From the outside, Marston Hall is starting to look like its old self again. Windows are reinstalled in west side openings that for nearly two years held exit tunnels for demolition debris and later received new construction materials. New doors recently replaced plywood gates in the east entrance and groundskeepers noticeably have returned to the landscaping on three sides of the building.
Step inside, though, and it's an all-new Marston. With the exception of the east foyer and its winding stairs to the second floor, the interior has been gutted (literally) and rebuilt. Gone are the dark central corridors, the cobbled cooling system and the odd little rooms that evolve in a building past its century mark.
Key pieces in the new Marston are three state-of-the-art classrooms seating up to 80 students each; a 177-seat auditorium; special events center; student lounge/welcome center; office suites for the College of Engineering's dean, communications, career services, student services and development staffs; and lots and lots of spaces for students -- to work in teams, get ready for class, interview with prospective employers or follow up with an instructor after class.
The building has two new west staircases and two elevators that serve all four floors as well as the three levels of the west rotunda. A large central skylight and accompanying glass wall in the fourth floor shoot daylight down to the third floor. Project manager Kerry Dixon, facilities planning and management, said the Marston roof at one time contained seven skylights, all of which had been removed long before the renovation began.
Earlier this week, crews were installing flooring, placing radiator panels, applying some Cyclone red paint to a few strategic walls and removing construction debris.
Furniture installation begins Monday (June 13) and continues in waves for about six weeks. The first tenants, the college's student services unit, are scheduled to move in July 20, with all offices in by the end of July.
Marston Hall will reopen to the public and the curious on July 25. A building rededication is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29.
Marston project headed for June completion, March 3, 2016
Marston Muses are getting a makeover, Aug. 6, 2015
A peek inside Marston Hall, May 21, 2015
Demo work in Marston turns up a few treasures, Jan. 22, 2015
Interior demolition at Marston begins next month, Nov. 6, 2014
Marston tenants are starting to move, June 5, 2014
Two final pieces of the campus street address project will be completed this month.
By the end of June, crews will finish installing new panels that feature the building's street address and university nameplate on 170 outdoor building signs. And, as of Saturday, June 11, entries in the university's employee directory will include building street addresses. The database will be populated with the additional address line overnight; employees do not need to update their own entries -- unless and until they move to another building. A similar conversion for students living on campus in the residence system should be completed prior to fall semester.
Last fall, a university working group assigned street addresses to all university buildings -- and a few outdoor locations such as central campus, Lake LaVerne and the cross-country course. Subsequently, the U.S. Postal Service assigned new ZIP+4 codes to all those street addresses. Employees are asked to become familiar with their full office addresses, and to share them with outside vendors, publications, associations and others who send mail or packages.
University marketing and ISU printing services developed new product templates for business cards, letterhead and other stationery items for when units use up their current supplies and need to reorder.
In addition to the online directory, building street addresses previously were loaded into the building information database on facilities planning and management's website.
Progress continues on campus street address project, Jan. 7, 2016
Campus building addresses are set, Oct. 15, 2015
Semis on campus are about to become scarce. Beginning Monday, June 13, semis and large box trucks carrying campus goods will stop at an ISU facility on Airport Road. Central stores staff will take over from there, making scheduled forays onto campus to deliver or pick up supplies.
"It's all about safety," central stores director Norm Hill said. "We don't want semis on campus mixing with 36,000 students. Our new central receiving model takes semis and large box trucks off campus.
"Central stores employees will be able to schedule deliveries better, avoiding class change times," he added. "And with one central stores truck making the rounds, we'll also avoid the disruptions of 10 to 12 large vehicles a day looking for a place to park and unload."
Hill said the central receiving facility, located at 925 Airport Road (the old Van Wall dealership) will receive, track and redistribute university-funded materials to ISU departments at no additional charges. (Some charges will be applied for outbound shipping, assembling goods, storage and moving services.)
Central receiving services include inbound and outbound freight deliveries, Office Depot deliveries and moving services, such as office items and lab equipment.
Hill noted several kinds of vehicles will continue to deliver on campus. UPS, FedEx and USPS trucks will operate as usual, as will vehicles carrying food and perishable items. Trucks delivering supplies for construction projects or third-party events also will be allowed on campus.
Four candidates for a newly created director of student wellness position will be interviewing on campus this month. The interviews include one-hour public forums, each held from 11 a.m. to noon in the Memorial Union Gold Room.
The student wellness director, housed in the division of student affairs, will develop, coordinate and oversee a campus-wide student wellness program that includes mental health/counseling services and financial health.
The four finalists and public forum dates include:
- June 10: Mark Rowe-Barth, associate director of student wellness, University of Northern Iowa
- June 15: Moira Johnson, employee wellness administrator, Texas A&M University, College Station
- June 16: Youmasu Siewe, former director of the Center for Rural Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pennsylvania
- June 22: Donna Schoenfeld, director of wellness promotion, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
Websites flunk accessibility tests for many reasons. Right at the top of the list are alternative text errors, which prevent visually impaired individuals from fully accessing websites.
Got questions? Contact web accessibility coordinator Zayira Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of these individuals as well as others use text-to-voice screen readers to browse the web. Those screen readers need alt text -- brief descriptions of images and graphics -- to decipher visual elements on web pages.
Web pages that contain images without alt text are considered inaccessible.
Technically, alt text errors are easy to correct: Simply include alt text with every image on a web page. But doing alt text right -- that is, creating text that's useful and informative without being distracting -- requires a bit more effort. Here are some tips for creating strong alt text that enhances website accessibility.
How to add alt text
In HTML code, alt text looks like this:
<img alt="Description of my image" src="http://pathtoimage">
However, most needn't bother with code. Generally, photos are added (or uploaded) to websites via forms and those forms include an input box for the alt text. Look for a box labeled "alt text," "alt attribute," or something similar and add the image description there.
Keep it short
Generally, alt text should provide a concise description of the image. Screen reader users have to listen to a lot of copy being read in a synthesized voice, so brevity is a virtue. "Butterfly on a leaf," for example, would generally suffice for a butterfly image. Don't use "Image of butterfly on a leaf." That would be redundant. Screen readers recognize and announce images prior to reading the alt text. For the butterfly, the screen reader would intone something like "Graphic ... butterfly on a leaf."
Logos and other word art
Many graphics merely convey text. These graphics might include company names, logos or sections of text that have been turned into art. In such cases, the alt text is easy; simply restate the text included in the graphic.
Buttons and icons
Alt text for icons and buttons should convey the button's function. So the alt text for a magnifying glass indicating a search would be "search" -- not "magifying glass." A right arrow linking to the next page should be labeled "next page" in the alt text, not "arrow."
When to leave the alt tag blank
Decorative images, such as colorful lines, stars and swirls, are visual tidbits that may brighten up a website visually but add nothing to the content. Imagine a web page with lines of stars separating sections. It's very unlikely that screen reader users will appreciate hearing, "graphic, star," "graphic, star" repeated dozens of times. In such cases, make sure that alt text is empty, with no spaces between the quote markers (alt=""). The screen reader will ignore the art.
- Accessible PowerPoints are on students' wishlist, March 30, 2017
- Captioning, with an assist from YouTube, Jan. 5, 2017
- Well formed forms, Oct. 20, 2016
- Links that do the job, Sept. 1, 2016
- Color your website accessible, July 21, 2016
- How to create accessible Word docs, June 23, 2016
- The art of alt text, June 9, 2016
By the numbers
- 1 cow = 84 pounds milk per day
- 1 cow = $23,445 community economic activity ($4.9 billion statewide)
- Iowa is nation’s No. 12 milk producer
- Iowa has 1,400 dairy farms
- Iowa has 212,000 dairy cows
The ISU Dairy Farm’s annual open house is Friday, June 10 (6-11 a.m.). Now in its eighth year, the free public event includes tours, samples, giveaways, displays and more in celebration of national Dairy Month.
The farm, located about three miles south of campus at 52470 260th St., houses 400 milking cows on nearly 900 acres. Tours will be conducted every 30 minutes, beginning at 6:30 a.m., and include a stop in the milking parlor and a trolley ride through the farm. Demonstrations and presentations will be set up in the ag discovery center, along with dairy samples.
Please note: Individuals who recently traveled abroad are asked to wait at least five days before visiting any ISU farm. Visitors should not bring food, and change clothing and footwear if arriving from another farm.
Many events -- from local to global -- will bring thousands of visitors to campus this summer. The following is a look at the groups (expecting 100 or more participants) that Iowa State will welcome over the next couple months.