Dirt on the floor is a good thing at Hansen facility

Hansen Center pavilion

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences officially put its new Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center to use last week with the start of spring semester. The facility, located south of campus on Mortensen Road, features four finished classrooms (with space for two more), restrooms, serving kitchen and an indoor arena that measures 250 feet by 110 feet and has 825 permanent seats.

The state-of-the-art arena is large enough to host equine events -- such as the Cyclone Stampede fall rodeo. Its three 30-by-30 foot overhead doors will accommodate the largest of farm implements. It took 100 dump truck loads of dirt and sand to create 18 inches of floor fill (photo above). The dirt surface has an optional plastic cover for large events requiring tables and chairs.

The arena floor will see its first use this week, with Animal Science 101 students "meeting" lots of animals on Friday, Jan. 24, and an ISU cattle auction scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Formerly, the college had to contain indoor events in the Kildee Hall pavilion or transport groups to one of the teaching farms on State Avenue.

(Pictured below) Assistant professor of animal science Cheryl Morris uses flashcards to get to know the students in her Companion Animal Management class, which was meeting in two of the Hansen Center classrooms. Photos by Bob Elbert.

Hansen Center classroom

Regents president talks to senate

State Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter spoke to members of the Faculty Senate at their Jan. 21 meeting, taking questions after his opening remarks.

"One of the missions of the regents is to make sure we're fair about all three of the universities, because clearly we're the governing body of all three," Rastetter said. "I think meetings like this, and making sure we hear from you ... is really important to make sure we take that into context."

Regents system by the numbers

  • $5 billion enterprise
  • 76,000 students
  • 46,000 employees (26,000 full-time)
  • 1.2 million visitors/patients per year (University of Iowa hospitals)

Among his comments:

  • (Distribution of appropriations) "One of the things that hasn't happened in 70 years, regents have not looked at our appropriations and how they're distributed amongst the three universities. We have not looked at performance funding tied to that, and in particular, to resident students. I think it's incumbent that we do that. A lot of things have changed over 70 years and I think as an interest of being fair, that we should look at that."
  • (Efficiency study) "One of our perspectives and goals is to make sure that our strategic mission stays in line. Our strategic mission at the board of regents is accessibility, affordability, and how do we improve the quality of education at the public universities. We are going to look at everything, including athletics."
  • (Budget lobbying) "We have asked [the three presidents] to step up their advocacy in the last few years and we think that's important. We've also asked the universities -- the alumni associations, the faculties, all of the constituency groups -- to lobby on behalf of the regents budget."
  • (Collaboration vs. competition among the institutions) "The reality of it is that we have limited resources in the state and we have three large universities. It is critically important we maintain that [AAU] status, and the way we do it is focus on the strengths of each university, rather than establish duplication that takes resources that are precious and limited."
  • (Community college relationships) "One of the initiatives that the regents system has had for some time is the 26 different articulation agreements between the three public universities and the community college system. That's been important, so if students expect that the credits they're taking in a community college will transfer to the public -- that they actually do. One of the challenges with that is to make sure that the quality of those credits is equivalent or close to the quality that those students would receive [at a university]."

Election results

Rob Wallace, associate professor in ecology, evolution and organismal biology, was voted the next president-elect in a two-person race. Wallace and current president-elect Kevin Schalinske (food science and human nutrition) will assume their new posts at the May 6 meeting.

Other business

Senators worked through a lengthy list of motions introduced in December, including a unanimous decision to discontinue the master of public administration degree program. The request was submitted by the political science department.

A host of Faculty Handbook revisions also were approved without objections, including changes that will:

  • Ensure diversity when appointing ad hoc investigative committees working on faculty grievance cases (section 9.3.3)
  • Clarify procedures for faculty misconduct proceedings (chapter 7)
  • Provide guidelines to handle cases of abandonment of position (section
  • Outline eligibility criteria for the advancement of non-tenure eligible faculty (section 5.4.1)
  • Provide language consistent with information in the university’s policy library (chapters 7 and 8)

Ames Laboratory director finalists named

Five finalists have been named in the search for the director of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory.

The finalists are:

  • Emilio Bunel, division director, chemical sciences and engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill.
  • Alan Hurd, executive adviser, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.
  • Duane Johnson, chief research officer, Ames Laboratory
  • Adam Schwartz, division director, condensed matter and materials, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.
  • Patricia Thiel, faculty scientist, Ames Laboratory

Open forums

Finalist interviews will begin next week. Each finalist will meet with members of the Ames Laboratory and Iowa State communities and participate in an open forum. All forums will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon in 301 Spedding. The schedule is:

  • Bunel, Monday, Jan. 27
  • Thiel, Thursday, Jan. 30
  • Hurd, Tuesday, Feb. 4
  • Johnson, Thursday, Feb. 6
  • Schwartz, Friday, Feb. 14

The open forums will be recorded and posted on the Ames Laboratory website once the final forum has concluded; an online form also will be available to provide feedback on the finalists.

Tom Lograsso, division director of materials sciences, has been serving as interim director of the lab.

The Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State.

About the finalists

Emilio Bunel currently serves as director of the chemical and engineering sciences division at Argonne National Laboratory. Bunel earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Chile and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. He previously served in research positions at DuPont, Eli Lilly and Co., Amgen and Pfizer before joining Argonne National Laboratory in 2008.

Alan Hurd, executive adviser at Los Alamos National Laboratory, returned to the lab recently from the U.S. Department of State, where he was a Franklin Fellow serving as the Secretary's science and technology adviser. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines and master's and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Colorado. He previously served at Brandeis University, Sandia National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico and the Santa Fe Institute.

Duane Johnson serves as chief research officer at the Ames Laboratory and is the F. Wendell Miller Professor of Energy Science in Iowa State's department of materials science and engineering. Johnson earned bachelor's and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of Cincinnati. He previously served at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories before joining Iowa State in 2010.

Adam Schwartz currently serves as division leader of the condensed matter and materials division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and also leads the lab's projects for the Critical Materials Institute. Schwartz earned bachelor's and master's degrees in metallurgical engineering an.d a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, all from the University of Pittsburgh. He joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a postdoctoral research associate in 1991.

Patricia Thiel serves as a faculty scientist in the Ames Laboratory. She also is the John D. Corbett Professor of Chemistry and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State. Thiel holds bachelor's and doctorate degrees from Macalester College and the California Institute of Technology, respectively. She previously served at Control Data Corp. and Sandia National Laboratories before joining the Ames Laboratory and Iowa State in 1983.

Start something

When it comes to improving university technologies, it seems almost everyone's got an idea. Expand wireless capacity. Get more software and site licenses. Beef up classroom technologies. The list of wants and needs is long and presents information technology staff with a challenge -- how to gauge university support for all those ideas.

It would be nice to know, for example, if a proposed software program would be useful to a few or many. Or if other units on campus are interested enough in a new site license to kick in some support.

ITS staff are counting on a new website -- Techstarter -- to help them answer some of these questions.

"It's a crowdsourcing site," said ITS director of academic technologies Jim Twetten. "We're using the crowd -- in this case, ISU faculty, staff and students -- to help us determine which technology ideas have strong backing and support from the university community."

The site works like this. A faculty or staff member or student signs into the site and submits an idea for new technologies. The suggestion can be specific (let's buy software X) or more general (please find a streaming video server that works with Blackboard Learn).

"Unlike a formal proposal process, Techstarter is intended to have a low barrier for input," Twetten said. "You don't necessarily need to know the cost of a techology or have the logistics figured out prior to entering an idea."

Once a Techstarter idea is online, others in the university community analyze or champion the idea by:

  • "Liking" it
  • Adding a comment
  • Volunteering time, resources or funding to the proposal
  • Forwarding it to others

ITS staff who analyze and select technologies will keep a close eye on Techstarter, Twetten said.

"We'll use the site to get a sense of the level of need for a technology or a solution," he said. "We won't necessarily pluck out all the ideas with the most 'likes.' There's more to this than just popularity. There are costs, university priorities, and sometimes legal or policy things to consider. But Techstarter will give us a good place to start."

Twetten encouraged faculty, staff and students to drop by the site frequently to offer ideas for technology or comment on others' proposals.

"This is a fast, easy way to be part of the technology-selection process, " Twetten said. "The more people we hear from, the better we'll be in matching new technologies to this university's needs. "

Regents task force looks at Tennessee's bold funding model

The architect of Tennessee's outcomes-driven state funding formula for its nine public universities told an Iowa task force Tuesday that "not an aspect of campus was untouched by change" since the conversion four years ago.

A task force appointed by Iowa's Board of Regents is studying performance-based alternatives for allocating state funds to the three regent universities. Iowa's traditional formula, dating back to the 1940s, divides the state appropriation on roughly a 40 percent/40 percent/20 percent (Iowa State/Iowa/Northern Iowa) split. As the name implies, the intent behind performance-based funding is to align public operating dollars with a state's higher education priorities.

In most of the 30 or so states that have tried or are trying performance-based funding, only a portion of state funds – typically 10 percent or less – is allocated by such a formula. What sets Tennessee apart from the rest of the pack is that since 2011, 100 percent of state operating funds (and about 90 percent of total state funds) are distributed among nine schools according to outcomes. Previously, Tennessee allocated only 5 percent of state funds according to performance, primarily enrollment numbers.

"It's an experiment that's had some pretty dramatic impacts on Tennessee's higher education," said Russ Deaton, chief fiscal officer for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. "There was a fundamental disconnect between our goals and our finances."

Tennessee's current formula awards dollars for 10 outcomes -- for example, bachelor's degrees awarded or external grant funding -- which are weighted for each campus based on that school's mission. Premiums are added for targeted student populations, currently Pell Grant recipients (low income) and adult students.

Deaton said there are no goals attached to the outcomes for any of the campuses, so there's no penalty for failure to meet a goal. Rather, he said, "we're asking the Legislature to purchase what we have produced – not fund who walks in the door or what we'd like to do."

Deaton said the new funding mechanism has created many positive changes, including new academic programs and growth in student advising and student learning support. A challenge, he told the task force, is for educators and in some cases, legislators, to let go of a belief in entitlement; each campus can lose or gain 4 percent of its state funds every year.

Other presenters

Martha Snyder, an Albany, N.Y.-based consultant who has helped several states develop higher education finance policies, told the task force that Iowa has an opportunity to include tuition policies in its broader finance equation because the board of regents approves annual tuition at the three schools.

"You could set tuition policies that encourage students to get through school more quickly, for example by taking more credits," she said.

Snyder also encouraged task force members to attach "a significant amount of money" to any performance formula it might recommend. Five percent of all operating funds "seems to be the minimum magic number" to get schools' attention, she said.

She noted that quality in education is difficult to measure, therefore formulas that rely on hard counts work better.

Snyder presented data that 62 percent of Iowa jobs in 2018 will require postsecondary education. At its current pace, about 45 percent of Iowans between the ages of 24 and 65 years will have the necessary education. Most states face the same dilemma and are including workforce development/degrees granted in their funding formulas, she said.

ISU School of Education associate professor Janice Friedel and doctoral student Zoe Thornton presented summary information on states' forays in and out of performance-based funding. Because it's relatively new, Friedel called it "a moving target" and said time and research are needed to assess its success. Some states have abandoned their initial efforts and some keep tweaking their funding model, which resets the evaluation clock, Thornton said. Some commit inconsequential dollars to performance-based funding, rendering it ineffective in producing results.

Friedel noted that performance-based funding is not a solution for declining state support of higher education. But if it helps states achieve its education priorities, she said it could help reverse the decline.

Next up

The task force's information-gathering work is scheduled to continue on Monday, Feb. 24 (9 a.m., board of regents office, Urbandale). The three regent university presidents (Steven Leath, Sally Mason and William Ruud) will be part of the discussion that day.

The task force hopes to develop some recommendations for the board by June. The group is led by former regent David Miles and includes regent Katie Mulholland and an appointee by each of the three universities.

Students to begin online training on violence prevention

Faculty and staff began online training on discrimination, harassment and Title IX last month. Students will begin similar training, with an emphasis on Title IX and violence prevention, at the end of this month.

Where to access training

Students will receive an email with instructions and a link to the training.  Faculty and staff should have received a unique URL to their training sessions in a Dec. 3 "Course Registration" email from the Office of Equal Opportunity. If you've lost the email, contact eooffice@iastate.edu.

The 40-minute student training focuses on Title IX -- federal legislation that prohibits sexual discrimination in education and has become a strong tool for preventing and addressing sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence and stalking.  Some student workers, such as graduate students, also will be required to take a second training course on unlawful harassment prevention.

The student training will familiarize students with university policies on violence and harassment and provide information on campus and community resources, said vice president for student affairs Tom Hill.

"Most importantly, it will provide them direction on what to do if they encounter violence or harassment."

President Steven Leath said he is putting special emphasis on making Iowa State a safe, welcoming community, and the student, faculty and staff training sessions are part of that.

"These training sessions will show us all how to recognize violence and harassment and how to be a part of stopping it," Leath said.

Training session deadlines

Students are required to complete their training session by Feb. 28. Faculty and  staff training, which began in early December, should be completed by the first week in February.

How are we doing?

Robin Kelley, director of the office of equal opportunity, labels the faculty and staff completion rate on the required training courses "pretty good so far."

  • 71 percent of faculty and staff have completed "Title IX and Violence Prevention"
  • 73 percent of staff have completed "Unlawful Harassment Prevention" (for staff)
  • 53 percent of faculty have completed "Unlawful Harassment Prevention" (for faculty)

"Thanks to everyone who's taken time for these important courses," she said.  "I'm very pleased with the completion progress so far, and I’m hopeful those who haven't yet completed the courses will be able to get online over the next few weeks and finish up."

Robinder named associate dean of students

Keith Robinder has been appointed associate dean of students, effective Jan. 27.

As associate dean, Robinder will supervise five departments in the dean of students office: Academic Success Center, Hixson Scholarship Program, National Student Exchange, Student Disability Resources and the Writing and Media Center. He also will lead the effort to develop and implement a comprehensive assessment plan for the DSO.

Since 2009, Robinder has served as assistant dean of students and director of Student Assistance and Outreach, where he led the effort to develop a nationally renowned, interdisciplinary process for supporting students in crisis. As a result, ISU’s student assistance program recently was featured in Responding to Students of Concern: Best Practices for Behavioral Intervention Teams, a publication of the Education Advisory Board.

Robinder received his M.S. in student affairs and higher education and his Ph.D. in educational leadership, both from Colorado State University. He has worked in a variety of student affairs areas at both private and public institutions, from community colleges to research universities.

Robinder succeeds Mary Jo Gonzales, who was named dean of students at the University of Rhode Island last April.

Celebrating a legacy of entertainment

Some M-Shop alumni

  • Flying Burrito Brothers, 1978
  • Kenny G, 1980
  • Muddy Waters, 1981
  • Tom Arnold, 1983
  • Hoodoo Gurus, 1984
  • Suzanne Vega, 1985
  • The Replacements, 1985
  • Gregg Allman, 1986
  • Soul Asylum, 1987
  • House of Large Sizes, 1987
  • Gear Daddies, 1988
  • Branford Marsalis Group, 1990
  • Loudon Wainwright III, 1991
  • Smashing Pumpkins, 1991
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket, 1992
  • Wilco, 1995
  • De La Soul, 1996
  • The Atomic Fireballs, 1998
  • Digital Underground, 1998
  • Hank Williams III, 2000
  • The Envy Corps, 2002
  • Steel Train, 2007
  • fun., 2009
  • Enter the Haggis, 2009
  • The Civil Wars, 2011
  • The Lumineers, 2012
  • Jefferson Starship, 2013
  • Aaron Carter, 2013

Compilation of performers

Forty years ago this month, a basement maintenance area in the Memorial Union reopened as an entertainment venue. Since then, live performances and a variety of events have taken place in the aptly named Maintenance Shop (also fondly known as the M-Shop).

A series of concerts is planned as part of the 40th anniversary celebration, kicking off with a Jan. 31 show featuring Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang (9 p.m.). Shaw, a 2013 Blues Music Award winning saxophonist, made his first M-Shop appearance in 1986.

Jim Brockpahler, entertainment program coordinator in the Student Activities Center, said the M-Shop student organizers are working to book a handful of acts this semester and next fall as part of the anniversary series. He said they are focusing on entertainers who performed at the venue over the last four decades and represent different genres.

"It's exciting to program for an anniversary season and the M-Shop definitely strives to feature a diverse line-up, running the gamut -- from blues to folk to rock to hip-hop and everything in between," Brockpahler said.

The spring performance schedule is available on the M-Shop website. Brockpahler said more shows, including anniversary series performances, will be added.

M-Shop shows are open to the public. ISU students receive discounted prices to ticketed shows. Tickets are available online and at the M-Shop box office (11 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday).