Senators learn about campus safety options

Associate vice president and chief of police Michael Newton spoke to the Faculty Senate about safety on campus amid numerous school shootings across the nation during the March 21 meeting.

Newton said being prepared before an incident is one of the most important things employees and students can do. Mental rehearsals provide an understanding of potential alternatives and planning takes the pressure off decisions that require immediate action, Newton said.

There are several safety trainings available to faculty and staff. They include:

  • Recognizing and Reporting Disruptive Behavior: The focus is on recognizing the warning signs of disruptive and escalating behavior, as well as strategies for mitigating potential acts of violence before a problem becomes unmanageable, including techniques for deescalating an agitated person.
  • Violent Incident Response Training: This training promotes an options-based response and teaches a flexible set of principles that can be adapted to any violent encounter. The emphasis is on Iowa State resources and response options, but the training can aid survival in any location.
  • Office space assessment: This outreach educates faculty and staff about best practices for safety in their workspaces. It combines principles of crime prevention with environmental design and offers options for arranging an office space, adding elements of security and developing a plan for yourself and colleagues.
  • Safety planning: For individuals or groups with an identified safety concern, this process helps identify tools and resources an individual already possesses to keep them safe and additional resources they may need. Safety planning is individualized and addresses emotional, psychological and physical safety risks.

"We work to provide a safe and secure environment for anyone who comes here," Newton said.

Newton also encouraged everyone on campus to download the Iowa State Safe app. It provides safety options and information about safety from across campus.

Call for proposals

Sophia Magill, senior advisor to the president, spoke to senators about a call for proposals for funding consideration under ISU's nine-year strategic plan. Proposals are for fiscal year 2024, beginning July 1.

Proposals will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday, April 28. Faculty and staff members interested in applying for strategic plan funds are encouraged to attend a session on Thursday, March 23 (2-3 p.m., MU Campanile Room) to learn more about the process and get answers to their questions. Magill said a virtual webinar also is being planned to share information.

Magill said all proposals will be considered, including those that center on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Last week, the state Board of Regents announced a pause in implementing new DEI programs.

"We are waiting for further guidance from the state Board of Regents on the review, but at this time we are not making any changes to our current programs or services," she said. "At this time, all proposals that could demonstrate a connection to the strategic plan will be permitted."

Dependent eligibility verification

University human resources director of benefits Ed Holland provided an update on the dependent eligibility verification project for the 4,075 employees who have a dependent on medical, dental or vision plans.

The project begins March 27. Employees have until June 2 to provide the required documents verifying dependents on their insurance. There is no penalty for having ineligible dependents who are removed, but they no longer will be covered beginning Jan. 1, 2024.


Megan Myers (world languages and cultures) and Michael Bootsma (accounting) were elected as senate representatives to the athletics council for three-year terms.

Other business

Senators will vote next month on:

  • Removing duplicate definitions regarding faculty conduct from one of two sections in the Faculty Handbook. This will help avoid conflicting information.
  • Adding language to the Faculty Handbook to ensure tenure and term faculty are eligible for Distinguished, University and Morrill Professorships. Changes to term faculty titles made years ago are not reflected for these honors or ISU's idea of one faculty. All faculty who reach the highest level of advancement could be nominated and the criteria for the titles remain the same.
  • Discontinuing the bachelor of science in biophysics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The meaning has shifted over decades, and the learning objectives align closely with a biochemistry degree with a biophysics specialization. The biophysics program has graduated one student since 2018.