The ISU Plan prescription drug benefit now includes vaccines, which means employees and family members included on their health care insurance policy can receive a seasonal flu shot at a retail pharmacy.
Flu shots and other vaccines already were included under the medical portion of health care coverage but were excluded from the Express Scripts prescription drug plan. That meant that the only vaccinations administered in a doctor’s office or other clinical setting were covered by insurance, with the exception of the university-run flu shot clinic open only to ISU employees.
Extending vaccine coverage under the Express Scripts plan to in-network retail pharmacies, a change effective Sept. 1, provides an additional option that may be more convenient for some employees and their families. Vaccinations at a pharmacy will carry the same copayment as a preferred brand name drug, 30% of the cost with a $100 cap. A pharmacy can verify the cost of a vaccine before administering it.
Other than seasonal influenza, vaccines covered under the prescription plan include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Travel vaccines/bioterrorism (rabies, typhoid, yellow fever, anthrax, etc.)
- Childhood immunizations (measles, mumps, rubella [MMR]; varicella, poliomyelitis, etc.)
Employees are encouraged to receive their flu shots at the university's flu shot clinic, which opened Sept. 21 and runs through Oct. 2. The clinic is in the north lobby of Stephens Auditorium and open weekdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Older employees or those at higher risk due to medical conditions may go to the clinic daily from 9-10 a.m. No appointments are necessary. Be sure to bring your nine-digit employee number. Cyclones Care behaviors are in effect at the clinic, and employees will have their temperature checked and answer a symptom survey upon check-in.
Peter Dorhout from Kansas State University has been named Iowa State's next vice president for research (VPR). He will begin his tenure in Ames by Jan. 25, 2021.
Dorhout, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the American Chemical Society, currently serves as VPR and professor of chemistry at Kansas State.
"Dr. Dorhout comes to Iowa State with an impressive portfolio of accomplishments, not only as an internationally renowned chemist, but also as a collaborative and forward-thinking leader," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "Peter will be an outstanding partner for our faculty and staff scientists, as well as our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, as they build on the university's mission to create, share and apply knowledge to benefit our world."
Dorhout joined the Kansas State faculty in 2012, serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before being appointed to his current position in 2016. Dorhout also served as vice provost for graduate affairs and assistant vice president for research at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; interim provost at Colorado State University, Pueblo; and is a collaborator for chemistry and nuclear materials research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico.
"I am excited for the opportunity to support Iowa State's world-class researchers and programs, building on the university's established strengths such as biosciences and engineering, while expanding our capacity in the arts, social sciences and humanities, and maintaining a strong connection with the Ames Laboratory," Dorhout said. "I also look forward to working with faculty and students to support their entrepreneurial efforts and helping bring their discoveries to the marketplace."
Dorhout earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He completed a postdoc appointment at Iowa State and the U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory, serving with Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Corbett. He is a life member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.
In announcing Dorhout's appointment, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert thanked former VPR Sarah Nusser, who served in the post from February 2014 to last June, and interim VPR Guru Rao for their leadership of Iowa State's research programs. He also thanked members of the search committee and campus community for their thoughtful consideration of candidates.
In an open letter to Cyclone fans Sept. 24, President Wendy Wintersteen and athletics director Jamie Pollard shared plans for allowing about 15,000 spectators into Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Oct. 3, for the Big 12 Conference game against Oklahoma. A game time isn't set yet. In a 61,500-seat stadium, that's just under 25% capacity.
The letter's purpose, they wrote, is to "ask for your support in helping create a safe environment while also providing our team an impactful home field advantage."
All seats will be assigned -- including 1,000 in the student section -- to assist with efficient contact tracing later, if needed. The letter outlines strict COVID-19 mitigation rules and notes that anyone who disregards them will be denied admission or removed from the stadium.
"The safety of all participants and fans remains our top priority," they wrote. "Please understand that it will be critical that we receive full buy-in from everyone attending the game."
As spelled out in the letter, football season ticket holders who kept their 2020 tickets will receive a new seat location this week via email. Wintersteen and Pollard wrote that many fans have returned their tickets, and the anticipated attendance reflects that trend. The new seating assignments will reflect current Cyclone Club donations, priority points within the giving levels and former seat locations/price in a configuration that further improves physical distancing among fans.
With the elimination of general admission seating, the athletics department also had to cancel Junior Cyclone Club hillside seating for the season and will refund those tickets.
According to Wintersteen and Pollard, athletics department staff studied other universities' strategies for their student sections the last few weeks to see what works. As a result, all ISU students who purchased and kept their 2020 football season tickets will get a refund. Instead, the athletics department will conduct a drawing of those students for 1,000 complimentary, assigned seats for the Oct. 3 game. Keeping space between groups of students will be important for safety. Plans for student fans at future home football games hinges on how well students observe the mitigation plan Oct. 3, they added.
Wintersteen and Pollard wrote that the declining percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive -- on campus and in Story County -- influenced their decision for the Oct. 3 event. From a high of 33% on Aug. 30, the campus positivity rate dropped to less than 5% on Sept. 20, and the 10-day rolling average on campus was 4% on Sept. 22. The county's 14-day positivity rate went from 22% on Sept. 1 to 8% on Sept. 23.
Athletics leaders consulted with Duke University infectious disease doctors who run an independent service, Infection Control Education for Major Sports, and make recommendations to the NFL and Big 12 Conference. Leaders also talked with staff at the Kansas City Chiefs organization and other Big 12 Conference schools to learn more about their game-day operations with fans in attendance.
Cyclone fans care
Some of the game-day expectations Wintersteen and Pollard shared include:
- Fans who are sick or have any COVID-related symptoms should stay home.
- All fans should wear face coverings anytime they're not in their vehicles.
- Parking lots open two hours before kickoff. Tailgating isn't allowed on university property before or after the game. This ban includes grills, lawn chairs, tables, tents, coolers and lawn games.
- Fans should park their vehicles, gather their game gear and walk directly to a stadium entrance. Gates will open 90 minutes before kickoff; allow time to enter the stadium respecting physical distancing from other fans.
- Fans are asked to stay in their seats as much as possible and avoid gathering on the concourses. Concessions counters will serve only soda and water.
The state Board of Regents will ask for $18 million in new state funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1 -- Iowa State's portion would be $7 million -- and also ask the state to restore the $8 million cut from this year's operating appropriation to the three public universities. Iowa State's portion of the cut was $3.2 million. The universities would use the funds for student financial aid and to support online and hybrid teaching.
The board held a virtual meeting Sept. 23; fiscal year 2022 funding requests are due to the state Oct. 1.
The regents' FY22 state funding request also includes $2.9 million in additional economic development funding for state biosciences initiatives, 75% of which would further support the three platforms from a 2017 economic development report assigned to Iowa State: biobased chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, and vaccines and immunotherapy. The University of Iowa is pursuing a medical devices initiative. Since 2019, the two universities have asked for $1 million per year to develop each of the four ($4 million total); in the current year, total funding is just under $1.1 million.
The board's sole new building request to the state for FY22 is $30 million for deferred maintenance, fire and environmental safety, security and energy conservation projects. It would be shared by the three universities, Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Public Radio.
John Nash, director of facilities in the board office, told board members the deferred maintenance list for the regents system currently stands at $1.2 billion. Based on the percentage of state-funded square footage on each campus, he said Iowa State's share of $30 million is $11.4 million. ISU associate vice president for facilities planning and management Paul Fuligni offered a list of 14 priority projects in 11 buildings -- mostly to replace roof sections, windows, air handling units, chilled water lines and domestic water lines -- totaling nearly $12 million.
Zero net square footage
In conjunction with the appropriations request, the board also unanimously approved a restriction on campus building projects funded even partially by the state. The board's internal advisory group, appointed in April to look for efficiencies across the regents system, recommended that a campus' net square footage can't increase due to any new construction that involves state funding.
Regent and advisory group co-chair David Barker said the recommendation addresses two of the board's standing concerns: projections about a declining pool of college students and the impact of growing online enrollment on physical space needs. The pandemic "greatly accelerated these concerns," he said. "Until we have a better idea of where higher education is heading, the advisory group recommends that we not add additional building space at our three universities. No new net square footage."
Unless extended by the board, the moratorium would continue through June 2022. Exceptions are:
- Projects already approved (including future phases)
- Projects funded 100% by private gifts
- Health care facilities
Board president Mike Richards said the advisory group could present other recommendations for efficiency in November, but the board wouldn't take action on them until its February meeting.
Because the pandemic caused so much uncertainty about sports seasons, in August the board delayed approving university athletics budgets until its September meeting.
Athletics director Jamie Pollard outlined a year that could see operations expenses drop to 85% of a normal year, but revenues drop by half. The athletics department budgeted $2 million this year for COVID-19 testing for student athletes and coaches. Acknowledging that circumstances change almost daily, he told board members his current worst-case scenario is a budget deficit of $35 million for FY21. "Fans in the stands" this fall (football) and winter (basketball, wrestling) would help lower that number. Ticket sales, including premiums paid for club and suite options (about $35 million total) is a critical revenue source; Big 12 Conference and NCAA television revenue when competitions can be held (more than $40 million last year) is the other.
Pollard expressed confidence in two budget considerations:
- In the short term, the athletics department doesn't have cash flow difficulties.
- (Treating an FY21 year-end deficit like a bond repayment obligation), the department has options for paying off a deficit over 10 years.
The board also approved these Iowa State requests:
- A 2.3% increase ($1.9 million) to the Student Innovation Center's construction budget for audio-visual equipment in four areas not selected yet in original plans the board approved in December 2016. The areas are the stepatorium, team-based learning classroom, media production suite and the engineering capstone suite. The new budget is $85.9 million. University funds will cover the increase.
- An overall plan to replace the heating/cooling system in the 49-year-old Hilton Coliseum and bump out glass curtain walls on the south and north sides to widen the concourses for improved concession areas and easier guest movement in the building. There isn't a budget attached to the design, but private gifts and the athletics department's operation funds would pay for the project. Barker noted that approving initial planning this week (which will be covered by private donations) doesn't guarantee that the entire project will be approved. He said the future decision would reflect the pandemic's continuing impact on athletics programs.
- A 13.2% increase ($2.8 million) to the budget for the feed mill and grain science complex under construction at the Curtiss Farm along State Avenue and U.S. Highway 30. This increase is due to higher-than-expected proposals for designing and building the facility. The new budget is $24 million, $21 million of which is covered by private gifts. University funds will cover the increase.
- Begin planning for a renovation of all the bathrooms in Friley and Helser residence halls, home to 1,220 and 710 students, respectively. The intent is to reduce energy use and improve accessibility and privacy in the shower and toilet areas, and the work will update plumbing, mechanical, lighting and electrical systems. Residence department improvement funds will cover the estimated $27 million cost.
President Wendy Wintersteen and athletics director Jamie Pollard have named a committee to develop funding strategies in support of Stephens Auditorium.
Like many performing arts and athletic venues dependent on ticket sales, Stephens Auditorium has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the facility has deferred maintenance needs.
The committee will work with the Iowa State University Foundation to examine how individuals, businesses, foundations and other potential donors could contribute to sustain facility operations for the benefit of the university and Ames communities.
The committee members are:
- Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Donald Simonson, chair of the music and theatre department
- Chris Jorgensen, senior associate director of athletics for operations
- Grant Luther, event operations coordinator for the athletics department and ISU music alumnus active in music and theater productions during his student years
"We are always deeply grateful for the many ways our donors invest in Iowa State University, and this is another opportunity for them to make a difference to help ensure the arts remain an important part of our university community and culture," Wintersteen said.
The committee will examine approaches to sustaining operations as well as long-term opportunities that better position the Iowa State Center, which includes Stephens Auditorium, as a vibrant district for arts, culture and entertainment. Plans for a multi-use district have been part of a vision to expand opportunities for Stephens Auditorium. The proposed district may include a convention center, hotel, entertainment venues and more.
As an initial step, the ISU Foundation has created a webpage for donors to give online to support Stephens Auditorium.
2020 fall career fairs
- Engineering, Sept. 15-16
- People to People, Sept. 29
- Business, Industry and Technology, Sept. 30
- Agriculture and Life Sciences, Oct. 13-14
A month brought quite the change for Mike Gaul and the career services staff in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). The CALS director of career services saw numerous jobs and internships lost from April to May as the pandemic hit agriculture hard.
"In a week's time I had three major companies call and tell me they hated doing it, but they had to cancel an internship program," Gaul said.
Instead of seeing it as an obstacle, career services staff found other ways to help students through virtual one-on-one meetings.
"I give students credit," Gaul said. "Rather than wallow in their pity, they got after it. Most of the students who had things rescinded ended up with an internship because they got after it."
Since February, the national unemployment rate went from 3.5% to nearly double digits, which has career services directors telling students to start early and be persistent.
"I send out communication about three times a week in an attempt to stay top-of-mind for students but not overwhelm them," Ivy College of Business career coordinator Brooke Long said.
After the university made the move to virtual instruction in March, career services staff began planning what fall career fairs would look like. The career services council -- made up of directors from each college -- decided to move fairs online for the first time and was able to contract with CareerEco to host the events.
The quick decision was key as most colleges and universities were trying to do the same thing, Gaul said.
"You can only imagine how many schools were reaching out to (CareerEco) to put on these virtual events," he said.
The Business, Industry and Technology, Agriculture and Life Sciences and People to People career fairs will all use CareerEco. The Engineering Career Fair took place Sept. 15-16, using the CyHire system.
The Engineering Career Fair saw 400 employers and 6,000 students participate. Going virtual did not limit interaction, with more than 15,000 chats between students and employers.
Employers had positive feedback, and engineering career services assistant director Kellie Mullaney said it gave them ideas for improvement in the future.
"You want to help your students and employers prepare as much as possible ahead of time," Mullaney said. "We hosted multiple preparation and practice events for both students and employers. I think this helped them to feel much more confident and prepared going into the career fair."
Unlike in-person fairs, students must sign up for the virtual events in advance through CareerEco, which has advantages. Students are able to:
- Upload their resume
- Check an interest box that sends their resume to an employer before the event
- Access all job postings made by visiting companies
- See a list of all employers attending
Students can schedule appointments with employers, and all interactions are done through a chatroom in a group or one-on-one setting, depending on the employer's preference.
"You still have to get dressed up because there is video interaction, and it is very similar to in-person where you have to bring your 'A' game and be ready to sell yourself," Gaul said.
About a month from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences event -- the largest in the nation -- more than 400 students already signed up. With the online format, the college expanded the career fair to two days for the first time.
The Ivy College of Business produced videos to walk students through the technology and will host a mock virtual career fair.
Career services estimates 60% of capacity for businesses taking part in fairs versus fall 2019, but the decline is driven more by economic factors than the transition online, Gaul said.
Some companies did push back on the online format, but Gaul said physical distancing requirements and the inability to offer equal access to students provided little choice.
"All of us in career services would prefer to be face-to-face," he said. "We all recognize the value of that."
Both Long and Gaul said jobs and internships still are available. Gaul credits companies for finding ways to make their internships work during a pandemic and being willing to learn the technology to take part.
"We are seeing a consistent flow of jobs into CyHire," Long said. "Employers have indicated to us that they are adapting and changing to continue to offer competitive internship experiences for students."
She said students must be adaptable, too.
"I tell students to really think big picture and long-term about how an opportunity could benefit them," Long said. "It is a matter of stacking the cards they are given as much in their favor as possible."
When Ellen McKinney walks around campus she can't help but smile seeing students wearing a university-supplied face covering. The smile may be obscured by her own, but that doesn't diminish the pride she feels for playing a part in taking the student face covering from concept to reality.
"I feel a bit of ISU pride any time I see a student walking across campus wearing one of these masks," the associate professor in apparel, events and hospitality management (AESHM) said. "It was wonderful to use our textiles science and design expertise to help create something that positively impacts our students every day."
University leaders decided this summer to provide face coverings to students. The expertise to make it happen was already on campus.
"They wanted us involved because we know the functional properties that are important as well as the aesthetics," AESHM chair Eulanda Sanders said. "Our department works to solve problems in everyday life, and when we do that very well it makes people's lives easier."
Sanders, McKinney and former teaching professor Changhyun Nam joined a committee in June with assistant vice president for specialty business services and cultural arts Duane Reeves, ISU Police chief Michael Newton, trademark licensing office manager Leesha Zimmerman, procurement services' Cory Harms and Kelly Freel, and Student Government president Morgan Fritz and vice president Jacob Schrader to design and deliver face coverings to students for the fall semester.
Several months into the pandemic, Sanders, McKinney and Nam were researching face coverings and design before they were tasked with this project.
"Ellen had ideas about the best fabrics, and Nam looked at different designs because when you see a lot of masks they don't fit the face well," Sanders said.
Nam worked with a team of students in the spring to improve surgical face coverings, allowing him to apply that knowledge to this project.
There were two main questions for designing a face covering for students: Does it filter appropriately? Is it comfortable?
"For comfort, we didn't want any fabrics that were itchy or would make you sweat," McKinney said. "We also looked at durability because we knew it had to be washable."
One of the reasons student face coverings differ from those supplied to faculty and staff is because of the demands put on them. McKinney knew durability in the washing machine and comfort would go a long way to encouraging students to wear a face covering, a key component of the Cyclones Care campaign.
The original design came in three pieces to better shape the users face, but the final product was a single piece that maintained the shaping concept.
The end result was a 100% woven cotton face covering 9 inches wide by 6.5 inches high in Cardinal red with the I-State logo on it. The face covering is sturdy enough to block particles but also features a small pocket for wearers to add a filter.
Adjustable ear loops and a nose wire keep glasses from fogging up and fit a range of face types.
With the specifications determined, procurement services sent a request for proposals to 42 vendors licensed to produce items with the ISU logo. Vendors sent images back to the committee, which narrowed the choices to three and prototypes were produced.
"We tried to make it a quick turnaround time, and the full duration of the bid was 10 days," Freel said. "A lot of times we will give suppliers 14 to 21 days, but since time was of the essence we had to speed it up."
The student committee members provided feedback and McKinney and Schrader tested the prototypes. The selection was made and an order was placed, requiring 35 days to complete. The individually wrapped face coverings came in two shipments of 55,000 and 60,000.
Face coverings were distributed to students during campus residence hall and apartment move-in, and volunteers handed them out at distribution tents on the opening days of the semester. More face coverings were made available in college student services offices and the ISU Book Store also received an inventory to sell, both online and in the store.
"Originally, we were going to have the masks for the first day of classes, but when residence bumped up their testing dates we pushed the supplier and they got them to us a week before they were supposed to," Reeves said.
Twenty-seven faculty and staff were selected to participate in the 2020-21 cohort of Iowa State's Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA). The group began the program virtually Sept. 3.
ELA, established in 2009, is an academic-year initiative to better prepare faculty and P&S staff currently serving in leadership roles at Iowa State or who aspire to hold leadership positions in the future. Participants attend monthly sessions on topics associated with leadership theory and practice, communication, formal presentation, understanding environment and culture, budgeting and resource management, performance management and ethical leadership.
Participants also complete capstone projects that address university needs and support Iowa State's strategic plans. Recent projects have focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the Student Innovation Center, creating welcoming events for international students, an e-book on ISU history through diverse lenses and a succession plan for separated employees.
ELA is led by faculty director Rod Bagley, professor and chair of veterinary clinical sciences; and Katharine Hensley, faculty success coordinator in the office of the senior vice president and provost. Members of this year's class are:
- Sarah Adams, Ivy College of Business undergraduate program
- Abram Anders, English
- Bradley Blitvich, veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine
- Soma Chaudhuri, computer science
- Kristin Doerder, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administration
- Monica Haddad, community and regional planning
- Brian Housholder, facilities planning and management
- Chris Johnsen, ISU Extension and Outreach store
- Karen Kedrowski, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics
- Thomas Koschny, Ames Laboratory
- Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, food science and human nutrition
- Karin Lawton-Dunn, Graduate College career services
- Huifang Mao, marketing
- Amber Miller, provost's office
- Eric Olson, apparel, events and hospitality management
- Rita Phillips, ISU Book Store
- Andrea Rich, sponsored programs administration
- Tim Shepherd, agricultural and biosystems engineering
- Karina Silva, English
- Heather Smith, office of university counsel
- Shelley Taylor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences global programs
- Brian Vanderheyden, student wellness
- Tim Van Loo, athletics
- Austin Viall, veterinary pathology
- Rachel Vos Carrillo, human development and family studies
- TJ Wertz, information technology services
- Andrea Wheeler, architecture
First-generation or low-income Iowa State undergraduates or those with a disability will continue to benefit from academic, financial literacy and mentoring guidance designed to help them stay in school and complete their degrees. Student Support Services (SSS), a grant-funded program at Iowa State since 1980, has been renewed by the U.S. Department of Education. The latest grant is $1.97 million over five years.
210 Student Services Building
Director Robert Lipsey said the program serves 250 students each year with academic tutoring, math and reading/writing instruction, financial literacy, financial aid/scholarship applications, academic advising and career planning. It also pairs first-time and returning participants for peer mentoring and assists with "next step" efforts -- either helping community college transfer students acclimate to Iowa State or undergraduates make plans for graduate or professional school. The staff includes two assistant directors, an administrative assistant and six part-time student positions. And while there's less face-to-face time with students and more virtual sessions than normal this fall due to the pandemic, Lipsey said his staff are making connections and interacting regularly with students.
"Iowa State is a great partner for our services. Academic advisers and faculty know about our program and the supportive community we have and send us referrals," he said.
Lipsey said the undergraduates he and his team serve often are familiar with some of the eight U.S. Department of Education TRIO programs from their high school or a community college. Or perhaps SSS helped a sibling or cousin at Iowa State or another school.
"We're fortunate that we don't have to do much recruiting. They know about Student Support Services, they're familiar with that community-building environment and they seek us out," Lipsey said.
Student Support Services is one of four TRIO programs Iowa State offers. Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search focus on students in grades 6-12 from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide programming to help them complete high school and enroll in a college or university. The McNair Program prepares first-generation, low income and underrepresented ISU undergraduates for doctoral programs.