advisor for the ISU ADVANCE program, who continues to offer her leadership for professional development, networking opportunities and training to help us transform the STEM fields for women and faculty of color. We have a new student ambassador group devoted to diversity and inclusion. LEAD IT is an acronym for “Leaders Enhancing Agriculture, Diversity, Inclusion and Trust.” If your department, center or unit wishes to engage with our LEAD IT ambassadors, contact Dr. Cooper.

New placement rate. Early in March, our new placement rate for recent graduates from the college was announced — 99.2 percent! Mike Gaul has been director of career services since 1998. This is the first time he can recall placement being above 99 percent. Part of reason is we saw an uptick in students entering graduate school. That’s good news — to meet need for future research leaders, educators and other professions requiring advanced degrees. About 65 percent of new grads begin careers in Iowa — a perennial pride point for us, and it’s usually between 65 and 70 percent. It’s another reason we can point to the state’s investment in higher education truly is an investment in the state’s future.

Latest world university rankings. Iowa State’s agricultural programs are ranked in the top 4 percent among 301 agricultural and forestry programs worldwide, ranked annually by QS World University Rankings based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research citations and impact. We’ve been in this ranking’s top 10 lists 4 of the past 6 years for universities globally, and we continue to be in the top 10 nationally among U.S. universities. Of course, we continue to own bragging rights to the nation’s #1 agricultural engineering program, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Opening of new CSRL facility. Last week, nearly 500 people attended a grand opening of a new training center in the Kamuli District of Uganda for the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. The guest of honor was His Royal Majesty the King of Busoga, a kingdom in Uganda. CALS was represented by Associate Dean David Acker, CSRL Director Denise Bjelland, 16 CALS students, CALS faculty and staff, ISU-Uganda Program staff and many others. The training center will serve the needs of service-learning students and the local community. This summer the facility, made possible by private gifts, will be dedicated in a ceremony in Uganda with President Wintersteen, donors and other officials.

New campus facilities. State-of-art biosciences facilities —Bessey Hall addition opened last fall, serving hundreds of students. Advanced Teaching and Research Building (ATRB) is making progress, and a new move-in date expected soon. The Poultry Research and Teaching Farm, funded solely through private giving, will break ground later this year. Fundraising continues, and planning, for the Feed Mill and Grain Science Center and the new Swine Teaching and Research Farm. These innovative animal science facilities are key CALS priorities in the ISU fundraising campaign.

ISU Campaign, Forever True. The college’s campaign goal is $200 million. Our campaign progress to date is $142 million. That’s amazing! Thanks to our committed Development Office team, led by Ray Klein. Last fiscal year we met our annual goal of $30 million. For this year, we’re currently at about $22 million. I know we’ll make the $30 million goal again!

Studying abroad. It’s no secret that CALS has one of the very best study-abroad programs among all ag colleges. Our team bends over backwards to help students plan and make the most of their experiences, providing scholarship and funding opportunities, and working with faculty and staff in all departments to develop exciting educational programs. During spring break, 115 students studied abroad on programs led by faculty and staff in Agronomy, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Genetics Development and Cell Biology, Ecology Evolution and Organismal Biology and Economics. This summer, another 60 students will study abroad on 6 more programs.

Thank you for everything you do for CALS, its students and our mission, and have a productive and successful rest of the spring semester.


Joe Colletti
Interim Endowed Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Interim Director, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station