New spot in the mix


Photo by Christopher Gannon.

The renovated food court at the Memorial Union opened right before the start of the fall semester, putting a new dining option into the mix for students, faculty and staff. In the center of the freshened-up space is The Mix, a salad bar and buffet with rotating hot-food choices for breakfast and lunch. Check out the online menu to see the day's offerings. It's one of several new and overhauled ISU Dining operations opening this year.

Responsibilities, reporting lines could change for some staff

Iowa State's move to Workday software will change the way transactions for finance and human resources are done, and an important part of improved service delivery is determining who will be doing that work. Proposed models for improving service delivery -- which may change reporting lines and position descriptions for staff who work with finance and human resources systems -- are being presented at campus meetings and open forums this month. 

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Beate Schmittmann and vice president for research Sarah Nusser are leading the presentations. They are co-chairs of the Institutional Effectiveness Leadership Team (IELT) that collaborated with campus leaders and others to develop the proposed service delivery models for finance and human resources. Feedback will be used to finalize the team's improved service delivery recommendation to President Wendy Wintersteen in November.

Why change?

Improved service delivery is closely tied to other big changes scheduled to begin July 1, 2019. They include:

"We are undergoing a lot of changes to improve how the enterprise functions," Wintersteen said prior to the inaugural presentation at an Oct. 2 president's council meeting. "The motivation for this change is to have the tools we need -- the technology, the right training and really, in the end, the right system that allows everyone at Iowa State to make the best use of their time every day, instead of getting bogged down in what have been some of our old systems."

New expert roles

Town hall meetings

  • Oct. 10, 9-10:30 a.m., MU Cardinal Room (livestream)
  • Oct. 11, Noon-1:30 p.m., MU Pioneer Room (livestream)

Feedback and questions

Learn more

At an Oct. 3 open forum hosted by the Professional and Scientific Council, Schmittmann said the models do not eliminate positions. Instead, they reorganize and create them.

"We want to build on the knowledge we already have," she said. "We know that Iowa State is already a very lean institution. This improved service delivery effort is not an effort to reduce our workforce."

The proposed models form teams of "functional specialists" to support units while providing consistent performance. The new functional specialist roles provide expertise in certain areas, for example in accounting, procurement or employee onboarding.

"These new models recognize that services can be more effectively provided by employees who are experts in these areas," Nusser said. "People who are knowledgeable about HR, people who are knowledgeable about specific financial services -- when they're doing this full time, they have the capacity to be effective and efficient."

But that doesn't mean all HR and finance work would be moved out of units. Schmittmann pointed to the structure of the ISU Foundation, with development staff embedded within departments and colleges. Foundation employees work closely with unit-level staff and administrators -- many of them in the same physical office -- but report to foundation supervisors.

The proposed functional specialist positions would be open to current staff -- those interested in a specialized role and others identified as part of a talent pool to draw from. Position responsibilities of employees not interested in specialist roles also would be changed, based on their skills and units' needs.

"It's really going to be an important phase of the work, to work with the individuals whose job descriptions might change as a result of this transition," Nusser said.

Reporting lines

In both models, a collaborative approach is used for supervisory reporting. Specialist positions have direct reporting lines to central HR and finance managers while providing day-to-day support to units.

Reporting lines would match specialized staff with central supervisors who have similar knowledge and expertise. Central managers and specialist teams would collaborate closely with unit leaders and staff, and be familiar with unique unit needs. The units would participate in the hiring and performance evaluations of the specialist positions supporting their work.

Human resources model

As proposed, the human resources model supports units through specialized HR partners and coordinators who are experts in Workday's HR processes, with reporting lines to central HR managers. Schmittmann said the specialist teams could vary in size and number of units served.

"Sometimes, if a unit is large, it may have its own human resources team," Schmittmann said. "If units are smaller, they may share a team. The understanding is that the teams and the units work very closely together to get the work accomplished that moves the university forward."

Finance model

The proposed model for finance creates specialist roles in three central areas: procurement and expense, financial services, and grants fiscal management. Fiscal officers would remain directly affiliated with units, still responsible for unit-level budget planning. Central finance managers would oversee specialist teams. Again, the size and alignment of the teams could vary based on the units served.

"There are aspects of the models that look the same, but the finance model is different from the HR model," Nusser said. "The focus in the [finance] model is on specific types of financial actions. It takes good understanding and technical knowledge in order to get things right the first time -- and that's part of the goal of this whole system."

What's next

At least 16 presentations to groups and units are scheduled throughout October, including a pair of livestreamed town hall meetings next week (Oct. 10 and 11). Feedback and questions are encouraged at the presentations and online. Submissions can be anonymous.

Work will move quickly when finalized models are adopted, likely by December. That work includes developing new and revised position descriptions, identifying and filling new roles, training personnel, and having many conversations with affected staff -- all with the July 1 deadline on the horizon.

Schmittmann and Nusser acknowledged that the structures will continue to evolve after they're finalized.

"We are really committed to establishing a feedback loop," Nusser said. "We know this is not going to come out perfectly the very first time."

"We'll have to be very attuned to the concerns of the units and the functional specialist teams in order to make this work and iron out the inevitable wrinkles," Schmittmann said.


Veterinary Medicine dean Dan Grooms

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Dr. Dan Grooms began serving as the Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Veterinary Medicine on Oct. 1.

Grooms comes to Iowa State from Michigan State, East Lansing, where he'd been a faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine since 1997 and chair of the large animal clinical sciences department since 2014. His expertise is infectious diseases in cattle.

The Ohio native earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and two degrees from Ohio State University, Columbus -- a veterinary medicine (DVM) degree and a Ph.D. in veterinary preventive medicine. In between the two doctoral programs, he worked in a private practice in central Ohio for five years.

Grooms' office is in 2508 Vet Med administration. He can be reached by phone at 294-9860, by email at

Grooms succeeds Lisa Nolan, who left Iowa State in May 2017 to become dean of the veterinary medicine college at her alma mater, University of Georgia, Athens. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of the veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine department and executive director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, served as interim dean.

Making ideas real: How LAS, Business colleges are using new endowments

As Beate Schmittmann sometimes tells people, she is living every dean's dream. Thanks to the largest single private gift to the university, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences she leads has millions in new recurring revenue to boost students, faculty and programs.

"A lot of ideas and conversations, now we can make them real," Schmittmann said.

But in the wake of not one but two transformative gifts last year to Iowa State colleges, she's not the only dream-living dean on campus.  

An anonymous couple donated an equity stake in a Massachusetts-based education company to the ISU Foundation to establish the Transforming Liberal Arts and Sciences Fund. The $159 million net proceeds from the sale of the equity stake, a final total $14 million higher than estimated last fall, created an endowment that will generate about $6 million annually. In addition, Debbie and Jerry Ivy's $50 million gift to the ISU Foundation was unveiled last fall. The donation, also one of Iowa State's largest, is reflected in the name of the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business, the university's first named college. Once fully vested, the Ivy endowment will provide about $2 million annually for the college.

Schmittmann and David Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Ivy College of Business, have begun to invest the endowment proceeds. Here's a look at what they're targeting so far:

Saying 'yes' to students

In broad strokes, the Transforming Liberal Arts and Sciences Fund will devote $1 million to faculty fellowships and professorships, $1 million to program support and $1 million for innovation, leaving nearly half of the annual endowment revenue, about $2.5 million, for student support.

"We can't say 'yes' to everyone, but we're saying 'yes' to a lot more students than before," Schmittmann said.

Scholarship funding for LAS students has more than tripled, both in the number of awards and their financial value, up from $800,000 per year. That includes a dramatic increase in awards offered to incoming students -- to 1,200 per year from 32 -- and new two-year scholarships that provide students greater stability.

New scholarship funding also is available for a variety of high-impact learning experiences, such as working an unpaid internship for a nonprofit or community organization, conducting undergraduate research, student teaching and studying abroad.

Some of those funding programs still are ramping up. Others, like study abroad scholarships, increased in time for students to take advantage of opportunities last summer. About $150,000 in scholarships were available for overseas study, up from $30,000, said Schmittmann, who recounted the life-changing experience a student had in Australia this summer.

"The conversations she had about immigration, about Brexit, about American power in the world, were really transformative for her. It really changed her perspective, how she views herself as an American citizen," Schmittmann said.

With so many new scholarship opportunities, college officials are trying to spread the word in as many ways as they can. Schmittmann said the university's new centralized undergraduate scholarship application portal, OneApp, will be helpful in administering the increased awards.

Other LAS initiatives

The endowment is funding the new LAS Dean's Professorships, which are three-year awards -- renewable for one additional three-year term -- for top educators and researchers. Schmittmann hopes to award three each year. The amounts vary but are designed to be large enough to make an impact. The college announced the inaugural recipients in August.

The new revenue also will pay to bring artists to campus and send Iowa State's own creative faculty to other institutions for similar opportunities. The Dean's Faculty Fellow in the Arts will cover the cost of the teaching responsibilities of ISU faculty who want to pursue off-campus opportunities such as directing or acting in a play. An artist-in-residence program will bring accomplished artists to Ames for short-term master classes, performances and workshops. Applications for both awards for the 2019-20 academic year will be due in March.

Knowing that the artist-in-residence program is on solid footing is key to making it work, Schmittmann said. Top performers and writers often are booked years in advance. "That's a big piece in trying to attract high-profile folks," she said.

Innovation funding will be available for departments looking to rebuild their curriculums and for infrastructure improvements. One facility upgrade already being planned is a renovation of the college's career services center in Carver Hall. An overhaul will provide more interview space and intensive interview coaching for sophomores, Schmittmann said.

Program support is directed toward three areas valued by the donors: the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, music and theatre, and the burgeoning data science department. Endowment funds will accelerate development of the data science degree approved this summer by the state Board of Regents, and the journalism school was able to hire a new faculty member and establish a program excellence fund.

Funding for the music and theatre department will assist with the costs of staging its performances, Schmittmann said. The new revenue also helped spur ISU Theatre's new CoLab initiative, a plan to collaborate with an on- or off-campus partner for every production. Pointing to the variety of majors pursued by students involved in theater and music programs, Schmittmann said the department is an example of how the college impacts all students.

"There's just so much interaction and so much engagement," she said. "That's part of what makes the Iowa State experience so unique for people, to have this combination of experiences."

Raising the profile

The Ivy gift, which will be donated in stages, isn't yet providing the college with the full $2 million in annual revenue, but Spalding already put several new initiatives in place.

Chief among them is a 15 percent increase in scholarship funding, totaling more than $1 million annually for the first time. The new scholarships target specific areas, Spalding said, including awards for high-performing, female community college transfer students. That was important to Debbie Ivy, a community college student herself, he said.

The college also increased its professional development funds -- meaning more conference travel and research money are available for faculty and more training for staff, Spalding said.

"We wanted to make sure that everyone in the college benefits from the wonderful gift from the Ivys," he said.

The Ivys' goal in establishing the endowment was to help the college raise its national and international profile, which Spalding aims to do with additional support for three disciplines: supply chain management, entrepreneurship and business analytics. The three emerging areas for the college didn't have departmental scholarships, so the college established awards for students studying in each discipline, he said.

The college also is boosting outside-the-classroom experiences related to those three fields, including a new staff position at the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship devoted to creating new programming for all interested students, he said.

Years down the road, future Business deans likely will see other growth areas as ways to improve the college's stature, Spalding said. 

"This endowment will give them the flexibility to makes those investments," he said.  

A look back at Watergate

Forty-six years after the Watergate break-in and investigation, Des Moines Register opinion editor Kathie Obradovich will moderate a panel to discuss lessons learned from that event in American politics. The discussion will begin at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, in the Memorial Union Great Hall.

Obradovich, an Ames High and Iowa State alumna, was named the Register's opinion editor in April. Previously, she worked as the paper's political columnist (2009-18) and political editor (2003-09). She is a lecturer in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

The scheduled panel members are:

  • Journalist and author Nick Kotz, who wrote for the Des Moines Register (1958-70) and subsequently for the Washington Post, and won a 1968 Pulitzer Prize (national reporting) for writing about conditions in meatpacking plants. He has written six books examining American history and public policy.
  • Ames native Edward Mezvinsky, who was an Iowa member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1973-77) and member of the House Judiciary Committee during the 1974 hearings that recommended the impeachment of President Richard Nixon to the full House of Representatives. This month, Parks Library's special collections department announced its receipt of the Edward M. Mezvinsky papers.
  • Attorney Jonathan Yarowsky, who served as general counsel to the House Judiciary Committee (1991-95) where he oversaw the work of six subcommittees, and special counsel to President Bill Clinton (1995-98). He has been a partner in two Washington, D.C., private law firms since then.

Watergate began as a June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office complex. The term expanded to include President Richard Nixon and his top administrators' attempt to cover up their involvement in the crime. Facing likely impeachment in the U.S. House, Nixon resigned in August 1974.

As a prologue to the evening, Meredith Evans, director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Atlanta, will give a public lecture on the value of presidential and political papers. Her talk, "Beyond Legacy: Archives and History," begins at 4 p.m. in Parks Library's upper rotunda.

Are you cyber secure?

For national cyber security month, information technology services is putting its experts out there. On Thursdays in October, IT security team members will be available at a table outside Parks Library (noon-4 p.m.). Visitors are invited to ask questions, learn about resources and walk away with goodies and freebies.

IT will feature weekly topics during the monthlong national awareness campaign. Look for social media posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), videos and features based on four themes:

  • "Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety"
  • "Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity"
  • "It's Everyone's Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work"
  • "Safeguarding the Nation's Critical Infrastructure"