John Lawrence’s Monday Message from April 3, 2017
Feeding people, keeping them healthy, helping their communities to prosper and thrive, and turning the world over to the next generation better than we found it: Sounds like a plan for a strong Iowa. As I take on this new role as acting vice president for extension and outreach, I am thankful for the leadership and stewardship of Dr. Cathann Kress. She is leaving our organization in a strong position for what is ahead. And as I said at Annual Conference, I will try not to screw it up. I feel like I have been handed a priceless heirloom and told not to drop it.
Jay Harmon has been named interim director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and interim associate dean for extension and outreach programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. During the interim, ANR will be taking a team approach to cover programs that I gave leadership to over the past seven years.
As recent rains prove, sometimes there are dark clouds on the horizon. However, our strong position and bright future will help us navigate the rough weather, as we turn into the wind to stay on course.
- We face the uncertainty of a new Iowa State University president. We know Ben Allen and, more important, he knows Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. I am confident that we can work with him in the interim. However, we will need strong representation on the search committee for our new president. I will be asking some of you to participate.
- The press release announcing my appointment mentioned a national search for a permanent vice president for extension and outreach “in the coming months.” I don’t know the impact President Leath’s departure may have on the timing. You may have me around for a while. I made a firm commitment to be flexible on my interim appointment and to do what is best for ISU Extension and Outreach.
- There’s uncertainty at the federal level. The Administration’s Budget Blue Print called for a 21 percent reduction in USDA, but didn’t mention the land-grant universities or SNAP-Ed specifically. Longer-term, discussions have started on the new Farm Bill that will set the policy direction for the next five years and beyond. The Farm Bill is not just for farmers, as it sets direction for nutrition, conservation, commodity risk management and other policy, and specifically addresses research and extension programs.
- There is less uncertainty at the state level, and that is good news. The bad news is that budgets will be tighter and likely will remain so for the next two to three years, while the economy recovers and the rainy day fund is replenished.
Moving forward, it will be like drinking from a fire hose as I learn more about our organization, but here is my promise to you. I will listen and learn. I plan to meet with program directors to learn about their programs and people. I will consult with our partners, including councils, colleges, agencies and NGOs to understand how we work together today and in the future. I will engage with stakeholders, to better appreciate their needs and what they expect from us.
I have an open door policy, open inbox and open phone for you – the staff, faculty and county councils of ISU Extension and Outreach. Invite me out. I would like to meet with you and your stakeholders. Together with the leadership team, I will work to maintain your trust and will share information throughout the process.
We are going into this stretch of rough weather without a map, but we do have a compass to help us stay on course. That compass is our mission and vision, our core values and our culture. It is who we are. We are one system. We are Iowa State University Extension and Outreach! I look forward to working with you as acting and then interim vice president. Together we will keep our organization on course toward a bright future.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Acting Vice President for Extension and Outreach