Regents hear about recruitment consortium, Des Moines education needs study

By late summer, faculty and staff recruitment efforts could get a big boost. Iowa State is poised to become part of a statewide chapter in a national recruiting consortium. Planners provided an update to the state Board of Regents during the board's Feb. 25 meeting on campus.

Since July 2015, a planning group with representatives from the three regent universities has been investigating an all-Iowa chapter in the national Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a nonprofit group of 700+ universities, colleges, research labs, hospitals and government agencies that collectively generates a large jobs database. Its mission is to help members recruit and retain a talented, diverse employee group, with a special emphasis on recruiting dual-career couples.

The national consortium currently contains 17 regional affiliates focused in the northeast and the west coast; Iowa would be the 18th.

The next step in creating an all-Iowa chapter is an informational/networking event on Tuesday, March 29 (10 a.m.-2 p.m., Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny). Scheduled for May, the inaugural meeting of the Greater Iowa regional HERC advisory board will include representatives from all institutions interested in joining. That group will set an annual fee structure, based on fulltime-equivalent employee numbers, estimated to range from $500 to $7,000. As proposed, the regional HERC membership would be activated on July 1.

Iowa State's early planners include Dawn Bratsch-Prince and Chelsey Aisenbrey from the provost's office; and Katie Clark, Kristi Darr, Brooke Dykstra and Julie Nuter from university human resources.

Des Moines higher education needs assessment

Late last semester, the board hired MGT of America, Tallahassee, Florida, for $91,000 to complete a higher education needs assessment of the Des Moines metro area, including gaps in what's offered and where. The study also is to include a review of potential locations (metro areas, not specific properties) for delivering courses or programs. This was prompted by AIB College of Business' decision about a year ago to gift its campus to the University of Iowa.

MGT vice president Ray Thompson provided an update to the board. To date, his team has interviewed about 60 employers and a dozen education professionals (for example, university provosts, school superintendents and regents). The Greater Des Moines Partnership sent out a survey to its members on behalf of MGT, and the consultant is finalizing a method for interviewing current university and community college students from the Des Moines area.

Thompson said some of the issues they've discussed with the stakeholders include:

  • Audience(s) to be served
  • Access issues and barriers to more education (such as time, location, delivery mode)
  • Program and training needs (including articulation options, "stackable credentials" vs. a degree, custom training)
  • Location and what's needed at each (for example, public transportation, safe parking, meal options, student services on site)

Thompson is scheduled to update the board again at its April meeting. A final report is due this spring.

Distance education update

The board's February agenda included the annual distance education report (2014-15 academic year).

Iowa State students enrolled (headcount)


Fall 2015

Fall 2014

Distance education (DE) courses only*



On-campus and DE courses*






Total (duplicated)



*Unduplicated (students who enroll in multiple courses are counted once)

Iowa State added 41 web-based courses during the 2014-15 academic year, bringing the total to 614. This includes courses for undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, and represents about 37 percent of the regent university online course offerings.

Iowa State for-credit online courses with the highest registrations (undergraduate and graduate combined) were in the areas of:

  • Family and consumer sciences (3,596 course registrations)
  • Agriculture and related sciences (3,394)
  • Biological and biomedical sciences (2,274)
  • Social sciences (1,585)
  • Engineering (1,578)
  • Education (1,286)
  • Ethnic, cultural and gender studies (978)

The noncredit courses with the highest registrations were in the areas of:

  • Agriculture and related sciences (176,593 registrations)
  • Personal awareness and self-improvement (98,880)
  • Family and consumer sciences (79,272)
  • Public administration (12,015)

Degrees that Iowa State students can earn entirely online include one undergraduate program (bachelor of liberal studies), 29 master's and two doctoral programs.

Information security officer

In his remarks to the board, President Steven Leath announced that Iowa State will collaborate with Northern Iowa, the board office and the state's two K-12 special schools (services for blind and deaf/hearing impaired students) to hire a chief information security officer. The University of Iowa previously created such a position. The individual in this position will focus on security strategy and providing cyber-safe campuses. Leath said he or she also will work with the university's information assurance center, the governor's cyber security initiative, the state of Iowa's chief information officer and the state department of homeland security/emergency management.

More ISU business

In other Iowa State-related business,

  • Iowa State and Northern Iowa leaders signed a "3+2" articulation agreement that allows students to earn a UNI physics degree in three years, then transfer to Iowa State and complete an engineering degree in two more years.
  • The board reviewed proposed parking permit fee increases for the year that begins July 1. Prices would go up about 3.5 percent, rounded to the nearest dollar. Permits for the Memorial Union ramp, which is not managed by the ISU parking division, would go up about 2.5 percent, as proposed.
  • The board approved an $8 million budget increase to the two biosciences building projects: $2.3 million to the Bessey Hall east addition, $4.1 million to the Advanced Teaching and Research Building and $1.6 million for a contingency fund for allocation to either or both projects, primarily due to construction prices that exceeded initial estimates. The Bessey and ATRB budgets now stand at $30.3 million and $56.1 million, respectively. The additional funds will come from selling facilities corporation bonds.
  • The board approved a new bachelor of arts program in criminal justice in the sociology department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, transitioning it from a track option in the interdisciplinary studies major the college currently offers. LAS Dean Beate Schmittmann told the board that the program's home in sociology stems in part from recommendations in a 2014 external review. Implementation begins this fall.
  • The board approved a name change for the bachelor of science in culinary science (department of food science and human nutrition), to culinary food science, to better indicate students' academic preparation to would-be employers.
  • The board approved changes proposed to the 2016-17 course catalog, including 128 new courses and 191 dropped courses, a majority (107) of which were in the Human Sciences college due to significant changes in the dietetics undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.