From the Dean: Top of the Agenda – August 2014

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Dear members of the LAS community,

Welcome to a new academic year! You will see many new faces around the college this fall: 2,157 new students as of last count and 27 new tenure-track faculty members. For context, this incoming class is the second largest in at least a decade, after last year’s record, and we should see a net growth of 13 in the number of tenure and tenure-track faculty. Further, we added about 10 full-time or nearly full-time lecturers and seven new advising and student support staff across the whole college, to help catch up with the enormous enrollment growth of the last few years. Please welcome all of them to campus and to the LAS family.


Our group of new faculty is the largest in six years; we are excited about the new energy and creativity that they will bring to the college. The upcoming hiring season also promises to be very active. The college has approved 24 tenure-track searches, and this number will increase further when the provost announces the results of the competition for Presidential High Impact hires.

Thanks to generous support from the president and provost along with significant funds from the college, we were able to continue the humanities salary initiative for a second round. This year, we were able to expand the initiative to include two additional departments, namely, Mathematics and Political Science. Geological and Atmospheric Sciences also saw some extra salary funds, allocated by the college. In total, this special salary initiative distributed $600,000 in additional salary and benefits to the selected departments, above and beyond the regular 2.5% raise pool. Please join me in thanking President Leath and Provost Wickert for allocating $250,000 in new salary dollars to this initiative, for the second year in a row. Their support helps us make significant progress towards our goal of offering competitive salaries to our most productive faculty and staff.

This fall, the TIER efficiency review conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the Board of Regents was scheduled to begin the review of academic programs. However, responding to feedback from stakeholders, the Board agreed to slow the implementation of some of the administrative business cases. As a result, the academic program review will not move forward this fall. I will keep you informed of further developments. Wherever possible, we look to increase the visibility of the college. Here is just one example which was especially enjoyable: At the Iowa State Fair, some of our recruiting and communications staff judged 1,500 blue ribbon-holding exhibits by 4-H members of all ages and selected eight winners for our new Future Discovery Scholarship. We hope that a large portion of the over 1 million fair visitors saw the LAS Future Discovery Scholarship certificates proudly displayed on the exhibits. More importantly, we hope that many of the 4-H participants will choose to attend Iowa State and major in LAS.

For the coming year, we will continue to work on the big priorities of the college: One, to provide all of our students with the best possible educational experience and increase student recruitment and retention in the college; two, to sustain and increase the quality and impact of research in the college through building strong and innovative collaborations, recruiting and retaining excellent scholars, and increasing our AAU stature; and three, to tell our story and to tell it well.

Two years have gone by since I visited all departments shortly after I arrived, and it is time for a second round of visits this fall. Feel free to ask your department chair for times and dates. Also, I will be offering two opportunities for “Conversations with the Dean,” which are open to all faculty and staff, on September 25, 2:00-3:30pm, and October 31, 10:30am-noon. The location will be announced closer to the time. Finally, as every year, you can hear a more formal “State of the College” presentation at the LAS Convocation on September 11, 2014.

My plan for this year is to write the occasional article (“blog”) which you will find linked to our webpages and included in Around LAS. Some of the pieces will focus on the topic of the day (a “top of the agenda” story), and others will offer reflections on longer-term issues of interest to the college.

Let me close for today by wishing you every success during the coming academic year. Thank you very much for all your efforts on behalf of the college. It is a privilege to work with you.


Beate Schmittmann, Dean