Senate hears research, IT updates

A new online graduate degree and a program name change were introduced at the Oct. 18 Faculty Senate meeting. Both items will be further discussed and voted on next month.

The proposed name change is for the women's studies program, to women's and gender studies. The program, established in 1977, offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees. The proposal states that the addition of "gender" to the name would better represent the course material, instruction, research and outreach efforts, which are not limited to women. The name change also would align more closely with national trends.

A new online degree in the human computer interaction graduate program would complement three existing degrees (Ph.D., master of science and professional certificate). The proposed master of human computer interaction (M.HCI) primarily would serve industry professionals and practitioners.

Research recap

Vice president for research Sarah Nusser presented an overview of ISU's research enterprise, including a look at future initiatives as part of the "grand challenges" in the university's new strategic plan and priorities issued by the White House's science and technology office.

"Several funding agencies show up at the door with programs that intersect with [the national priorities], so we can get a lot of different disciplines involved in association with these kind of grand challenges," Nusser said.

"We are currently working with the colleges to convene a group of faculty to help us develop a forward-looking vision around grand challenge themes that broadly express the research activities at Iowa State."

IT update

Chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach updated the senate on his vision for and the progress in information technology. He emphasized four areas:

  • "Human factors," such as staff hires specializing in accessibility and security
  • Technologies, such as policies, practices and network, storage and system improvements
  • Customer service, such as relocating the Solution Center, implementing rapid response teams and focusing on continuous improvement
  • Partnerships with campus groups, including college IT personnel, unit and department developers, IT committees, and training and development programs

"We're truly trying to make technology seamless -- incorporate the best practices, incorporate state-of-the-art to make your lives easier so you can focus on teaching and research," Kurtenbach said.