Some Cyclone love

Yellow tulips in heart shape surrounded by red tulips

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Popping just in time for graduation weekend, the flower bed at the corner of Wallace Road and Osborn Drive reflects the sentiment of many at the conclusion of an academic year. Credit for the 2,500-tulip display goes to Aaron Brand, whose full-time job is to manage greenhouses for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Budget cuts at facilities planning and management about a decade ago forced campus services staff to relinquish management for this location. At the time, Brand managed greenhouses and other facilities for the agronomy department, and offered to add the corner bed to his duties.

"That's a gateway corner to the university, and it's important that it looks amazing, year in and year out," he said.

The inspiration for this layout? 

"In the spring of 2019, I saw dozens of graduates in their caps and gowns taking pictures with the tulips. It just hit me that this is a place students grow to love, and I wanted to send the message to all of those taking pictures that ISU loves them as well," Brand said.

"So, I planted a very similar bed that fall -- but nobody really got a chance to see it the next spring due to the pandemic. This is the first time I have done a design over again." 

He said he selects bulbs that he hopes will produce flowers at their prime during graduation week "and leaves the rest to Mother Nature."

When the tulip blooms fade, Brand will remove the bulbs and plant the bed for the summer season with zinnias and salvias, along with the giant miscanthus that stays in place through the winter.

As permit renewal approaches, a closer look at parking closer

An aerial view of the ISU campus shows where different types of

This aerial view of campus includes parking lot locations. Reserve lots are red, general staff lots are yellow. Larger image

Want reserved parking on campus? You can probably get it, if you're willing to pay the premium. 

While coveted parking closer to the core of campus may seem hard to come by without decades of university service and a lengthy stint on a waiting list, parking director Mark Miller said reserve parking is more available than usual since the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten reserve lots currently have no waiting list, including spots on the west, east and north sides of campus.

"Most people who want a reserve spot have a reserve spot," he said.   

The lots without a waiting list are 1 (southeast of State Gym), 9 (west of Design), 11 (north of Town Engineering), 14A (west of Armory), 26 (between Physics and Gilman), 33 (northwest of Advanced Teaching and Research), 39 and 40 (east of Kildee), 46 (south of General Services) and the East Parking Deck (east of Gerdin).  

Many smaller lots do have waiting lists. The longest lists are for lots 4 (south of Lab of Mechanics, 67 people), 5 (south of Student Services, 59 people), 65 (south of Enrollment Services, 58 people), 43 (between Bessey and Horticulture, 16 people) and 59B (west of Union Drive Community Center, 11 people).

The waiting lists for in-demand lots can be a bit deceiving, though. Miller said many employees on the list for the highly sought reserve lots already are reserve permit holders in another lot nearby, just hoping to get a little closer to their workplace if something opens up.

How reserve works

The ratio of general staff to reserve parking spots on campus is almost precisely 3-to-1, with 3,557 general spots and 1,191 reserve, Miller said. Reserve lots are generally smaller, adjacent to a building and nearer to the center of campus. General staff lots are larger and clustered around the edges of campus. Some lots have both types of spaces, with reserve parking closer to the building.

Holders of general staff permits can park in any general staff lot, marked with yellow signs. Reserve permit holders can park in their specific reserve lot, marked with red signs, or any general staff lot. A reserve permit is a little more than three times the cost of a general permit, $605 annually compared to $193 for the coming academic year.

Offering higher-value parking at an increased cost helps pay for the operations of the self-funded parking unit, which includes maintaining the lots and snow removal. Reserve permit holders contribute the same wear and tear to lots but cover a greater share of the expense, Miller said.

"We want to maximize the space, keep our prices down and accommodate people the best we can," he said.  

To ensure they're maximizing reserve space as much as possible, parking staff conduct lots counts the first two weeks every fall, Miller said. If larger lots consistently have open spots and there's a waiting list, additional reserve permits are offered to wait-listed employees.

Priority for reserve parking is based on years of service at Iowa State. For the handful of lots in the highest demand, topping the waiting list currently can require up to 25 years of service, though several years at ISU is often enough for lots with more common shorter waiting lists, he said. Seniority can't bump a reserve permit holder out of a spot where they already park.  

"Once you have a reserve spot, you've got it," he said.

How to get a permit

Faculty and staff interested in reserve parking should contact Miller by email or phone (294-1987). He can go over the best options, based on an employee's workplace.

Employees renewing a parking permit can do so online via AccessPlus beginning May 25 at 9 a.m. Those seeking a new permit should visit the parking office in room 27 of the Armory Building to fill out the paperwork in person. Renewals are due by mid-July. 

Other parking options for ISU employees include the Ames Intermodal Facility in campustown and the Memorial Union ramp. Intermodal permits for the coming academic year will go on sale online July 6 at 9 a.m., and cost $605 annually for a covered spot and $230 for an uncovered spot. MU ramp parking permits are sold on a first come first served basis. Annual permits are sold out for the coming year, but individual permits for summer ($217) and fall ($266) are available.

Focus on high-impact practices leans into a strength

Learning activities that engage students beyond traditional classroom instruction -- study abroad trips, internships, research, capstones and learning communities, for example -- already are a strength at Iowa State. They're called high-impact educational practices (HIPs), and about three out of four ISU students meet the university's goal to participate in at least two during their time as an undergraduate, a higher rate than students at similar schools. 

Over the next academic year, there will be an even greater focus as an initiative begins to unify and strengthen HIPs activity across campus.

Jan Lauren Boyles, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, is leading a team that will design, implement and assess a plan for bolstering HIPs, which lead to better student retention and graduation rates. She was appointed in January to a two-year fellowship in the provost's office. 

As a first step in the half-time fellowship, Boyles met one-on-one this spring with about 50 faculty and staff, getting grassroots ideas about how to accomplish the three main goals of the initiative:

  • Identify areas ripe for growth
  • Establish assessment processes for HIPs to gauge effectiveness
  • Create a community of practice to share best practices

Equity will be a major emphasis, as well. Boyles said there are some demographic differences in participation, including lower rates among students who are first-generation, nontraditional, eligible for Pell Grants and from underrepresented populations. In some areas, there are gender gaps -- more female students study abroad, for instance.

"We know there are benefits to these experiences, so making sure those benefits are available to all students is a priority," she said.

As a catalyst for designing plans for short-, medium- and long-term action, a project team will participate in a four-day institute in June held by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. In addition to Boyles, the team includes:

  • Monic Behnken, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Jordan Brooks, director of multicultural student success, College of Design
  • Laurie Smith Law, administrative director of the honors program
  • Jen Leptien, director of learning communities 

While the project team likely will grow in the fall, the group attending the institute is a "dream team" that represents a variety of viewpoints and disciplines, Boyles said. Associate provost for academic programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden is overseeing the initiative.

Fall will bring the first signs of added support for HIPs and more in-depth analysis, Boyles said. A community of practice will launch through the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and the project team will hold focus groups with students and study assessment methods. Other ideas for new programming could begin as early as spring 2023, she said.

Boyles said she's excited to build on the momentum and energy HIPs have at Iowa State, especially in the wake of a pandemic that reaffirmed the value of personal connections and hands-on learning.

"There are so many folks on this campus dedicated to the student experience doing great work already. We're looking for ways to increase equitable access and participation in the experiences and to elevate these opportunities for our students," she said.

Spring commencement scores high participation rates

An estimated 5,039 students are completing degrees from Iowa State this semester and will be honored during graduation events May 12-14 in Hilton Coliseum. All commencement ceremonies are in-person, but will be livestreamed for those who opt to view online.

All graduating students

Spring commencement program (PDF)

Events begin Thursday evening, May 12, with a 7 p.m. Graduate College ceremony that will celebrate the accomplishments of an estimated 443 master's degree and 169 doctoral degree candidates.

Alumnus Qijing Zhang, Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine, will give the address. Earlier this month, Zhang was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his research achievements. A microbiologist, Zhang built a world-class research program on antimicrobial resistance and food safety that has had global impact on the control of antibiotic-resistance pathogens in animals and humans. He earned a Ph.D. in immunology from Iowa State in 1994.

Undergraduate duos

Due to unusually high interest among undergraduates this spring to attend the university commencement -- 80% of an estimated 4,274 bachelor's degree recipients -- Iowa State will hold three undergraduate ceremonies Saturday, May 14. The initial plan called for two, but adding an evening ceremony provides the capacity at Hilton Coliseum for graduating students to invite as many guests as they would like -- a long-standing Iowa State tradition.

University registrar Jennifer Suchan said nearly 1,000 more students are attending commencement this spring than the previous largest event, May 2017's outdoor ceremony at Jack Trice Stadium.

"Even prior to the pandemic, the participation percentages at commencement were going up. What I think we're seeing this spring is a function of the disruption of the last two and a half years," Suchan said. "People want to celebrate, they want something joyous to come together for. The past few years have given people a different perspective on these milestone events in life."

Each ceremony will honor the graduates of two academic colleges:

  • 9 a.m., Ivy College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • 2:30 p.m., College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Engineering
  • 6:30 p.m., College of Design, College of Human Sciences

Honorary degrees

Beth Ford head shot

Beth Ford

Alumna Beth Ford, president and chief executive officer of Land O'Lakes, Minneapolis, is the guest speaker at the morning ceremony and will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree for her "many outstanding contributions as a pioneering leader in business and agriculture and advocate for farmers and rural communities."

The Sioux City native earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Iowa State in 1986. She has been recognized by Fortune as one of the world's 50 Greatest Leaders and Most Powerful Women, among other honors. She was featured in the New York Times' Corner Office column and profiled in a 2019 "60 Minutes" segment, "The Farmers Advocate."

Subra Suresh head shot

Subra Suresh

Alumnus Subra Suresh, president and Distinguished University Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, will address the afternoon graduates and also receive a Doctor of Science honorary degree for "many outstanding contributions as a distinguished engineer, scientist, entrepreneur and leader in higher education."

Suresh received his master's degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State in 1979. He served as director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (2010-13) and president of Carnegie Mellon University (2013-17). Suresh is among a rare group of researchers elected to all three of the national academies in this country: National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine.

President Wendy Wintersteen will address graduates at the evening ceremony.

Undergraduate college convocations

Iowa State colleges also will honor their graduating seniors during special events Friday into Saturday morning. Events at Hilton will be livestreamed.

Special events

The university's 25th annual Lavender Graduation ceremony, which recognizes graduating members of the Iowa State lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and ally community, will be held Thursday, May 12 (3-5 p.m., Memorial Union Great Hall). All spring, summer and fall 2022 graduates were invited to participate.

International students completing degrees this spring were recognized during a ceremony and reception Wednesday afternoon, May 11, also at the Memorial Union.

Veterinary doctors

The curriculum for fourth-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students takes 12 months, and due to the timing of when they completed it this year, their commencement ceremony was held Friday morning, May 6. The livestream has been archived online. Alumna Heather Loenser, who earned ISU degrees in animal science and veterinary medicine and serves as vice president of professional development, culture and wellbeing at Dallas-based Suveto, gave the address. From Iowa State and the University of Nebraska, a total of 153 D.V. M. candidates were scheduled to receive their diplomas.

Council survey finds strong P&S support for WorkFlex

Professional and scientific staff overwhelmingly support and are largely satisfied with WorkFlex, the ISU flexible work program that launched earlier this year, according to a survey conducted by the P&S Council.

Of the 785 staff who responded to the April survey, 90% said they support Workflex, according to data shared by compensation and benefits committee chair Patrick Wall at the council's May 5 meeting. 

The WorkFlex program, used in the spring semester by about 600 employees, allows eligible staff flexibility in when, where and how they work -- when it fits with their job duties and the university's mission. The available options include working remotely up to three days a week, the program's most-used offering.

The council's survey found 71% of respondents are satisfied with WorkFlex's options, Wall said. An analysis of responses to open-ended survey questions hasn't been completed yet, but an overarching trend from those responses is a concern with differences in how WorkFlex is administered depending on the work unit, he said.

The results of the survey will be useful as council leaders work with university human resources on possible tweaks to WorkFlex, council president Chris Johnsen said. Allowing flexible work arrangements has long been a goal of the council.

The second window of WorkFlex requests, for the summer session, takes effect May 16. Applications for WorkFlex agreements that begin this fall will be open June 6-July 1.  

Competitors return to campus

The lineup of summer visitors to campus kicks off this month with two groups with an extended history at Iowa State.

Odyssey of the Mind (OM), the creative problem solving competition for students from elementary grades through college, brings its world finals competition to campus May 25-28 for the 11th time. The first world finals at ISU was in 1990; the most recent was in 2018.

OM also sponsored a virtual world finals in late April, so this in-person event won't be as large as previous competitions in Ames.

About 7,000 guests are expected, 4,800 of whom are team members and coaches who will live in Union Drive, Richardson Court and Geoffroy residence halls and eat in ISU Dining's three dining centers: Seasons, Union Drive Marketplace and Friley Windows. Judges, OM staff and volunteers will stay in area hotels.

Competitions will be held in auditoriums and ballrooms across campus, including Memorial Union, Lied Recreation and Sukup-Elings, Coover, Estes Music, Howe and Pearson halls. Evening events -- opening ceremony, parade, graduation and awards ceremonies -- will be held Wednesday through Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

OM participants also will have access to campus recreation facilities.

Iowa Special Olympics

The Iowa Special Olympics' Summer Games returns next week, Thursday morning through Saturday morning, May 19-21. An estimated 3,500 athletes and coaches and 1,200 volunteers, along with athletes' families and friends, will visit campus.

The competitions will be held in Beyer (swimming), Lied Recreation (track and field), recreation fields east of Lied Recreation and Maple-Willow-Larch (soccer and bocce, respectively), Forker (track and field developmental events), Forker tennis courts and Iowa State Center south lots (cycling). Hilton Coliseum will be the site for the opening ceremony Thursday (7-9 p.m.) and a dance Friday (7-9 p.m.).

Some athletes will stay overnight in the Willow and Larch residence halls. Friley Windows and Seasons Marketplace and East Side Market (MWL commons) will be open to athletes and families.

Road and lot closures during summer games

On Thursday and Friday (7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily), Beach Road will be closed to through traffic between Lincoln Way and the south entrance to the power plant. On Thursday only (8 a.m.-5 p.m.), South 4th Street will be closed for cycling events from Beach Avenue to just west of the entrance to stadium parking lots. 

Numerous parking lots will be closed to ISU permit holders during the summer games, either for participant parking or use as an event site. They are:

  • All Iowa State Center lots south of Center Drive, Thursday, May 19 (12:01 a.m.-5 p.m.): Closed for cycling events. ISU commuter parking moves to the stadium parking lots, and the CyRide orange shuttle will route through lots S6 and S8. Exception: Alumni association employees may use Lot A2.
  • Lot 3 (north of Beyer), Friday, May 20 (all day): Reserved for Lot 3 ISU 24-hour reserve permits and handicap permits.
  • Lot 50A (west of Forker), Thursday and Friday (all day): Reserved for ISU reserved permits and summer games participants with disabled parking permits
  • Lot 57 (west of Lied Recreation), Thursday and Friday (all day): Closed to ISU parking permits, reserved for vehicles with special permits.
  • Lot 100 (south of Lied Recreation), Thursday, Friday and Saturday (all day): Closed to all vehicles, designated site for Special Olympics festival, clinics and souvenir sales. Note: In addition, some sections of Lot 100 will close for event set-up Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Additional lots closed for Special Olympics functions and safety considerations, Thursday and Friday (all day): Lots 54, 54A, 56, 63, 66, 67, 80, 82, 83, 89, 90 and 91.