A message from President Wendy Wintersteen

CATEGORIES: Announcements

This email was sent to all faculty and staff at Iowa State and is available online at Office of the President Communications.

Thank you for your enormous dedication to create our path forward this year

May 10, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As the final student walked across the graduation stage on Saturday evening, I felt a strong sense of pride in these students, and also our faculty and staff for adapting to the multifaceted challenges of this pandemic year.

It takes enormous dedication to create a path forward through such trying circumstances. Collectively, you responded, and we carved a path forward to graduation day. My sincere thanks to everyone who did their part (and often much more!) to bring a successful conclusion to this academic year.

Looking back, we started with uncertainty.

Last August, our Thielen Student Health Center team, along with hundreds of volunteers, took on the incredible task of testing every student who was staying on campus. Through sheer determination, Thielen Student Health Center created a comprehensive public health operation with on-going testing, contact tracing, case management, and eventually, vaccination clinics. Our Residence Hall staff worked hard to create quarantine and isolation space to support our students. Although an epic Derecho appeared mid-way, everyone stayed focused and continued this important process.

ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine stepped up to share their expertise, energy, and staff to analyze tests quickly, properly, and safely – and they did this not only for Iowa State, but for the State Hygienic Lab in Iowa City and others. Throughout this year, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s response was simply extraordinary.

Across all the colleges, deans, department chairs, individual faculty, support staff and more worked with Facilities Planning and Management, Information Technology Services, and others to support safety and accessibility. Campus was transformed with signage, see-through barriers, altered seating, hand sanitizer stations, enhanced technology, and even outdoor classroom tents to support our teaching enterprise. While initially uncertain of the outcome, we discovered no evidence of transmission in our classrooms during the entire academic year.

Behind the scenes, our Emergency Operations Team, Working Groups, and Fall Planning Executive Committee coordinated efforts to create a much safer environment for everyone. Our Residence Hall and Dining staff, Student Services staff, and many other frontline workers joined in to meet the needs of our students and keep Iowa State moving forward. Across units, everyone adapted to the new circumstances – whether working on campus or from home.

Thankfully, a record first year retention rate of students showed that these efforts had paid off, along with increases in academic standing and an innovative winter session. Similarly, our research enterprise advanced and is on track for another successful year of securing grants and contracts. Across campus, our faculty and staff found new ways to continue making progress, and giving life to our brand of Innovate at Iowa State! Extension and Outreach and Economic Development units responded with impactful programs and information for Iowans all across the state. And ISU football helped rally our spirits by winning the Fiesta Bowl.

Was it perfect? No. But Iowa State’s spirit of science with practice sustained our mission of teaching, research, and extension and outreach in the face of uncertainty.

My deep thanks to all of you for helping to make this academic year a successful one. I appreciate the extra effort and energy that you called forth to overcome the challenges.

Best wishes for a safe, enjoyable, and productive summer.

Wendy Wintersteen