Kyle Oppenhuizen is the Business Record’s HR & Education beat reporter.Have an idea or tip? (515) 661-6086 or kyleoppenhuizen@bpcdm.comTwitter: @KyleOppenhuizen
Kyle Oppenhuizen is the Business Record’s HR & Education beat reporter.

Have an idea or tip? (515) 661-6086 or

Twitter: @KyleOppenhuizen

Leath: Let’s do business

New Iowa State University President Steven Leath didn’t waste much time before getting involved with the Greater Des Moines business community.

Leath sat down with area business leaders in a dinner arranged by Belin McCormick P.C. attorney Steve Zumbach before assuming his post in January, and took over retired ISU President Gregory Geoffroy’s co-chair position on the Capital Corridor committee for Capital Crossroads.

Leath told the Business Record he wants to work with the business leaders to develop more collaboration, with a focus on leveraging Iowa State’s core competency of bioscience.

“My initial impression is that people want to develop public-private partnerships at a higher level than before between Iowa State and businesses in the state, especially in the central part of the state,” said Leath, who helped develop the North Carolina Research Campus, a public-private venture, during his time in the University of North Carolina system. Read full story

Community college enrollment drop signals improving economy

Overall enrollment at Iowa’s 15 community colleges decreased by 5.2 percent this fall, following a 0.6 percent decrease in 2011 – an ironic sign of a better economy, officials told the Business Record.

“Community college enrollment is at least in part countercyclical,” said Jeremy Varner, administrator of the Division of Community Colleges in the Iowa Department of Education. “In 2009 and 2010, the depth of the recession, we saw tremendous growth in enrollment.”

When fewer jobs are available, more people look to community colleges to broaden their job skills and improve their marketability. Des Moines Area Community College’s enrollment decreased by 6.8 percent in 2012, following 13 years of increases.

The economy’s impact on community colleges has created challenges, as colleges tried to either ramp up staff or stretch resources to keep up with the growth, while still anticipating the effects of an improving economy in coming years. Des Moines Area Community College is hoping to get back on track with a 5 percent annual growth rate in the future. Read full story

Leadership turnover

In January 2012, The Business Record took a look at how companies and organizations plan for leadership succession and found that many strive to cultivate leaders from within. Here are some examples from last year:

• The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines completed a succession plan as J. Barry Griswell retired as CEO, with Kristi Knous set to take on the foundation’s leadership as president.

• The Greater Des Moines Partnership promoted Jay Byers to CEO and Gene Meyer to president following the retirement of Martha Willits.

• United Way of Central Iowa hired Mary Sellers from outside the organization to replace Shannon Cofield as president.

• Hy-Vee Inc. named Randy Edeker, who had a long history with the company, to replace the retiring Ric Jurgens as chairman and CEO.

• FBL Financial Group Inc. named Jim Brannen as CEO after Jim Hohmann stepped down.

• American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. named John Matovina as president and CEO following the death of Wendy Waugaman.

Read full story