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What Iowa State has in store for $4 million in strategic plan funding

What Iowa State has in store for $4 million in strategic plan funding
Courtesy of Unsplash

Nineteen teams throughout Iowa State will share around $4 million in funding for the ISU 2022-2031 strategic plan.

Approved by the Board of Regents in June 2022, the collaborative process involves more than 500 students, staff, faculty and community members.  

The funding aims to expand students’ learning services, provide internship opportunities and assistance to the Ames community, improve the university childcare facilities for students and staff and support research and testing. President Wendy Wintersteen and five other senior leaders reviewed over 70 project proposals. Of the 70 proposals, 19 will receive a combined $3.92 million in funding starting in 2024. The awards range from $13,000 to $550,000.

Here are some of the projects chosen to support the university’s top priorities:

Enhancing Student Academic Success in Gateway English Courses:

More than $23,000 was provided to the English department to redesign two of its most pivotal courses, ENGL 150 and ENGL 250. Together, these classes serve about 5,200 students a year.

“These foundational courses are vital stepping stones for academic and professional success,” Abram Anders, associate director of the Student Innovation Center, director of ISUComm Foundation Courses and associate professor of English said. “Improving these core courses will allow the university to enhance students’ communication skills, improve student retention rates and bolster academic success.”

According to the Strat Plan Initiative news release, adding this extra support layer can help students feel more comfortable as they experience the transition from college.

Expanding Online Learning Across Iowa State’s 99-County Campus: 

In collaboration with Iowa State Online, ISU Extension and Outreach Lifelong Learning Online was provided $434,187.

With the money, the programs will conduct more research to better understand virtual learning to reconstruct its online education staff from academic colleges into a single new unit, according to Sara Marcketti, an assistant provost and executive director for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

“It’s about having a growth mindset. We want to serve new markets of students, expand the breadth of our online programs, increase online enrollments, and address Iowa’s workforce needs in ways that simply weren’t possible before,” Marcketti said.

According to Inside Iowa State For Faculty and Staff, Iowa State’s next steps will be interviewing staff, training and finalizing courses and projects by the spring semester. 

Catalyzing Innovative Research Teams to Address Critical Opportunities: 

Iowa State University Office of the Vice President awarded $300,000 to support additional interdisciplinary research teams to grow ISU’s funding portfolio. The funding is designed to support projects and help researchers collaborate on research, collect data and build partnerships with other organizations.

According to the Office of the Vice President for Research, around $50,000 in funding is designated for two teams selected to pursue high-risk and high-reward projects for a two-year period. 

Center for Student Educational Success:

Dean of Students Office was given $253,088 to support students’ academic and personal needs. The program promotes impactful learning and empowers students to seek academic support. Various services that will grow include tutoring, writing and communication consultations, academic skills coaching and supplemental instruction. 

Enhancing Student Learning through Visual Literacy:

University Museums will partner with the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching faculty to use over $13,000 to enhance critical thinking and communication skills by better integrating visual literacy into ISU student’s learning.

According to ISU Curriculum Programs, “The ability to look closely at visual material and use reasoning to make interpretations and evaluations from observation is a crucial skill needed to be an effective and adaptive learner at any age, critical thinker and ultimately to better understand our diverse cultural world.”

University Museums offer comprehensive visual literacy programs for students, hoping to teach invaluable life skills by using works of art.

Expanding Support for Individualized Student Success:

To expand support, $81,615 will be used for neurodivergent students. Neurodivergent refers to the idea that a student’s brain functions slightly differently than a neurotypical student’s.

As it comes in many forms, many might be familiar with ADHD, autism or sensory processing issues. According to the Academic Success Center these children’s brains process information differently than others — one-on-one learning and peer-led accountability groups. 

Maintaining High-quality Childcare Environments:

Iowa State University oversees three campus childcare facilities: University Community Childcare, ISU Child Care Center at Veterinary Medicine and Child Development Laboratory School. Each childcare center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Accreditation is voluntary and includes a rigorous review of all areas of an early learning program to ensure adherence to nationally recognized, research-based standards for quality care and education.

Cris Broshar, Child Care & Family Services coordinator said “Fewer than 5% of the licensed child care centers in Iowa are currently accredited and ISU’s three child care centers are the only NAEYC-accredited programs in Ames.”

$415,800 support maintenance projects in Iowa State’s child care centers that enhance the physical environment for children of faculty, staff and students including, but not limited to replacement of flooring, countertops, kitchen and restroom repairs and more.


Twelve other teams will be included in the share of the $3.9 million this year including Supporting Student Internships at Reiman Gardens, Next-generation Battery Technology Research and Education, Creating a Strategic Approach to Support Students’ Mental Health and more.

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