On the rise: Student numbers in campus housing

Following pandemic years when the number of students living on campus dipped below 9,000, residence department leaders anticipate residence hall and apartment students will climb above 10,000 again in the next two years. The state Board of Regents received five-year residence plans, including proposed room and meal plan rates for next year, during its meeting Wednesday in Urbandale.

ISU's five-year plan projects occupancy gradually will increase from 9,946 students this fall (2023) to 10,391 in fall 2027. These projections include direct-from-high-school and transfer students who opt to live on campus and efforts to retain students already in campus housing. With the reopening of the second "Towers" building, Wilson Hall, as all single rooms to help meet demand, the department's capacity this fall rises to 10,319 beds.

The residence department proposes a 2.9% increase to most of its hall and apartment rates next year, no increases to its "dining dollar" packages, and a 5% increase to its 25- and 50-meal plans and academic year plans. On average, a room-meal package would go up 3.9%. For example, a nonair-conditioned double room with unlimited dining center meals would go up about $369, to $9,726.

The "door" price guests would pay in the campus dining centers also would go up about 5% as proposed, to $15 for lunch and dinner, to $11.65 for breakfast. The board will review housing and dining rate increase requests again at its April meeting.

Parking rates for next year

The regents received proposed campus parking increases this month, for final approval at the April meeting. Iowa State is proposing a 3% increase to campus parking permits and a 25-cent hourly increase (to $1.50) for metered stalls and lots for the fiscal year that begins July 1.


Proposed permit increases: ISU lots

Permit type

Proposed FY24


24-hour reserved






General staff*









Motorcycle, employee



Parking meters, metered lots



*Includes residence and Ames Lab staffs


If approved, the parking division would increase the penalty for three parking violations by $5 each: overtime on parking meters (to $20), failure to purchase a parking receipt (to $20) and improper parking (to $30). The last violation excludes improperly using a space designated for people with disabilities, for which the fine remains $200.

Memorial Union staff manage the building's parking ramp. As proposed, permits generally would go up $20-$50. Hourly rates won't change next year at the MU ramp.


Proposed parking increases: Memorial Union ramp

Permit type

Proposed FY24


Annual, MU employee



Fall or spring



Winter (Nov-Feb)








Efficiency in state government

Responding to Gov. Kim Reynolds' proposal to restructure state government, board president Michael Richards specifically addressed two resources currently under the regents' umbrella Reynolds would move to the state Department of Education: the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council at the University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Council Bluffs, which serve a K-12 audience.

"UNI has done an amazing job building this capacity for the state of Iowa," Richards said of the council. He added he hopes the proposed change "would expand STEM programming for young people and communities."

On governance of the two specialty resources, Richards said "The DOE already oversees K-12 education statewide, including those with disabilities, and has the expertise and background to add oversight of the two," he said. "This alignment makes sense and will serve our students well."

ISU items

During the board's academic affairs committee meeting, chairman Jim Lindenmayer read a resolution thanking executive director of student financial aid Roberta Johnson for her decades of service to Iowa State and its students. Johnson will retire July 5.

"Thank you so much. It has been my honor and privilege," responded Johnson.

In other business, Iowa State received permission to:

  • Begin planning for an estimated $10 million-$12 million in renovations to the lower two floors of the Iowa State Center's Scheman Building that would upgrade interior finishes, lighting and wayfinding in the entrance lobby, restrooms, event and circulation spaces.  As proposed, the project also would upgrade food service areas and convert Benton auditorium to an open, flexible event space. The design process would include an evaluation of the center's exterior elevated walkway network. If repairs are required and funding permits, those would be a final piece of the project.
  • Offer a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering starting this fall through the chemical and biological engineering department with collaboration from four others. It will have three emphasis areas: biomaterials, biomechanics and bioinstrumentation. Biomedical engineering is the sixth most popular engineering degree in the country, and its addition strengthens the College of Engineering, meets a high workforce demand (as demonstrated by 11 letters of support received from small and large companies) and offers another ISU pathway to medical school. Iowa State has offered a minor in biomedical engineering since 2009.
  • Award honorary degrees at May commencement events. The first is a Doctor of Humane Letters to Trudy Huskamp Peterson, 1967 alumna and first woman archivist of the United States, for her advocacy for maintaining and preserving archives that involve human rights around the world and her commitment to sharing as much of the nation's heritage as possible. The second is a Doctor of Science to Temple Grandin, distinguished professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, animal welfare pioneer and activist for people with autism, for an outstanding career in humane animal handling, animal welfare and related facilities design, and using her experience living with autism to influence her understanding of animal behavior.
  • Reset its group of 10 peer institutions, used most frequently in reports to the board. Three of the current 10 remain: Michigan State, North Carolina State and Purdue universities. Seven universities were added, land-grants with Carnegie Research I classification whose missions and goals align more closely with Iowa State: Colorado State University, Fort Collins; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Oklahoma State University, Stillwater; Oregon State University, Corvallis; University of Missouri, Columbia; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg.
  • Close two centers: Plant Genomics Center and Plant Transformation Center, effective May 31. Remaining relevant research activity has been integrated into the Plant Sciences Institute.