Celebrating their accomplishment

Three graduating students take photos at the university wall

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Soon-to-be graduates Nicole Benson (left on the wall), a criminal justice and psychology major from Plymouth, Minnesota, Jenna Ashley, kinesiology major from Arlington Heights, Illinois, and photographer Meghan Kelly, an accounting major also from Arlington Heights, take advantage of Tuesday's blue skies to get started on their graduation week photo albums. Nearly 5,100 students completed degree programs this semester.

Hilary Seo named dean of library services

Hilary Seo

Hilary Seo

Hilary Seo has been named dean of library services, effective May 10. Seo, the library's associate dean of curation services, has served as interim dean since July 2019.

"Hilary has done an impressive job leading the Library through the challenges of the past year, while also advancing critical areas such as open access, digital scholarship, open educational resources, and diversity and inclusion," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "Working with our outstanding library faculty and staff and partners across campus, I am confident she will continue to develop innovative initiatives that serve the needs of our scholarly community."

Seo earned a bachelor's degree in physical anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara; a master's in library and information sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and a certificate of advanced study in preservation administration from the University of Texas, Austin. She joined the Iowa State faculty in 2003 after serving at the Georgetown University Law Library, Washington, D.C., and the Getty Research Institute's Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los Angeles.

"It's a great honor to be selected as dean of library services," Seo said. "I look forward to working with our talented team to support Iowa State's land grant mission of teaching, research and extension; working with students, faculty and staff on campus to make their work accessible around the globe, as well as serving the information needs of Iowans."

In making the announcement, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert thanked members of the search committee and campus community for their thoughtful consideration of candidates. More information about the library services unit is online. 

Coming this fall: More infant care, child-friendly library space

Two projects that will provide more support for Iowa State students and employees with children -- an expansion of infant care capacity at University Community Childcare (UCC) and a new study room at Parks Library designed for parents with kids in tow -- are set to open this fall.

While incremental, the projects are important improvements that will make campus more welcoming for parents of young children, said Cris Broshar, WorkLife and family services coordinator.

"I think these are steps in the right direction that hopefully provide a foundation for even more to come," she said.

Infant care growing

Adding eight new spots at UCC for infant child care comes from converting space that formerly housed the Comfort Zone, a program that provided care for mildly ill children. A child care task force report released last fall recommended closing the little-used Comfort Zone and repurposing the room for additional infant care, which is in high demand in the Ames area. The task force's report noted that at the time, 350 infants were on the waitlist at campus child care centers, which had 58 infant slots.  

Searching for care?

Employees who will need child care by late summer should start their search now. UHR's child care and family services webpage shares resources that could help. To discuss options or concerns, email the WorkLife team. 

Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral provides free customized referrals to local child care providers. Call (855) 244-5301 to speak to a referral specialist or conduct a search via an online portal 24-7. See the agency's guide to choosing quality child care for more information.  

Remodeling work inside the new infant care space should finish by the end of next week, Broshar said. Half walls that segmented the space to isolate ill children were removed, giving staff better visibility, she said. The renovation also involved new flooring, including a softer surface for the play area. Work on the classroom's outdoor space is scheduled for June, including new sod and a sidewalk loop in a fenced-in area of about 1,800 square feet. UCC hopes to open the new room by Aug. 1.

The overall project budget is about $150,000, nearly 30% of it covered by two state grants obtained by UHR staff: $35,500 for equipment and furnishings from the state Department of Human Services' Investing in Iowa Child Care funding program and a matching grant of $6,250 from Iowa Workforce Development's Child Care Challenge Fund.

UCC staff will use the center's waiting list to fill the eight slots for children 12 months old or younger, Broshar said. The center will regain another four spots this fall when it restores the usual 12-child capacity for its other infant room, as expected, she said. Due to COVID-19, that space has been limited to 8 children. Parents interested in enrolling at UCC should contact center staff by email or phone, 294-9838.

Taking kids to Parks Library

In a survey of student parents in February 2020, two-third of respondents said they would appreciate more child-friendly areas on campus -- making it easier to bring their kids to campus with them, Broshar said. A review of other institutions suggested a dedicated room in the library would be a helpful solution, she said.   

"A study space made the most sense," she said.

Funded in partnership with the University Library, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and Student Government, the parent space will be safe for all ages but designed to host children ages 3-12. The room is in the media center in the library's lower level and will be stocked with toys, materials and a computer learning station for kids and two work stations with docks and an in-room printer for parents.

An online reservation will be required to use the room, so parents won't come to campus with children only to find the space occupied. The goal is to open the room this fall, Broshar said.

Promotions approved for 45 term faculty

In the second year of the new classification system for Iowa State's term faculty, 45 of 46 promotion cases were approved for the 2021-22 academic year. Iowa State employed approximately 580 term faculty this year.

More than half of the promotions approved this spring were in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which provides more than 40% of student credit hours taught and employs about 35% of the university's term faculty.


2021-22 Advancement: Term faculty



To associate professor

To full professor

Agriculture and Life Sciences
















Human Sciences




Liberal Arts and Sciences




Veterinary Medicine








The new system is universitywide and replaced a network of college processes for appointments, evaluation and advancement that could be inconsistent. Each of five tracks includes the ranks of assistant, associate and full professor, replacing what formerly was a two-step advancement process. The five tracks are:

  • Teaching: Spend at least 75% of their time on instruction, advising and curriculum coordination
  • Clinical (largely in the College of Veterinary Medicine): Spend at least 75% of their time providing professional services to individual patients or clients and teaching.
  • Research: Spend 80% of their effort on externally funded research.
  • Practice: Come from nonacademic employers and have significant professional experiences. They also spend at least 75% of their time teaching in their area of expertise or related activities.
  • Adjunct: Responsibilities may not be focused in one area. This appointment can help ISU retain or recruit outside experts or strong faculty members.

There also is a lecturer option for teaching term faculty who are early in their careers.

Returning to campus, vaccines are focus in town hall

The vaccinations and preparations that will pave the way for a campus bustling with students, faculty and staff this fall were the focus in an April 29 town hall with senior university leaders and medical experts.

Senior leaders announced April 19 that with COVID-19 presenting less of a risk due to vaccines, Iowa State plans to resume its pre-pandemic mode this fall -- including in-person classes, services and other operations. Staff who were working remotely during the pandemic will return to their campus workspaces by Aug. 2. Faculty will return by Aug. 19. 

While appropriate science-based health and safety practices will continue, numerous risk mitigation measures established during the pandemic will be adjusted in the coming months. In early June, information will be released about issues such as office space and capacity, cleaning protocols and ventilation, President Wendy Wintersteen said. New guidelines for gatherings and events should be released soon, said John Lawrence, Moving Forward Coordinating Committee chair and vice president of extension and outreach.

For now, the face covering policy remains in effect, Wintersteen, Lawrence and associate vice president for student health and wellness Erin Baldwin affirmed in a May 5 campus message. A decision on face covering requirements for the fall will be announced in mid-July, they said. 

Work flex rules by October

Based on feedback in the 2017 campus climate survey and the work of the child care task force, university human resources (UHR) was already developing a program to give staff more flexibility in their work hours and locations before COVID-19 struck, said Kristi Darr, vice president for UHR.

The widespread remote work for safety reasons during the pandemic threw a wrench in that process, Darr said. Returning to the workplace before rolling out new guidelines on flexible work is important for properly aligning the program, she said. Wintersteen said the flexible work program will be comprehensive and consider many options. 

"Once employees return to campus and the work flex program is finalized in October, careful planning and conversations can occur for implementing this program in departments and units," she said. 

Wintersteen praised the resiliency, adaptability and commitment of faculty and staff during the pandemic, both those who continued to work on campus and those who have operated remotely for more than a year -- a temporary but necessary arrangement. 

"It was a big change when we made the abrupt shift to remote work last spring, and we know it will be a big change returning to campus this summer," she said. 

See UHR's FAQ about returning to campus for more information.

Vaccination plans

Through April 28, ISU has vaccinated 5,923 people, including more than 5,100 students, said Baldwin, director of Thielen Student Health Center. That does not include individuals who have been vaccinated off campus.

The university currently is offering Pfizer second doses and one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines to all students and employees at its mass vaccination clinic in State Gym. Sign up online to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on May 6-7. Pfizer second doses are available May 11-13 and 18-20. 

Another call this week for employees to volunteer to work nonclinical roles at the clinic quickly filled up all needed shifts. Volunteers have been critical to operating the clinic.

"Thanks to everyone for doing your part to help us get to the other side of the pandemic," Wintersteen said. 

Recent changes in Iowa Department of Public Health regulations allow the clinic to provide first or second doses of a two-shot vaccine even if the other dose has been or will be administered at a different location, Baldwin said. 

Another mass vaccination clinic may be held in the fall when students return to campus. Baldwin said she's been excited by vaccine interest on campus.

"We want all of our students and employees to have the opportunity to be in the classroom, attend athletic events, spend time with family and friends, and find their community of people that makes Iowa State such a special place to be," she said. 

While Iowa State encourages the campus community to get vaccinated, it doesn't have the authority to require it for students or employees. Requiring a vaccine approved under an emergency authorization is arguably not legal under federal law, plus the state Board of Regents has prohibited COVID-19 vaccine requirements for 2020-21 and a state bill barring COVID-19 vaccine requirements is likely to pass, university counsel Michael Norton said.

Vaccines effective

A fall semester close to pre-pandemic normal is possible because of the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. They are more than 90% effective after people are fully vaccinated and, for the two-shot vaccines, close to 70-80% after the first dose, said Dan Fulton, an infectious disease specialist at McFarland Clinic in Ames.

Fulton recommends that anyone unsure about getting a vaccine talk to their doctor.  

"Every day we are getting more information, and now 150 million Americans are vaccinated," he said. "Generally, we have very safe vaccines, and the result so far has been dramatic: fewer infections, fewer hospitalizations."

He believes vaccinations for those as young as 12 could be approved in May, and trials are beginning to study use in even younger children. While parents with small children may be concerned about the risks of school or child care, large outbreaks of COVID-19 haven't occurred in those settings in the Ames area -- in part due to diligent use of face coverings, Fulton said. 

Also, children typically don't get as sick from COVID-19 as adults, and the risk of vaccinated parents bringing the virus home to infect children is low, he said. Regardless, Fulton acknowledged it is "weird" and "hard" for parents returning to the office after working remotely. 

"But you spend one or two days back, and all of a sudden it's kind of normal to be here again," he said. "Do what you can do, be thoughtful."

Data storage slimming focus turns to Google

Nicely done, Cyclone data storage users. Tasked back in December with reducing the university's storage in CyBox 30% by June 30 to avoid overage penalties, employees and students responded in a big way. From 1,800 terabytes (TB) last fall, current data storage has dropped to 793 TB, well below the 1,200 TB quota imposed by the service, Box, as a strategy to rein in its education clients.

Due to the effort of CyBox users and IT professionals, a phased plan for individual CyBox storage quotas never even had to be implemented.

While there has been a steady increase in the university's data storage in Google products (Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos) since December, Jason Shuck said the decrease in CyBox storage hasn't matched the increase in Google storage. Shuck manages the systems operations team in information technology services, which oversees data storage needs.

"The campus' response was phenomenal. A drop of that size -- surpassing a petabyte -- likely means people were deleting files they didn't need, which is what we asked them to do," he said. "We hope that's a behavior that sticks around -- for all our storage options."

And now, Google

And it's a behavior Shuck's team is asking the campus community to return to for storage in Google. Taking Box's lead, Google has announced storage quotas for its higher education clients based on institutional size. Effective July 1, 2022, Iowa State's quota will be 221 TB, significantly below the 1,821 TB it uses now.

Shuck said Google announced storage quotas for its business customers in November, so the change for education clients wasn't a surprise. The low threshold was. Google hasn't announced yet what happens to accounts exceeding their limit next summer, and Shuck's team is pursuing more information about potential impacts on Iowa State.

Until they know more from Google, Shuck's team is asking members of the university community to:

  • Delete files in Google you don't need.
  • Hold off on migrating files from CyBox to Google.

He said his team will share more information from Google with the university community when it receives it.

OneDrive remains an option

OneDrive, a data storage option that's part of the university's contract with Microsoft, remains an option for departments and units. OneDrive is available to all students, faculty and staff. Migration tools are available and Shuck encourages employees who are considering use of Microsoft OneDrive to contact their IT professional or the Solution Center for assistance.


Related stories

In-person October ceremony will honor 2020 graduates

The record-setting participation in this spring's commencement ceremonies is a clear sign that students appreciate the efforts of faculty during an academic year complicated by the pandemic, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the Faculty Senate at its May 4 meeting.

Students who missed out on that opportunity due to the virtual graduation ceremonies in May and December of 2020 will have a chance to celebrate in a similar but belated way.

"We'll be welcoming them back to campus in October for a very special in-person ceremony to honor them," Wickert said.

One year ago, there was a lot of uncertainty and fear about what the 2020-21 academic year would look like, but Wickert said he was proud of how successful the year ended up being.

"We made it through this year. That's due to your hard work and the work of all your colleagues in your department. I believe the university has been tested, and we're stronger for this journey. I also think we're more aware of who we are," he said.

Back to normal on attendance

The senate presidency changed hands at the meeting, with associate professor of architecture Andrea Wheeler taking the reins from associate professor of graphic design Carol Faber. One of Wheeler's first duties will be working with Wickert to draft a memo in the coming days on a return to the usual student attendance policy.

Over the past academic year, instructors were charged with providing as much flexibility as possible for students who missed class because of possible COVID-19 symptoms or due to periods of self-isolation or quarantine required by public health guidelines.

That sometimes required "double teaching" by faculty, Wickert said. New guidelines will detail a return to typical attendance policies, which are set by faculty. Students also will receive a memo about the change. 

Handbook changes

The senate approved two changes to the Faculty Handbook:

  • A section on summer session effort was expanded to reflect the new winter session, which will continue next year after a trial run this year. The new language establishes that instructors who agree to teach a course during the four-week winter term will either see a corresponding reduction in their normal teaching load or supplemental pay based on their college's policy.
  • A section on term faculty advancement was expanded to establish consistency and minimum standards.

Other business

In other business, senators:

  • Approved four new learning outcomes that courses must achieve to fulfill the U.S. diversity requirement for undergraduates. Instructors who teach a U.S. diversity course will have the opportunity to adjust their class, if needed, to meet the new outcomes. At its April 20 meeting, the senate created a new committee to review and approve U.S. diversity course proposals.
  • Approved a 24-credit certificate in poultry production management that provides a clear path to specializing in poultry production. The certificate offered by the animal science department joins similar new certificates the department will offer in beef cattle production, swine production and equine science and management, which were approved by the senate April 20.
  • Approved a master of health care analytics and operations in the Ivy College of Business. The 30-credit program would be delivered primarily online for working health care professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for improved understanding of health care operations, supply chains and data.
  • Recognized the retirement of longtime senate parliamentarian Sheryl Rippke, policy administrator in the university counsel's office. Lectures program director Amanda Knief, who has a law degree from Drake University, will take over as parliamentarian.

Work begins to review the naming of Catt Hall

By next week, the standing committee to review requests to rename university property will have met virtually three times this spring to work on its first assignment -- a review of Catt Hall. The committee, appointed by President Wendy Wintersteen in early March, is chaired by Carol Faber, associate professor of graphic design and past president of Faculty Senate.

Next week, the standing committee will meet with representatives of a historical research consulting firm that will research, collect and organize factual evidence on Carrie Chapman Catt, the 1880 alumna for whom Catt Hall is named. Following a public request for proposals in March, History Associates Incorporated (HAI) was selected to support the committee's work.

The 40-year-old firm, based in Rockville, Md., has professional historians in six states and Washington, D.C. The firm has worked on historical research projects with universities, federal agencies, associations, cultural institutions, corporations and law firms.

At last month's standing committee meeting, Reg Stewart, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Faber walked members through the university's Consideration of Removing Names from University Property policy, including its principles and accompanying procedures. Stewart and Faber cochaired the committee that developed the policy in 2020.

At its initial meeting held in March, Faber provided an overview of the process. Faber will appoint an inquiry committee, made up of three to five members of the standing committee, to review submitted requests for reconsidering Catt Hall's name.

"The inquiry committee's review is a formality since President Wintersteen has made Catt Hall a priority for the first implementation of the policy, but we did wish to include this step as it's laid out in the policy's procedures," Faber said.

Faber also outlined a general timeline for the review. For the rest of the spring and the summer, HAI will conduct its work, with plans to deliver results to the standing committee during the fall semester. The 17-member standing committee will double as the review committee, and reconvene in the fall to continue its work.

Sending Raymond's diploma home

As they prepared to mail thousands of 2021 Iowa State diplomas, registrar staff also were working hard to find a home for one dated May 1961 bearing President James Hilton's signature.

A master of science degree, it bore the name Raymond Szidon, formerly of Peoria, Illinois, who studied chemistry at Iowa State, had a long career at the federal Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in central California, and passed away last fall.

Raymond Szidon's 1961 ISU diploma

Raymond Szidon's 1961 diploma.

But when the diploma arrived in the mail the last week of March postmarked from St. Louis, registrar specialist Abbie Suntken didn't know any of that. Nor did she know if Szidon ever received his Iowa State diploma.

"Returned diplomas come to me, and most of them are coming back because there's something not right in the address," she said. "I wasn't expecting a 60-year-old diploma, especially one in its original packaging -- that was very cool."

What arrived on campus in March was Szidon's diploma in its cover and commencement program, all in pristine shape and in the original envelope from the university, addressed in an era that didn't yet need zip codes.

Suntken searched the registrar's system and located Szidon but didn't learn anything useful about his family. Registrar Jennifer Suchan took the baton and sent Szidon's name to her dad, who does geneology as a hobby; Alumni Association director Jeff Johnson and the library's university archives and asked for their help. The goal, she said was to "get it to Raymond, or else into the hands of someone who would cherish it."

Johnson had forwarded Suchan's inquiry to ISU Foundation research staff, who identified three men who appeared to be the sons of Raymond's deceased brother, Gerald. Suchan called all three -- why not, right? -- and one, Thomas Szidon, called back within 30 minutes. He confirmed his uncle died in September.

While details are not known, the nephew said after his uncle's death, another relative packed and sent several boxes of personal items from Szidon's California home to Szidon's sister-in-law, also in Peoria. One box never made it, the one containing the diploma. They surmised the box broke apart when it had traveled as far as St. Louis. Finding the addressed 1961 mailing envelope, the postal service first tried to deliver it to Peoria and, when that failed, returned it to Iowa State.

By April 22, Suntken had sent it again to Peoria, this time to Raymond Szidon's sister-in-law.

In her phone conversation with Thomas Szidon, Suchan said he noted that Iowa State was the place that helped launch his uncle's career -- a career that was very meaningful for him. Raymond shared his Iowa State stories with his extended family.

"[Thomas] said Iowa State was such an important part of Raymond's life," Suchan recalled. "And then he said, 'Just from this phone call, I can tell why. It sounds like a really special place. We're so appreciative that you made the effort to find us.'"

In-person graduation events return


Editor's note, May 7: For weather reasons, the celebration for College of Engineering undergraduates has been moved to Hilton Coliseum Saturday with a 5 p.m. start. Doors open and student check-in begins at 3:30 p.m.


2015 file photo of DVM candidates

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine candidates (pictured in this 2015 archive image) and doctoral students from the other colleges will enjoy traditional commencement ceremonies in Hilton Coliseum Friday afternoon and evening. File photo by Christopher Gannon.

As the university transitions back to pre-pandemic traditions, Iowa State is preparing to host in-person graduation events this weekend for an estimated 5,094 students completing degrees this month. Another 761 students expecting to complete their degrees this summer have the option of participating, too.

Traditional indoor commencement ceremonies at Hilton Coliseum Friday, May 7, will honor professional veterinary medicine students (3 p.m.) and doctoral students from all other colleges (7 p.m.). Outdoor graduation celebrations at Jack Trice Stadium that include key components of graduation and omit some of the pomp are planned for master’s students (11 a.m. Friday) and undergraduates, by college, Saturday morning and afternoon. Events will last 45-90 minutes; guests will not need tickets to attend.

ISU registrar Jennifer Suchan said the sites were selected with the goal of unlimited attendance and keeping all participants safe. Cyclones Care protocols will be required at all events.

Sending Raymond's diploma home

Registrar's staff makes time to solve the mystery of a 1961 diploma

"We are excited to celebrate our graduates and be able to offer an in-person event after the pandemic," she said.

Students seem to feel the same. Suchan said more than 4,200 spring and summer graduates have indicated they'll participate in person, including more than 3,600 bachelor's degree recipients. Both of those numbers shatter participation records from spring 2019.

All events will be livestreamed for students who attended Iowa State remotely this semester or perhaps don’t feel comfortable yet celebrating in person. In addition, prerecorded content will be available on the livestream site beginning Friday morning, including:

  • Graduation messages from the college deans.
  • Two videos that recognize by name the approximately 300 graduate students and 570 undergraduate students who confirmed by April 23 they wouldn't attend their event in person.

Outdoor celebrations

Undergraduate college celebrations, recognizing an estimated 4,333 spring graduates -- 260 to 790 at a time -- get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday. A college celebration will begin every 90 minutes, alternating between platforms on the stadium's east and west field tarmacs, with the final undergraduate celebration beginning at 4:30 p.m.

East stage:

  • 9 a.m., Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Noon, Design
  • 3 p.m., Liberal Arts and Sciences

West stage:

  • 10:30 a.m., Business
  • 1:30 p.m., Human Sciences
  • 4:30 p.m., Engineering

Each celebration will include about 20 minutes of typical ceremony components: singing of the national anthem and "The Bells of Iowa State" by senior music major Olivia Hartman; welcoming remarks from President Wendy Wintersteen; recognition of students graduating with honors, distinction or military service; and conferring of the degree. Graduating students will process down to the platform to receive their diploma cover from their college dean, cross the stage as their name is read and pause to take a photo with the president.

Graduating students will be seated in center bleacher sections, and family members and friends can use the rest of the stadium to physically distance as they choose their seats. With the north exterior of the football stadium a construction zone for a few more months, only the east and south stadium gates will be open.

A single celebration honoring an estimated 499 spring master's degree candidates will have the same flavor as the undergraduate celebrations. It will begin at 11 a.m. Friday on the east side of Jack Trice Stadium. An inclement weather forecast 24 hours in advance would move the event indoors to Hilton with an earlier 10 a.m. start.

Suchan said inclement weather Saturday would postpone the undergraduate celebrations to Sunday (same location and times). If the Saturday weather offered the flexibility, her graduation team would try to limit the change to just the three morning events or just the afternoon celebrations. The graduation website and university homepage will provide weather-related updates.

Hilton ceremonies

An estimated 148 candidates receiving Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degrees this month will be honored during a 3 p.m. commencement ceremony Friday. During a 7 p.m. ceremony, an anticipated 114 spring Ph.D. candidates will be honored. The doctoral and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine ceremonies will be traditional commencement events, Suchan said, and include ISU graduation traditions such as pre-ceremony music by the ISU Brass Ensemble, processional, singing of the national anthem by F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Simon Estes, hooding ceremony and commencement speakers. Distinguished Professor of chemistry Theresa Windus will address the doctoral candidates. Kristen Obbink, lead public health veterinarian at the Center for Food Security and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, who also served this year as the university's COVID-19 public health coordinator, will address the DVM candidates.

Celebration in a box

The registrar's team prepared graduation celebration boxes for all spring and summer graduating students who care to pick up one. Each contains an Iowa State picture frame, postcard message from Wintersteen, ceramic Cy coaster, vehicle window decal, lapel pin, six-month digital membership to the ISU Alumni Association, diploma cover for students not attending their ceremony in person, commencement program and honor cords, if applicable.

The first day (April 12) the boxes were available for pick-up, 1,260 students showed up at the registrar's office for their gift.

"They're so thankful to the university and to President Wintersteen for offering an in-person event," Suchan said. "It was great to see their energy and their joy."