First finalist for Iowa State president announced


Courtesy of the Board of Regents

Sonny Ramaswamy will visit campus Oct. 9 for a campus interview and open forum. He holds a doctorate in entomology and is director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington D.C.

Danielle Gehr

The Board of Regents announced the name of the first finalist for Iowa State president, Sonny Ramaswamy, the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Ramaswamy’s curriculum vitae said he has led departments ranging from 40 to 700 person staffs and managed budgets ranging from $5 million to $1.6 billion at academic departments, university agriculture research programs, a college and federal government agencies. 

As director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Ramaswany oversees 400 permanent and contractual employees with a budget of $1.6 billion.

He has worked at several land-grant universities in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Kansas, Indiana and Oregon.

In 2016, Ramaswamy was a finalist for the position of chancellor University of Hawaii at Manoa. The search concluded with out appointing anyone to the position. The president recommended the search be suspended for two years as he continued to serve as interim chancellor, according to the Star Advertiser.

In Ramaswamy’s current and previous positions, according to his vitae, he was able to obtain additional funding for his organizations from federal and state governments despite budgets being cut.  

Ramaswamy received a bachelor’s and master’s in Entomology from the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore, India and a doctorate in the same subject from Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

He became a tenured professor at Mississippi State University in 1992 and the graduate coordinator in 1994. He then moved on to Kansas State University where he became a university distinguished professor and head. 

In 2006, he was made the associate dean of Purdue University. Then he moved on to be the dean and Reub Long professor director at Oregon State University in 2009. 

In this University of Arkansas at Point Bluff commencement video, Ramaswamy gave the commencement address titled the Seven Deadly Sins: Lessons from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King for 21st Century Graduates and Society.

He was appointed to his current position at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2012 after being appointed by former President Barack Obama.

In his vitae, Ramaswamy said his hobbies include motorcycling, reading and crossword puzzles.   

Ramasamy will visit Ames Monday for an on-campus interview and an open forum from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Anyone can attend the open forum or view the live stream at

Open forums will be held Monday through Thursday. Each candidate’s name will be released 24 hours before their campus visit. The Board of Regents will make a final decision on who Iowa State’s next president will be on October 23.