our mission

Iowa State University will create, share, and apply knowledge to make our students, Iowa, and the world better.

our vision

Iowa State University will advance the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology, and human creativity to work.

our values

Iowa State University embraces the values of our Principles of Community (Respect, Purpose, Cooperation, Richness of Diversity, Freedom from Discrimination, Honest and Respectful Expression of Ideas), and the values of Access, Excellence, and Integrity.

our pillars

Four pillars encompass the themes of acknowledged university areas of excellence.

These strengths are ingrained in the daily work and lives of our faculty, staff, and students, and have been proven time and again throughout Iowa State University’s history. Intersected and interwoven throughout the pillars are our land-grant university hallmarks of teaching, research, service, and extension. Most importantly, the pillars give structure and direction on how we make a difference for our state and world in the years ahead.

Success Factors

  • Retention, graduation rates
  • Students in high-impact practices
  • Accessibility, affordability

Success Factors

  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Campus climate: Survey and action plan
  • Salaries: Peer and market-based

Success Factors

  • Expand online learning
  • Learning across Iowa – Extension and Outreach
  • Continued learning by graduates
  • New student pipelines
  • Faculty and staff career development

Success Factors

  • Innovation in curriculum
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Research impact
  • Organizational excellence

Success Factors

  • Extension and Outreach in all 99 counties
  • Collaborative research initiatives
  • Impact of partnerships

our strategic process

Built into Iowa State’s nine-year strategic plan is a regular process to invite new ideas that respond to a dynamic state, nation and world landscape, and that help the university achieve what it aspires “to be.”

The nine-year strategic plan features a project proposal process to advance the plan’s goals and assure flexibility to address evolving priorities. The next call for future proposals is tentatively to open during fall semester 2023.

In the first two years of the plan, President Wintersteen invested $14.4 million to strategic initiatives:

  • $10.5 million in FY23, to 9 initial investments identified during the strategic plan process. Projects included strategies to boost enrollment; add high-demand degree programs; hire faculty in critical areas; build research teams and modernize research facilities.
  • $3.9 million in FY24, to 19 projects selected from proposals submitted by faculty/staff. Projects include expanding student academic and mental health services, supporting interdisciplinary research, assisting Iowa communities, and improving university child care facilities.

“What brings our plan alive is the inclusion of a strategic process to regularly capture new ideas to help us achieve what we aspire to be. I encourage you to be creative, think innovatively, and take the opportunity to submit your ideas. Thank you in advance — for your important role in demonstrating our impact as we make progress on our aspirations… for moving us closer to what Iowa State University wants to be.”

— Wendy Wintersteen, President, Iowa State University

Call for Proposals

The next call for future proposals is tentatively scheduled to open during fall semester 2024. Watch for further campus announcements. When live, the proposal form allows Iowa State faculty and staff the opportunity to propose a project aligned with the strategic plan for funding consideration.


We welcome all ideas, big or small. Send yours to the Strategic Initiatives email address, Let us know which of the five Statements of Aspiration your idea best falls under. Thank you in advance for your ideas, no matter what stage they’re in.

Iowa State University faculty and staff can submit a proposal; team proposals are encouraged. Students may participate by working with faculty and staff.

The next call for proposals will open fall of 2023. Specific timelines will be announced through Inside Iowa State and updated here.

The next call for proposals is expected to be issued in the fall of 2023.

The online proposal form requires:

  • Requestor’s name, email, department/unit
  • Project Title
  • Project Leader (may be the same as Requestor)
  • Project Team Members (if applicable)
  • Executive Summary
  • Alignment to Strategic Plan Statements of Aspiration
  • Project Goal(s) and Objective(s)
  • Approach to achieve goals/objectives
  • Budget/Resources Template and Narrative
  • Impact/Return on Investment
  • Success Metrics
  • Partnerships

Additional documentation and/or files may be included by using the “add attachments” function.

The online form will not save, or auto-save, a partial submission. Be prepared to complete all required fields and submit in one sitting, or copy and paste prepared responses to every field before hitting submit. You will receive an email message notifying you of receipt of your submission.

Project Leaders can only submit one proposal per funding cycle. Individuals, departments, and organizations can be listed on more than one initiative as a team member or partner.

This process is open to proposals for all scales of project funding, small to large. It is important to note, however, that funding decisions will be made on a one-year basis only. You may request funding for up to three years, but funding for the 2nd and 3rd year will be dependent upon a positive review of the previous year’s progress and may require a new submission for continuation of funding.

Yes. If applicable, your narrative should include contributions from the unit(s) associated with the project as well as any external funds secured. Please use the “add attachments” function at the bottom of the online form to include any documentation related to the in-kind and/or matching funds being provided.

Examples may include percentage of time for team members (10% of X’s time), space requirements (room X in X building), consultant/professional services (from X), etc.

Decisions will be made and communicated by the end of June each year.

Approved projects will be required to provide progress reports including success stories to demonstrate impact. The stories will help to illustrate progress toward achieving the aspirations of the strategic plan — our “to be” statements.

about our strategic plan

Iowa State University’s 2022-2031 Strategic Plan was the culmination of planning and development accomplished during the 2021-22 academic year. The university-wide collaborative process was led by a steering committee chaired by Vice President for Research Peter Dorhout. Four working groups comprised of more than 60 campus and community representatives represented the core of the effort. More than two dozen listening sessions and town hall meetings were held. Input was received from more than 200 survey responses and nearly 530 polling question responses. Overall, more than 500 faculty, staff, students, community members and stakeholders participated in the plan development process.

The ISU 2022-2031 Strategic Plan was approved by the Iowa Board of Regents at its June 2, 2022, meeting. On the same day, President Wendy Wintersteen announced plans to jump-start the strategic plan with $10.5 million in initial investments in high-priority initiatives linked to the plan’s five strategic goals — the “to be” statements.

Senior Advisor to the President

Sophia Magill was named senior advisor to the president in the Office of the President in September 2022. Magill leads efforts to advance the goals outlined in the university’s 2022-2031 strategic plan, federal relations and other strategic initiatives. She leads the review of proposals and develops priority recommendations for the president and senior leaders to invest in the most promising and strategic projects — overseeing the overall performance management and integration of university-wide initiatives to deliver upon performance goals.

In her federal relations responsibilities, she advocates on behalf of Iowa State University’s federal priorities by promoting research, higher education and science activities in an effort to increase federal support and expand awareness of the university in Washington, D.C. Before joining the Office of the President in 2013, she served at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She has professional experience in government, higher education, and the non-profit sector, including the Office of Admissions at Iowa State University, the Iowa House of Representatives, Iowa’s Office of the Governor and the White House.

Magill earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Iowa State University, where she served as Student Government President, and her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago

Strategic Initiatives Project Specialist

Kim McDonough is the strategic initiatives project specialist, reporting to senior advisor to the president Sophia Magill. Since May 2023, McDonough has supported the implementation and ongoing process of the strategic initiatives as part of the 2022-31 strategic plan. She also provides data and metrics management and analysis to advance strategic priorities, including those selected through the annual proposal process, and builds and strengthens relationships with campus partners.

McDonough has worked at Iowa State for more than 18 years. She has served as director and then senior director of development for the College of Design (2018-23); director of alumni relations for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2014-18); and an academic advisor and internship and program coordinator for the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication (2006-14). She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and mass communication, and a doctoral degree in education, all from Iowa State.