It’s Time to Act

No new posts tonight. We know enough to act.

Instead of you reading what I have to say I want the administration at Iowa State to read what you have to say. If you haven’t yet written a letter please do so now.

Send your letter to all of the following people:

Wendy Wintersteen
Interim Dean, College of Agriculture, Iowa State University
138 Curtiss Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-1050
Phone (515) 294-2518, Fax (515) 268-9995

Benjamin J. Allen
Provost, Iowa State University
1550 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-2021
Phone (515) 294-9591, Fax (515) 294-8844

Gregory L. Geoffroy
President, Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-2035
Phone (515) 294-2042, Fax (515) 294-0565

Click for “more” below to see some talking points and the letter I am sending. Modify these to reflect your personal position. Tell them what perspective you are coming from, what troubles you about the situation and what you would like to see done to remedy it.

Oh, and expect to get a whitewashing response from Wintersteen. She sends the same damn response to every single person—identical down to the formatting errors.

Update: After you have written your own letter please send this link to others and encourage them to write a letter as well.

Talking Points:

Ask Interim Dean Wintersteen to tell us which of the “stakeholder” groups expressed dissatisfaction with the Leopold Center.

Ask Interim Dean Wintersteen why she felt it was necessary to take executive action without consulting Leopold Center board members about the matter.

Wintersteen has suggested in the media that her action was motivated in part because she did not believe the Center was “Iowa focused” enough. In response to her claim, highlight the fact that virtually all Leopold Center grants are awarded to Iowa researchers that are doing work in Iowa.

Also point out that issues of sustainability do not end at state lines. The Leopold Center’s effort to reach out to organizations and individuals outside of Iowa should be seen as a strength, not a weakness.

Sample Letter (modify as you see fit):

Gregory L. Geoffroy
President, Iowa State University

Dear President Geoffroy,

I was deeply troubled to hear that Dr. Fred Kirschenmann was asked by Interim Dean Wendy Wintersteen to resign his position as Director of the Leopold Center.

It troubles me that an interim dean saw fit to take this executive action without consulting with the Leopold Center board members, several of whom represent important stakeholder groups in the state.

Wintersteen herself cites complaints about a lack of communication between the Leopold Center and Iowa stakeholders as a justification for her actions. This is particularly ironic given the fact that she seems to have a communication problem herself. Not only did she fail to communicate her plans to the Center’s own board, but she also continues to fail to communicate who the disgruntled stakeholder groups are.

Furthermore, Wintersteen suggests that under Dr. Kirschenmann’s leadership the Leopold Center has lost its “Iowa focus.” A quick review of the projects underway at the Center, and of the grant money awarded to Iowa researchers shows that this is simply not the case.

Dr. Kirschenmann has indeed reached out to individuals and organizations outside of the state in his ongoing effort to meet the growing challenges of creating a sustainable food system. In so doing he has strengthened the position of the Leopold Center both inside and outside of the state.

Issues of sustainability do not end at Iowa’s boarders, and neither does our work. Rather than cringing at Kirschenmann’s growing national prominence as a voice for sustainable agriculture the university should embrace him.

Interim Dean Wintersteen’s decision reflects poorly on your university, and I urge you to do everything in your power to rectify the situation.


Brian Depew
Graduate Student
Department of Sociology
Michigan State University

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