May flowers

Female student photographs red and yellow tulip bed

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Princess Tiffany Dantes, a graduate student in ag and biosystems engineering, captures a photo of the 'Cyclone' tulip bed east of Agronomy Hall earlier this week. Dantes is enrolled for summer classes, but enjoying a quiet week until the first session begins Monday. 

Survey results provide map for campus climate improvements

Results from a campus climate survey conducted last fall were shared at two public forums May 9. The survey measured perceptions of the learning, living and working environments at Iowa State.

"I'd like us to have the most welcoming and inclusive environment of any land-grant university," President Wendy Wintersteen said in her opening remarks. "The first step in going forward and to reach that goal is to assess the current campus climate -- to determine our strengths, to understand our weaknesses, to uncover challenges and inconsistencies, and to identify programs and policies that are effective and can be enhanced and further expanded."

Survey summary

An executive summary of results provides an overview of the responses from 7,326 people who completed the 113-question survey -- a 17 percent response rate from all students, faculty and staff. Forty percent of staff and 33 percent of faculty participated.

The consultants identified general findings similar to other universities and colleges. Nearly 80 percent of respondents chose a positive indicator of the climate at Iowa State. The majority of faculty and staff responded with positive attitudes about their work, and a high percentage of students had favorable academic experiences.

Some specific results for Iowa State faculty and staff:

  • Faculty (70 percent) and staff (74 percent) both would recommend ISU as a good place to work
  • Faculty agree that research is valued at Iowa State (87 and 84 percent of tenured/tenure-track and term faculty, respectively)
  • Faculty feel valued by students in the classroom (80 percent) and agree that health insurance benefits are competitive (85 percent)
  • Staff feel valued by coworkers (82 percent)
  • Staff get adequate supervisor support of a work/life balance (76 percent) and training/professional development opportunities (71 percent)
  • Staff agree that vacation time (87 percent), health insurance (88 percent) and retirement benefits (78 percent) are competitive
  • Fifty percent of staff and 54 percent of faculty "seriously considered" leaving ISU in the past year, citing low pay and increased workload among the reasons
  • Just 23 percent of both faculty and staff agree that child care benefits are competitive
  • Employees (113) experienced unwanted sexual conduct, such as relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment and sexual assault

Full report available May 10

A full report of survey results was posted today on the campus climate website and a printed copy is available at the Parks Library circulation desk. Dan Merson, a senior research associate at the Rankin and Associates consulting firm, encouraged people to read the comments respondents provided for the survey's open-ended questions.

"We had thousands of qualitative comments that we went through," he said. "They really help to illustrate a lot of the quantitative results."

Room for improvement

The summary report outlined six areas for improvement at Iowa State:

  • Exclusionary, intimidating, offensive or hostile conduct based on position, gender or racial identity
  • Comfort with campus, workplace and classroom climate for select groups
  • Issues for faculty and staff who consider leaving ISU
  • Work/life challenges for staff
  • Work/life challenges for faculty
  • Incidents of unwanted sexual conduct

Next steps

Wintersteen announced her plan for ISU's next steps, which includes four implementation teams charged with discussing, developing and prioritizing action items. The teams, led by top administrators, will use the survey results to address:

  • The undergraduate experience (led by senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon)
  • The graduate student and post-doc experience (led by Graduate College dean Bill Graves)
  • The faculty experience (led by senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert)
  • The merit and professional and scientific staff experience (led by vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart)

"I'm very committed to having a university that provides a welcoming and inclusive environment to our students, faculty and staff," Wintersteen said. "These are important findings that we will take seriously as we move forward with these implementation teams."

Wintersteen said the teams will begin their work this summer. Teams will hold forums and provide other feedback opportunities during the fall semester.

"We will continue to keep the campus community informed and engaged in our goal of fostering a safe and supportive campus environment as we raise the level of excellence here at Iowa State University," she said.

Conducted for an estimated $115,000, the results will provide a baseline to build upon. It will help guide work related to goal four of the university's 2017-22 strategic plan: "Continue to enhance and cultivate the ISU Experience where faculty, staff, students and visitors are safe and feel welcomed, supported, included and valued by the university and each other."


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Wintersteen to council: Salary hike is still top budget goal

Meeting with the Professional and Scientific Council for the first time in her tenure, President Wendy Wintersteen reiterated that a faculty and staff salary increase, however small, remains her highest priority for next year's budget.

Interim vice president for finance and university services Pam Cain is preparing a recommendation for how to raise pay, Wintersteen told the council at its May 3 meeting.

"That's still our top priority, to have a salary increase for this coming year, even though it might be way too small," she said.  

Since taking office in November, Wintersteen consistently has said a fiscal year 2019 pay hike is needed to retain top-notch faculty and staff. Beyond narrowly targeted raises, there was no across-the-board increase for P&S staff and faculty last year for the first time since 2010.

P&S Council's FY19 salary recommendation called for increases between 3 and 5 percent. Council president Jessica Bell, speaking before the state Board of Regents last month, said salary increases would help counter "dangerously low" morale. Faculty Senate president Tim Day predicted stagnant salaries could cause a "crippling loss" of faculty.

With state funding tightening again in this year's now-completed legislative session, including a second consecutive midyear budget reversion, a large salary increase appears unlikely. A 1 percent increase for all faculty and staff paid from the general fund would cost about $4.65 million, Wintersteen said.

Legislative impact

Budget considerations were among the efforts Wintersteen highlighted as she reviewed her first half-year in office. The Legislature kept in the regents' FY19 budget the $10.9 million cut it required in the fourth quarter of FY18 but added $8.3 million -- leaving the university system with a smaller overall appropriation than at the start of FY18.

Regents universities had asked the Legislature for $12 million in new funding, $5 million for Iowa State, to devote to student financial aid. But since the "new" funding still amounted to a net loss, it's not clear how the regents will handle the $8.3 million, Wintersteen said. The board will set budgets and tuition rates at its June 7 meeting. Proposed tuition increases, especially the additional 42 majors and programs that will assess higher differential tuition rates, will help stabilize revenue and maintain quality, she said.

Lawmakers also approved $63.5 million for Iowa State's top building project, a new Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. That includes $1 million in FY19 to begin formal planning. But the funding falls far short of the $100 million in state money requested for the facility, which is critical to Iowa's animal agriculture industry.

"We're very thankful for those dollars, but we haven't quite figured out what the strategy will be," Wintersteen said. "I know we'll be in conversations with the Board of Regents to see what we'll do about that shortfall and what that means."

Plotting the future

Wintersteen briefly mentioned a few other recently launched initiatives to map out the university's future.

A group of senior leaders is discussing Iowa State's enrollment strategy, which Wintersteen said "is probably the most important conversation underway." The goal is to keep enrollment between 35,000 and 37,000 students, a "sweet spot" that would be financially sustainable without overwhelming existing resources, she said. Increasing graduation rates for first-generation and multicultural students also is a focus, she said.

A committee co-chaired by vice president for research Sarah Nusser and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Beate Schmittmann is studying how to improve service delivery across the university. The group has met twice and will be expanding, including a representative from P&S Council, Wintersteen said.

Addressing a question raised by Bell and president-elect Stacy Renfro in their monthly meeting with him, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the council that the university-wide group was not involved in some recent service delivery changes. The centralization of some communications and grants work in LAS and Engineering sprang from college-level discussions on improving service delivery, he said.

"That central piece is just at the point of starting," Wickert said.

Expense reporting is focus of next WorkCyte workshop

Another topic in WorkCyte's workshop series is rolling out. This one is especially relevant to faculty and staff who create, review or approve expense reports and employee reimbursements.

Attendees will receive an overview of the Workday expense report system's functions and terminology -- for example, how employees create and review expense reports, or how authorized personnel approve them. The 90-minute introductory workshop lays the groundwork for hands-on training that will take place closer to the Workday go-live date, July 1, 2019.

"We consider these targeted workshops to be early education," said Kristen Constant, interim vice president and chief information officer. "This is an opportunity to get an introduction to the features of Workday's expense functionality."

She said workshop attendees also will see a demonstration of the Workday expense report system tailored for Iowa State's use.

The expense reports workshop will be offered three times, all in 0198 Parks Library:

  • Wednesday, May 23 (10:30 a.m.-noon)
  • Thursday, June 14 (9-10:30 a.m.)
  • Tuesday, June 26 (2-3:30 p.m.)

Registration, limited to 100 people per session, is free and required. Sign up via Learn@ISU; search the catalog for the session you wish to attend. A waiting list is available.

Departments can contact the WorkCyte team to set up a team presentation. Workshop information will be added to WorkCyte's "Ready, Set, Learn" resources and new events page.


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State operating support continues its decline

The Iowa Legislature adjourned May 5 in a session that included a second consecutive midyear cut to the state Board of Regents system. Iowa State's portion of the reversion, $5.4 million, becomes permanent in the general university operating appropriation for fiscal year 2019 approved last week by the House and Senate. Additional state support to Iowa State in FY19 is unlikely to recoup that loss.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has 30 days to to sign, veto or line-item veto bills that passed in the last three days of the legislative session.

At just under $167.5 million for the year that begins July 1, the general university appropriation is 3.1 percent less than it was last July 1. Iowa State's general university appropriation last dipped below $170 million in 2012.

Direct appropriations totaling nearly $52 million for the Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension, livestock disease research, Center for Industrial Research and Service, Small Business Development Centers and the ISU Research Park remain unchanged from the current year. Operating funds for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory would go up $100,000, to $4.1 million.

New funds

The education appropriations bill includes $8.3 million in additional funds for the three regent universities "to support new strategic initiatives, meet enrollment increases, meet the demand for new courses and services, to fund new but unavoidable or mandated cost increases, and to support any other initiatives important to the core functions of the universities." The bill doesn't direct how the funds should be shared, and the regents will make that decision at their June 7 meeting in Cedar Falls.

Prior to the midyear reversion, the regent universities were requesting $12 million in additional state support for FY19, pledging to use it exclusively for resident undergraduate financial aid.

Building appropriations

The Legislature affirmed its multiyear support for two Iowa State building projects and committed partially to a third. Funding in the year that begins July 1 looks like this:

  • Biosciences buildings (Bessey Hall addition and Advanced Teaching and Research Building): $4 million (final of four years), total state funds of $50 million
  • Student Innovation Center: Appropriation is reduced to $6 million instead of $10 million, (third of six years), $4 million added to final year, total state funds of $40 million
  • New Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: $1 million (first of six years), total state funds of $63.5 million

The university's state funding request for the VDL remains $100 million toward the estimated $124 million facility. Private gifts ($20 million) and university funds ($4 million) are the other funding pieces.


'This could be you': ISU faculty, staff of color help Ames students harness passions


Associate professor of food science and human nutrition Angela Shaw (left), founder of Passion Academy, shown at Ames Middle School with academy volunteer mentors (left to right) Bralyn Beathea, Birch-Welch-Roberts hall director; Megan Kemp, senior in agronomy; and Theressa Cooper, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Submitted photo.

To help students of color -- including her own kids -- grasp the challenges they face in a largely white school, Angela Shaw describes it with bikes. It's like plodding down the road on a winter bike with thick grippy tires, riding alongside white friends with sleek, thin-wheeled racing bikes. Everybody's heading in the same direction, but they need to pedal harder. As an African-American woman on faculty at a predominantly white university, Shaw feels that, too.

"The difference between my child and me is I've learned strategies to cope," said Shaw, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition. "These kids need strategies. By the time they get to me, they've been beat up since preschool. And they haven't understood why they feel beat up."

With volunteer help from dozens of Iowa State faculty and staff of color, a new program called Passion Academy founded by Shaw provided those strategies throughout the school year to more than 50 Hispanic and black students in the sixth and seventh grades at Ames Middle School. While guiding students on how to navigate white spaces, Passion Academy encourages them to think of their interests as the launchpad for their education and career.  

"I want students to figure out what they're passionate about and allow that to drive them," Shaw said. "You tell me what you're passionate about, I can find you a degree. I can find you something that can make you love going to work every day."

Role modeling

In weekly lunchtime sessions from September through April, Iowa State employees volunteered to talk to students about their career journeys and lead presentations on skills essential to success in the classroom and the workplace. More than 40 black and Hispanic faculty and staff from 18 units and departments participated, including extension specialists, hall directors, professors, program staff, scientists, librarians and top administrators.


Vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart speaks to Ames Middle School students as a volunteer with Passion Academy. Submitted photo.

"We brought people in so they could see: 'This could be you,'" Shaw said.

One of the volunteers was Connie Hargrave, an associate professor in the School of Education and former director of Iowa State's Science Bound program. She said middle school is an ideal age to urge students to recognize their potential and how to achieve it.

"They're like sponges for ideas about how they should see themselves, for ideas about what they could be. They're very open to possibilities," Hargrave said. 

Sessions on skill development covered concepts ranging from making eye contact, shaking hands and speaking up, to identifying preferred learning styles, managing time and dealing with difficult people. Volunteers who returned in the spring were impressed by the progress students made, as were their teachers, Shaw said.   

"Teachers have noticed differences in our students -- how they behave, how they talk, how they react. We're teaching them, 'Yeah, the teacher's giving you attitude, but it's how you respond,'" she said. "Make that teacher take responsibility for you. Ask more questions. Ask for help."

Expanding goals

Shaw, a food safety expert, was driven to create Passion Academy, which debuted last fall after a shorter pilot program last spring, in part to create a more robust pool of potential faculty. Diversity in hiring is difficult in food science and food safety, as it is in many academic disciplines, she said.

By the end of the year, students' career goals were far more varied than at the outset, Shaw said. Mechanical engineer. Ag biosystems engineer. Therapist. Chemists who want to create cosmetics and coders who want to build video games. One was even interested in food safety. 

"We just really want to empower the next generation so we can get them here," she said.

Helping address the achievement gap for students of color in Ames schools was also a chief motivation for founding Passion Academy. Shaw said programs to help support minority K-12 students often don't focus on predominantly white districts. That students of color still lag behind academically in Ames, a resource-rich university town, speaks to the potency of the systemic failures in education, Hargrave said.

"It's an important thing for Iowa State. It's an important thing for our land-grant mission. It's in our backyard, and we have the resources and expertise to help meet the need. So I think it's critically important that we do," Hargrave said.

Future plans

Though it needs better financial support, after getting by its first year on a $500 grant from the office of diversity and inclusion and Shaw's incentive fund, the program will continue next year with some adaptations, she said. This year's seventh graders have the opportunity to move on to a district college-prep program called CONNECT. A similar Passion Academy curriculum to this year's will be provided for incoming sixth graders, though Shaw may expand the volunteer base to include trade professions that don't require a four-year degree.

But for this next fall's incoming seventh graders who already have been through one year of the program, Shaw plans to develop new lessons focused on research and learning that connects to students' individual career goals.

Hargrave said creative development in areas that interest them will help students realize they have value and can contribute now. It also emphasizes the benefits and joys of striving for what you want, she said.

"In an affluent society, it looks quite often like it's easy to be successful, that it doesn't take focused, committed and diligent effort and skill," she said. "Working hard is a good thing. It's not drudgery. You feel better about yourself. You feel better about what you're able to do."

Who's serving lunch?

The café in your building may have shuttered for the summer, but claiming "there's NOWHERE to eat" may be a bit dramatic. The Hub, Memorial Union food court and Clyde's in the Union Drive Community Center have closed for renovations, but in their place there's Lance and Ellie's premium sandwich shop, which opened in January adjacent to the MU food court, and ISU Dining's first food truck, Dinkey's, opening in mid-May near the Hub.

In addition, there are five cafés, three convenience stores and five other food trucks to serve you this summer. ISU Dining will operate two dining centers: Conversations in the Oak-Elm residence duo all summer, with Union Drive Marketplace (June) and Friley Windows (July) sharing the other spot. And remember that ISU Dining stocks a wide web of vending options, including beverages, frozen items and packaged as well as freshly prepared food items.

Starting at the Memorial Union and walking clockwise, here's a list of campus meal or snack options this summer.

Memorial Union

Friley Hall

  • Windows dining center (July only)

Union Drive Community Center

South of Hoover Hall

South of Beardshear Hall

North of the Hub

  • Food truck: Dinkey's (May opening date TBA)

Parks Library

Lagomarcino Hall

West of Kildee Hall

Frederiksen Court

Oak-Elm residence halls

College of Veterinary Medicine

Lots, streets to close May 17-18

Special Olympics venues

  • Bergstrom Football Complex (rain location only)
  • Beyer Hall (swimming)
  • Forker Building (developmental events)
  • Forker courts (tennis)
  • Hilton Coliseum (opening ceremony)
  • Iowa State Center parking lots (cycling)
  • Lied Center (track and field)
  • Lied fields (soccer, track and field)
  • Southeast recreation fields (bocce)

Select campus parking lots and roads will be closed to accommodate the annual Special Olympics Iowa summer games May 17-19. More than 2,500 athletes will compete in Iowa State venues, accompanied by hundreds of volunteers, coaches and family members.

Events include bocce, cycling, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field. The opening ceremony is Thursday, May 17, in Hilton Coliseum (7-9 p.m.). Spectators are welcome, and admission is free.

Road closures

  • Beach Road: Closed to through traffic from Lincoln Way to the power plant, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday 

  • South Fourth Street: Closed from Beach Avenue to just west of entrance to stadium parking lots, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday 

Parking lot closures

Portions of lot 100, south of the Lied Center, will close on Monday, May 14, for event preparations.

Parking lot closures later in the week include:

  • Beyer Hall: Lot 3, Friday (all day); open only to 24-hour reserve and handicap permit holders
  • Forker Building: Lot 50A, Thursday and Friday (all day); open only to 24-hour reserve and handicap permit holders
  • Iowa State Center: All lots between Center Drive and South Fourth Street, Thursday (12:01 a.m.-5 p.m.); commuter parking will move to the football stadium parking lots, with a CyRide stop located at lot S2
  • Lied Center: Lots 57 and 100, Thursday and Friday (all day, all vehicles)
  • Maple-Willow-Larch residence area: Lots 56, 63, 80, 89, 90 and 91, Thursday and Friday (all day); open only to Special Olympics or handicap permit holders
  • Richardson Court residence area: Lots 54, 54A, 66, 67, 82, 83, Thursday and Friday (all day); open only to Special Olympics or handicap permit holders
  • Southeast Recreation Complex: Lot G6, Thursday and Friday (all day)


Volunteer check-in is Thursday and Friday in lot S6, east of Jack Trice Stadium. Volunteers and visitors are asked to use the shuttles, which run from lot S6 to the competition venues on Thursday and Friday. Shuttles will not operate on Saturday and volunteer check-in moves to the Lied Center.