Position description

President, Iowa State University

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and the Iowa State University community invite nominations and applications for the position of president. The Board of Regents has charged the presidential search committee to identify inspiring and innovative leadership to carry out the university mission to "create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place."

Established in 1858, Iowa State University became a land-grant in 1862 when Iowa emerged as the first state to accept the terms of the Morrill Act. It is a Carnegie Classification Doctoral Research University: Highest Research Activity, with membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. ISU serves a population of 36,660 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in 8 colleges with over 100 majors. Designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, ISU serves all Iowans through its first-in-the-nation extension and outreach service with 100 offices throughout the state. Headquartered on a magnificent campus comprising 1,900 acres, an outstanding faculty, staff, and administrative team numbering 6,000 guide the university, leveraging a $1.5 billion budget. Student-athletes, the Cyclones, compete in NCAA Division I athletics as a member of the Big 12 Conference. Iowa State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and degree-related accrediting agencies.


The new president must maintain the highest standards in all aspects of the land-grant mission and celebrate Iowa State’s disciplinary breadth. Further, the university's national renown in research must have robust support, appropriately balanced with a commitment to a unique, rich student experience characterized by unlimited social and academic opportunities in a friendly and supportive campus environment. It is critical that the president be prepared to carry out the university’s strategic plan, employing strategic leadership, insight, and vision. She or he will be an enthusiastic, energetic, and engaging voice on behalf of the university, both on campus and statewide. The president should be a thoughtful, innovative, action-oriented multitasker who listens carefully, assesses fairly, and acts decisively.


  • Proven strategic leadership experience in advancing the triple mandate of the land-grant mission:
    • Education: prepare tomorrow’s leaders and problem-solvers through unquestionable dedication to student access, achievement, and success;
    • Research: expand ISU’s capacity to generate knowledge and improve lives through science, technology, and human creativity;
    • Outreach: demonstrate how new discoveries can make lives better by enhancing the capacity of extension and outreach services to share knowledge with communities, public institutions, and businesses;
  • Substantial skills to engage in an essential and strong shared governance process;
  • Demonstrable record of success leading and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives;
  • Significant involvement in fiscal management of organizations of equal complexity, including strategic diversification of revenue sources, and creative resource generation and allocation; 
  • Firsthand understanding of the fundraising process and successful record of leadership and partnership in capital campaign efforts;
  • Inspiring team player and team builder with substantial organizational management skills; 
  • Capacity to engender trust with excellent communication skills and a transparent, open-door, open-mind leadership style; 
  • Comprehensive understanding of the tenure process and the role of academic freedom;
  • Profound appreciation for the contributions of staff and administrators in the success of the institution, and explicit commitment to support their professional development;
  • Direct experience in collaborations with diverse constituencies, including the state legislature, businesses, foundations, agriculture leaders, and residents from all parts of the state;
  • In-depth understanding of the critical role of universities in local and regional economic development; capacity to advocate effectively for economic development in Ames, Des Moines, and Iowa, with particular attention to existing programs such as the Cultivation Corridor; and commitment to implement equivalent initiatives statewide;
  • Ability to be a vocal Iowa State champion, working with the Board of Regents and colleague university presidents; 
  • Capacity to nurture an active, contributing alumni base in the state, around the country, and the world;
  • Knowledge of higher education trends with significant higher education experience in an academic institution (preferred); and
  • Terminal degree appropriate to the discipline (preferred).

Nominations and Applications

Nominations are invited. To assure best consideration, applications should be received by August 24, 2017. The application should include a letter of interest of not more than three pages; a current résumé (or curriculum vitae); and the names of five professional references with each person's position, office or home address, e-mail address, and telephone numbers. 

Applications will remain confidential through the finalist stage to the extent permitted by law. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant. Following campus visits by finalists, the Iowa Board of Regents will conduct interviews and make the final selection. The new president will assume office in early 2018.

The search is being assisted by James McCormick and Janice Fitzgerald, Consultants, AGB Search. Nominations and applications should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF Format) to iowastatepresident@agbsearch.com. Additional university information may be found at www.iastate.edu and www.presidentsearch.iastate.edu. The consultants may be contacted at 651-238-5188, jhm@agbsearch.com or 717-580-0663, jsf@agbsearch.com.

It is the policy of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to provide equal opportunity in employment and all aspects of Regent operations to all persons without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran or military status, or any other status protected by state or federal law. 

Downloadable PDF


AGB Search, a national firm assisting the presidential search committee, provided a list (below) of recommended communication and advertising outlets. Individuals can submit additional recommendations via email, presidentsearch@iastate.edu.


Print and electronic

Organizations and contacts

  • American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education
  • American Council on Education
  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium
  • American Society for Engineering Education
  • Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education
  • American Association of University Professors
  • Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
  • Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACE)
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Association of State Colleges and Universities
  • Carnegie Classified Institutions of Higher Education (now with Indiana University Bloomington's Center for Postsecondary Research)
  • Equity in Higher Education Alliance
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association/other regional accreditors
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Midwestern Higher Education Consortium/other Interstate Commissions
  • NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
  • National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education
  • National Association for Equal Opportunity
  • National Association of System Heads
  • State Higher Education Executive Officers
  • Statewide college/university presidents, including the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
  • University Professional and Continuing Education Association
  • AGB Search "blast" communication to all chief academic officers; all deans of programs present at institution
  • Consultants/AGB Search contacts, experience, “tug” process