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Iowa State University College of Ag Gets New Name

State Board of Regents approves the name "ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences." By Brian Sexton

Iowa State University's College of Agriculture has a new name. It is now known as Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dean Wendy Wintersteen says the name change moves the college in the right direction.

At its Tuesday, June 12 meeting in Iowa City, the Board of Regents of the State of Iowa approved a proposal from ISU officials to change the name of the college.

"Iowa State University has a 150-year tradition of excellence in agriculture. The new name for the college is the right direction to take as we enter a bold new chapter for the many areas touched by agriculture and the life sciences in Iowa," says Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The new name, Wintersteen says, "more accurately describes both the long-held and the modern emphasis and breadth of the college and will help us communicate our contemporary programs and directions."

New opportunities in ag lead to name change

Dan Frieberg of Cumming, chair of the college's advisory council, says, "Iowa State University, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in particular, is in a high stakes battle for the best and brightest. We can't afford to lose students from urban areas or any other background just because their perception of agriculture is dated or inappropriate. For many, the addition of life sciences may prove more fitting to the kind of future they see for themselves."

Many of the exciting new opportunities emerging in agriculture - the bioeconomy, plant and animal genomics, environmental stewardship, food and nutrition - are connected with basic sciences, notes Wintersteen.

"That's why I believe it is time for us to embrace our role in the life sciences," she adds. "Iowa State is one of the world's premier research institutions for agricultural sciences. The new name will help position the college as we aggressively seek new opportunities in ag and life-science areas and collaborate with partners across the university, the state and beyond."

New name will attract different students

Perhaps most importantly, the college has high hopes that the new name will help attract a new generation of students, says David Acker, associate dean of academic and global programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"The new name will help us to better convey the breadth of programs we offer," says Acker. "We want to encourage prospective students to explore the wide variety of majors the college offers, the life-improving science behind them and the great career opportunities they represent. Our placement rate of more than 98% is something we're very proud of."

Acker says the college is responding to demands for well-trained graduates to support excellent career opportunities in the sciences of life - the broad range of agricultural, food, environmental and biological and life-science areas.

Name change has been in the air awhile

Last fall, Wintersteen announced the college was moving forward with a proposal to change the name, following several years of discussions with faculty, staff, students, advisory groups and alumni. In March, the College of Ag faculty voted in favor of the change and in April, the ISU faculty senate unanimously approved the proposed name change.

Last fall, the College of Ag's Advisory Council unanimously supported changing the name to College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Agriculture is very technical, very scientific and very much about biology," says Frieberg, who earned his bachelor of science in farm operations from the college. "Plant and animal genomics, for example, will be just as revolutionary for agriculture as human genomics will be for human medicine. Life sciences is very much an appropriate expansion of what modern and future agriculture is and will be." 

- Brian Sexton is the 2007 Wallaces Farmer intern and a student at Iowa State University.

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