Small animal caseloads at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center surged as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Then they surged even higher. The four busiest months on record for the hospital's 24-hour emergency service are July 2021 (711 cases), August 2021 (710), May 2021 (657) and June 2021 (655).
"There's no plateau yet," said Dr. Rebecca Walton, clinical assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences and a critical care specialist at the small animal hospital.
The rising patient numbers, coming as the hospital's capacity has at times been reduced due to pandemic precautions and scheduling impacts, has been a challenge emotionally and mentally, Walton said.
"When you're pulled in 100 different directions, it's hard. You wonder, 'What did I forget to do?'" she said. "It's just never-ending. It's been a huge, huge struggle."
Blood donors needed
With rising caseloads, the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center blood bank has a shortage of canine and feline blood products for use in emergencies, surgeries and other treatments. The center is seeking additional dogs and cats to serve as donors. Benefits for animals selected as donors include vaccinations, heartworm testing, flea and tick prevention, routine health exams and food. For more information, contact blood bank coordinator Amy Hodnefield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency services -- available to any patient 24 hours a day without an appointment -- have shouldered much of the growing demand. To ensure the best care for animals who need it the most, the hospital is considering establishing a triaging system that could at times reduce emergency services access for less serious conditions, said Dr. Jessica Ward, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences and the interim chief medical officer for the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center's Hixson-Lied Small Animal Hospital.
"It's heartbreaking not being able to be everything to everyone," she said. "But we might not be able to be everything to everybody and do a good job."
The caseload boom at small animal hospitals isn't a local phenomenon. It has emerged as a nationwide trend during the pandemic, though the cause isn't clear, Ward said. A recent article by the American Veterinary Medical Association, citing shelter statistics, discounted the notion that COVID-19-driven isolation suddenly made adopting a puppy more popular. It could be the extended time at home with their pets or their lack of spending in other areas may have made owners more interested in seeking veterinary care, Ward said.
"The entire veterinary care industry is being stretched to its limits," said Dr. Dan Grooms, the Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "What we are experiencing here at Iowa State is similar to private practices and other teaching hospitals across the country. There are many factors driving this, but the primary one is an increased demand for animal health care services."
Regardless of the reason patient volume has increased, it's clear it has had an outsized effect on emergency services. The hospital's overall small animal cases were up 15.6% in the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared to a 26.4% increase in emergency and critical care cases.
"Demand has increased for everybody. Ability to meet that demand has decreased for everybody. And emergency services bear the brunt," Ward said.
A portion of the hospital's emergency patients don't have medical concerns that don't actually require emergency treatment, Walton said. It treats a fair number of broken toenails and serves at times as back-up clinic care for owners whose regular veterinarians are booked.
"We're the overflow," she said.
Those are the types of situations that would be affected by a potential triaging system, which would dictate what sort of cases the hospital's emergency room could take, based on patient volumes and severity as well as staffing levels, Ward said. Discussions are in their initial phases, and the step might not be needed, but it's a policy other small animal hospitals have instituted to deal with rising caseloads, she said.
"We want to make sure that those really sick cases that need us, have us," Walton said.
'Hard to say no'
The climbing number of patients has affected all of the hospital's care providers, including staff, students and veterinarians.
A passion for animal care is what draws people to veterinary medicine, said Dr. April Blong, clinical assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences and a critical care specialist at the small animal hospital. The long hours and work-life balance decisions that come with heavy caseloads test that passion.
"It weighs on everyone," she said.
About 160 students, 140 staff, 40 faculty, and 40 interns and residents work at the small animal hospital, Ward said. Staffing has increased somewhat as cases have risen, but not at the same trajectory, she said.
There are some benefits to higher patient volume. For fourth-year students rotating through the hospital, for instance, the rush has often been a positive, Ward said. It's more hands-on experience to soak up.
The challenges of the past year also have highlighted the care, devotion and talent of the hospital's clinicians, staff and students, Ward said.
"Everyone wants to do the best they can. That's why it's so hard to say no," Blong said.
ISU WellBeing and occupational medicine will offer a free flu shot clinic for university employees in October.
The clinic is Monday through Friday for two weeks (Oct. 4-15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) with the first hour each day reserved for high-risk individuals. Shots will be administered in the south court of State Gymnasium, and participants are asked to enter the gym through the south entrance.
All benefits-eligible employees are able to receive the vaccine without an appointment through paperless registration. That includes faculty, professional and scientific and merit staff, postdocs, retirees on the ISU health plan who are not yet 65 years old, and employees of the ISU Foundation, the Iowa State Daily and university child care centers. Spouses and children of employees aren't eligible to receive a flu shot at ISU clinic. ISU students can get a flu shot through Thielen Student Health Center.
Masks are required to receive the vaccine because the clinic is considered an extension of occupational medicine services, said ISU WellBeing coordinator Stephanie Downs.
"Masks must be worn when people enter State Gym," she said. "They will not be allowed in if they don't have a mask on, but we will have masks available."
Three nurses will give shots to create as much physical distancing as possible. No temperature check is required, but people will be asked about any symptoms they are experiencing before receiving the vaccine.
"It is not just because of COVID," Downs said. "If you are not feeling well and have a fever or cough it is usually not recommended to get the flu vaccine. We have two weeks, so we encourage people to come when they are feeling well."
Employees are asked to wear a short-sleeve or loose-fitting shirt to give the nurse easier access to an upper arm. Employees also are encouraged to bring their nine-digit university ID number.
Parking is limited, but four metered spots will be saved to the east of the gym for individuals attending the clinic. There also is a general staff lot to the south with permit required.
"There is some availability for parking, but we encourage people to walk," Downs said.
Members of ISU WellBeing's Adventure2 wellness engagement program will receive points for getting a flu shot.
Employees who get a shot will receive a four-component vaccine that protects against A and B flu virus strains. The vaccine contains the four viruses recommended this season by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- A/Victoria/2570/2019(H1N1) pdm09-like virus
- A/Cambodia/e0826360/2020 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Washington /02/2019-like virus (B/Victoria lineage)
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage)
Alternative forms of the vaccine for the 2021-22 flu season are not available at the clinic. Those wanting a spray or mist vaccine or a high-dose vaccine should check with their primary doctor or pharmacy.
It takes about two weeks for antibodies that protect against the flu to fully develop. It is not possible to get the flu by receiving a flu shot because it is not a live virus, Downs said.
More information about the 2021-22 flu season is online, including on the ISU WellBeing website and a Q&A on the CDC website. Questions may be directed to the university human resources service center, 294-4800 or email@example.com.
C.G. "Turk" and Joyce A. McEwen Therkildsen have provided a $42 million gift commitment to Iowa State's department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering for a new facility that will provide technologically enhanced learning and research laboratory spaces where industrial engineering students can gain the knowledge to design tomorrow's innovative, nimble and intelligent processes needed now more than ever across all industrial sectors.
"Iowa State alumni know that our educational excellence creates a solid foundation for future achievements," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "This transformational investment by two extraordinary alums, Turk and Joyce Therkildsen, helps to solidify Iowa State University's prominence in engineering and to prepare our students for success in an increasingly complex, technology-driven world. We are grateful for their generosity."
Former IMSE chair Gül Kremer has a special three-year appointment to oversee the building project.
On Sept. 15, the state Board of Regents' property and facilities committee recommended approval for the building to be named Therkildsen Industrial Engineering in honor of the Therkildsens. The full board will consider the proposed naming as part of its consent agenda on Sept. 16.
Learn more about the project and the Therkildsens.
The Therkildsens' committed lead gift is part of their long-standing relationship with Iowa State. Members of the class of 1959, C. G. "Turk" Therkildsen is an industrial engineering alumnus, and Joyce A. McEwen Therkildsen graduated with majors in zoology and physical education. Turk and Joyce are the semi-retired CEO and chairman and corporate secretary, respectively, of Industrial Hard Chrome, Ltd., based in Geneva, Illinois.
Gül Kremer, Wilkinson Professor in Interdisciplinary Engineering, has been appointed to a new role that will oversee the project to build the Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building, the new home for the department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE). Kremer formerly served as chair of the department from 2016 to 2021, and worked closely to develop the project with C.G. "Turk" and Joyce Therkildsen, who provided the $42 million lead gift for the new facility.
"This is a historic project made possible by the Therkildsen's extraordinary generosity, and I appreciate Gül's willingness to take on this new leadership role and work with the college and IMSE department to ensure the project's success," said President Wendy Wintersteen.
In her role as senior director of presidential projects, Kremer will oversee all aspects of the building project, including chairing the project's executive committee. She'll work with College of Engineering leadership and the ISU Foundation on further fundraising for the facility. As it is currently envisioned, the estimated $50 million facility will offer more than 50,000 square feet of space located southwest of Howe Hall and be designed to complement the current aesthetic of the university's engineering corridor.
"I am thrilled to lead this project and collaborate with President Wintersteen, Dean Easterling and the rest of the executive committee, and interim IMSE chair Sarah Ryan," Kremer said. "Together we will bring this transformational facility to life to continue building on the rising success of IMSE."
During her three-year appointment, Kremer will report to Wintersteen with an office in Beardshear Hall. She also continues as a professor in IMSE.
In the Faculty Senate's first in-person meeting in 18 months on Sept. 14, university leaders spent more than two hours discussing fall planning efforts and the impact of Iowa House File 802.
Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert acknowledged many faculty and staff still have concerns about their safety and the safety of their families during the pandemic. He emphasized that the university is following the guidance of the state Board of Regents.
Request to the regents
Faculty Senate officers Andrea Wheeler and Jon Perkins presented requests for safer classrooms to the state Board of Regents Sept. 15.
He noted small but important steps recently have been taken, including encouraging everyone -- vaccinated or not -- to wear masks and accommodations for immunocompromised faculty and staff to work remotely. Instructors who test positive for COVID-19 also can move classes online temporarily, if they are feeling well enough.
Although the university is unable to mandate mask wearing or vaccination, university counsel Michael Norton said a recent study at ISU showed 72% of in-state students are fully vaccinated.
"We are not able to do the same study for out-of-state students, but we have seen no evidence to suggest our out-of-state students would be any different," he said.
Frank Peters, chair of the university response team, explained that notifying instructors of positive COVID-19 results is not possible because contract tracing no longer is being done, as directed by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Only COVID-19 tests administered at Thielen Student Health Center and self-reported positive tests are recorded. As of Sept. 12, 36 students have tested positive at the clinic; another 11 self-reported.
In another discussion scheduled into the agenda, senators expressed concern about House File 802 which prohibits public universities from conducting mandatory employee or student trainings that teach, advocate, act upon or promote 10 specific concepts defined in the law.
Senators asked why the university decided to extend the potential impact of the law from trainings into the classroom.
Norton said because the law is new and several key aspects are not clearly defined -- for example, what is a larger course of academic instruction or what constitutes a mandatory training -- it is difficult to determine its full scope. There have been at least two challenges on campus around trainings since the law passed, Norton said.
"The law says training, but it is undefined," he said. "It is our legal assessment that the risk to instructors that classwork will be deemed a training is greater the further it is from the germaneness of the overall topic. It is my responsibility as the legal representative of the university to point out that risk."
Norton said faculty members concerned about the law and their courses can contact his office for guidance. An FAQ on HF802 is posted on the provost's website.
In other business, senators approved updates to the Faculty Senate bylaws as part of the consent agenda. The changes included adding inclusive language.
Last August, it relocated to a west campus location three times the size of its initial pantry. This summer, it upgraded that new space and officially became a partner agency of the Food Bank of Iowa network. And last winter it completed its first decade of service to the Iowa State student body. SHOP -- Students Helping Our Peers, the student organization and student food pantry -- will celebrate those milestones during an open house for the campus community Wednesday, Sept. 22 (10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 1306 Beyer).
The COVID-19 pandemic "pulled back the curtain on food security," making it not only more visible, but more understood, said Breanna Wetzler, marketing specialist in student services for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and SHOP's advisor. A greater awareness, coupled with heavy use of a pop-up pantry in the Union Drive Community Center in the summer of 2020, helped move expansion plans for SHOP beyond conversations.
Employees step up
Next week's open house follows SHOP's first-ever summer in operation. On average, it served about 200 students and distributed nearly 2,000 pounds of food each month this summer. Wetzler said employee volunteers made the summer service possible, as well as recently added coverage during winter break and prep and finals weeks.
SHOP fall hours
- Tuesday, noon-8 p.m.
- Wednesday, 2-7 p.m.
- Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
"The student leaders are so excited about the response they've received from university employees to fill in and keep the shop open during those times," she said. "Those volunteers shared that it's an easy way to give an hour or two back to the university and make sure our students have access to food."
Last year, seven members of the 2020-21 Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) adopted SHOP for their capstone project. During March, the faculty and staff team ran an awareness campaign via social media and mass emails, in tandem with a fundraising campaign on the Iowa State University Foundation's FundISU crowdfunding site. The foundation previously had created a food security fund as part of its "Cyclone Strong" campaign, but the ELA project goal was to raise $4,000 specifically for SHOP infrastructure needs, said team member and student wellness director Brian Vanderheyden. Donors hit that target in seven days, and by the end of the month, the fund stood at $8,802. The ISU Book Store raised another $1,000 during a concurrent "round up" campaign, and the team received a $1,500 gift from student government. The one-month $11,300 effort helped pay for about $15,000 in improvements this summer that created more of a "market" environment at SHOP, including:
- New flooring
- New wall (created storage area) and electrical work
- Walls painted
- Entry improvements
- New counter and additional shelving
- TV monitor for messaging, recipes, etc.
- iPads (2)
- Food scales
The foundation has maintained a "Food Security for Cyclones" option on the FundISU site, with no plan at this time to close it, said Dana Savagian, associate director for annual and special gifts. Donations will help SHOP purchase food items and cover future infrastructure or maintenance needs.
The need on campus
SHOP is one component of a broader food security focus at Iowa State. Since 2018, the student affairs division has coordinated a task force to study other food sharing strategies, such as ISU Dining's "Give a Swipe" program in which students with meal plans can donate unused meals to other students. Task force members also are investigating the possibility of campus convenience stores accepting federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
Results from two 2019 national student surveys indicated about 25% of ISU students may not have reliable access to nutritious, affordable food in sufficient quantities -- the definition of food insecurity. Vanderheyden said the pandemic likely pushed that number even higher. One of the surveys, the National College Health Assessment, will be administered again later this month, with results available before the end of the calendar year.
Last winter, with a grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and an earlier donation for pantry infrastructure from alumna Dr. Lynn and her spouse Donald Morris, SHOP purchased two residential refrigerators and a chest freezer. Wetzler said those were a game-changer, allowing SHOP to offer dairy products, eggs, fresh produce and frozen meats. Most of those items disappear the day they arrive, and SHOP leaders already have applied for another grant for grocery-style coolers.
Similar to its role with other student organizations, the foundation provided 501(c)3 nonprofit status to SHOP, making it eligible to join the Food Bank of Iowa this summer. The benefits of that relationship are many: lower prices, larger quantities, high quality, fresh and frozen foods, twice-monthly delivery and some free items, Vanderheyden said. SHOP leaders are able to order food items they know students want.
He said student wellness is tweaking its structure and budget to become a SHOP affiliate, much like the food science and human nutrition department has been. Its dietitian's position was modified to designate 20% of the job to food security, including a SHOP co-advisor role. An eight-member student board leads SHOP, buoyed by more than 100 student volunteers.
- SHOP set to receive tax-exempt status, March 4, 2021
Faculty Senate leaders took faculty concerns about COVID-19 protocols to the nine members of the state Board of Regents Wednesday afternoon. The board held its September meeting at the ISU Alumni Center.
Addressing the board during the public comment period, president Andrea Wheeler (architecture) and president-elect Jon Perkins (accounting) shared some outcomes of the board's policy that prohibits a mask mandate on the three regent university campuses.
Wheeler talked about the importance of authority in a classroom, not just for establishing objectives and learning, but as necessary to build "the spirit, energy, joy and happiness of the classroom."
Noting that faculty have weathered 18 months of a pandemic, she said "students have borne the brunt of that, and they need our help.
State Board of Regents meeting recording, Sept. 15, 2021
(Public comments begin at 6:00:30)
"They need my pedagogical skills and they need my authority," she argued.
"I'm asking the Board of Regents to give instructors full authority in their classrooms to require masks, for pedagogical and health reasons," Wheeler concluded.
Perkins told board members that faculty are afraid of exposure to COVID-19, and he asked for greater clarity in the board's decision-making process on COVID-related policies.
"The perceived risk and uncertainty brought on by the lack of vaccine and mask mandates at ISU has caused fear in the minds of numerous faculty members," Perkins said. And some believe the board failed to "meaningfully reduce the risk to faculty" of COVID-19.
He said some faculty also are frustrated they aren't consulted during the decision-making process as the board sets COVID-19 policies. He encouraged board members to be more transparent -- both about the processes they use to arrive at decisions, and also "what it might take in terms of increased infection rates, etc., for the board to change its stance."
As is his standard response, board president Mike Richards thanked them and noted "this is a time to listen." As a rule, board members don't respond to comments presented during the part of their meeting designated for public comment.
The office of the senior vice president and provost seeks a faculty fellow to help develop and promote a shared vision for high-impact educational practices (HIPs) on campus.
The new, half-time position, open to tenured professors, will work with associate provost for academic programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden to enhance and expand opportunities for undergraduate students
High-impact practices engage students outside the classroom, or as a complement to traditional instruction. Examples of HIPs at Iowa State include learning communities, University Honors, Study Abroad, Program for Women in Science and Engineering, internships/capstones and faculty research projects. Together, these activities help students transition to college life, become more engaged in their education and, ultimately, help achieve higher retention and graduation rates.
To be eligible, applicants must be on full-time appointments, and be employed at Iowa State for at least five years. Interested applicants should submit the following materials to Lori Sutton, firstname.lastname@example.org, by Friday, Oct. 8:
- Downloaded application form, including signature of the applicant's department chair
- Letter of interest focusing on related skills/experience and career goals
- Current CV
- Two on-campus references
More about high-impact practices
Student surveys show that nearly 75% of Iowa State undergraduates participate in two or more HIPs during their time on campus, a rate significantly higher than peer institutions. Still, VanDerZanden said, more can be done.
"Many of our current high-impact practices are geared toward first-year students or seniors, but there is more we can do to promote these activities throughout the student life cycle," she said. "It's one more way to create an exceptional educational experience that prepares our graduates for life and career success."
VanDerZanden said the faculty fellow will collaborate with a diverse group of faculty and staff, as well as academic colleges and departments, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Student Innovation Center, to promote interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities.
Questions about the position may be directed to VanDerZanden, 515-294-7184 or email@example.com.
Open educational resources (OER), freely licensed course materials that save students money and allow instructors to create custom content, aren't exclusively for virtual instruction. But since OER materials are usually digital and often created in a module-based format, they are ideal for online teaching.
Interested in OER?
Instructors who would like to incorporate open educational resources in a course should contact Abbey Elder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 294-5753 for a consultation. For examples of how and why ISU colleagues have used OER, read about the university's OER trailblazers.
So perhaps it's no surprise that after increased reliance on virtual coursework during the pandemic, including the required integration of every ISU class with the Canvas learning management system, applications for this year's round of Miller Open Education Mini-Grants were competitive, wide-ranging and innovative, said open access and scholarly communications librarian Abbey Elder, who coordinates the grant program. The eight projects the grant program is funding in 2021-22 includes instructional videos, handbooks, textbooks and tutorials in an array of disciplines from music to mechanical engineering to animal ecology.
"This year, I think you can see a lot more people thinking about being creative and interactive," Elder said. "More people have had a chance to experience teaching in a digital space and thought about how to do that in interesting ways."
The Miller mini-grant program has supported 40 projects in the program's four years, accounting for more than one-third of the $1 million ISU students have saved on course materials since the inception of the university's OER initiative. The program is supported by the provost's office, the university library and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
Here are the eight projects funded by Miller mini-grants:
Janci Bronson, teaching professor of music
Course: Music 127/128
Description: Bronson is creating a virtual piano education channel to support student learning in Class Study in Piano I and II, and for the general public learning to play the piano. These videos, many of which already are posted online, cover learning piano repertoire, scales/arpeggios/chords, improvisation, and music theory and history.
Regents OER grants
The years of support that ISU has provided for OER also was reflected in the five proposals selected for a state Board of Regents OER grant program. Most of the winners were from the University of Northern Iowa, which had a pent-up demand for OER funding because it doesn't offer specific financial support to creating or deploying OER, Elder said.
"This was the first time UNI has had a chance to support their faculty working on OER projects, and that resulted in a lot of excellent proposals coming from their school," Elder said.
The sole ISU-involved project funded by the Regents program was a proposal that included UNI literary education faculty Nandita Gurjar and Sohyun Meacham as well as ISU's Constance Beecher, associate professor in the School of Education and family literary specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. The $23,550 grant is funding the team's creation of a multimodal OER that focuses on early elementary literacy development, which would be used at Iowa State for Education 377, Teaching Literacy in the Primary Grades.
Emily Godbey, associate professor of art and visual culture
Course: Art History 281
Description: Godbey is replacing expensive art history textbooks used in History of Art II by integrating curated video content from Smarthistory.org and other high-quality arts organizations into a seamless experience of guided learning accompanied by text-based OER.
Tracy Heath, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, and Joshua Justison, EEOB PhD student and graduate assistant
Course: Biology 465X, EEOB 565X
Description: This project will create video guides and tutorials to prepare students for in-class activities, with exercises that build on methods learned in the classroom. Each video/tutorial module will be coupled with a publicly available instructor guide, enabling instructors outside of Iowa State to incorporate the materials into their macroevolution courses.
Sarah Huffman, assistant director, Center for Communication Excellence
Course: Graduate Studies 536
Description: Huffman is producing an OER Pressbook that compresses the research article writing materials from this course, Preparing Publishable Thesis Chapters, into an easily decipherable format accessible to any ISU graduate student.
Diana Lang, associate teaching professor of human development and family studies
Course: HDFS 102
Description: Lang will update, redesign and incorporate OER materials -- including research, videos and written content -- for use in all sections and modes of this course, Individual and Family Development, Health and Well-being.
Reza Montazami, associate professor of mechanical engineering
Course: Mechanical Engineering 160
Description: Montazami aims to create an OER in MATLAB, a programming platform for engineers and scientists, for use in this course, Mechanical Engineering Problem Solving with Computer Applications.
Lidia Skrynnikova, associate teaching professor of natural resource ecology and management
Course: NREM 120
Description: Skrynnikova will build a series of interactive tutorials to summarize the major concepts of environmental science for students in this introductory course on renewable resources.
David Starling, assistant teaching professor of biomedical sciences
Course: Biomedical Sciences/Animal Ecology 401
Description: Starling will create a course handbook for an introductory course on aquatic animal medicine. The handbook will be adapted from past course lectures, with video labs and student presentations as supplements.
Improved supervisor training, reliable pay increases, a welcoming workplace, and expanded representation and recognition will be some of the top issues the Professional and Scientific Council aims to address this year, under the strategic initiatives the council approved last week.
The initiatives were developed in July committee meetings and initially discussed at the council's August meeting. At its Sept. 9 meeting, the council unanimously approved them.
As council members noted at the August meeting, the five initiatives cover themes that prior councils also have identified as priorities, such as the consistency of raises and the quality of manager training. Progress in those areas is outlined annually in the council president's end of year report, which can be found in the council's meeting docket.
Asked if university leaders were happy with the results of the retirement incentive option program offered to help balance a pandemic-driven budget shortfall, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said "happy" wasn't a word he'd use, due to the departure of so many experienced and valued colleagues.
"I'd say it's kind of bittersweet, actually," he said. "But it was a necessary program that helped us get through a very challenging time and gave some options to our employees as they thoughtfully considered continuing their work or retiring."
The 318 employees who retired under the program by the June 30 deadline were offered three years of health and dental coverage, three years of retirement contributions or two years of both. According to a report on the program submitted to the state Board of Regents at this week's meeting, the early retirements will save Iowa State more than $44 million over the next three years, about two-thirds of it in the general fund operating budget.
Everyone in the Ames can contribute to addressing climate change -- and now they can do it locally through the city’s Ames Climate Action Plan. ISU Theatre's "Climate Change Theatre Action 2021" hopes to inspire the community to get involved in local climate action when the touring production opens Thursday, Sept. 23, at 5:15 p.m., outside Parks Library.
It's the third time Iowa State will participate in the international Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) initiative, a biennial, worldwide series of short plays and performances that coincides with the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It's the first time it overlaps with the development of the Ames Climate Action Plan.
Vivian M. Cook, graduate student in community development and sustainable agriculture, helped bring CCTA to Iowa State in 2017 as a performing arts undergraduate. She then directed "Climate Change Theatre Action: Lighting the Way" with ISU Theatre in 2019. This year, she is serving as the community engagement director for its third rendition.
"Our goal with this year's CCTA project is to contribute artistic resources to the climate action planning process that's happening right here," Cook said. "It's very exciting we have the opportunity, through art and storytelling, to encourage community engagement in such an important city process."
Acting locally, connecting globally
Charissa Menefee, professor of English and the production’s director, cast an ensemble of Iowa State students and alumni. During early rehearsals, the team reflected on skills, stories and experiences they can contribute to CCTA, and how to engage the community in contributing those same types of resources to local climate action planning.
Unlike traditional theater processes where performers often audition for specific roles or plays, the CCTA ensemble helped choose the final plays for the show, which features global and local voices, including writers from Iowa State's master's program in creative writing and environment.
Thanks to local partnerships, seeing CCTA will be as easy as going to a fall farmers' market or festival. Eight free, outdoor performances are scheduled in public locations. Cook and Menefee hope that seeing theater in unexpected venues will draw more attention toward planning a hopeful and sustainable future in Ames.
"We want to help get as many people participating as possible, get as many voices heard as possible and make sure people understand they have an opportunity to contribute and be part of shaping what the future will be like here," Menefee said.
Menefee and Cook also are sharing the lessons learned from Iowa State's CCTA productions with other artists around the country through published research, conferences, online forums and a new Slack collaboration space for universities and colleges engaged in CCTA projects.
Full ensemble performances are Thursday, Sept. 23, 5:15 p.m., south library lawn of Parks Library (rain location at Parks Library overhang), and Sunday, Oct. 3, 3 p.m., outdoors at the Ames Public Library (rain location at Ames Public Library auditorium.) Local partners will be on hand for climate action resource fairs at both events.
ISU Theatre’s "Climate Change Theatre Action 2021" also will perform, showcase local artwork, facilitate community engagement activities and share local climate action resources at the following community events:
- Sept. 20, noon: Monday Monologues, Parks Library steps
- Sept. 25, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Ames Main Street Farmers' Market
- Sept. 25, 2-5 p.m.: Play Ames: Imagine Your City community engagement festival, Franklin Park
- Sept. 26, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: Octagon Art Festival
- Oct. 9, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Ames Main Street Farmers' Market
- Oct. 16, 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.: Ames Main Street Farmers' Market
All performances are free and open to all.