Regents approve alternative admissions index

Iowa students applying to any of the three regent universities will be assessed consistently even if they hail from a high school that no longer provides class rankings. The state Board of Regents approved an alternative Regent Admission Index (RAI) at its Feb. 5 meeting in Cedar Falls. It will take effect for freshmen entering college in summer 2016.

The RAI used since 2009 includes four weighted measurements believed to be strong indicators of a student's likelihood for success: ACT composite score, high school GPA, number of core courses completed in high school and class rank. Over the last six years, the number of Iowa high schools to stop providing class rank has grown from three to about 40, and each of the three universities developed its own method for filling that gap in the formula for applicants from those schools.

The alternative RAI changes the weighting applied to the other three measurements in the 2009 formula:

  • Alternative RAI: ACT composite (x 3) + High school GPA (x 30) + High school core courses (x 5)
  • Primary RAI: ACT composite (x 2) + High school GPA (x 20) + High school core courses (x 5) + High school rank (x1)

Applicants need a score of 245 with either index to receive automatic admission to a regent university.

Regent Larry McKibben proposed using the alternative RAI for all applicants.

"If we think the alternate is acceptable, why not just adopt it for all 380 Iowa school districts?" he asked.

Board staff member Diana Gonzalez, who led the admissions team that developed both indexes, said the alternative RAI "puts pressure on the ACT and high school GPA scores – and the committee had a lot of discussion about that."

She also said that while an ACT composite score has predictive value, she believes high school GPA and high school rank have higher predictive value.

Regent Katie Mulholland suggested that the universities gather data for a year to see how the alternative RAI affects students before deciding whether it should replace the primary index.

Business master's program

In other business, the board approved an interdisciplinary Master of Business Analytics Program at Iowa State and a distinctly different Master of Science in Business Analytics at the University of Iowa, with the two connected by a five-year memorandum of cooperation. Areas identified for cooperation include: referral of students to the other program when in the student's best career interests, acceptance of up to nine credits of approved courses from the other school's program, and an annual workshop at which business analytics faculty will share syllabi, trends and instructional ideas.

ISU Business dean David Spalding told members of the board's Education and Student Affairs Committee that the degree is intended to "train students to analyze large amounts of data, leading to more effective and intelligent business decisions."

"Iowa business executives are excited about these programs," he said.

TIER update

McKibben, who co-chairs the board's Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER), said the selection of a consultant to complete the academic programs portion of the review will be completed by Feb. 13, with the hired firm "on campus shortly thereafter."

Mark Braun, the board's TIER project manager, reported that Ad Astra Information Systems, the consultant hired last fall to work on two administrative business cases related to classroom use and scheduling of faculty, should complete its work in April.

Faculty resignations

ESAC members also received from the three provosts an annual faculty resignations report for the year that ended June 30, 2014.

During FY14, 35 Iowa State faculty resigned, an increase from FY13's 21 resignations but not far from the past decade's annual average of 36. The FY14 group included 11 professors, nine associate professors and 15 assistant professors.

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told board members that there isn't a single underlying "theme" for the faculty departures.

"There tends to be a personal story behind each one of these," he said, such as a family's preference to live in an urban area, a job opportunity in industry, a job offer at a top national university. Wickert offers to meet with each resigning faculty member before he or she leaves.

Twenty of the 2014 resignees participated in ISU's online faculty exit survey, which was put in place in 2004. The primary reasons cited for leaving were dissatisfaction with the departmental environment, a lack of perceived advancement opportunities and dissatisfaction with pay. About two-thirds of respondents indicated they were "somewhat or very dissatisfied" with their chairs. Fifteen of the 20 respondents indicated they had accepted a new position elsewhere that provides a “much higher" (8) or "somewhat higher" (7) salary than their ISU salary.

Diversity report

Included in the board's consent agenda were annual diversity reports from the universities for the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014. The table below indicates female and minority representation among ISU employee groups.

Iowa State employees: Sept. 30, 2014

Employee group






183 (44%)

34 (8%)

Tenure-track faculty


403 (32%)

318 (25%)

Non tenure-track faculty


383 (56%)

104 (15%)



1,142 (51%)

280 (12%)



786 (88%)

38 (4%)



94 (68%)

10 (7%)

Skilled crafts


14 (5%)

7 (3%)



299 (99%)

56 (19%)



3,304 (53%)

847 (14%)


Forker plans, additional apartments, stadium bonds

In other ISU business, the board:

  • Gave Iowa State permission to begin planning an estimated $5 million renovation of about 6,200 square feet in the original portion of the Forker Building for the kinesiology department. The project will create additional faculty offices and restrooms on the ground floor, and replace windows and install a fire sprinkler system throughout the 1940 portion of the building.
  • Gave ISU residence department officials permission to negotiate leases with Jensen Properties on nine apartment buildings (housing 395 students) in southwest Ames. The proposed arrangement will be for two years (Aug. 1, 2015, to July 31, 2017) and cost an estimated $2.1 million per year. Iowa State currently leases and operates off-campus apartments for 1,059 students. Fall 2015 projections estimate as many as 1,800 requests above the residence department's available permanent beds. The 700-bed Buchanan Hall 2 won't be ready before fall 2017.
  • Approved the sale of $32.3 million in athletic facilities revenue bonds to cover part of the cost of the expansion project underway on the football stadium south end zone. The lowest bid carried an interest rate of 3.007 percent. Schedule payment on the bonds begins in July 2016 and lasts for 25 years.