We love puddles


When the alternative is ice underfoot or an icy west wind in your face, who wouldn't opt for sidewalk puddles? Students navigate around the central campus pools on a day that reminds us that winter is more than half gone. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Regents approve ISU property purchases

Iowa State received permission Wednesday from the state Board of Regents to purchase two pieces of property, one residential and one commercial, for a total of about $1.1 million.

The first property, on State Avenue south of U.S. Highway 30, is the former ISU Press complex and was owned by book publisher John Wiley and Sons. It includes 3.75 acres of land, an office building and a warehouse. The university or one of its affiliates owns all of the land surrounding this site.

The office building is the proposed new home of the ISU Research Foundation, currently housed in the Lab of Mechanics. Central Stores, which has been leasing the warehouse, will add it to its general storage inventory. Due to growing student enrollment, the residence and dining departments will store furnishings and equipment there for the forseeable future.

The purchase price, $950,000, was covered with funds from Central Stores operations and facilities overhead use funds.

The other property is a three-unit apartment building at 250 Hyland Ave., west of Howe Hall. Acquiring real estate in the 200 block of Hyland, when it becomes available, is part of the university's master plan for possible campus expansion to accommodate growth in the colleges of Engineering and Design.

Vice president for business and finance Warren Madden told the board the building is in reasonable shape and that the College of Design might use it for studio space initially.

Funds ($148,000) for this purchase also came from facilities overhead use funds.

Assuring transparency

The board approved the makeup of a task force that will review the regent enterprise's compliance with Iowa's "sunshine" law regarding public access to government meetings and records. The review will encompass all five regent institutions and the board office in Des Moines.

Regent Bruce Rastetter said the review is about openness and transparency in how regent units go about their work. He said it's intended to "bolster the trust of Iowans" in their regent schools.

The nine members of the task force will represent: the new Iowa Public Information Board (established last spring by Gov. Terry Branstad), Iowa House, Iowa Senate and each regent university (3). It also will include a member of the public, the executive director of the board and one regent who will serve as chair. The task force's first report is due at the board's June meeting.

Deferred compensation for Leath

Following a semi-annual performance evaluation of president Steven Leath on Jan. 29, the board on Wednesday approved a $25,000 increase to Leath's annual deferred compensation, to $100,000, retroactive to Leath's one-year employment anniversary on Jan. 16.

Annual affirmative action report

Last month, as required by state law, the board submitted to the Legislature an annual affirmative action report (regarding employment) for each of the regent institutions. The chart below summarizes some of Iowa State's data in the report.

ISU employees: September 2012

Primary occupation Total Female Minority
Executive/Admin/Managerial 376 153
Faculty: Tenure track 1225 381
Faculty: Non-tenure track 565 320
P&S 2113 1069
Secretarial/Clerical 892 796
Technical 132 88
Skilled crafts 271 13
Service/maintenance 578 282
Total 6152 3102

Employee group: Fulltime and part-time employees working 50 percent or more

ISU continues to save costs during partial shutdown, semester break

A longer break period and more campus participation resulted in greater energy and cost savings during this year's partial shutdown (Dec. 22-Jan. 1) and the student winter break (Dec. 15-Jan. 13).

Electricity savings during the partial shutdown was $25,898; steam (heat) savings was $37,088. During the entire semester break, Iowa State saved $133,257 in electricity and $50,727 in steam. These numbers are similar to previous years, though this year's overall savings ($183,984) during the student break was higher since the break period was seven days longer than the past few years.

Bob Currie, director of facilities services in facilities planning and management, also attributes the increased savings to greater participation. During this year's partial shutdown, 51 buildings were closed and 22 requested temperature setbacks to 65 degrees. That amounted to more than 57 percent of general university space, not including athletics, residence halls, Memorial Union, ISU Research Park, and research and teaching farms.

"Building coordinators and supervisors did an outstanding job assisting with implementation of this year's energy-saving efforts," Currie said. "Overall, I am pleased with the level of participation. Our campus really understands the impact they can have on the bottom line."


Savings during partial shutdown*





Days in shutdown








Steam (heat)








*FY12 numbers are unavailable


Savings during student break*








Days in break








Steam (heat)








*FY12 numbers are unavailable

Welcome, Robinette Kelley


Robinette Kelley joined Iowa State Feb. 4 as the university's director of equal opportunity. Her responsibilities include leading and managing Iowa State's equal opportunity and affirmative action programs, ensuring university compliance with laws and regulations, and investigating and resolving complaints.

Kelley comes to Iowa State from The State University of New York, Buffalo, where she served as assistant director in the equity, diversity and inclusion office. Prior to that, she served in the SUNY Buffalo employee relations office, investigating complaints and labor/management issues.

Kelley's office is in 3350 Beardshear. She can be reached at 4-0143 or rkelley@iastate.edu

Brag points are fodder for renewed grassroots effort

The new year brought new life to a network of people interested in spreading the word about Iowa State's impact on Iowans. The Alliance for Iowa State, a coalition formerly coordinated out of the alumni association, is being managed from Beardshear Hall by state relations officer Joe Murphy and special projects assistant Makenzie Heddens.

Alliance for Iowa State

"The intent is to broaden our outreach capabilities throughout the state," Murphy said. "We have so many great things happening on this campus, and we want to spread that message far and wide throughout the state to people who may not be connected to Iowa State."

As part of the relaunch, a new website, Twitter account and Facebook page were created. Weekly updates highlighting colleges and programs also are emailed to state legislators and subscribers.

"I think it's important, as a public institution, that we're reaching all 99 counties and we're making people aware of the things that we're doing," Murphy said. "You're seeing more transparency and more effort put into helping Iowans succeed."

Faculty, staff involvement

The website gives individuals the opportunity to tell organizers what is important to them, and to submit their own "stories" that illustrate how ISU impacts their lives. Murphy said faculty and staff are invited to contact his office about what they are doing -- research, advising, projects and more -- that impact the state in a positive way.

"It doesn't have to be something extraordinary," Heddens said. "It can be something that we may take for granted and don't think about, that people across the state may not be aware of."

In its first three weeks, about 1,505 people have signed up for the weekly email. The frequency of alliance communications likely will decrease once the legislative session is over, but Murphy predicts it will not cease.

"The coalition-building intracampus could be really, really great," Murphy said. "The awareness of what we're all doing on campus will lead to a cohesive university, and a university that's going to be strong and growing for many years."

Building a better look

Hilton Coliseum screen wall

Construction is under way on a screen wall feature along University Boulevard, east of Hilton Coliseum. The project will provide a permanent concrete pad for a trash compactor and screen the building's entire service area for a more aesthetic look that complements the campus entry point.

The wall, built of concrete to resemble the look of Hilton's facade, will be 9 feet tall and extend 140 feet along the road. A perpendicular, 20-foot wall will anchor the south end. Work on the structure should be complete in February. Landscaping, which will include trees, shrubs, grasses and vines, likely will be delayed until 2014 due to drought conditions. The project, budgeted at $145,660, is being paid for with athletics department and facilities overhead funds. Contributed art.

Sustainability symposium is this month

The national reporter who literally wrote the book on water; leaders from sustainability-conscious Iowa-based companies; and students, faculty and staff involved in all kinds of green research and activities will tell their stories during the Feb. 25-26 Symposium on Sustainability.

"At the symposium, we'll see what our colleagues and students are doing to make this university more sustainable," said Merry Rankin, director of sustainability. "And we'll come away with some ideas on how we can continue to build a greener Iowa State."

Logo: Working toward sustainability

The university community is invited to attend all or part of the symposium, Monday evening (5-9 p.m.) and Tuesday (8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). All events are free, but participants are asked to complete an online registration form by 5 p.m. Feb. 22 to help planners provide adequate event materials and refreshments.

Following are some symposium highlights. All events are in the Memorial Union. More details and a full schedule are available on the symposium website.

The future of water

Feb. 25, 8 p.m., Great Hall

Charles Fishman knows a lot about water. In his book, "The Big Thirst," he points out that our tap water is 4 billion years old, that "molecular water" is fused into rock hundreds of miles inside earth and that the golden age of free, safe water is over. Still, he concludes that if we're smart, we needn't have a global water crisis. The former Washington Post reporter will kick off the symposium with a talk on "The Future of Water."

How to be fashionably, nutritionally, pristinely sustainable

Feb. 25, 5:15-7 p.m., Sun Room

At four stations, campus and community experts will offer sustainable tips for everyday living. The experts will discuss:

-- urban gardening, sometimes known as container gardening

-- slow fashion, which calls for skipping short-lived fads for classic, long-lasting clothes

-- reading food labels, which helps you make food choices that sustain your body

-- green cleaning, which can range from making your own supplies to buying more sustainable products

Post your green deeds, get a prize

Feb. 25, 5:15-7 p.m., Sun Room

Those who write and post their "Live Green!" contributions and commitments on a special wall will receive a sustainable gift in return.

Poster sessions

Feb. 25, 5:15-8 p.m. and Feb. 26, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., South Ballroom

Faculty, staff and students will show their sustainability initiatives and research projects in poster presentations. The deadline for submitting a poster idea is Feb. 15.

Corporate leaders commit

Feb. 26, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Great Hall

Leaders from four Iowa-based companies -- Kum and Go, Becker Underwood, Hy-Vee and WebFilings -- will discuss their corporate commitment to sustainability.

Energy innovations start here

Feb. 26, 10-11 a.m., Great Hall

Robert Brown, Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering and director of the Bioeconomy Institute and Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, will discuss Iowa's cutting-edge research in sustainable energy innovations. Jeff Witt, director of utilities services in facilities planning and management, will give an update on green projects around campus. Grad student David Correll will discuss the ISU BioBus project, in which students turn used vegetable oil into biofuel that helps power a CyRide bus.

Classroom, lab experiences

Feb. 26, 11 a.m.-noon, Great Hall

ISU instructors will talk about sustainability experiences under way for students. On the panel are Cinzia Cervato, professor, geological and atmospheric sciences; Arne Hallam, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of economics; Tom Neppl, lecturer in landscape architecture; and Mary Harris, assistant professor in natural resource ecology and management.

Awards program

Feb. 26, noon-12:30 p.m., Great Hall

Live Green Awards for Excellence in Sustainability will be awarded to individuals and groups who have made an impact on campus sustainability efforts. Nomination forms and supporting materials are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 12.

Orchid festival is this weekend


This cattleya orchid is of the genus Brassavola. Submitted image.

Reiman Gardens' 4th annual Orchid Fest 
will be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10 (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily).

Many varieties of orchids will be on display and for sale, and members of the Central Iowa Orchid Society will staff a question and answer booth. In addition, these free classes will be offered:

  • "Orchid Care 101," with local orchid grower Tom Hillson, 10 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday
  • "Iowa Orchids," with orchid society member Carson Whitlow of Adel, 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Registration for the classes is free and encouraged; register online or by calling 294-2710.

Orchid Fest is free for Reiman Gardens members and ISU students with ID; others pay regular gardens admission.