Gardens project, park sale clear regents

Iowa State will sell a small west Ames park to the city and move ahead with plans to redevelop the southwest corner of Reiman Gardens, following state Board of Regents approval on Feb. 23.

The sale price for the four-acre Franklin Park on South Franklin Avenue is $166,000. Iowa State has owned the land since the early 1940s and leased it to the city of Ames since 1960.

The Sycamore Falls project at Reiman Gardens develops 1.25 acres of a hillside as part of the gardens' 20-year master plan. The project features a series of pools on multiple levels with water cascading between them. It also incorporates seven 80-year-old sycamore trees on the east side of the site. Work will begin in April, with final plantings occurring next spring. The $3.4 million budget will be completed with private gifts, including a $1.7 million lead gift from Roy and Bobbi Reiman, for whom the gardens are named.

Retention, graduation rates

The board received an annual report on student retention and graduation rates at the three universities. Iowa State recorded its highest one-year retention rate last fall, 88.1 percent for the fall 2015 freshman class, as well as its highest six-year graduation rate, 74.3 percent for the fall 2010 entering class. By contrast, the six-year graduation rate for the fall 2001 class was 65.6 percent. The lowest one-year retention rate in the last decade was 83.7 percent, for the fall 2007 entering class.

Fall 2015 ISU Freshmen: One-year retention rates



Financial aid received


     Pell grant


     Federal subsidized loan (no Pell)


     Federal unsubsidized loan (no Pell)


Regents Admission Index score*


     245 or higher






     224 or lower


     Unknown score






     American Indian








     Pacific Islander


     Two or more races


Iowa regent universities


Public 4-year colleges (national average)


*Percentage listed for resident students only

Audit: Weapons policy

Iowa State administrators requested a weapons audit last fall, in connection with an audit completed of ISU flight service and university-owned airplanes. Its purpose was to review documents that gave President Steven Leath a waiver to Iowa State's weapons policy regarding storage of weapons at the Knoll and transport of weapons on university planes.

The policy, in place since 2005, prohibits the possession, use, storage or transport of weapons on campus unless a waiver is granted from the office of risk management and approved by the director of ISU police and senior vice president for university services. Police officers and military science students and faculty are authorized to use weapons.

The board's chief audit executive Todd Stewart told members of the regents' audit committee that "what is clear and very important" is that former public safety director Jerry Stewart toured the Knoll before the Leaths moved in to look at the potential for safe storage of weapons, and that director Stewart verbally expressed his satisfaction with safe options to former senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. Transport of weapons was not part of this conversation, chief auditor Stewart said.

At a minimum, Madden gave oral approval to Leath to store weapons at the Knoll, Stewart said. A search of university files as part of the audit failed to produce written proof of a waiver. In January, senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory authored a statement that covers both storage of Leath's weapons at the Knoll and his transport of them on university planes going forward.

The audit contains a single recommendation: A weapons waiver for the university president also should be approved by the board office's executive director.

The full board will take action on the audit report at its April meeting.

Also up for the board's final approval in April is:

  • The athletics department's purchase of a new tennis practice facility for $2.7 million from the Iowa Youth Basketball Foundation (developer Dickson Jensen). A five-year lease agreement the board approved in April 2016 included a purchase option during the life of the lease. Funding sources include operating revenues and existing athletics department funds and a $500,000 naming gift from alumnus and Des Moines attorney Bruce McKee.
  • Parking permit fees for the year that begins July 1. All stalls managed by the parking division would remain unchanged. Permits for the Memorial Union ramp would go up an average of 2.5 percent ($5 to $12 increases), as proposed. The illegal exit fee at the ramp would go up a proposed $20, to $120.
  • Student housing and dining fees for next year. The residence department proposes to raise residence hall and apartment rates about 3 percent (in whole dollar amounts), with the exception of Schilletter and University Village apartments, where the proposed increase is 2 percent. Assistant vice president for student affairs Pete Englin told board members that Iowa State's entry into a prime food vendor contract with the other two regent universities last year already has saved the university about $350,000 in food costs. As a result, proposed meal plan increases are less than 1 percent. Meal blocks and guest rates in the dining centers would go up about 3 percent, as proposed.
  • Eliminate the Community College Policy Center in the School of Education and the interdisciplinary Information Infrastructure Institute.

Bond sale

The board approved the sale of $8.295 million of dormitory revenue refunding bonds to advance refund the 2018-28 maturities on $13.4 million in bonds sold in 2007 to partially cover costs of renovating the Oak-Elm and Maple Willow Larch dining centers. Lower interest rates will save the university an estimated $615,000.