ISU's state lobbyist gives council overview of her work

Iowa State's state relations officer gave the Professional and Scientific Council an overview of legislative lobbying efforts at the council's Sept. 1 meeting. 

President-elect Patrick Wall said he wanted Carolann Jensen to talk about her work to help council members gain a better understanding of how the budget is formed.

Jensen said the process of setting next year's budget is already underway, as the state Board of Regents will consider at a meeting later this month the regent universities' legislative requests for fiscal year 2024, the budget year that begins July 1, 2023. For Jensen, a regents employee who lobbies the Legislature on Iowa State's behalf, the budget request is what guides her over the next several months. 

"That's our playbook, what we present to the Legislature," she said.

Once the Legislature convenes in January, the request is presented to several appropriations subcommittees before coming before the larger appropriations committees in the Senate and House. The Senate and House must vote to approve the budget before the governor signs it. 

In recent years, Jensen said she's opted for more one-on-one exchanges with state lawmakers during the budget process because subcommittee attendance has been more sporadic since the pandemic. The focus is to highlight the impact of investments in higher education, sometimes with a specific emphasis on the interests and districts of individual legislators. The overriding message is how much Iowa State benefits the entire state, she said.

"What I do is communications and interpretation," Jensen said. "You want to provide people with information that they would find useful that helps you." 

Jensen, a self-described rabid Cyclone and an alumna, encouraged council members to contact her if they have something they think legislators should know about. ISU employees should be clear they're speaking for themselves, not the institution, if they contact a legislator directly to advocate for or against legislation, she said. And for the sake of awareness, she'd appreciate a heads up about those conversations.

"I'd like to know if you talk to people," she said. 

Iowa State Online hiring

Hiring is ramping up for Iowa State Online, the new centralized unit for supporting online education, associate provost for academic programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden told the council.

The restructuring will eliminate college-level staff positions that support online instruction but increase the overall number of online education staff, VanDerZanden said. 

"This is an opportunity to build capacity, and we're confident we'll be able to work with everyone to find an opportunity for them moving forward," she said.

Job descriptions for positions available in the new unit, which will be part of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), were shared in individual meetings with affected college-level staff, VanDerZanden said. The positions will be advertised to internal candidates before opening them up to external applicants. Many position advertisements have already posted and can be viewed by searching "ISU find jobs" in Workday. 

The internal application process, which isn't limited to employees whose positions are being eliminated, may be streamlined so candidates can seek multiple positions without submitting separate applications, VanDerZanden said. The goal is to conduct interviews throughout September and finish hiring in October so training can begin. All CELT staff will be moving to a new space in Howe Hall in late November or early December. The new unit launches Jan. 1.

CELT director Sara Marcketti will continue to lead the unit as assistant provost and executive director of CELT. Susan Arendt, a professor of hospitality management who has been the online learning faculty fellow in the provost's office since January 2020, will serve as the inaugural director of Iowa State Online. Two other leadership roles also have been filled:

  • Lesya Hassall, formerly an instructional technologist for CELT, will be CELT's senior manager of course design and quality.
  • Matthew Carver, formerly the course delivery operations manager for Engineering-LAS Online, will be CELT's senior manager of enterprise instructional technology. 

VanDerZanden said some Iowa State Online staff may be able to continue working with instructors they had assisted in college-level roles. But one of the benefits of a larger unit is having co-workers to share the workload. Some online support staff have no backup in their current roles.

Strategic initiatives approved

Council members approved their strategic initiatives for 2022-23, which are big-picture and often long-term goals for the council to focus on this year. The initiatives, introduced in a first reading at the August meeting, include employee retention efforts, WorkFlex improvements and additional education for P&S staff about how to engage and thrive on campus.