ISU Day at the Capitol


Photo: Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Tara Lackey, left, graduate assistant in human sciences, and Kallen Anderson, president of the College of Human Sciences, speak with ISU President Steven Leath at the College of Sciences booth during ISU Day at the Capitol. The goal was to show Senate members how Iowa State is doing overall.

Thaddeus Mast

Leaders from Iowa State received the chance to engage with legislators in Des Moines on Feb. 25 during ISU Day at the Capitol. Each college and most of the departments from Iowa State sent representatives to set up a table and inform legislators on the progress of the university.

“It gives the legislators the option to know a little more about Iowa State,” said Tom Hill, senior vice president of student affairs. “It shows a lot of detail and a lot of things going on at Iowa State that are not apparent on the surface.”

Ron Cox, assistant vice president of extension and outreach, agrees with Hill.“There’s a lot of people down here trying to teach legislators the picture of what’s going on at Iowa State.”

President Steven Leath thought the day ended positively.

“I think it’s gone very well. People are very interested in what Iowa State’s doing and how its mission affects the State of Iowa,” Leath said.

“The [legislators] I’ve talked to individually are very responsive. They’ve come down, not just from the Ames delegation, but from everywhere around the state, and they’re very pleased with the attention Iowa State gives to the rest of the state.”

This is the first time in several years the president of Iowa State has attended ISU Day at the Capitol.

“I do think it helps that we have a new president,” said Jeff Johnson, a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

“I think it raises the level of critical importance to the legislature that he is taking time out of his schedule. Every president talks to legislators all the time, so this isn’t the one time they get to do it, but the fact that he’s here with his staff and being engaged with the legislature and the people of Iowa is a very strong and positive message,” Johnson said.

Leath described why the university is important to legislators.

“Iowa State is the only school that has offices in 99 counties through the Extension program, plus we have students in all counties. We have more alums in Iowa than any other school. We also have more students from Iowa enrolled than any other school,” Leath said. “The legislators know that and understand what a huge roll we play in the state.”

ISU Day at the Capitol is not the same as Regents Day on the Hill. On Regents Day, students and student organizations from the three regent universities lobby the legislators.

ISU Day has more faculty than students, but the goal is the same. The Government of the Student Body was represented, however.

“Our main goal today is just to represent students well. To get the message across that students of Iowa don’t only benefit the university, but when they graduate and during their time at Iowa State, they benefit the community as well as the entire state,” said Katie Brown, vice president of GSB.

“The reactions today have been really positive. There is some surprise as to what we do. There’s been a lot of interest in what GSB does.”

John Pritchard, a graduate student and research assistant at Iowa State, and David Ringholz, associate professor of industrial design, set up a display for the legislators of a tractor towing a device with a warning light on top of it.

This device, to be placed on a tractor’s roof, knows when a tractor is about to roll over and sends text messages to designated phone numbers, including 911.

The text includes a Google map with the exact position of the tractor.

“We are here for two things. First is to promote integration between design and engineering,” Pritchard said. “We are also trying to save lives.”

Johnson emphasizes that this day is all for the legislators.

“Clearly we’re a university, but we’re more than that. It’s important for legislators to know how Iowa State serves the state of Iowa,” Johnson said. “This has become the state of Iowa’s university.”