Colletti looks to continue the progress of CALS as interim dean


Hannah Olson/Iowa State Daily

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti spoke at the forum about characteristics of a successful future president.

Madeline Mcgarry

As interim dean Joe Colletti begins his new leadership role within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the faculty member of 39 years is looking to maintain the progress of the college as he transitions into his new position. 

Since the beginning of now-President Wendy Wintersteen’s tenure as dean in 2006, CALS has undergone a 90 percent growth in enrollment, currently with 5,333 undergraduate and graduate students.

“There is not going to be a lot of visible change. This is not the time to go off into the weeds in some other direction,” Colletti said. “We want to keep the progress of the college moving forward as we have.”

Colletti joined Iowa State in 1978, serving as a professor in the department of forestry. He has taught courses within the areas of agroforestry and biorenewable resources, and has been exposed to the workings of undergraduate study throughout his time with the college.

“Priority number one is students, making sure that those who join us in their undergraduate journey succeed and are launched into their careers,” Colletti said.

In addition to serving as senior associate dean of CALS since 2006, Colletti has acted as associate director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, overseeing research and budget initiatives through his dual role.

Hongwei Xin, assistant dean for research in CALS, has worked closely with Colletti since beginning his position with the college in April.

Xin also serves as the director of the Egg Industry Center, a value-added agriculture entity administered by CALS that conducts research for poultry producers nationwide.

Following the 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in Iowa, Colletti worked with Xin to identify research needs and garner funding for addressing the crisis. The virus resulted in the loss of over thirty million laying hens and 1.5 million turkeys in Iowa, costing the state’s economy nearly $1.2 billion.

“Dr. Colletti has been instrumental and supportive to encouraging faculty to seek large competitive research grants, which has yielded excellent dividends,” Xin said.

Xin referenced Colletti’s experience of twelve years as a CALS administrator when assessing the interim dean’s ability to affectively serve in his new leadership role.

“I look forward to working with interim dean Colletti to further advance the research programs of our college by identifying and investing in new challenge research areas that will lead to improved quality of life for the citizens of Iowa and beyond,” Xin said.

Colletti has also involved himself in a wide variety of study abroad program initiatives. Shelly Taylor, director of CALS study abroad programs, has worked alongside Colletti for nearly twenty years.

“[Colletti’s] compassion for students and lifelong learning is evident in this work and the students, faculty and international partnerships thrive as a result of his engagement,” Taylor said.

Taylor has partnered with Colletti to instruct the Dean’s Global Agriculture and Food Leadership Program to Rome, Italy. Since its founding in 2009, the program has involved over 70 students in the global experience.

“Dr. Colletti not only puts the “dean” in the Dean’s Global Agriculture and Food Leadership Program, [but also] his ability to lead the students through intensive real-world projects with professional clients is impressive,” Taylor said.

As it relates to the progression of the process in selecting a permanent CALS dean, Colletti anticipates that the position would be filled by the fall of 2018. Although the interim dean will not be advising the selection process, he hopes to see the next dean continue to fulfill Iowa State’s land grant mission.

 “I really believe in a servant-leader concept: somebody that is engaged, and understands and has experience with undergraduate teaching, the educational part of the mission, and has a track record and understanding of the research enterprise,” Colletti said.

“I look forward to this journey. It is a great college to be a part of, and I am very humbled and honored to be moving into this temporary position.”

Colletti is looking for consistency in the college’s success as he takes the helm.

“I can ensure everyone from the moms and dads of our students, to the various stakeholders, and our faculty and staff … that we will keep doing our best,” Colletti said.