Optimistic Leath outlines plans

President Leath at the podium

President Steven Leath delivered his annual address Sept. 13 in the Memorial Union Great Hall. Photo by Bob Elbert.

President Steven Leath is optimistic about funding, support and the future of research at Iowa State. Over the coming year, he plans to hire more faculty, raise the university's national profile, improve the student experience and further promote economic development in the state.

Following are some of the president's comments during his Sept. 13 speech:

Faculty and staff deliver on the promise

A big congratulations, really, to everyone on this campus, for efforts to deliver on the Iowa State promise of providing high-quality education, research and service to Iowa. It's being noticed by the regents, the governor, the Legislature, and by students and their parents who are sending their kids here. The value you folks are delivering to our students, and in serving our stakeholders around the state, has been tremendous.

Hiring more faculty

At my installation, I announced that we were going to try to hire at least 200 high-quality faculty in a relatively short time. I commend the provost and the deans for working hard on this. We added 80 new faculty members before this fall, and 60 more this fall -- 140 -- so we're well on our way to reaching this goal. I'm not sure this is a static goal; we may have to change this goal as we go forward. This is going to enable us to continue to deliver the high-quality instruction we want to deliver, keep our student-faculty ratios right and expand some of our research and economic development efforts in critical areas.

Raising the profile of Iowa State

The President's Committee on Enhancing Institutional Excellence provided me with recommendations that will ensure we maintain our presence as a national leader in higher education and grow that presence. It will be available on the president's homepage soon. The plan focuses on first, growing our research and development footprint; and second, increasing national awareness and recognition of our great faculty here at Iowa State; growing our graduate programs; and making very specific, targeted, but impressive investments in the humanities disciplines.

Increasing the value of graduates' degrees

Everybody in this room ought to be focusing on our graduates' degrees being worth more every year. We've really got to focus on this total educational experience. Our students are successful because they get a treasure-trove of on-the-job type experiences here. However, we have challenges, with this many students, in keeping this experience the way we want it.

The Student Experience Enhancement Council has provided recommendations pertaining to a broad array of student-centered activities, such as study abroad opportunities, leadership development, intramural activities, campus housing, dining, safety and CyRide. You'll see an investment of resources (time and money) in advising, supplemental instruction, internship support, learning community support, classroom facilities, educational technology improvements and many others.

How much larger can we get?

In a Q&A session after his address, Leath was asked how much larger Iowa State can get without diminishing the services it currently offers to students. 

"That's probably the single most important philosophical question I have in front of me right now," he said. "We have worked hard on that. And we don't have an exact answer.

"The best examples come from China where they are growing higher education quickly. They did a number of calculations and they determined if you've got 40,000 students, you're better off to build another campus than to grow the one you have."

Leath added there are examples of great universities, such as Ohio State, Minnesota and Arizona State, that have more than 40,000 students and seem to be flourishing.

But those universities probably don't the offer "the cultural experience, the brand experience that we do," he added.

Iowa State is responding in the short-term to keep its quality, keep those experiences -- the learning communities, the university housing, the faculty-student ratios -- in place, he said.

"How big can we get and what do we need?" Leath asked. "We value everyone's opinion on this. This is a campus community decision and it affects our town and gown relationships, too."

The future of research

I'm very optimistic about the future of research. People were scared this year, rightfully so, about sequestration, the federal budget and the federal research budgets. Iowa State, like many universities, took some hits there. And while our faculty and staff were hindered some by that, I'm really excited with how they responded.

The intent to grow our graduate student body, grow our research efforts and better serve Iowa was not lost because of one blip in the federal year. In fact, the faculty rose up, they recalibrated and they retooled. Private sector support of research at Iowa State was up over 13 percent in one year. I was really excited to see that. It's that kind of get-it-done, roll-up-your-sleeves, no-excuses attitude that's going to keep pushing us forward.

Now, it's still early in FY14, but our numbers on the federal side look like they're coming up. I'm a glass half-full guy, so when you hear these things about the federal budget, you hear about the difficult times. There are going to be great universities that emerge from this stronger, and I am confident we're going to be one of them.

Extension and engagement

I'm very impressed with Iowa State's ability to engage our farmers, revitalize rural communities, help youth through 4-H, and the tremendous efforts to help our manufacturing and business sector. I want to make it clear: Extension and engagement are huge parts of this university. You've got a president who started his career in extension engagement, who appreciates it, appreciates what Cathann Kress' team is doing and we're going to keep pushing those efforts forward.

Economic development

Helping Iowa State have a tangible, serious, important role in promoting economic development in the state is the right thing to do. It's going to grow this state in the future and ensure our success. Today, we're creating a modern workforce, producing innovation and applying and sharing knowledge through our small business development centers, CIRAS, IPRT and other units. Bottom line, our efforts in these areas in economic development are essential to the long-term economic success of the state. I'm looking to Mike Crum to lead this effort. He's going to elevate this mission and move it forward.

We're fortunate that we've received $12 million from the state to build a central core facility at the research park for our economic development efforts. You're not only going to see it pay off in economic development and in how we engage our partners throughout Iowa and beyond, but you're also going to see a park that can grow from the 1,200 employees it has now, to a 5,000-employee, robust economic center for central Iowa. I think this is a real game changer for central Iowa, a game changer for the university.

Diversity initiatives

We have a comprehensive university diversity report coming to us in the next couple of weeks. We contracted with Jackson Consulting firm to examine the university's strengths and weaknesses with respect to diversity, and then create a roadmap of how we can go forward. We have resources set aside to push forward in this area, and I think we can be a university that people look to and say, "How did Iowa State achieve that?"


White reappointed as dean of Human Sciences

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert has reappointed Pam White, dean of the College of Human Sciences, to a second five-year term.

During her first term, White led the college through several years of shrinking budgets and the transition to a new budgeting system, amid significant enrollment growth. She also formed the School of Education and helped increase private gifts to the college.

"Pam has a done a great job in her first term as dean," Wickert said. "She is very well respected both inside and outside the College of Human Sciences, is an excellent communicator and cares deeply about the college's students, faculty and staff."

White served as interim dean of the former College of Family and Consumer Sciences for two years before its merger with the College of Education in 2005, and then served as interim dean of the new College of Human Sciences on two occasions before being named permanent dean in 2009.

"Serving as dean of the College of Human Sciences has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career," White said. "I look forward to continuing my work with faculty and staff to further build the School of Education, grow sponsored funding and enhance the college's undergraduate and graduate programs."

Review of the dean

Wickert expressed thanks to the college's committee to review the dean, which managed the comprehensive review process. The committee was chaired by Ann Marie Fiore, professor of apparel, events and hospitality management. Additional members were:

  • David Acker, associate dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Agriculture Experiment Station
  • Warren Franke, professor, kinesiology
  • Suzanne Hendrich, University Professor, food science and human nutrition
  • Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair, food science and human nutrition
  • Jennifer Margrett, associate professor, human development and family studies
  • Daniel Robinson, University Professor, School of Education

Wickert also noted his appreciation to Human Sciences faculty and staff who took part in the review process, whether through an electronic survey, an open forum or insight shared with a member of the review committee.

White, a University Professor of food science and human nutrition, earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a doctorate in food technology from Iowa State. She joined the faculty in 1975.

CELT website offers teaching help at your fingertips

If you've visited the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) website lately, you know there are lots of tips and articles to help faculty and graduate students take their teaching skills to the next level.

Too busy teaching to wade through the plethora of information? Never fear. The CELT staff compiled three "top five" lists to give faculty a glimpse of CELT's most popular offerings.

Check out these links, and then take some time to browse the rest of the CELT website to see what else it offers.

Five most popular CELT web pages

  1. Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement
  2. A Model of Learning Objectives: Based on "A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Education Objectives"
  3. Techniques for Creative Teaching
  4. Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
  5. International Community Resources: Cultural Differences

Five most popular CELT videos

  1. "Modeling Effective Teaching Techniques" (7:32)
  2. "Welcoming Students on the First Day of Class" (5:39)
  3. "Managing a Discussion in a Large Class" (6:46)
  4. "Implementing Interactive Activities in a Large Class to Build Community" (6:15)
  5. "Clarifying Classroom Procedures in an Introductory Large Class" (4:29)

Five more web pages the CELT staff recommends

  1. eLearning at Iowa State
  2. CELT Programming
  3. Pedagogical Strategies for Working with Clickers
  4. The Research-based Flipped Classroom: Team-based Learning
  5. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

New anti-spam tactic coming to your mailbox

Information technology services (ITS) will fire its latest volley in the war against spam Oct. 16. That's when a new ISU spam rule automatically will be applied to virtually all faculty and staff email Exchange (Outlook) accounts. The rule is intended to reduce the spam email coming into your inbox. However, you can opt out of the spam measure before it takes effect.

Once the ISU rule has been applied to your account, it will work like this:

  • An email sent to your university address arrives on the campus network.
  • The university spam-tagging system examines the mail for spam-like characteristics and assigns a score. A score of 50, for example, means the email has a 50 percent chance of being spam.
  • If the email score is 59 percent or less, the mail proceeds to your inbox.
  • If the email score is 60 percent or greater, it's diverted to your "junk" email folder, where it will remain for 30 days, unless you remove it earlier. ITS staff recommend you give the "junk" folder a quick scan occasionally to ensure no legitimate email got overlooked.
  • Next, the email will be moved to the "deleted items" folder for another 30 days.
  • After that, the email disappears from your mail folders. However, it can be recovered (with ITS help) for another 30 days before it completely disappears.

Got your own rules?

If you've already created your own spam rules and those rules are active (checked), your rules will continue to work when the ISU spam rule is installed Oct. 16. If your rules are inactive (unchecked), they'll go away when the ISU rule is installed.

Opting out of the new rule

To opt out of the ISU spam rule, send a note by Oct. 9 to exchangeadmins@iastate.edu. Another option is to let the rule take effect and give it a try. You can always disable or modify it later.

More info

Details on managing the ISU spam rule or creating your own are available on ITS "Manage Spam (Exchange)" site.

Council to weigh in on P&S policy changes

A response to proposed changes to four personnel policies was introduced at the Professional and Scientific Council's Sept. 12 meeting. The draft changes -- including one replacement policy and proposed revisions to three others -- are part of policies that apply to P&S staff. The proposed changes are available for public review and comment in the policy library through Sept. 30.

The four policies are:

  • Workforce reorganization: Guidelines for position eliminations, realignments or allocations due to unit restructuring (replaces the "Dismissal, Reorganization or Financial Conditions" policy)
  • Summary dismissal: Procedures for termination, including reviews and appeals
  • Reclassification: Guidelines for classification review and reclassification processes
  • Dispute resolution: Steps for formal and informal dispute resolutions

"From a P&S Council perspective, we are recommending some different terminology, updates and clarifications to what's out there now," said Kris Koerner, chair of the policies and procedures committee, which drafted the council's response.

Council members will vote on the committee's recommendations -- primarily for the dispute resolution (PDF) and workforce reorganization (PDF) policies -- at the Oct. 3 meeting.

Other business

  • Makenzie Heddens (program assistant, president's office) and Lynn Bagley (program assistant, Veterinary Medicine) were approved as replacement representatives for the president's office and academic affairs division, respectively.
  • Council members closed their meeting working in six small groups on council priorities.

Fall career fair slate opens next week

Here's the lineup of fall career and internship fairs on campus:

Happy birthday to you, MU


The Memorial Union is celebrating its 85th birthday, and you're invited to the family-friendly birthday bash. Come to the MU Sun Room from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, for free chili, cheese soup and birthday cake. Additional events will be planned throughout the year.

The MU opened in 1928 (pictured in photo) as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I. Since then, 11 additions have gone up on all sides of the original structure. The most recent, on the south side, opened in 2008. Submitted photo. 

One-day carillon festival is Saturday

Geert D'hollander, a Belgium-trained carillonneur who assumed the carillon duties at the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Fla., last fall, will be the guest teacher and performer at the music department's carillon festival on Saturday, Sept. 21.

The day includes classes and several concerts, including the premiere of the winning composition in a carillon composition competition for musicians who are 35 years old or younger. Submissions were due in mid-August and evaluated by the team of D'hollander, Iowa State carillonneur Tin-shi Tam and ISU music professor emeritus Jeffrey Prater.

D'hollander, who teaches carillon composition at the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium, and has won numerous international composition competitions, will present a one-hour talk on writing music for the carillon. He also will conduct an hour-long master class at the campanile.

D'hollander's guest concert will begin at 2 p.m. on central campus. At the conclusion, the campanile will be open for tours for approximately an hour.

All festival events are free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to central campus for the afternoon concerts. Events also will be webcast live.

Schedule: Carillon festival

Saturday, Sept. 21

10-11 a.m.

Master class, with guest carillonneur Geert D'hollander, ISU campanile playing cabin

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Class: Writing music for the carillon, D'hollander, 140 Music Hall

1:30 p.m.

Performance: Winning submission in the 2013 carillon composition competition, central campus

2-2:45 p.m.

Recital, D'hollander, central campus

3-4 p.m.

Campanile tours