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Weekly Wisdom 003 - Wendy Wintersteen

Bridget Burns, Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance, and Jeff Selingo, author, columnist, and special advisor at Arizona State University, are inviting insight and experiences from presidents and chancellors of universities navigating the challenge in real-time. The third guest is Wendy Wintersteen, the first female president of Iowa State University and the former endowed dean of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“When You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Innovating”

When it comes to handling Iowa State, Wendy often tells her team a modified version of Winston Churchill’s famous quote. This mindset has helped her team push through and continue to aim for success. She mentions that innovation is the newest face of Iowa State during these trying times.

How Does She Balance Leading While Also Making People Feel Supported?

Wintersteen talks about how past presidents have inspired her to work this way. She says that it’s vital to acknowledge and thank the students for their achievements, especially during these times. Overall, the intent to work together and find the familiar path through the problem makes the community thrive.

What Experiences Help Guide Her Decisions To Lead During A Pandemic?

Wendy has been working in the field for 40 years, so she has experienced a lot. She notes that she was present through most of the crises that Iowa State went through and taught her the true meaning of being part of a community.

How Does She Decide On What Message To Send The People

Wendy says that appropriate communication happens when you share. Becoming upfront and honest about the facts you have is key to gaining trust and letting the community know that you are with them.

How Does She Adjust Expectations Of The People?

Wintersteen states that early on, she already told the people that results and expectations would be different. However, her team will still exert the same effort and productivity to make things work.

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