Teachers in training

Boat float experiment

Teaching assistant Emily Alexander (white shirt) adds weight to a Styrofoam boat designed by elementary education students Heather Sweers (right) and Kuria Reever (with glasses) Tuesday as professor and recorder Larry Genalo looks on. In this hands-on project, one of many in this fall's "Toying with Technology" course for 30 future teachers, students learned about mass, weight, volume and water displacement, as well as a simple experiment that teaches these concepts to grade schoolers.

Armed with a limited list of available supplies, a spending limit ($2.50) and knowledge, the students were challenged to build a boat and predict how much weight it would support before it sank. They were assessed on how accurate their predictions were.

"All of their experiments are meant to be something they'll do with, for example, third-graders," Genalo said. "And they're learning to set up experiments that a teacher or a school could afford to provide."

Later this semester, Genalo's students will spend a month of their class meeting time in classrooms at United Community School, west of Ames, leading hands-on experiments in technology and science with students there.

In addition to this undergraduate class, the Toying with Technology program includes a graduate summer class for teachers and a large, year-round outreach program for K-12 students and teachers. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Leath outlines FY15 budget planning priorities

Iowa State's budget for the year that begins next July will be shaped by the four broad university priorities President Steven Leath first announced last fall: maintain academic excellence, enhance our basic and applied research footprint, promote economic development and improve the campus environment.

Leath noted a year ago that these priorities would require multi-year investments – in faculty and staff hires, programs, student services and building projects.

Leath outlined priorities and a budget timeline in a recent memo to his three senior vice presidents. Smart planning will allow Iowa State to "coordinate and reconcile top-down priorities and goals with bottom-up plans," he wrote.

The FY15 budget also will be influenced by recommendations, particularly those requiring a financial investment, from two president-appointed work groups – the President's Committee on Enhancing Institutional Excellence (PDF) and the Student Experience Enhancement Council (PDF).

"I have approved moving forward with the two committees' high-priority/near-term action items and am excited to see that some actions already have been taken and investments made in these areas," Leath wrote. "Please continue your efforts in implementing these action items, and also clearly incorporate your plans to implement and invest in these areas in your FY15 budget plans."

Preliminary FY15 budgets from each of the divisions' senior vice presidents are due Feb. 14, 2014, and updated budget plans are due April 11.

Request for FY15 state support

On behalf of Iowa State, last month the state Board of Regents requested a 4.0 percent increase (nearly $7 million) in state support for general operating funds for FY15. Iowa State requested a 3.2 percent increase for units receiving a direct appropriation (such as the Ag Experiment Station and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab), state economic development funds and the Regents Innovation Fund, which is used to leverage private and federal funds for economic development.

The requests are based on the Higher Education Price Index's projected inflation for FY15, which is a range from 1.8 percent to 3.2 percent. Board members said the higher increase for general operating funds would help the universities meet inflationary costs while holding tuition for in-state undergraduate students steady for a second year.

The board also requested $9.5 million for new strategic initiatives at the three public universities in FY15. If funded, just over $3 million of that total would be distributed among four Iowa State units: Ag Experiment Station ($1.9 million), ISU Small Business Development Center ($377,000), ISU Research Park ($400,000) and Cooperative Extension ($329,000).

Iowa State's top building funding request to the state for FY15 is $5 million in planning funds for a new building and other building renovations in the biosciences. The regent system also asked to be included in the FY15 salary bill for state employees. Regent employees last received funding from the state salary bill in FY09.

Wickert gives senate an update on faculty hiring initiative

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert gave an update on the high-impact faculty hiring initiative at the Oct. 8 Faculty Senate meeting. President Steven Leath allocated one-third of new state appropriation dollars (about $1.5 million) for the initiative to support hiring tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Wickert said proposals were submitted by the deans and are under review. A total of 39 hires were requested, at a cost of about $2.5 million and cost-sharing (colleges, departments and extension and outreach) of another $2.6 million.

"I think I can probably cobble together some additional dollars so we can do our best to meet our high-priority needs," Wickert said.

A recommendation will be sent to the president in the next couple of weeks. Wickert said he hopes to get the hiring process under way quickly to fill the positions sooner, rather than later.

"It was great to see some very collaborative initiatives," Wickert said. "You're going to see us perhaps be able to do some multiple hires in certain areas and go a little deeper, and also put some hires in targeted areas to address high-enrollment needs in some of the departments."

NTE instruction

Wickert also shared the latest non-tenure eligible (NTE) teaching numbers. Percentages are based on the number of section credits (sections, multiplied by credits) taught by NTE faculty in the fall of 2012.

The latest summary, by college, shows most are at their own target goals. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has the lowest overall percentage (19.8), while the College of Human Sciences has the highest (39.6). Overall, 29.4 percent of teaching at Iowa State is by NTE faculty. The Faculty Handbook sets preferred limits of NTE instruction at 15 percent university-wide and 25 percent within departments.

"It's not a negative type of discussion," Wickert said. "We greatly value the work that's done by our non-tenure eligible faculty."

The report shows 29 of 60 departments with less than 25 percent NTE instruction. Five departments had no NTE instruction (veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine; entomology; educational leadership and policy studies; curriculum and instruction; and art and design), while political science (57.5) and veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine (52.6) exceeded 50 percent NTE instruction.

"It comes down to a balance," Wickert said. "This is a design problem, where we are trying to accomplish all of the things we want to accomplish on campus -- to teach all of the students and do so under the constraint of the dollars we have available."

Faculty conduct policy

Associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince presented a 10-year overview of the faculty conduct policy, which was approved and added to the Faculty Handbook (chapter 7, PDF) in 2002.

"In the slightly more than 10 years this conduct policy has been in place, I think it's proven to be an effective tool for maintaining a healthy work environment here at the university," Bratsch-Prince said. "It's absolutely grounded in peer review."

Conduct case summary, 2002-13
Total cases: 46 (one in progress)
Cases dismissed: 3 (two respondents resigned, one complaint withdrawn)
Minor sanctions: 17 (eight settlements prior to hearing, three with no violation found)
Major sanctions: 5 (four settlements prior to hearing)
Mediation: 5
No violation: 15

It's go time

flu shot clinic

Occupational medicine nurses are staffing a flu shot clinic for employees through Friday, Oct. 18 (weekdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 205 Technical Administrative Service Facility). There is no fee and you don't need an appointment, but you will need to know your university ID number to sign in when you arrive. Pictured, nurse Jackie Smith administers the vaccine earlier this week to Mark Murphy, chief operations officer for the Ames Laboratory. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Personnel policy updates get council approval

Feedback on four draft policies dealing with professional and scientific personnel issues were approved by P&S Council members at their Oct. 3 meeting.

The draft policies were open for public feedback in the policy library through September. Council members voted in favor of motions to endorse two of the policies -- reclassification and summary dismissal -- without changes. Edits were approved for the workforce reorganization and dispute resolution policies.

The council also passed a resolution to acknowledge the contributions of former council member Dan Woodin, who died Sept. 24. Woodin, who worked at ISU since 1977 and was an information systems leader for information technology services, served as council president four times.

Council representatives closed out their meeting with continued group work on council priorities. The goal-setting workshops began at the Sept. 12 council meeting.

Tweak your phone screen

Editor's note: Iowa State University no longer uses Aastra telephone products. Information about current phone hardware is in IT portal's voice and conferencing services.


ISU phones

Most of the new phones installed on campus over the summer came with the same basic screen setup -- voice mail, call pickup, DND (do not disturb) and a several slots for speed dialing and other tasks.

However, you needn't stick with the screen you're using now. Information technology services (ITS) developed a number of screen setups, technically, called "softkey templates." These templates determine how many slots on your phone are available for:

  • Speed dialing and other assigned tasks, such as one-press call transfers to voice mail
  • Busy lamp fields. BLFs are basically speed dial buttons that light up to show when a number is busy. They can only be used for on-campus Aastra telephone numbers.
  • Call-in lines. One-, two-, three- or four-line options are available. A two-line phone, for example, can receive incoming calls to an individual's number and the unit's toll-free number or bridged number.

Phone training

The next two training sessions on "Using Your Aastra" are:

  • Oct. 30, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Dec. 3, 2:30-4 p.m.

Classes are in 116 Durham. Register online.

How to switch templates

Here's how to change the softkey template on your phone:

  • Go to ITS' phone how-to page and click "change your telephone's softkey template"
  • Review the template guides for your phone -- Aastra 6737i (PDF) or Aastra 6739i (PDF) and select one. If you have an Aastra 6737i phone, it likely already has the Basic D template, which includes an almost equal mix of BLFs and free keys along with two phone lines.
  • If you have speed dials on your phone, write them down; you'll need to reenter them on the new softkey template. BLFs will automatically update to the new template.
  • Submit an online telephone template request, available on the same site
  • Watch for an email from ITS, providing instructions on restarting your phone and applying the new template

Straight No Chaser, Bill Cosby open Stephens' season


Stephens Auditorium's 2013-14 performance season kicks into high gear next week with two highly anticipated, back-to-back performances Oct. 17 and 18.

The all-male a cappella group, Straight No Chaser, brings its "Under the Influence" tour to Stephens for a 7:30 p.m. show on Oct. 17. Then on Oct. 18, one of America's most beloved comedians, Bill Cosby, takes the Stephens stage, also at 7:30 p.m.

Established more than a dozen years ago at Indiana University, the 10 men in Straight No Chaser have a massive fan base, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous national television appearances and several chart-topping albums.

Iconic, award-winning comedian Bill Cosby has captivated fans for generations with his comedy routines, albums, best-selling books and television shows.

Tickets for Straight No Chaser are $29.50 to $49.50; Bill Cosby's performance costs $39 to $67 ($25 for students). Tickets for both shows may be purchased at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster. Submitted photo.