Iowa State University Relations Executive Director John McCarroll will serve his last day at Iowa State Tuesday, after 22 years full of changes.
McCarroll began his role at Iowa State in April 1997. He said the first week he was here it was the Veishea weekend that Harold “Uri” Sellers was murdered.
“Unfortunately, in the early morning hours of the Sunday ... Veishea activities are really over at that point, or were over. We had a fatal stabbing on the lawn of a fraternity house,” McCarroll said. “Everything up to that point had gone well, and it was my first Veishea celebration as a member of the university.”
McCarroll said he prefers to emphasize the positive side of his time at Iowa State. He lauded the staff he worked with.
“The staff I’ve had here at University Relations — I have been blessed with really good people. Very talented, experienced people [and] smart people,” McCarroll said.
There has been a “night and day” change in the way the office has operated, McCarroll said. In 1997, they sent some news releases via fax and even mailed certain news releases out, depending on the recipient.
“We communicate with a lot of media via text, of course Twitter,” McCarroll said. “Of course the biggest thing is the speed — and this is not unique to Iowa State. … The response time, particularly on critical incidents is almost nothing — you have to respond almost immediately.”
Asked whether the office staff has expanded over the years to meet the new expectations of the ever-changing world, McCarroll said office staff is down to 14 from 20, though he said part of that is a result of shutting down ISU Photo Service.
McCarroll moved to Iowa in September 1975, and has seen some dramatic changes in the state. He said Iowa has become much more urban — hurting some small towns — while the Des Moines area and the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor have grown.
McCarroll said he believes the future of Iowa State is bright.
“When you look at the range of academic offerings we have here, I think that people more and more have realized that, we tend to attract a lot of out-of-state students and international students,” he said.
Jacy Johnson, director of advancement for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will take over as interim executive director for the new Office of Strategic Relations and Communications at Iowa State. The new office will replace University Relations, the day following McCarroll’s retirement. Current staff will continue their positions in the new unit.
“We want to make the very best use of very skilled, talented, creative communicators we already have on campus — especially those in News Service, internal communications and marketing — to help develop and advance a new approach,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen’s motivation for revamping the office will broaden the reach and strengthen the impact of Iowa State’s stories.
“[We want to] amplify the great work being done across campus that advances our university priorities and goals.”
McCarroll has provided “exceptional leadership” to the university in the area of communications, Johnson said.
“It’s important that we continue to provide the same level of leadership and commitment to ISU that he has embodied for decades, while we explore new ways to work together to advance the institution for the good of our students, faculty, staff, alums, supporters and friends,” Johnson said.