Operations and Leadership Update

July 24, 2020

Last week I announced that Senior Director for ISU Extension and Outreach Chad Higgins would be leaving Iowa State. Beginning August 14 when Dr. Higgins departs, Dr. Debra Sellers, Director of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach and Associate Dean in the College of Human Sciences, will serve as Interim Senior Director.

Dr. Higgins’ departure, along with the launching of Structured for Success, has provided an opportunity to rethink the structure of the leadership team and the way we conduct business in ISU Extension and Outreach. After much thought and valuable input from others, I have made a strategic decision to reconfigure the Senior Director position to Director of Operations and reroute some reporting lines. This reconfigured position will become an operationally focused role and will provide direction to our client and staff facing support units.

The Director of Operations will supervise Professional Development, Grants Administration, Organizational Advancement Multimedia and Creative Services, Organizational Advancement Communications, Extension Store, Extension Information Technology, Program Development and Evaluation, Conference Planning and Management, and Conference Planning and Management Registration Services. The director will lead the identification of innovative initiatives or projects that enhance our educational programs, products, and materials. The director also will lead operational and strategic processes with the service units’ management, the individual employees within those units, and other internal and external clients as appropriate. We will conduct an internal search (Iowa State University employees) for the Director of Operations position, which will open on July 24.

Beginning August 14, Dr. Debbie Nistler, State 4-H Program Leader, will report directly to me. This reporting change makes 4-H Youth Development consistent with the other program areas, whose leaders also are my direct reports.

I will not fill the Advancement Director position, which has been an interim for the past year. Instead, we will strategically reconfigure our Advancement unit into two teams – one focused on multimedia and creative services and one focused on communications/county/field support – with two co-leaders who will supervise the staff and work together to promote the advancement of ISU Extension and Outreach. Jed Findlay, who currently leads the multimedia and creative services team, will remain in this position. After the Director of Operations position has been filled, we will conduct a search for the communications leader position.

Earlier this month we completed our Structured for Success process and began the transition to transform our organization. The changes I have announced today are more steps along the path to our future. I am proud of where we have been, and I am excited about where we are going as we serve Iowans. Together we will build a strong Iowa.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach