Nusser shares new research priorities with Faculty Senate

Meeting coverage

Vice president for research Sarah Nusser presented new research priorities and looked back on a successful year during the Faculty Senate's Oct. 15 meeting.

The Research Leadership Council -- a group that includes associate deans, members of ISU Extension and Outreach, Ames Laboratory, government relations and others that represent different parts of the research mission -- is focusing on collaborative projects this year with three main areas of interest:

  • More prioritization and support of initiatives
  • Rethink campus funding proposal support
  • Build on the ability to secure relationship-based funding

Nusser also addressed some of the significant ways the research landscape is changing locally and around the world. International collaborations, safe and inclusive research environments and research integrity are receiving more scrutiny.

"Filling out the conflict of interest forms is important because it helps faculty protect themselves," she said. "A lot of the narrative around international collaboration deals with China, and it is imperative that we are conscious that it can lead to bias with how you work with people or lead to profiling."

Nusser said an increased emphasis is being placed on treating researchers equally and focusing on professionalism in research and labs. Transparent research practices and public access to publications and data are linked to research integrity.

Fiscal year 2019 had record external research funding and led to four priorities for the office of the vice president for research:

  • Develop and grow external support for large research initiatives
  • Attract, develop and retain strong faculty
  • Expand areas to secure externally sponsored funding for research
  • Support and modernize mid- and large-scale research infrastructure    

ISD update

Dwaine Heppler, associate vice president for human resources and strategy, and Kyle Briese, finance manager in operations and finance, addressed some of the most common faculty concerns about improved service delivery (ISD).

Since ISD launched in July, persistent issues among faculty are: spending too much time in Workday, loss of a key contact person, uncertainty about work remaining at the local level and an inability to see all relevant information to complete tasks.

"We have started outreach, and the key is for us to come to you to understand the issues you are seeing, in both finance and HR," Heppler said.

ISD staff continue to receive training to learn about the units they are serving. Face-to-face meetings are taking place to help with this, and local department personnel are receiving assistance to learn the system.


In an Oct. 15 memo to campus leaders, President Wendy Wintersteen announced enrollment management units are moving from the division of student affairs to the division of academic affairs, effective Nov. 1. That includes the offices of admissions, student financial aid and registrar. 

"President Wintersteen knows that the future of enrollment at Iowa State and our success depends on a very tight integration between academic programs and the recruiting, admission and care of students," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "The structure that we will be moving to is the common structure at our peer universities."

A resolution

Senators -- after voting to forgo the need for two readings -- unanimously passed a resolution in support of the University Library's principles for advancing openness through journal negotiations. The resolution's three main points are:

  • Prioritize openness through open access sources
  • Reject nondisclosure language in agreements with publishers
  • Pursue financially sustainable journal agreements

"I think libraries finally realize that one of the ways that they can effect change is to utilize our collections budgets to incentivize publishers to advance open access," said Curtis Brundy, associate university librarian for scholarly communication and collections. "Libraries can take what they were spending on subscriptions, and through open access agreements, can cover not only the read access but publishing charges."

Other senate business

  • The academic affairs council proposed a business and technology consulting minor in the Ivy College of Business. The 15-credit minor, which can be added to any major in the college, focuses on consultative problem solving -- a high-demand area for graduates entering the workforce. No other Iowa regent university offers it.
  • A proposed revision to the Faculty Handbook would grant term faculty the same process as tenured faculty to earn emeritus or emerita status. Faculty who are at the professor rank and have worked 10 or more consecutive years at ISU before retiring automatically are granted the status. Those with less than 10 years of service are eligible through a nomination process.
  • The marketing department in the Ivy College of Business proposed a 21-credit professional sales certificate to aid undergraduates by enhancing their knowledge of selling and customer relations. Sixty percent of business graduates have some sales duties during their careers.
  • The department of mechanical engineering requested discontinuation of its minor in nuclear engineering. The coordinator and only instructor for all but one of the courses is retiring, and the number of students seeking the minor is low.