Creating Witchhazel Walk

Zachary Hudson planting a boxwood shrub.

Graduate student Zachary Hudson, center, plants a boxwood shrub as part of the student-led "Witchhazel Walk" Arbor Day planting west of Horticulture Hall. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

The graduate student horticulture society led the April 19 Arbor Day planting project, with help from students in the undergraduate horticulture club and landscape architecture program.

More than 75 shrubs and trees were planted west of Horticulture Hall, along the sidewalk that leads north to Osborn Drive. Faculty and facilities planning and management staff also helped with the project.

Dubbed "Witchhazel Walk," the project was designed by horticulture graduate student Katrina Knudsen. The assortment of plants includes varieties that are scarce (or missing) on campus, including several species of ornamental witchhazel shrubs. They are intended to be used for teaching and will provide color -- including cardinal and gold -- throughout the seasons.

On April 25, students will add more than 300 perennials in the area as part of a class service-learning project, with help from faculty and staff.

Tree Campus USA

In addition to Arbor Day, the Witchhazel Walk project also observed ISU's Tree Campus USA designation.

The recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation acknowledges Iowa State's commitment to "effective urban forest management" and conservation efforts. The Tree Campus USA program has five requirements, including:

  • A tree advisory committee
  • A campus tree-care plan
  • Annual budget for a campus tree program
  • An Arbor Day observance
  • A student service-learning project

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Video: Witchhazel Walk, April 19, 2016

Senate is considering 'clinical' faculty titles

A proposed new faculty title, which would establish non-tenure eligible clinical professorships, was introduced at the April 19 Faculty Senate meeting by the governance council. Discussion will continue prior to a May 3 vote.

As proposed, three non-tenure eligible (NTE) faculty positions would be established -- clinical professor, clinical associate professor and clinical assistant professor. In the College of Veterinary Medicine, the appointments primarily would be filled by specialists who teach students and diagnose/treat patients. The proposal also acknowledges that a clinical designation may be appropriate for some current NTE positions -- such as senior clinicians -- in other disciplines.

"This is becoming very common across the country, certainly at all of the vet schools that I looked at," said Martha Selby, chair of the governance council.

Brett Sponseller, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences, said timely senate action on the proposal was important for Vet Med.

"The reason we really would like this to move forward is that the current situation is strongly hampering our efforts on recruitment and retention of faculty," he said.

New degree, policy changes

The College of Business received unanimous approval for a proposed entrepreneurship major. The bachelor of science program was developed to meet demand without duplicating other initiatives, including the interdisciplinary minor in entrepreneurial studies.

Senators also approved proposed Faculty Handbook changes for visiting appointments, eliminating "collaborator" titles and more clearly defining "visiting" and "affiliate" positions. Collaborator faculty will transition to affiliate appointments.

Academic performance of athletes

Faculty athletics representative Tim Day gave senators his annual report on the academic performance of Iowa State's student-athletes. The 2015 spring and fall cumulative GPAs of student-athletes (2.95/2.93) were slightly lower than the general student body (2.98/2.95).

"We like the look of the grade-point average, which is just one of the indicators of how things are going for students in our classrooms and at our university," Day said. "One of the things we always hope to see is that, in general, the student-athlete grade-point average would track along and mirror the grade-point average of the general student population. We see a continuation of that."

For the third consecutive year, Day reported that all of ISU's teams maintained good standing in the NCAA's academic progress rates, which measure retention and eligibility. He noted that several teams showed improvement. The women's golf team posted a perfect score (1,000); football ranked the lowest (958).

Election results

Four 2015-16 senate posts were filled, with each candidate running unopposed:

  • Academic affairs council chair: Tim Bigelow, electrical and computer engineering
  • Faculty development and administrative relations council chair: Tim Derrick, kinesiology
  • Governance council chair: Brett Sponseller, veterinary clinical sciences
  • Senate secretary: Annemarie Butler, philosophy and religious studies

Regents will revisit 2016-17 tuition rates

The state Board of Regents will return to the topic of 2016-17 tuition rates, likely at its June meeting, following higher education funding increases from the 2016 Legislature that are less than one-third of what was requested last fall.

As approved by the Iowa Senate and awaiting action in the House, the increase to Iowa State's general university appropriation, $2.2 million, is 27 percent of the $8.2 million the university sought to address growth issues associated with booming student enrollment. The $2.2 million represents a 1.2 percent increase over the current year's general university appropriation of $182.2 million.

All of Iowa State's other state appropriations, whether from education, agriculture or economic development funding sources, would remain at current levels next year.

In a statement last week, board president Bruce Rastetter said he and his colleagues are "very disappointed" with the funding level and have no choice but to reopen the tuition discussion.

President Steven Leath said, "It's unfortunate that our unprecedented growth and tremendous demand for an Iowa State education is timed with a tightening of state revenues and support for higher education. As a result, we will be proposing tuition increases to take effect during the 2016-17 academic year."

Leath said he has directed his budget team to examine all areas of tuition: undergraduate, graduate, resident and nonresident, as well as the possibility of differential tuition for Iowa State's more expensive programs.

"We have talked to students and faculty, and they feel strongly that a modest increase is a reasonable course of action," Leath said.

Noting that families need time to plan for any tuition adjustments, Leath said by mid-May he'll share Iowa State's proposals for raising more tuition revenue. All changes to tuition rates need the regents' approval. The board meets June 9 in Ames.

December's tuition plan

In December, the board approved a tuition freeze for Iowa State's resident undergraduates for the 2016-17 year, a 4 percent increase for veterinary medicine resident students and a 3 percent increase for all other Iowa State students, conditional on legislative support of the university's funding request for next year. The board also approved an Iowa State request for supplemental tuition -- $500 per year for three years for all (returning and new) nonimmigrant, noncitizen international students. This additional revenue will help cover the cost of services for international students, which had been shared by all students.

Fountain plaza project to begin in May

Schematic of design for fountain plaza project.

This concept design shows the new walkways and seating areas planned for the area north of the Memorial Union. Submitted image.

Next month, the plaza around Iowa State's iconic Fountain of Four Seasons will begin its transformation into a more colorful, welcoming area. The work is part of President Steven Leath's campus beautification initiative and will complement the engraved nameplate wall installed last year on the north side of Union Drive.

No change of 'Seasons'

The beautification project will change the look and landscape around the Fountain of the Four Seasons, and does not include any work on the fountain itself.

"This is the heart of campus -- a highly used area that needs to handle large groups and individuals," said Rhonda Martin, landscape architect in facilities planning and management.

During the construction phase, crews will remove the existing concrete and replace it with pavers and sidewalks that add pedestrian access from the east and west. Four cast stone benches will ring the fountain, with another two placed near the bus stop.

Campus services staff will plant hundreds of perennials and shrubs, and sod will be placed when the irrigation system is installed. Martin expects the project to be completed under the budgeted $462,500.

"The changes will provide more options for seating and more options for entering the fountain area," Martin said. "The landscaping will complement the beauty of the campus, adding layers of interest and providing year-round color -- transforming the lawn into a garden-like space to engage students, families, visitors and the university community."


Fences will be installed around the project work site on May 9. The Memorial Union's north doors will remain open and accessible from the east and west walkways. Construction work is projected to wrap up by mid-July, leaving time for installation of the plant material and irrigation system. The goal is to have the landscaping established and ready prior to the start of fall semester.

"This is a big project," Martin said. "It requires planting time and it needs to be ready when the students arrive."

Students avoid the floor, thanks to 400 hallway benches

Students study on benches along a building hallway

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Students make use of new benches in a Lagomarcino hallway earlier this month (above). Forker, MacKay and Lagomarcino halls were the last of 24 campus buildings -- targeted for their high classroom volume -- since November to receive a total of 400 benches made by Iowa Prison Industries. They all feature cypress wood recycled from a patio fence replacement project at University Village apartments.

Yet to arrive are 10 benches that were stained to better match their destinations in Parks Library, Curtiss Hall and the ISU Foundation; and 13 for Beardshear Hall made from the wood of a scarlet oak tree that once stood southeast of the campanile.

Last spring, interested units were invited to contribute funds for benches, intended to both serve ISU's growing student body and provide a cleaner, consistent look to hallways. Facilities, planning and management, which coordinated the project, paid for more than half of the benches, with the office of the senior vice president for business and finance covering another 100 benches and the College of Engineering 60 benches. Other units paying for smaller quantities were the library, foundation, colleges of Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences, provost's office and president's office.

Task force working on enrollment solutions

A faculty task force is continuing its work on recommendations for handling Iowa State's enrollment growth issues. In his charge to the group, President Steven Leath asked for ideas and initiatives, ranging from differential tuition or admissions, to a stronger emphasis on out-of-state student recruitment.

Jonathan Sturm, Faculty Senate president-elect and task force chair, said the group still is collecting and discussing feedback gathered from faculty and staff. He said a final set of recommendations should be complete and ready for submission to the president by June.

"The [task force] has debated vigorously the possible courses of action you have proposed and have added as food for thought some others as well," Sturm said in a recent update sent to Leath.

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Faculty asked to study, weigh in on enrollment management, Feb. 18, 2016

Bridge repairs will close Stange Road for 30 days

Map of Stange Road closure.

The Stange Road construction closure, between 13th Street and Bruner Drive, is indicated in red on the map. Submitted image.

Repairs and upgrades to the Stange Road bridge over Squaw Creek on the north side of campus will close all four lanes of the road for about 30 days, beginning Monday, May 9. Stange will be closed from 13th Street to just south of Bruner Drive. Schilletter/University Village, University Community Childcare and Veenker golf course will remain accessible from the north.

The work includes grinding off the top inch of the road surface, replacing damaged concrete areas underneath, pouring a new road surface and laying a stretch of asphalt at either end of the bridge surface to match road and bridge heights. In addition, a series of metal rails will be added to the bridge's guardrails to raise their height about 18 inches and close unsafe gaps in the original design.

Detours (pedestrians exempt)

Although all vehicles will be detoured, project manager Angie Solberg, facilities planning and management, said one bridge sidewalk should remain open for pedestrians and bicyclists. A closure of both sidewalks would occur only between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. – and after a 48-hour advance notice.

Solberg said detour signs will route southbound drivers east on 24th Street to Grand Avenue, south on Grand to 13th Street, and west on 13th back to Stange Road.

CyRide's Brown and Blue bus routes, which normally use Stange Road north of campus, won't travel any farther west than Hoover Avenue (Brown route) and Northwestern Avenue (Blue route) in north Ames, and will use Northwestern as a north-south arterial. However, CyRide will use additional buses to service all the bus stops cut off by these detours, and riders should pay attention to the destination listed on the bus fronts (for example, Mall vs. Schilletter Village). Pickup times won't change, but shuttle riders should allow an extra four to six minutes to reach their destinations since the shuttle buses also will backtrack to Northwestern Avenue.

CyRide will post revised schedules noting these changes prior to May 9.

Target reopening: June 8

Solberg said the contractor, Grimes-based Cramer and Associates, has a 30-day contract (through June 7), with incentives and penalties for finishing early or late.

Safety escort app may debut this fall

As early as next fall, people crossing campus from dusk to dawn may be requesting safety escorts via a smartphone app. The app will make the ISU police's escort program more convenient for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors, said interim chief of police Aaron DeLashmutt.

The app, to be selected through ISU's bidding process, will be similar to RideCell or TapRide, applications currently in use at universities around the country.

DeLashmutt said Iowa State's application will connect pedestrians directly with their escorts, students employed by ISU police. Currently pedestrians must call a central dispatcher, who in turn assigns a safety escort.

"This should reduce the chances of location miscues and delayed pickups," he said. "People will be able to pinpoint their escorts' arrival times. Rather than standing on a sidewalk or street, they'll be able to stay in the warmth or safety of a building while they wait."

The apps will be available free in the usual smartphone formats, DeLashmutt said. Those who don't use the app still will be able to summon a safety escort by calling ISU police at 294-4444.

More requests

Safety escort requests rose from 1,800 in 2006 to 6,300 last year, and DeLashmutt expects those numbers to keep climbing. The efficiency of the new system will help police cope with increased demand, DeLashmutt said. Removing the dispatcher from the middle of conversations between requesters and escorts saves time for everyone. It also frees the dispatcher to monitor activities and ensure that everything is working smoothly.

How it works

The safety escort program is free and open year-round (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) to anyone who is uneasy about walking on campus.

Escorts provide rides or on-foot service to and from:

  • All university properties
  • Private facilities leased by the department of residence
  • Greek properties

 Approximately 16 Iowa State students run the safety escort program. The students, known as "community service officers," wear uniforms or have police IDs. They perform other duties for ISU police, such as locking and unlocking buildings, jump-starting vehicles and checking for fire hazards.

'Nature Connects' LEGO exhibit back by popular demand


Reiman Gardens staff members (from left) Marianna Overgaard, Zach Johnson and Sharon Rink, along with exhibition installer Arlen Throne (wearing white hat), install wings on a dragonfly sculpture. A new exhibition featuring 13 LEGO sculptures opens April 23. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Thirteen new, nature-inspired sculptures made from 500,000 LEGO bricks will reside at Reiman Gardens April 23 through Oct. 31 during the gardens' second "Nature Connects" exhibition. The first show, featuring 27 sculptures, debuted in 2012.

See the exhibit

Reiman Gardens is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (until 6 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day). Admission is $8 ($4 for youth; free for members, ISU students and children 3 and under).

Created by artist Sean Kenney, the colorful sculptures reflect the gardens' 2016 theme, "Color," and generally range in size from three to eight feet. Sculptures include:

  • Birdbath with Birds, Bees, Squirrel
  • Bonsai Tree
  • Corn Spider
  • Galapagos Tortoise with Darwin Finch
  • Gardener and Grandchild
  • Herd of Deer
  • Hummingbird on Trumpet Flower
  • Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed
  • Pansy Bloom with Bee
  • Peacock
  • Photo Opportunity Face Cut-out Mosaic
  • Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly
  • Wheelbarrow with Tools

A profitable venture

The first "Nature Connects" exhibit was the brainchild of Reiman Gardens' staff and former director Theresa McLaughlin. The 2012 show was so successful that McLaughlin left the gardens' director post in 2014 to manage "Nature Connects" fulltime and drive funds to Reiman Gardens for future improvements.

Since then, the exhibit has crisscrossed the United States, making stops at public gardens and zoos in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Colorado and Canada. McLaughlin said the Dallas Zoo's attendance increased by 43 percent while hosting "Nature Connects," and the Denver Zoo saw a 12 percent increase in visitors.

"The exhibit emphasizes the importance of nature, but it has a lot of different levels to it," McLaughlin said. "It speaks to the entire family."

The venture has been a financial success, too, so far earning about $5 million from 60 leases scheduled through 2020. McLaughlin projects that Reiman Gardens will receive more than $3 million from the project by 2020.

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