Five questions for a Cyclone aide

Sammi Roelfs

Cyclone aide adviser Sammi Roelfs. Photo by Bob Elbert.

It's June. Iowa State's in bloom. Is there a better summer job than giving campus tours to soon-to-be students and their families? Junior Sammi Roelfs agrees the summer post of Cyclone aide is a sweet setup. However, there's a bit more to the job than showing off a lovely campus and explaining the Memorial Union zodiac's role in test-taking.

And Roelfs is just the one to fill in such details. Last year she was among 36 students chosen for a coveted one-year stint as Cyclone aide. This year, she's back as a Cyclone aide adviser, a post that involves training, overseeing and mentoring the new aides and hosting special sessions for campus visitors.

The basics

Name: Samantha Roelfs
Position: Cyclone aide adviser, New Student Programs
Status: Junior, elementary education
Hometown: Ackley

What do Cyclone aides do?

I'm glad you asked because a common misconception is that we just do tours. Our main work occurs in June during summer orientation, a two-day program for new incoming freshmen and their families. During orientation, we help with visitor check-in, registration and parking. We host bus stops -- a lot of our guests use CyRide and we're there to help them read the schedule and make sure they get where they're going. We host sessions put on by other campus programs. We help with Cy's Sibs, a program for sixth through eighth grade siblings of students attending orientation.

We all live in Maple Hall during June because orientation students, families and guests stay there and we can act as community advisers to them. We eat dinner with the families every night and serve on panels for families and students. Evenings, we host activities at the Lied Recreation Center. So we have a variety of duties that make for a pretty busy day. Typically, we start around 7 or 7:30 a.m. and put in about a 10-1/2-hour day. But we do get breaks throughout the day to relax and rejuvenate, because everyone has night shifts.

What are some common questions that you get?

Student questions revolve quite a bit around classes, like what classes are hard? A common question we get is, "What is the easiest major?" That one is hard to address. My best answer is the easiest major is going to be whatever you're interested in because that's what you're going to enjoy learning and be passionate about.

Parents' questions sort of revolve around physiological needs. Where is my student going to sleep? Where are they going to eat? They ask a lot about DiningDollars vs. CyCash and about meal plans. There are a lot of different options. They want to know what's best for their students.

In your experience, is there a most popular stop on campus tours?

Probably the first stop right there in front of the Memorial Union. At that stop, we share a lot of the history of Iowa State, like the history of the Memorial Union and the campanile. They're just really taken aback by the rich history and traditions, like those surrounding the zodiac and the campanile.

Summer orientation

This two-day program brings incoming freshmen and their families to campus to plan their academic programs, register for classes and learn about Iowa State. It's run out of the New Student Programs office.

Do students at orientation generally seem to be embarrassed to be hanging out with their parents?

I would say, generally, no. In my experience, it's a really transitional and supportive time for both the student and the family member, so they're not usually too embarrassed.

Is it hard to become a Cyclone aide?

Yes, it's a pretty honorable position. We usually have over 200 applicants for 36 spots. Those who are selected go through 100 hours of training that includes a leadership class during spring semester. We have so much information to learn, scripts to memorize and tour training and practice. Then, right before orientation starts, we have what's called our intensive training week. During that time, we do last-minute presentations, give a few tours, and just get everything polished. For that week, we're kind of going all day, every day.


Suski named admissions director

Katharine Johnson Suski, director of admissions at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, has been named director of admissions. She begins her new post at Iowa State on July 8.

Katharine Suski


Prior to leading SIU’s admissions office, Suski worked in several other enrollment management roles there: admissions coordinator, campus visit coordinator, associate director of recruitment and interim director of undergraduate admissions. She earned a bachelor’s degree in radio and television (1998) and a Master of Public Administration degree (2004), both from SIU.

"We are very pleased that Katharine has agreed to join us as Iowa State’s next director of admissions,” said associate vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon. “I look forward to working with her in this key role at the university. I’m confident her admissions experience at a major public institution, along with her strong leadership skills and creativity, will further strengthen our very talented admissions team.”

Suski will provide data-driven strategic planning and direction in the office of admissions, including recruitment, selection, processing, orientation and enrollment of new undergraduate students and the processing of graduate applicants.

Harmon expressed his appreciation to longtime enrollment services staff member Darin Wohlgemuth, who has served as interim admissions director since July 2012.

“I thank Darin for his leadership and guidance during a period of record growth. He has contributed greatly to our strategic enrollment initiatives and the adventure students begin when they choose Iowa State,” Harmon said.

Suski succeeds Marc Harding, who resigned in 2012 to become chief enrollment officer at the University of Pittsburgh.

Editor's note on pronunciation of Suski: rhymes with husky

Marston tenants are starting to move

For the second time in seven years, the university will empty an academic building to complete a major renovation. The last employees are scheduled to move out of the College of Engineering's Marston Hall the first week in August, and interior demolition could begin by the middle of that month.

Snedecor Hall, home to the statistics department, emptied in December 2007 and reopened in May 2009. It was the university's most recent major renovation of an entire building.

In February, the state Board of Regents gave the final green light to a $24.1 million renovation of Marston. The cost will be split between university funds ($15.9 million) and private gifts ($8.2 million). Marston was completed in 1903. In the new Marston Hall, the two lower floors will be reserved for high-traffic uses such as classrooms, student services and a welcome center for visitors, prospective students and their families. The college's administrative units, including the dean's office, will move to the upper two floors.

Most Marston tenants are moving to the Memorial Union or to spaces created this month either by the opening of Sukup and Elings halls for the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, or the ISU Research Foundation's move from Lab of Mechanics to the State Avenue office building.

Project manager Kerry Dixon estimates that employees will move back to Marston during spring semester 2016. Employees will take their current phone numbers to their new locations.

Who's moving where

To assure smooth operation during the graduation and freshman orientation seasons, the college's student services staff moved in April to a second floor suite in Howe Hall previously used by the Center for Industrial Research and Service. The moves will resume next week and continue into early August.

Dixon said the construction fence will go up around Marston Hall on Aug. 11 and extend west to the water tower.

Where you'll find them

College unit

New location

Timing of relocation

Student services

2620 Howe


International programs

2620 Howe


Engineering Research Institute

391 Durham Center

June 11

Technical support

337-339 Durham Center

June 12

K-12 Outreach programs

201 Industrial Ed II

Week of
June 23*

Mechanical engineering graduate students

Lab of Mechanics 3rd floor,
Elings Hall, Black Engineering

Week of
July 8


ISU Foundation building
on University Blvd.

July 10-11

Student organizations (shared space)

109 Lab of Mechanics

July 11

     -- Society of Women

3163 Gilman


College relations

Lab of Mechanics 2nd floor

July 11

Career services

Memorial Union 4th floor**

Week of
Aug. 4

     -- Interview suites

114 Industrial Ed II


Dean's office

Memorial Union 4th floor**

Week of
Aug. 4

*Depends on occupancy schedule for Sukup and Elings halls
**Hotel Memorial Union's first floor of rooms

Caught in the act of safety

Eric Weber

Eric Weber, associate professor of mathematics, won a gift card when he was "caught in the act" of safety -- using a bike helmet and designated bike lanes on campus -- by the EH&S safety team on Tuesday. Contributed photo.

June is National Safety Month and Environmental Health and Safety staff members are taking the celebration across campus. An EH&S safety team is roaming campus all month, looking for daily examples of safe behavior in the workplace. Faculty, staff and students "caught in the act" of safety will win prizes, such as ISU Dining gift cards.

Even if you don't get caught, individuals can participate in a "Safety Selfie" scavenger hunt by submitting five shots (from a list of eight qualifying possibilities) via Facebook, Twitter (#NSM14) or email. Five scavenger hunt winners will be selected daily, June 9-13.

Each week, EH&S will focus its messaging on specific safety issues:

  • June 2: Prescription drug abuse
  • June 9: Slips, trips and falls
  • June 16: Awareness of surroundings
  • June 23: Distracted driving
  • June 30: Summer safety

EH&S will post updates, information and winners on its website and Facebook and Twitter (@IowaStateUEHS) accounts.

Regents endorse new state funding formula

On an 8-1 vote, the State Board of Regents on Wednesday accepted a task force recommendation to change how the state's general university appropriation is allocated among the three regent universities.

Beginning on July 1, 2015, 65 percent of the appropriation – which totaled about $479 million this year – will be allocated according to enrollment. The remaining 35 percent will be tied to performance outcomes. Over its three-year implementation period, the change will transfer millions of state dollars from the University of Iowa to Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.

Regent Robert Downer of Iowa City cast the lone dissenting vote, saying the funding formula doesn't adequately recognize high program costs, particularly in the health sciences programs, nearly all of which are at the University of Iowa.

Downer said that tuition for the expensive programs "can't be raised indefinitely, particularly if we want those graduates to remain in Iowa to work." He said high student debt at graduation often compels graduates to take higher-salaried jobs out of state.

President Steven Leath called the change "a positive" for Iowa State. He noted that he's been talking about the need to assure access and affordability, as well as quality, for students since he arrived in Ames. The additional funding, he said, will help Iowa State "maintain a quality educational experience while enhancing access and affordability."

The funding formula

The board accepted the task force's proposal that 60 percent of the general university appropriation be linked to the universities' enrollment of resident students. It also approved regent Larry McKibben's proposal to distribute another 5 percent of the appropriation according to resident graduate and professional student enrollment. All would be counted equally, regardless of their acadmic program.

This 5 percent replaces the task force's proposal to link dollars to the three school's success at placing their graduates in Iowa jobs or further higher education in the state. Task force chairman and former regent David Miles acknowledged that the task force hadn't come up with a way to track or measure this outcome.

The rest of the funding formula follows these performance measures:

  • 10 percent: College access provided to targeted resident student populations (to be set by the regents, but could include low income, ethnic minority, veteran or Iowa community college transfer students)
  • 5 percent: Progress to degree by resident students (counted by thresholds of 24-48-72 credit hours completed)
  • 10 percent: Degrees completed by resident students
  • 5 percent: Sponsored research levels, recognizing universities' contributions to state economic developmet
  • 5 percent: Custom metrics set by the regents for each university

If the amended funding formula was implemented in a single year, an estimated $47.7 million would be reallocated from Iowa to ISU and UNI, down from about $59 million under the task force's original formula. The implementation of the new formula limits reallocations to 2 percent of a school's 2013 general education revenues. Board staff member Patrice Sayre said that translates to no more than $12.9 million moving from Iowa to the other two universities in a single year.

The task force

Meeting from October to May, the five-member task force was asked to investigate a funding model that's based on performance measures, not simply tradition plus inflation, as is the case now. Dating back to the 1940s, the current model divides the state appropriation on a perceived 40/40/20 percent (Iowa State/Iowa/Northern Iowa) split. But this year's general university appropriation is divided on approximately a 36/46/18 percent split, mirroring at least the last decade.

Miles told the board that the existing system "penalizes institutions for taking on more resident students when the state funding level doesn't change."

He said the task force considered two questions:

  • Does the current method provide funding to cover the difference between resident tuition paid and cost of instruction?
  • Does the current method incent the universities to educate Iowans?

Questioned about the new formula's short-term negative impact on the University of Iowa, Miles said he considers Iowa to be the state's flagship university "and truly a jewel in the crown of higher education." But he said the board has "an obligation to govern all three institutions for the benefit of the state."

What's next

The universities have an Aug. 8 deadline to prepare their new general university appropriation materials. Those will be reviewed at the board's September meeting to meet the annual Oct. 1 deadline for state funding requests.

Football stadium plans clear final hurdle

The athletics department's plans to replace the south end of the football stadium received a green light from the state Board of Regents Wednesday. The board approved the budget ($46 million), financing plan and schematic design for phase 1, clearing the way for construction to begin in July. The existing end zone seating won't be removed until after the 2014 season.

Targeted for completion in August 2015, the first phase will close in the south end zone with permanent upper (5,800) and lower (7,500) seating. The structure will connect the east and west concourses, add concessions and restrooms and house a two-level indoor club area. The project includes an HD-quality video board/sound system, the purchase of which the board approved in May. Glass facades on the club's upper level will look north into the stadium and south toward Reiman Gardens.

When completed, the stadium's seating capacity will exceed 61,000, a net gain of more than 4,200 seats.

The cost of the project will be covered by private gifts, department funds and the sale of $39 million in bonds, to be paid over 25 years with incremental revenues from the stadium and Bergstrom football complex.

A second phase of the project, estimated at about $14 million, will improve the parking and green spaces south of the stadium and adjacent to Reiman Gardens. Design concepts for that area still are being developed and reviewed.

Campustown lease

The board approved Iowa State's request to lease the middle floor (25,000 square feet) of a three-story building currently under construction by Kingland Systems at the southeast corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue. The university's plan is to move the Iowa State Daily operations (currently in Hamilton Hall), University Relations (Communications Building) and the ISU Foundation call center (Durham Center) to the Campustown building in the summer or fall of 2015. The lease is for 15 years. The university will pay rent and its own operating expenses. The move is intended to free up campus space to accommodate enrollment growth, and also gives Iowa State a role in jump-starting Campustown redevelopment.

New centers

The board approved two new centers at Iowa State. The Iowa Soybean Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a public-private partnership intended to meet the needs of Iowa soybean farmers. Funding partners include the university; Iowa Soybean Association (representing farmers); seed, chemical and equipment companies; and Iowa service providers such as farm management companies, cooperatives, grain elevators and crop advisers. Previously, no mechanism existed in the state to coordinate collaboration and information exchange among those serving soybean farmers. As proposed, plant pathology professor Greg Tylka will serve as director, and 25 percent of his time will be reassigned to the center. The center will be housed in Agronomy Hall.

The reinstated Midwest Transportation Center will administer a new grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Iowa State's Institute for Transportation of $2.5 million/year (requiring a 100 percent non-federal match) for at least two years. The grant will fund efforts to solve transportation safety and infrastructure issues in the U.S. DOT's four-state region 7. Five universities and one community college will collaborate with Iowa State researchers. Iowa State's share of the matching funds will come in the form of indirect costs recovered and College of Engineering graduate student tuition. The center, which has existed in some form since 1987, will report to the vice president for research.

Leath compensation

Completing his annual performance review in closed session, the board met in open session to approve a salary increase for President Steven Leath of 7.123 percent. His salary for the year beginning July 1 will be $500,000. The board also approved a five-year contract with Leath and awarded him tenure in the plant pathology and microbiology department, pending approval by the faculty. Lastly, they approved a five-year deferred compensation plan valued at $562,500 and distributed this way: $25,000 (after July 1-Dec. 31, 2014), $100,000 (after Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2015), and $125,000 annually (Jan. 1, 2016-June 30, 2019).

Iowa president Sally Mason (new annual salary of $525,828) and Northern Iowa president Bill Ruud ($348,400) each received a salary increase of 2.5 percent and continuation of their existing deferred compensation plans.

Extension on Deloitte contract

On a 9-0 vote, the board approved a contract extension with Deloitte Consulting of up to $1 million for phase 2. Deloitte is assisting with the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER) of the three universities. Regent Larry McKibben, who co-chairs the board's efficiency review committee, said the project timeline will be extended, from an anticipated September conclusion now to December, in order to review the universities' academic units and programs when faculty are on campus and can be involved in the process.

"We're going to have a little cost creep because we want to retain Deloitte in a longer time frame to keep them involved in the project," McKibben said. 

In the meantime, McKibben said Deloitte's phase 1 report -- which will identify approximately a dozen areas for administrative efficiencies and savings -- will be ready the week of June 16.

He said a Deloitte team would return to each campus yet this month to initiate phase 2. He said these campus forums would be less formal than the town hall meetings held in late March and early April.

McKibben shared his pleasure with Deloitte's work to date (the committee reviewed an early draft of the phase 1 report) and said the Deloitte team set its own "aspirational goal" for this project: Provide excellent and affordable higher education as an Iowa asset to the world.

Other ISU items

In other business, the board

  • Approved Iowa State's salary increase parameters for the year that begins July 1
  • Approved an update on development of the FY15 budget
  • Received a joint update on sustainability programs at the three campuses
  • Received the annual student financial aid study, which looks specifically at full-time resident undergraduates who filed the federal aid application, received and accepted financial aid. In 2012-13, that number was 11,288 at Iowa State, an increase of 394 from the previous year.
  • Received an update from Michael Crum on Iowa State's efforts to coordinate and integrate its economic development assistance services to the state and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism on campus. Since August, Crum has served as senior policy adviser to the president for economic development.
  • Approved the interim appointment of John Cool as superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf, Council Bluffs; and Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Vinton. Superintendent Patrick Clancy will retire on June 30; his successor, Steven Gettel, arrives Aug. 1. Cool serves as assistant administrator of the Council Bluffs school.

Carillon concert series begins June 10

Grab a blanket or lawn chair and head out to central campus for the first of four summer carillon concerts on Tuesday, June 10. The series features monthly performances by guest carillonneurs from around the world.

"The series is held every other year in the summer, sponsored by the Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation," said Tin-Shi Tam, ISU carillonneur and associate professor of music. "This is our sixth summer carillon series."

Performers and programs include:

  • June 10: Eddy Mariën, Mechelen, Belgium
  • July 8: Andrée-Anne Doane, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Aug. 5: Lynnette Geary, Baylor University, Waco, Texas
  • Sept. 2: Robin Austin, Springfield, Illinois

Mariën is carillonneur for the Belgian cities of Mechelen, Leuven, Halle and Meise. He graduated from and teaches at Mechelen's Royal Carillon School. The international award-winning performer has recorded several albums, and has incorporated other instruments with carillon music.

Doane serves as carillonneur at Montreal's Saint Joseph's Oratory, where she studied the carillon. In addition to daily concerts, she coordinates workshops, tours and a summer carillon festival.

Geary is university carillonneur on the McLane Carillon at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. She also is assistant to the dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. She began as Baylor's assistant carillonneur in 1996 before taking over her current duties in 2006.

Austin performs year-round on the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Washington Park as carillonneur for the Springfield Park District. He served as carillonneur at Princeton University, New Jersey, before assuming his current position in 2012.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m., followed by tours of the campanile. Admission is free and open to the public.

Summer visitors to campus

While Iowa State student numbers drop noticeably in the summer, our campus visitors data spikes. Here's a quick rundown of some of the larger groups heading our way -- and when.

Group Date Participants Staying on campus
Iowa Funeral Directors Association convention May 12-15 400 no
Alumni Days May 15-16 275, senior alumni no
Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games May 22-24 2,700, all ages yes
Odyssey of the Mind World Finals May 28-31 8,000, youth elementary-college plus 7,000 family members yes
Orientation: Fall 2014 June 2-July 3 5,500+ freshman and transfer students yes
Future Problem Solving Program International Conference June 12-15 2,500, youth grades 4-12 yes
USA Track & Field Iowa Association Junior Olympic Championships June 21-22 1,000 no
Iowa Reading Association Conference June 24-25 850 IRA members no
Iowa 4-H Youth Conference June 24-26 1,000, high school yes
National Junior Disability Championships July 5-12 200-250, ages 7-22, physical disabilities no
BravO National Dance & Talent Competition July 7-13 1,000, all ages no
Iowa Summer Games July 11-13, July 17-20 (main weekend), July 25-27 14,000 over 3 weekends, all ages, youth and adults yes
Farm Progress Show Aug. 26-28   no


If you have a large group (100+) coming to campus this summer, send a note to and we'll add it to the list.