Fall colors

Trees sporting fall colors surround the campanile

The campanile is encompassed by Iowa fall colors this week. Photo by Christopher Gannon.


Plan ahead for partial closure

Employees once again can opt to take advantage of a partial closure during winter break. By using three days of paid or unpaid leave Dec. 27-29, in tandem with weekends and university holidays, faculty and staff can enjoy 10 consecutive days off, Dec. 23-Jan. 1.

Since 2009, top administrators annually have authorized reduced services and operations between university holidays in December and January. Kate Gregory, senior vice president for university services, and Kristi Darr, interim vice president for human resources, sent a memo last week to campus administrators authorizing the cost-saving effort again this year.

Critical and essential services will continue at reduced levels, similar to weekend operations. Darr and Gregory asked administrators to work with staff to "determine operating schedules that will enable staff to take liberal leave and reduce energy costs."

Employee leave

Faculty and staff are not required to take leave during the partial closure. Paid and unpaid leave options are available for those who choose to utilize the extended break. Merit employees are covered by their collective bargaining agreement with the state.

University human resources (UHR) offers a set of frequently asked questions to assist employees and supervisors in planning reduced hours. Other policies and resources include:

Communicate changes

Last week's memo also encourages units to communicate partial closing plans to students, staff and visitors by next week.

To participate in the partial closure, departments and units should plan to:

  • Update voicemail messages and websites with operating hours and emergency contact information
  • Turn off equipment to conserve energy
  • Turn down thermostats for unoccupied spaces
  • Coordinate staff to monitor/respond to messages left on main numbers
  • Check periodically for malfunctions (plumbing, heating, cooling)

Medallion honoring campus landscape goes missing


A medallion honoring Iowa State's campus awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects (top photo) is missing. It had been displayed since 1999 on a rock just west of Curtiss Hall. Submitted photos.

A little piece of Iowa State's beautiful central campus is missing -- a piece that honors it for being so beautiful.

In 1999, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) commemorated its 100th anniversary by honoring 362 sites across the nation, including some of the country's best-known landscapes, such as Central Park in New York City and the U.S. Capitol grounds.

Just 13 of those awards went to campus landscapes, and only three were for a university's central campus -- Yale University, the University of Virginia and Iowa State. The other Iowa recipients of the award feature more natural settings: Backbone State Park in Delaware County, Eagle Point Park in Dubuque, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Reserve in Prairie City and the Loess Hills in western Iowa.

It doesn't take a prestigious award to know Iowa State's campus is a grand sight to behold, but those who work to keep it that way have been proud of the recognition nonetheless.

"It's a pretty special thing for us," said Rhonda Martin, landscape architect in facilities planning and management (FPM).  

For 18 years, the medallion awarded by the ASLA was affixed to a rock just west of Curtiss Hall on the path to Beardshear Hall, a spot selected for its high visibility and proximity to the park-like open grounds and campanile at the center of campus.

In early August, Bob Currie, director of facilities services, noticed the medallion was missing. A theft report was filed with university police, but the award hasn't been recovered, said Les Lawson, FPM campus services manager. 

Lawson hopes the medallion theft will turn out like another recent case of stolen campus commemoration. A plaque on the south side of MacKay Hall went missing in 2015 but was returned after university police tweeted about it. A few years earlier, a small statue of a bird taken from its perch near Morrill Hall also was returned, he said.

If the brass medallion doesn't turn up, the university could make a replica, Martin said. But it wouldn't be the same.

"Yeah, we could buy another one. I'm not sure if we'd ever be able to cast it exactly like the one we had," she said. "But we'd like the one we had back."

Martin figures whoever took the award probably loves campus. But that's also why they should return it, she said.

"It belongs on campus and not in somebody's closet," she said. 

Another tool for cybersecurity

In this digital age, experts recommend another layer of security to protect personal identities and information. Multifactor authentication (MFA) is another tool that can be used in the fight against cybercrime.

MFA adds another step to the login process, such as a single-use security code texted to the user. It is becoming more common with web-based services, such as online banking, and recommended by tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Darin Dugan, identity services manager in information technology, said common uses for stolen login information include:

  • Sending spam emails (thousands) from personal accounts
  • Modifying direct deposit to divert paychecks to an alternate bank account
  • Changing tuition payments or canceling registration to get refunds sent to an alternate bank account
  • Accessing restricted scientific journals through the library system

"It's easy for anyone who guesses or steals your password to access your electronic workspaces," Dugan said. "Things will get considerably tougher [for thieves] when MFA becomes standard operating procedure for accessing web-based applications."

MFA at Iowa State

The Okta identity management platform selected by Iowa State may use MFA for its portal/dashboard that gives users one-click access to their web-based programs and applications without additional logins. Voluntary Okta enrollment is expected to start in November, with full implementation sometime next spring.

MFA provides another line of defense against cyberattacks -- from the thousands of daily attempts targeting university systems to individual users who fall prey to phishing attempts.

"Compromised accounts are time-consuming to fix and potentially dangerous," Dugan said. "In addition to resetting passwords, IT staff must ensure that university systems have not been damaged or jeopardized."

Diversity-focused grant program has new home, additional assistance

Opportunities for a broader campus audience is one intent behind changes to the former Women's and Diversity Grants Program made in the last year. The newly named Inclusion Initiatives Grant Program, which moved from the provost's office to the office of diversity and inclusion last winter, will award up to $5,000 for innovative proposals that promote an inclusive and engaged community and positively impact the university. Proposals also will be reviewed for how well they align with existing principles and guidelines for diversity and inclusion. Total available funding remains at about $50,000, and all faculty and staff are welcome to submit proposals.

"We really want to find projects and ideas that are creative and collaborative but may not have an obvious niche or home at Iowa State," said Nicci Port, project director in LGBTQ+ affairs in the office of diversity and inclusion. "Anyone with a good idea is welcome, even if they need help developing their idea before they apply."

She said a lack of experience with preparing grant proposals shouldn't undermine a great concept.

The application deadline is March 1, 2018, for a project window of Aug. 1-June 1, 2019. Grant recipients will be notified by May 1. In addition to an expanded scope for funded projects, Port said the grants program has been tweaked to remove hurdles and provide more structure and assistance to applicants. Key changes are:

  • Mandatory intent to apply filing, open through Nov. 30. A proposal at this early stage is just 500 characters and the team needn't be complete. The intent is to answer questions before applications are fully developed. Applicants with similar proposals at this stage could be alerted to each other for a possible merger.
  • A 60-minute workshop for would-be applicants to learn more about the program's priorities and how proposals will be evaluated. For example, ongoing initiatives are preferred to one-time events -- though one-time events could be funded. This workshop will be offered several times in January.
  • Coaching/mentoring during the duration of the project window, particularly the first few months. "We'll provide more than an account number and a final report template," Port said. "We'll work with people along the way." An example could be assistance finding an ongoing funding source for the initiative, if that's what the team requests.

Questions about the grant program may be directed to inclusioninitiatives@iastate.edu, or Port, 294-0608.

New era for Cyclone wrestling

Kevin Dresser

Iowa State wrestling head coach Kevin Dresser talked with reporters at media day Oct. 31. Photo courtesy of athletics communications.

Head coach Kevin Dresser will field his first Cyclone wrestling squad after compiling a 160-51 record and three Atlantic Coast Conference titles in 11 years as head coach at Virginia Tech. The Iowa native and 2016 national coach of the year stacked his coaching staff with fellow former Hawkeye All-American wrestlers Brent Metcalf, Derek St. John and Mike Zadick. The new staff inherited a 21-member roster with just two seniors and one NCAA qualifier, adding 16 newcomers with a top-five recruiting class and three transfer student-athletes.

"We don't know a lot about these guys right now, in terms of how they're going to perform under fire and how they're going to perform this weekend," Dresser said during media day interviews Tuesday. "It's really exciting for us to see early on what guys are going to step up and decide they're going to be the guy -- the next big name at Iowa State."

Iowa State opens its season Saturday, hosting the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open (9 a.m., Hilton Coliseum). Tickets are $10 ($5 for youth).

P&S Council considers revisions to two university policies

Next P&S Council meeting: Dec. 7 (2:10-4 p.m., MU Gallery)

Next P&S seminar: Dec. 12 (2-3 p.m., MU Pioneer Room), topic TBD

First readings of revisions to two existing university policies were introduced at the Nov. 1 Professional and Scientific Council meeting, including an expansion of who qualifies to receive donated paid leave.

Under review are the Catastrophic Illness or Injury and Sexual Misconduct policies. The proposed changes are open to public review and comment in the policy library. Comments on the Catastrophic Illness and Injury policy must be submitted by Nov. 6, and feedback on the Sexual Misconduct policy will be accepted through Nov. 17.

Here's a brief look at the proposed changes for each policy.

Catastrophic Illness and Injury

  • Change the policy name to Donated Leave for Catastrophic Illness or Injury
  • Broaden the current policy's eligibility requirements to allow donated leave for employees who have immediate family members with a catastrophic illness or injury in addition to employees themselves

Sexual Misconduct

  • Change the policy name to Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence Involving Students
  • Update and clarify the reporting procedures and resources for responding to sexual misconduct, assault and harassment

Aaron Fultz, chair of the policies and procedures committee, said the committee recommends endorsing both policies, with the proposed following changes:

  • Remove language in both policies that states approving them since they already exist
  • Regarding the Catastrophic Illness and Injury policy, change "received" to "receive" in the fourth paragraph, second line
  • Determine if the revised Catastrophic Illness and Injury policy is consistent with similar policies at the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa

Council members will hear the final reading of the draft policies at their Dec. 7 meeting.

Other business

  • Teresa Albertson resigned as the council's vice president of university community relations. There were no nominations for the VP post.
  • Tera Lawson, chair of the professional development committee, reported that P&S Council seminars dating from 2014 to the present are available for viewing on Learn@ISU in the Professional and Scientific Council catalog.

Cyclone football team concludes historic October

Defensive back Brian Peavy runs downfield after intercepting a T

Photo courtesy of athletics communications.

One of the highlights of Iowa State's upset win over No. 4 TCU Oct. 28 at Jack Trice Stadium was junior Brian Peavy's goal-line interception and return for 70 yards (pictured) to shut down a Horned Frogs' third-quarter drive.

The Cyclone football team went 4-0 in October, all against Big 12 Conference opponents, and broke into multiple national rankings: No. 16 in the USA Today coaches poll, No. 14 in the Associated Press sportswriters poll and No. 15 in the 4-year-old College Football Playoff rankings, the list that determines which four teams enter a playoff series for the collegiate national title among NCAA Division I schools.

The Cyclones' season continues this weekend in Morgantown, West Virginia, where head coach Matt Campbell's team will battle another conference foe, the Mountaineers. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.

ISU Theatre's fall play portrays aftermath of lies


Senior Taylor Millar (left) plays Karen, and senior Angelica Elkema portrays Martha in ISU Theatre's "The Children's Hour." Photo by James Tener.

ISU Theatre addresses the devastating impact of lies, rumors and falsehoods in its fall play, "The Children's Hour."

Written in 1934 by Lillian Hellman, this adult play chronicles the story of two women who run a boarding school for girls. A troubled student spreads a rumor that the women are having a lesbian affair, which results in scandal and tragedy.

Though written more than 80 years ago, director Brad Dell said "The Children's Hour" should sound an alarm in our contemporary world about the effects of "alternative facts" and "fake news."

"Ultimately, though, this play is also a plea for radical empathy, asking why can't we allow ourselves to understand and share in one another's feelings? Why must we be so quick to judge, label and shun?" Dell said.

The play features 15 student actors. Students also designed the scenes and costumes, and implemented dramaturgy, which, in part, is the practice of researching the play's context to the point of understanding the writer's intention and communicating that to the actors and director.

Performances are Nov. 3, 4, 10 and 11 (7:30 p.m.), and Nov. 5 and 12 (2 p.m.) in Fisher Theater. Tickets, $18 for adults and $11 for students, are available at the Stephens Auditorium ticket office or through Ticketmaster

Gold Star Hall Ceremony honors four fallen students

Four Iowa State students who served our nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice will be honored during the Gold Star Hall Ceremony Nov. 6 (3:15 p.m., Memorial Union Great Hall). The program is free and open to the public.

Speaking at this year's ceremony are senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert, student veteran Derek Zobler, and professor of military service and tactics Lt. Col. Ethan Dial. Following a narrative about each of the honored men, a representative from the Iowa State Veterans Center will present family members or friends with a commemorative coin. "Taps," performed by ISU students, will conclude the program.

This year's honorees include Vietnam War veterans Wheeler Brooks, Jeffrey Krommenhoek and James McGough, and World War II veteran Robert Geoffroy, bringing the total number of names inscribed in the MU's Gold Star Hall to 589.

This year's honorees:

Vietnam War


Wheeler Brooks

Wheeler Brooks

Hometown: Ollie
Years at ISU: 1966-69
Major: Agricultural engineering
Rank: Staff sergeant, U.S. Army
Died: June 20, 1971, Quang Ngai, Vietnam





Jeffrey Krommenhoek

Jeffrey Krommenhoek

Hometown: Sioux City
Years at ISU: 1958-62
Degree and major: Bachelor's, mechanical engineering
Rank: Lieutenant commander, U.S. Navy
Died: Oct. 25, 1967 (Missing in action/Presumed killed in action), North Vietnam




James McGough

James McGough

Hometown: Fort Dodge
Years at ISU: 1968, 2010
Degree and major: Bachelor's (2010), business
Rank: Specialist 4, U.S. Army
Died: Jan. 3, 2014, from hepatitis C contracted from a 1971 grenade explosion in Vietnam



World War II


Robert Geoffroy

Robert Geoffroy

Hometown: Sterling, Illinois
Years at ISU: 1939-43
Major: General engineering
Rank: Second lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Force
Died: Oct. 16, 1944, Camel's Hump Mountain, Vermont