Iowa Board of Regents approve Iowa State request for new degree program

Rod Lehnertz from the finance and operations department at the University of Iowa discusses the register of University of Iowa capital improvement business transactions at the Board of Regents meeting Feb. 27, 2019, in the Reiman Ballroom.

Jacob Smith

The Iowa Board of Regents hosted a virtual meeting where it approved multiple initiatives by Iowa State, and President Wendy Wintersteen addressed the Board.

The meeting began at 9 a.m. Wednesday and was live-streamed on the IowaRegents YouTube channel.

The Property and Facilities Committee approved two requests from Iowa State, a request for approval of schematic designs, project descriptions and budgets for the Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and a request for Board approval to sell 45.31 acres of wooded land and three observatory buildings.

Pam Cain, interim senior vice president for operations and finance, presented both requests to the committee.

Cain began by presenting the laboratory project to the committee.

“The Vet Med project is a $75,000,000 project that has $63,000,000 of state money, and the rest is the college money and donor money,” Cain said. “The building will be located on the south end of the College of Veterinary Medicine campus that serves the diagnostic medicine needs of Iowa’s livestock, poultry industries, pets and wildlife as well as human health and pets’.”

The request was approved by unanimous consent.

Cain then presented the proposed property sale request to the committee.

“It’s the Fick Observatory, which is a little over a 45-acre plot of wooded land located in Boone, Iowa, and we did go out and get an appraisal on this land, and we had a competitive sale, and it did sell at quite a bit more than the appraisal value because the landowner next to it wanted it desperately,” Cain said.

The highest bid the university received was $339,870.31 from Aaron Gillett.

The request was approved by unanimous consent.

Following that, the Academic Affairs Committee approved a request for a new Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering and two honorary degrees to be awarded to Iowa State alumni.

Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost, presented to the committee on behalf of Iowa State.

“We have a department of civil construction and environmental engineering,” Wickert said. “That department currently offers degrees in civil engineering and construction engineering but not in environmental engineering. So we have an undergraduate emphasis on environmental engineering and are now seeking approval to move that forward to a full bachelor’s degree.”

The request was approved by unanimous consent.

Subra Suresh and Beth Ford were the two Iowa State alumni that were considered for honorary degrees.

“Iowa State University wishes to present an Honorary Doctor of Science degree to Dr. Subra Suresh, President of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University,” according to the document. “Iowa State wishes to recognize Dr. Suresh, a 1979 Iowa State University alumnus, for his many outstanding contributions as a distinguished engineer, scientist, entrepreneur and leader in higher education.”

Suresh was nominated by faculty members in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State, and the nomination is supported by Iowa State’s Faculty Senate Honorary Degree Committee and Executive Board, Wickert and Wintersteen.

“Iowa State University also wishes to present an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Beth Ford, President and Chief Executive Officer of Land O’Lakes, Inc.,” according to the document. “Iowa State wishes to recognize Ms. Ford, a 1986 Iowa State University alumna, for her many outstanding contributions as a pioneering leader in business and agriculture, and passionate advocate for farmers and rural communities.”

Ford was nominated by faculty members in the Department of Management at Iowa State University, and the nomination is supported by Iowa State’s Faculty Senate Honorary Degree Committee and Executive Board, Wickert and Wintersteen.

The request for both candidates was approved together by unanimous consent.

After that, the Board convened in open session where it approved all recommendations by committees and then began the process of electing a Board president and president pro tem. The elected terms run from May 1, 2020, to April 30, 2022.

Current President Michael Richards was unopposed in nominations for president. Richards was reelected with all regents voting in favor. Current President Pro Tem Patty Cownie was also reelected with no oppositions in nominations and all regents voting in favor.

Afterwards, Wintersteen gave her report to the Board highlighting recent institutional activities.

Wintersteen talked about the university’s transition to virtual instruction for the rest of the semester and praised the Iowa State faculty for their quick transition.

“Our faculty are doing a tremendous job, and we recognize that this new virtual world is not without challenges both for faculty and for students,” Wintersteen said. “This is a very disruptive situation for students as they’ve had to adjust to this new learning environment. It’s caused disappointment, stress, anxiety, but our faculty are reaching out in new virtual ways to show their support.”

Wintersteen then moved to discuss how Iowa State is continuing the push to promote innovation during this time.

“Iowa State’s culture of collaboration and innovation continues to shine, leading to creative solutions during this crisis,” Wintersteen said.

An example Wintersteen shared with the Board was how a College of Design faculty member made 3D small presses for students in the departments of art and visual culture before they left for spring break.

Then, Wintersteen talked about what Iowa State is doing to assist the nation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are also partnering to address the COVID-19 pandemic head-on,” Wintersteen said. “We are so pleased to have Iowa State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory team up with the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa to expand testing capacity of COVID-19 samples.”

The next Board meeting will be June 2-4 at the University of Iowa. More information on the Board can be found on its website at