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Iowa State’s longest-serving provost to step down

Senior+Vice+President+and+Provost+Jonathan+Wickert+spoke+at+the+faculty+senate+meeting+Tuesday+afternoon+during+the+last+meeting+of+the+spring+2022+semester.
By Jack McClellan
Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert spoke at the faculty senate meeting Tuesday afternoon during the last meeting of the spring 2022 semester.

Iowa State’s longest-serving provost has announced he will step down from the position, effective June 30. 

Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert will remain at Iowa State, serving as the president’s chairman in engineering and remaining a professor of mechanical engineering. 

“Being provost is a profound responsibility and an amazing experience, and I’ve enjoyed working day-to-day with President [Wendy] Wintersteen and other members of her senior leadership team,” Wickert said in an Inside Iowa State article announcing his job change. “It’s a privilege to see the entire landscape of Iowa State’s teaching, research and extension missions, and to collaborate with a community of scholars and stakeholders who care deeply about our traditions and future.”

The university began its search to replace Wickert immediately, with College of Business Dean David Spalding chairing the search committee. 

Rob Schweers, director of communications for the senior vice president and provost, said the search will follow a timeline and process similar to when Wickert was hired in 2012. 

Former Senior Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Hoffman announced her resignation in February 2012 and said she would leave the position by December 2012 or when a replacement would be found. Wickert was announced as provost in May 2012 and began July 30, 2012, the Iowa State Daily reported

Wickert began under President Steven Leath, who began serving as president in January of 2012. 

“Provost Wickert has served Iowa State University with skill, intelligence and dedication,” Wintersteen said in the Inside Iowa State article. “Around the region and nationally, he is a recognized leader for his insights and ability. I sincerely appreciate all Provost Wickert has done to support this great university.”

ISU Foundation President and CEO Larissa Holtmyer-Jones said Wickert’s fingerprints “touch every corner of our campus.”

“He has been a great partner, and many of our most generous donors deeply respect him and trust his suggestions and guidance,” Holtmyer-Jones said in the Inside Iowa State article.

Sarah Bennett-George, president of the faculty senate, said Wickert’s commitment to shared governance is proof that he puts the academic mission of Iowa State at the forefront of his actions. 

“The university is stronger because of his years of service as provost. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to both work with and learn from him over the past year,” Bennett-George said in the Inside Iowa State article.

When Wickert started in 2012, there were 31,040 students enrolled at Iowa State. During his time as provost, enrollment reached an all-time high of 36,660 before going below 30,000 in 2022, when 29,969 students were enrolled. 

International student enrollment has fluctuated during Wickert’s time as provost, though elements of lower enrollment periods can be attributed to COVID-19 travel restrictions, as the Iowa State Daily reported, with some professors saying the impact on Iowa State international students could have been worse as a result of the pandemic. 

The Student Innovation Center, an $84 million project more-than-half funded by private giving, was built during Wickert’s time as provost. 

The Inside Iowa State article highlights the creation of the winter session, increased graduation rates and faster time-to-degree as initiatives Wickert has been involved in. 

Wickert was paid $458,576 in fiscal year 2023 (FY23) for serving as senior vice president and provost, a more than $100,000 increase from his FY13 salary. 

Wickert previously served as dean for the College of Engineering as well as the chair of the mechanical engineering department and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, Iowa State’s first professor to be elected to the academy.

Wickert earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, finishing there in 1985. He served as a faculty member in the engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University before he started at Iowa State in 2007.

What does the provost do?

The senior vice president and provost guides the division of academic affairs, overseeing each of the academic colleges as well as the graduate college, the university library, the research and extension enterprises, enrollment management and the Ames Lab.

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