A sunny Sunday afternoon

central campus color

Students grabbed a Frisbee and football and headed to central campus Sunday afternoon to enjoy the colors and some late October warmth. The books can wait until sundown ... Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

Nuter named next associate VP for university human resources

Julie Nuter (pronounced NOO-ter) has been named Iowa State's associate vice president for university human resources, effective Dec. 2.

Nuter will work closely with university departments and units to provide human resources leadership. Her responsibilities include:

  • Organizational development and review
  • Performance management
  • Employee and labor relations
  • Compensation
  • Recruitment
  • Benefits, including worker's compensation, child care, student health insurance and employee wellness

Nuter will report to senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. She succeeds David Trainor, who resigned last spring.

"I am pleased that Julie has accepted this position at Iowa State," Madden said.  "Her background and experience will be an asset to the university as we continue to improve and respond to the increasing human resources needs of faculty, staff, students and organizational units in these challenging and complex times."

Nuter currently is associate vice president for human resources at DePaul University, Chicago, where she has worked in various positions for the past 18 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; master's degrees from Columbia College, Chicago, and Loyola University, Chicago; and a Ph.D. from Benedictine University, Chicago.

Winter break partial shutdown set

Iowa State will be partially closed for a 10-day stretch during semester break again this winter. The Dec. 23-Jan. 1 partial shutdown period includes:

  • Three university holidays (Dec. 24, 25 and Jan. 1)
  • Five regular works day (Dec. 23, 26, 27, 30, 31)
  • And a weekend (Dec. 28-29) sandwiched between the workweeks

Senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden noted the shutdown isn't mandatory for employees. Nor is it intended to limit units' decisions to continue to operate, Madden said. Each unit will determine its operating schedule in consultation with the appropriate dean or vice president.

"Units involved in critical services, maintenance and research programs will remain in operation," he said. "There may be partial staffing in some units."

Employees who opt to participate in the shutdown will be required to take paid or unpaid leave for the five workdays.

Iowa State's first partial shutdown occurred over the 2009 winter break and was a budget-saving response to a state funding reversion. Repeated over the past four winters, the shutdowns have proved popular with employees and economical. Iowa State reduced its energy bill by some $63,000 during last winter's shutdown.

Madden said he and other university officials encourage units and employees to take advantage of the partial closing this winter. Because classes aren't in session and many employees plan to be gone for the holidays, university activities slow down considerably over this period.

Madden said he anticipates many Iowa State facilities will be closed and locked during the 10-day period, just as they are on holidays or weekends.

Leave contact info, check voicemail

Units that shut down over the extended break will need to leave emergency contact numbers on websites and voicemail, turn down thermostats, turn off equipment and designate someone to periodically check work spaces for plumbing, heating or cooling problems. Staff should regularly check voicemail on key phone numbers and respond to callers.

"We encourage units to work out partial closing plans for the semester break, communicate them to staff and post them on their websites as soon as possible so that students, customers and staff members can make their personal plans," Madden said.

Flexible hours guidelines

Supervisors considering reduced hours of operation during the week of Thanksgiving, spring break and other days not included in the partial semester break closing can find useful information in the flexible hours program guidelines (PDF).

Work at Biorenewables Complex is on schedule

Biorenewables Complex

Faculty and staff of the agricultural and biosystems engineering department will vacate Davidson Hall and other campus locations this summer for a long-awaited move to the Biorenewables Complex's second phase. Phase 2 construction remains on schedule and currently is about two-thirds complete.

Phase 2 includes Elings Hall (left), featuring technology-ready classrooms, student services and office space for faculty and graduate students; Sukup Hall (not visible), featuring educational and research laboratories; and an atrium (center) connecting the two wings to the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (right), which opened in fall 2010. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

Power plant updates under way


The university power plant prior to demolition, November 2012. Photo by Bob Elbert.


The university power plant after demolition, October 2013. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

Work is progressing on the power plant's boiler project, which calls for replacing three of the university's five coal-powered boilers with natural gas versions.  The remaining two coal boilers will be modified with an air-pollution control system.

The $38 million project was approved by the state Board of Regents in December 2012 in anticipation of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions regulations. The deadline to comply with the new rules is January 2016.

Project scope

Earlier this spring, two older coal-powered boilers were converted to natural gas to allow the university to use them during the remainder of the construction project. The fifth older boiler was retired. Demolition of those boilers' coal and ash equipment began in August and will wrap up later this fall.

Demolition of two retired boilers in the power plant also is under way, and should be completed in February 2014. The demolition will create space for a 19,000-square-foot building addition to house three new gas boilers. This phase of the project should be completed by late fall 2015. The new boilers are scheduled to be up and running by fall 2015, ahead of the January 2016 EPA deadline.

Cleaner air

The new boilers will reduce the amount of coal burned at the power plant by about one-third, or 48,000 tons annually. The boilers also will reduce emissions of several gases, including sulfur dioxide (85 percent), particulate emissions (78 percent), nitrogen oxide (67 percent) and carbon dioxide (15 percent). 

Tuition freeze awaits December vote

If the state Board of Regents approves proposed 2014-15 tuition rates at its December meeting, it would mark the first time since 1975 that tuition for in-state undergraduates remains unchanged for three straight years. The board reviewed the proposed rates at its meeting Oct. 24 in Iowa City. Even if it approves the proposed rates in December, the board reserves the right to adjust tuition to state higher education funding awarded during the 2014 legislative session.

As proposed, tuition for in-state undergraduates next year again would remain at 2012-13 levels, or $6,648. Nonresident undergraduates would pay $334 (1.74 percent) more in tuition next year, or $19,534. Resident graduate students would pay $142 (1.81 percent) more, or $7,999, and nonresident graduate students would pay an additional $646 (3.2 percent), or $20,804. College of Veterinary Medicine students, resident or nonresident, would pay 4.5 percent more next year – $20,014 and $44,768, respectively.

Mandatory student fees would go up $5.80, to $1,083.40 for Iowa State undergraduates and to $1,037.40 for graduate students, in 2014-15, as proposed. That includes a $3 increase for student services and a $2.80 increase for student activities. Student fees haven't changed for Iowa State students in three years.

Government of the Student Body president Spencer Hughes told board members the tuition proposal "is very popular in Ames with our resident undergraduates," but took issue with treating nonresident undergraduates and graduate students differently. While those increases are "fairly modest," regardless of the size, it places an additional burden on them, Hughes said. He added that Iowa State should be encouraging more nonresidents to attend school here; one way to improve the school's attractiveness among out-of-state families is the price tag.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who stopped in at the meeting during a campus visit, acknowledged that some students are concerned about "being saddled with unmanageable debt at graduation." He also noted that the state's economic health relies, in part, on "a robust pipeline of skilled graduates coming out of the regent universities."

Branstad said he will wait to receive the state's December revenue estimates before he builds his FY15 state budget, including funding for higher education.

Differential proposals

Differential tuition plans are exempted from the tuition freeze. Iowa State proposed differential tuition next year for four student groups: juniors and seniors in agricultural systems technology (AST) and industrial technology (ITec), programs administered jointly by the Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences colleges; and undergraduate and graduate architecture students.

Proposed tuition differentials 2014-15


Dollar increase

Percent increase


AST and ITec programs, upper division












Architecture, undergraduate












Architecture, graduate













2014-15 would be the fourth and final year of a differential increase for AST and ITec upper division students, intended to lower student-to-faculty ratios and provide excellent instruction and cutting-edge lab experiences. The increase also would align tuition for these programs with other upper division students in the Engineering college. Differential tuition was phased in for upper division students in the College of Engineering (2006-07 to 2009-10) and College of Business (2009-10 to 2011-12).

The differential for architecture students also is the final in a three-year plan intended to help hire more faculty to address the program's 20 percent enrollment increase since 2007.

The board's vote on 2014-15 tuition rates is expected at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Honorary degree

Iowa State will award an honorary Doctor of Science degree to NASA astronaut and Mount Ayr native Peggy Whitson at the commencement ceremony on Dec. 21. Whitson will be recognized for her contributions to the U.S. and international space programs, and for her service to young people, particularly as a role model for young women who pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Grounds improvements at the Knoll

The board approved sidewalk and landscaping projects at the Knoll, the president's residence. The first will repair sidewalks and patios and improve outdoor lighting, at an estimated budget of $110,000. The second is a multiyear project to remove or replace plantings and trees in the five acres surrounding the Knoll (estimated $95,000 budget). Private gifts will pay for both projects.

Other business

In other business, the board approved:

  • A bond sale for about $27.5 million in utility system revenue bonds to help pay for three natural gas boilers to replace three of Iowa State's five coal-fired boilers. Campus utilities income would repay the bonds over 20 years. The board approved the three-year boiler replacement plan last December.
  • Revisions to Iowa State's 2013-14 general catalog (an online publication), including 126 course additions (primarily due to new programs) and 103 course eliminations (courses that haven't been taught in some time)

Homecoming events begin Saturday

The 101st celebration of homecoming at Iowa State kicks off this weekend. In addition to student activities -- such as tournaments and Cardinal Court scholarship competitions -- there are many events open to the public. Admission is free, unless otherwise indicated. Homecoming buttons ($5 each) give wearers free access to the daily "food on campus" lunches and food at Friday evening's open house and pep rally. Buttons can be purchased at the ISU Alumni Center, daily "food on campus" meals and various campus locations (look for tables in the Memorial Union and on central campus).

Homecoming 101: The Tradition Continues

Saturday, Nov. 2

9 a.m., Blue Sky Day "Ames Live! In Color" 5K run/walk (10 a.m. start near Memorial Union), central campus, $22

9 a.m., Banner displays, central campus

10 a.m.-5 p.m., Open studio, design Cyclone pride buttons, magnets or pottery, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Noon-6 p.m., Victory Lane painting, Lot C6, Iowa State Center

2-6 p.m., Storefront window painting, Campustown, Welch Avenue and Lincoln Way

Sunday, Nov. 3

11 a.m.-3 p.m., Yell Like Hell first cuts, central campus stage

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (Hickory Park "saucy southerner" sandwiches, chips and cookies), central campus

1-5 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Monday, Nov. 4

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (La Fuente chicken and cheese quesadillas, chips and salsa), central campus

2-10 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Tuesday, Nov. 5

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (Hy-Vee orange/sesame chicken, vegetable lo mein and rice), central campus

2-10 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Wednesday, Nov. 6

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (Noodles and Company mac and cheese and hotdogs), central campus

2-10 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Thursday, Nov. 7

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (Jeff's Pizza, pepperoni and sausage pizza and carrots), central campus

2-10 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

Friday, Nov. 8

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on campus (Hy-Vee chili), central campus

1:30 p.m., Awards ceremony and reception, honoring alumni and friends of the university, Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building

5-9 p.m., Open house (food, drinks, games, performances and merchandise), pep rally begins at 7 p.m., ISU Alumni Center

5-8 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

7:30 p.m., Men's hockey vs. Robert Morris University, Ames/ISU Ice Arena, $5-$10

8-9 p.m., ExCYtment in the Streets, lawn displays, ISU Greek neighborhood

10 p.m.-1 a.m., Pancake feed, central campus, $3

Midnight, Mass campaniling and fireworks, central campus

Saturday, Nov. 9

8-10:30 a.m., Cyclone Central tailgate, ISU Alumni Center

10 a.m.-5 p.m., Open studio, The Workspace, Memorial Union, $0.50-$5

11 a.m. Football vs. Texas Christian University, Jack Trice Stadium, $20-$65

5 p.m., Volleyball vs. Oklahoma, Hilton Coliseum, $4-$5

7:30 p.m., Men's hockey vs. Robert Morris University, Ames/ISU Ice Arena, $5-$10

ISU Theatre musical debuts on Nov. 1

Spelling Bee promo shot

Leaf Coneybear (junior Carter Roeske), an easily distracted son of former hippies, is one of six middle-school competitors in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

Friday marks the opening of a two-week run for ISU Theatre's production of the musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Fisher Theater.

Experience the angst of middle school under the spotlight of the annual spelling bee, as a diverse group of six misfit adolescents -- and a few audience volunteers -- compete for the prize. The comedy highlights not only the quirky characters, but also the questionable definitions of winning and losing.

By design, some of the actors fill multiple roles in the one-act production. For example, senior Ben Moews portrays spelling bee participant Chip Tolento and Jesus. Senior Caitlin Schmaltz, who plays nostalgic moderator Rona Lisa Peretti, and freshman Christopher Culver, who plays ex-convict and "comfort counselor" Mitch Mahoney, double as Olive's parents. Juniors Cassilyn Ostrander (Logainne ScwartzandGrubenierre), Carter Roeske (Leaf Coneybear and Logainne's father) and Joseph Smith (William Barfée); sophomore Hannah Rublaitus (Olive Ostrovsky); and freshman Annie Metzger (Marcy Park) also are cast as spelling bee participants. Senior Chris Tedford rounds out the cast in his role as vice principal Douglas Panch.

Like the Tony Award-winning Broadway production, Spelling Bee contains some mature content and is not intended for young viewers. Jane Cox, professor and director of ISU Theatre, is the show's director. James Tener, senior lecturer in music, and senior Tyler Mootz serve as musical director and assistant musical director, respectively, for the production.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (Nov. 1-2 and 8-9) and 2 p.m. on Sundays (Nov. 3 and 10). Tickets ($18, $16 for seniors, $10 for ISU students) are available through Ticketmaster, at the Iowa State Center ticket office or at the door prior to the show.