Dr. Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on Nov. 20, 2017, after a nationwide search, followed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The first woman to hold the university’s highest office, Dr. Wintersteen has served Iowa State for more than 40 years in several capacities.
The university's brand campaign, Innovate at Iowa State, captures Dr. Wintersteen’s vision of a university withboundless opportunities for students and faculty to move their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas forward. The centerpiece is the 146,000 square foot Student Innovation Center, the technology-rich campus hub for students, classes and clubs excited to create marketable solutions, hold pitch-off competitions and envision new businesses. The Start Something Network encompasses the growing portfolio of academic courses in innovation and entrepreneurship offered in every undergraduate college.
Under her leadership, Iowa State has established national prominence in innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education – ranked #11 out of 300 public and private universities by the prestigious Princeton Review three years in a row. Iowa State also received the 2021 Model Program Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, noting “Iowa State’s program was expansive in its scale and boldly embraced the challenges of engendering innovation and entrepreneurship across its campus.”
ISU boasts a 95% placement rate for its graduates and is a national research powerhouse – ranked #17 for research expenditures (Top 3% in the nation) out of nearly 500 universities without a human medical school. Iowa State set a new record of $601.7 million in external funding, including research grants and contracts and support from private donors for scholarships, faculty positions, programs and facilities.
Iowa State consistently ranks in the Top 100 universities worldwide for number of U.S. patents as ISU faculty and staff excel at transferring their research, technology, and innovation to the marketplace to address complex challenges and accelerate the state’s economic progress. ISU Extension and Outreach programs operate in all 99 counties to directly benefit more than 1 million Iowans each year.
Dr. Wintersteen is advancing Iowa State University for the 21st century with priorities and aspirations expressed in ISU’s new strategic plan: to be the most student-centric leading research university where students, faculty and staff flourish in a welcoming and inclusive environment; to be the university that fosters lifelong learning, creates opportunities and forges new frontiers; and to be a trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.
Prior to becoming president, Dr. Wintersteen served for eleven years as the inaugural endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. During her tenure, Iowa State’s agricultural programs ranked in the top 10 worldwide, CALS enrollment rapidly increased to become the third largest college of agriculture in the nation, research grants increased markedly, awards for teaching excellence grew, and the college achieved a 98% placement rate for its graduates.
Dr. Wintersteen began her career working in eastern and central Iowa as one of the first female ISU Extension associates in integrated pest management. She then completed her doctorate in entomology at Iowa State and rose through the ranks to become a professor of entomology (with a brief stint at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.), followed by successively senior administrative roles in extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).