Letter: Iowa deserves better in ISU presidential candidate

I am a fourth generation Cyclone who knows Iowa State’s next president could position the university well to lead in the important work of sustaining our soil, supporting rural communities and protecting our water. However, the pick of ISU College of Agriculutre and Life Sciences Dean Wendy Wintersteen as a finalist for the presidential post suggests a different direction – one that is troubling given her track record. 

On her watch, Iowa State’s Leopold Center’s director hiring process in 2010 became a fiasco and then the center lost funding in 2017. On her watch, the student services hallway in Iowa State’s Curtiss Hall was renovated and named not after Wallace or a notable leader in Iowa’s agricultural history, but Monsanto. On her watch, a student who questioned this corporate sponsorship was publicly belittled in an editorial in which the dean directly attacked the student. On her watch, Iowa State became partner in a land grab with AgriSol Energy, a transnational corporation led by then-Regent Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter. On her watch, Iowa State did not engage in any advance soil analysis or environmental study of the Dakota Access Pipeline until Dakota Access offered a small chunk of change after oil was already flowing. 

It is also troubling that the regents’ process of announcing final candidates for the presidential search only 24 hours prior to the candidates’ on-campus interviews leaves little time for the campus community and public to prepare questions for the candidates. 

Iowa State needs, and the people of Iowa deserve, a land-grant university president who will lead the university forward with transparency and vision, not align it further with corporate co-optation and conflicts of interest. I hope that Iowans demand better: the future of the state’s soil, water and the health of its communities depend upon it.