Changes at the top
With the departure last summer of Warren Madden, (L)(’61 indust engr) the long-time senior vice president for business and finance, there’s been a series of changes in senior leadership at Iowa State.
During Madden’s 32 years as vice president, ISU’s enrollment increased nearly 50 percent, the campus grew to more than 13.8 million square feet of building space, and the university budget increased from $268 million to $1.4 billion. ISU President Steven Leath (L), in a letter last spring to the Iowa State community, wrote, “I recognize it would be very difficult to find someone as capable as Warren to manage all of the components of what has become a very large, diverse, and complex office. Therefore, I have decided to split this office into divisions: the Division of University Services and the Division of Finance.”
As a search commenced for the VP for university services, Leath tapped his chief of staff, Miles Lackey (L), to assume the role of chief of staff/chief financial officer. Lackey, who came to Iowa State in 2012 at age 32, had served as director of financial relations for the University of North Carolina System and was a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. At Iowa State he’d been, as he oen joked, “chief of stuff,” taking the lead on projects to streamline the resource management model and budgeting system in addition to coordinating the day-to-day functions of the president’s office.
In what can only be described as a perfect storm, Lackey’s wife, Tara, gave birth prematurely to their twin sons on March 23 and Lackey was named chief of staff/chief
financial officer on March 24.
“It was like drinking through a fire hose,” he said of those first few months with a new job and expanding family. (Daughter Reagan turned 2 years old in July; twins Emmerson and William spent 84 days in the hospital but are now healthy and at home.) “It was a hectic period, but I’m starting to feel more in control.”
With a full plate and a number of different hats, Lackey says his number one priority is “to ensure that we are achieving transparency in the budget process and making sure that we are adhering to best practices when it comes to accounting for resources here and making sure they are being used in the most efficient and effective way possible.”
He takes the land-grant model seriously and says, in fact, that the land-grant mission “is really one of the things I love about working here, serving the people of the state.” He won’t even to try to replace Warren Madden, he says. “I certainly wouldn’t try to fill his shoes,” he says. “He was here for 50 years! But what I hope that I can do is just really apply a lot of the sound advice that he provided to me and try to do a good job and leave this institution in better shape than when I found it.”
Kate Gregory (L), a retired Navy rear admiral, also admires Madden’s institutional knowledge and work ethic – and that’s important, because she took on much of his management role in July when she became ISU’s first senior vice president for university services.
“You can’t do anything at Iowa State without seeing, in big and small ways, what Mr. Madden put into place during his tenure here,” Gregory said. “Mr. Madden is an incredibly generous man,” she continued. “He has offered to help me and Iowa State in any way possible, and for that I’m tremendously grateful and I take him up on that at every opportunity. But I think the best advice he gave me was the fact that there are great people in university services and that I should rely on and listen to them.”
Gregory retired from the Navy last year, serving most recently as chief of civil engineers and commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (2012-15). She says her military experience has uniquely prepared her for her new role at Iowa State.
“In the military, I was accustomed to working in large, complex organizations that had a lot of different interests and things that needed to get done – and universities, in my short experience, are very much like that,” she said. “Iowa State is a very complex organization; it does a huge variety of things, and it all needs to happen for Iowa State to succeed in its mission. So I think there’s a very close parallel between what I did before and what I do now.”
Like Lackey, Gregory says she’s grateful to be working at a land-grant university. “Working at Iowa State was a dream, not something I ever really thought was possible,” she said. “I feel exceptionally lucky to be here.”
As relative newcomers to the Iowa State campus, both Gregory and Lackey say they already feel at home here, and they have established their own campus traditions. Gregory says she runs on campus early in the morning, soaking up inspiration as she runs by the historic buildings. Lackey walks around Lake LaVerne most evenings with his family, often stopping at the benches near Christian Petersen’s Fountain of the Four Seasons.
“We’re indoctrinating our kids,” Lackey says. “They all have the Cyclone gear.”
Gregory says, “I think it’s impossible to walk across central campus and see the Campanile and the blue sky and the trees and not just feel great about being at Iowa State.”
KATE GREGORY’S AREAS OF OVERSIGHT:
- Facilities Planning and Management
- Business Services
- Environmental Health and Safety
- Public Safety
- Reiman Gardens
- University Museums
- WOI Radio Group
MILES LACKEY’S AREAS OF OVERSIGHT:
- Treasurer’s Office
- University Financial Planning
- University Relations
- Ombuds Office
- Internal Audit
This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.