Iowa State ag dean becomes university’s first female president

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Board of Regents on Monday chose the dean of Iowa State University's agriculture college as the school's next president.

The board appointed Wendy Wintersteen as Iowa State's 16th president, filling a position left vacant when Steven Leath took a job as president of Auburn University. She will be the first female president since Iowa State's founding in 1858.

The 61-year-old Wintersteen has been dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 2006. During this time, the regents noted in a news release that she had helped raise more than $247 million from donors and that undergraduate enrollment in the agriculture college had grown by 90 percent.

"My goal is that we will make Iowa State University the best land grant university in the nation," Wintersteen said during a brief announcement ceremony on the Ames campus.

Following that ambitious goal, Wintersteen said she looked forward to meeting with Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Legislature to "communicate the important successes that occur every day and the value of Iowa State University to our communities and developing increased economic activity in this state."

Last session, the Legislature reduced year-over-year state funding to Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa by about $30 million. The universities plan to increase tuition to offset the funding cut.

Wintersteen's contract is for five years, and she'll be paid $525,000 in her first year, $550,000 in her second year and $590,000 in year three. She'll also receive a package of deferred compensation that will increase from $125,000 in year one to $200,000 in the third year.

Leath had an annual salary of $525,000 and a compensation package, which he forfeited by voluntarily resigning. Leath served 5½ years as president and oversaw a surge in enrollment to more than 36,000 and fundraising success, but also controversies about his use of university planes and the purchase of land with help from a former regent president's company.

Wintersteen was chosen from 64 applicants and four finalists.

Wintersteen has spent much of her career at ISU, starting in 1979 and leaving only briefly in 1989 and 1990 to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington.