Service, leadership, excellence are Wintersteen's priorities as 16th university president

President Wintersteen chaining

Wendy Wintersteen was formally installed as Iowa State's 16th president on Sept. 21. President Emeritus Gregory Geoffroy, left; and Michael Richards, Iowa Board of Regents president, placed the presidential chain of office on Wintersteen during the ceremony. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa – During her Sept. 21 installation as Iowa State University’s 16th president, Wendy Wintersteen pledged continued servant leadership to the institution to which she has dedicated her professional life.

The former dean and faculty member first joined Iowa State as an extension field specialist in 1978, and assumed the presidency last November following a national search. Wintersteen was formally installed into office today in a ceremony at Stephens Auditorium – a tradition that has endured at Iowa State since 1869.

President Wintersteen’s address -- “To Serve. To Lead. To Excel.” -- outlined several priorities:

Inclusion: As Iowa State’s first female president, Wintersteen said she intends to nurture the  ideal of inclusion “and energize it for all those who come after me. It is one of my top priorities,” she said. It is a goal, Wintersteen noted, “built into the DNA of this university from its founding moments” – the idea that those willing to work hard can earn an education and reach their full potential, regardless of gender, race or background.  

Innovation: “As president, I intend to establish a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem…where innovations and entrepreneurial ideas come from our students, faculty and staff, and they receive support to move those ideas forward,” Wintersteen said. “Building on the success of the Ivy College of Business’ major and minor in entrepreneurship, we will create and support undergraduate entrepreneurial programs in our other colleges to better prepare our students for the new economy of rapid change.”

Intellectual property and tech transfer: Wintersteen said she wants to take Iowa State research to the next level, increasing the number of patents licensed by industry and assisting faculty, staff and students in creating new businesses in Iowa.

“For decades, Iowa State has been an economic development engine for the state and a powerful resource for companies in solving technical problems. We need to continue that important work while also creating a new generation of ISU research-backed startups,” she noted.

Excellence: Recruiting, retaining and rewarding outstanding faculty, as well as increasing high-impact learning experiences for students at home and abroad, are dual priorities as Iowa State continues to reach for greater heights, Wintersteen said. She lauded Iowa State’s high student retention rate, yet recognized the need to “develop and implement new approaches to improve our graduation rates.” She cited completion grants as an important step in helping seniors in need to cross the finish line. The first 60 Iowa State students to receive completion grants were able to graduate this past May.

New funding streams: Wintersteen highlighted transformative donor investments over the past year and thanked Iowa State alumni and friends for their continued support. At the same time, she acknowledged it is a challenging time to be president in an era of limited resources.

“I will work with the university administrative team and the ISU Foundation to seek out and engage new funding streams,” Wintersteen said, while improving efficiency and investing in the most fruitful efforts. Wintersteen said she aspires to expand Iowa State’s global reach and build upon its legacy of opportunity for all people.

“We must identify innovative, new government partnerships, public-private partnerships, and global and venture capital partnerships to grow this great university and achieve our fullest potential,” she added.