Provost Jonathan Wickert addresses GSB about growth at Iowa State, hiring initiative

Brian Voss

Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost, addressed the Government of the Student Body, to discuss the growth at Iowa State, both within the student body and faculty.

Wickert said that currently, the university has 110 faculty searches on the way, which is a school record. Of those 110 faculty being hired, 29 are new positions. The hiring of new faculty is part of President Steven Leath’s high-impact hires initiative.

“We placed an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education … [and] I started getting phone calls from my colleagues around the country, and the basic reaction was, ‘Wow,'” Wickert said. “You know because at universities around the country that that kind of initiative is definitely noticed.”

Wickert also noted Iowa State’s efficiency. He said last year Iowa State was ranked by The Wall Street Journal as one of the 10 most efficiently run universities in the country.

“We’ve made some technology changes in the past year with the phone system, with the electronic systems that we use for all our financial accounting at the university,” Wickert said. “Those are going to save us… over $10 million in the coming years.”

In addition, Wickert spoke of the importance of Iowa State’s offerings outside the classroom through clubs and organizations on campus.

He said employers notice education outside the classroom at Iowa State prepares students for real world challenges.

“It’s not only knowing what they learned in the classroom but your ability to work on teams, your ability to communicate, your ability to manage projects, your ethics, understanding diversity,” Wickert said.

Concerns were expressed by GSB members about what some see as a shortage of tenure track professors in the history department. At the GSB meeting on Nov. 20, Kevin Buchwald, senior in history, expressed similar concerns.

Vice Speaker Barry Snell said he senses low morale from some of the faculty in departments such as history and political science.

“One thing I heard is that, maybe they don’t find Dean [Beate] Schmittmann [of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences] very sympathetic to their needs,” Snell said. “Students see a lot money going to engineering and agriculture.”

Snell said there are classes in the catalog Iowa State currently does not have teachers for.

Wickert said it is important for students to be concerned about the number of faculty in an area and should start a dialogue with others at the university.

“I would encourage you and your colleagues to contact Dean Schmittmann and indicate like we were, and talk. I don’t think that’s happened,” Wickert said.

Sen. Peter Benzoni asked about the university’s current growing pains. Wickert said part of the land-grant mission is allowing qualified young people to attend college.

“It stresses the whole system as you know firsthand. It stresses the residence system, course availability, class sizes, faculty hiring, the lines at the Hub,” Wickert said.