A green playground

Veenker practice range

The spring rains stop, the world greens up and the golfers come out to play. Activity has picked up in the last week at Veenker Memorial Golf Course on the north edge of campus. Pictured, golfers take advantage of Veenker's wide driving range, which includes outdoor and indoor options.

Veenker staff are getting ready for summer junior programs (Wednesday mornings and all day Thursday), which will begin in a few weeks. Ames Park and Recreation-sponsored lessons and ISU PE classes are underway. Preparations for the Iowa Masters (July 11-13) and Iowa Games (July 19) tourneys also have begun. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Wireless network is getting a powerful boost

Work on a $4 million wireless network upgrade to academic and student areas is under way this summer. The project, which includes the installation of miles of wiring, thousands of ethernet jacks and the latest technology in wireless access points, will take an estimated two years to complete.

Survey says ...

ITS invested in a $250,000 survey of campus wireless access during the spring semester. The data was used to design and map the service upgrades.

"We are focusing on campus buildings -- faculty, staff and student space," said Jennifer Lohrbach, senior systems analyst for information technology services (ITS). "Academic space is a priority and office space is not being ignored."

Lohrbach said more than a dozen campus buildings will be upgraded by the fall semester. Ross, Gilman and Snedecor halls are done, along with the Hub and Administrative Services Building. Upgrades are in progress at Parks Library, College of Veterinary Medicine, Biorenewables Research Laboratory and Sweeney Hall.

"We are covering areas with the highest concentration of use, adding a tremendous amount of access points that will handle more users and more bandwidth per user," Lohrbach said.

For instance, 158 wireless access points were added to Gilman and 460 more are being installed throughout Vet Med. Parks Library is gaining 148 more access points, including six more in its reading room alone.

"It will offer better access and higher speeds for users through load sharing," Lohrbach said.

Half of the project is being funded by the Computation Advisory Committee, which oversees spending of student technology fees. The matching $2 million is from a pool of central funds.

Residence upgrades

ITS also is partnering with the department of residence on a separate $1 million upgrade for campus residence halls and the Frederiksen Court apartment complex. That work is scheduled for completion by March 2015.

"The project will add access points to each residence hall room and every Frederiksen Court apartment," said residence director Pete Englin. "Frederiksen Court and Maple, Buchanan, Eaton and Martin halls will have wireless speeds of 100 Mbps at each access point. Older residence halls will have speeds estimated at 10 Mbps."

He said performance speeds differ due to capacity limits of the existing wires in the older buildings. Upgrades to the wiring are part of future plans.

An estimated 5,800 will visit campus in June for orientation

An estimated 5,800 would-be freshmen will visit campus in June for orientation. The first of 20 two-day sessions begins Tuesday, June 3, and the last concludes on Wednesday, July 2. The schedule includes three sessions that open on Sunday, which New Student Programs director Liz Kurt said are popular with families.

Iowa State will welcome between 310 and 325 families to each session. Kurt said that last fall, 98 percent of enrolled freshmen had participated in orientation, quite remarkable since it's not mandatory. She said she expects the same participation levels this year, though there will be some in attendance who have accepted an admissions offer to Iowa State and haven't selected their school yet.

"Some use orientation as a shopping mechanism, and for some, it's even their first campus visit," she said. "Not all students have made their decision yet, which makes this an important month."

The small gestures all employees can make for visitors – open a door, be welcoming, offer directions, answer questions – are important.

Orientation sessions – just a single day -- for transfer students arriving this fall are scheduled for Monday, June 2, and Thursday, July 3.

What they'll get done

While they're here for orientation, students meet their academic advisers and register for fall classes, get their ISUCards and email accounts, and learn more about their academic programs during college-specific sessions. The LAS college will use Troxel Hall this summer for its session. Students will be introduced to academic support services and social resources available to them.

There are opportunities to meet with a financial aid adviser and join a tour of campus, the library, residence halls or Greek housing network. They'll learn the fight song, how a learning community can help them succeed and where they can pick up a soda or morning coffee.

Students attending orientation will check in at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center on the east side of campus. Those overnighting on campus will be assigned rooms in Maple Hall. The Union Drive dining center is the site for guests' evening meal and the Memorial Union is the hub for evening programs. During the day, college and student service buildings will be used for workshops, large group presentations and other activities.

Sessions for family members

Family members attend sessions on topics such as best practices for their student's transition to college, move-in day, the student health center and insurance coverage for their student. Cy's Sibs, a free program for fifth through ninth-grade younger siblings of freshmen, is a fun, five-hour introduction to Iowa State offered the first day of every orientation session. Up to 24 siblings can take part each session.

Designated parking for orientation guests

Summer construction and utility projects in the east side residence neighborhoods, resulting in partial closing of lots, have further squeezed the demand for guest parking in that part of campus. Orientation families, many of whom arrive on campus in multiple vehicles, will be directed to Lot 63 on the east and north sides of the Maple-Willow-Larch complex. Their designated overflow lot is the pre-pay lot (Lot 100) on the south side of the Lied Center. Many other events will use the Lied Center in June, including basketball camps and several youth conferences, and Lot 100 will be congested. University employees are encouraged to leave these lots open for visitors during June.

Tuition, state funds contribute to larger FY15 budget

Iowa State's  General Fund budget for the year that begins July 1 will contain nearly $49 million in additional revenue above the budget for the current year. When it meets next week in Ames, the state Board of Regents will review amended FY14 budgets and get a first look at FY15 budgets. Final approval for the FY15 budget is expected at the board's Aug. 6 meeting.

The largest piece of the $48.81 million new revenue pie is an estimated $37.2 million in additional tuition. While resident undergraduate tuition will remain constant for the third year in a row, increases for resident graduate (1.81 percent), nonresident undergraduate (1.74 percent), nonresident graduate (3.2 percent) and all veterinary medicine (4.5 percent) students, and a student body expected to surpass 34,000 will generate additional revenue. Another key piece is state appropriations, nearly $7 million more in the general university appropriation and nearly $2 million more in funding specifically for the Ag Experiment Station ($1.77 million), Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory ($237,364) and Small Business Development Center ($101,000).

Iowa State's requests for additional line item funding for extension and the research park were not fulfilled. State funding for FY15 is not guaranteed until Gov. Terry Branstad signs the appropriations bills.

In total, the additional revenue represents an 8 percent increase to the FY14 general fund budget, and brings the FY15 general fund budget to just under $660 million. The general fund (or operating) budget makes up about half of Iowa State's total annual budget, which exceeds $1.2 billion. Other pieces of the overall budget include financial gifts, sponsored funding, Ames Laboratory and auxiliary units such as athletics, residence, parking and utility systems.

Incremental revenue increases


$37.20 million

State appropriations:


    General University

$6.96 million

    Ag Experiment Station

$1.77 million

    Small Business Development Center

$0.10 million

    Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

$0.24 million

    Iowa Nutrient Research Center

-$0.17 million

Federal appropriations*

$1.46 million

Sponsored research indirect costs recovery

$0.98 million

Investment income

$0.27 million


$48.81 million

*Estimated, for Ag Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension

State funds for building projects

FY15 will include the final $18.6 million in state funds for Sukup and Elings halls, the new home of the agricultural and biosystems engineering department. State funding for the project over four years totals $60.4 million. The project also relied on $14.1 million in private gifts.

Iowa State also will receive $2 million from the state in FY15 to begin plans for a new biosciences facility and addition to Bessey Hall. The state commitment to the biosciences project is $52 million over four years.

How it will be used

Leaders will use nearly $13.4 million for employee compensation, including $4.72 million for professional and scientific staff reclassifications, spouse accommodations and increases associated with faculty promotions. The state insurance plan, which covers most ISU merit staff, will cost Iowa State another $685,000 next year. The ISU Plan, which covers faculty and P&S staff, is performing efficiently and the university's cost is expected to remain flat in FY15.

This summer, employees are moving into Sukup and Elings halls, phase 2 of the biorenewables complex and home to the agricultural and biosystems engineering department. It will cost an estimated $1.64 million annually to operate those facilities.

Approximately $9.1 million of $31.35 million targeted for strategic priorities will be used for additional student financial aid. The remaining $22.25 million will be allocated to the four divisions in this breakout:

  • Academic affairs: $18.69 million
  • Business and finance: $1.31 million
  • Student affairs: $0.90 million
  • University administration: $1.35 million ($700,000 to be used for faculty recruitment)

The funds are to be used in ways that address President Steven Leath's four university priorities: maintain academic excellence, enhance our basic and applied research footprint, promote economic development, and improve the campus environment. Under these broad umbrellas, funds also will be used to implement recent recommendations of the president-appointed Committee on Enhancing Institutional Excellence or the Student Experience Enhancement Council.

In preliminary FY15 budget planning, the three senior vice presidents and the president proposed more than $42 million in strategic uses for new funds. They have an internal June 13 deadline to pare down their proposals to match their allocations or reallocate within their budgets to pay for new initiatives.

Allocating new revenues

Mandatory increases:


    Merit employee salaries and insurance

$0.96 million

    Opening Sukup, Elings halls

$1.64 million

    Supplies, services*

$0.89 million

ISU deferred maintenance fund

$1.00 million

Institutional roads fund

$0.10 million



    Faculty, P&S, post doc salaries

$7.70 million

    ISU Plan


    Grad assistants (stipends, insurance)

$0.45 million

    Other compensation**

$4.72 million


$17.46 million

Student financial aid

$9.10 million

Strategic priorities

$22.25 million


$48.81 million

*Inflationary increases on utilities, city services, software licenses, library journals, insurance, etc.
**Faculty promotions, P&S reclassifications, spouse accommodations

Regents meet on campus next week

A performance-based proposal for allocating state funds to the three regent universities, a $46 million plan to replace the south end of the football stadium and FY15 salary policies and preliminary budget are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets on campus next week.

The board will meet Wednesday-Thursday, June 4-5, in the Scheman Building. The full agenda is online. Audio of the public portions of the meeting will be streamed live on the board's website.

Wednesday's session opens at 9 a.m. with the report (PDF) from the task force assigned to propose an alternative formula for distributing the state general university appropriation among the three universities. The task force completed nine months of study and discussion earlier this month.

Also on the Wednesday agenda are budget discussions, including salary policy; the annual report to the board on student financial aid (2012-13 school year); a request to lease one floor of the under-construction Kingland Systems building in Campustown; and requests to create two new centers at Iowa State: Iowa Soybean Research Center and Midwest Transportation Center.

Thursday will be a mostly closed session while the board conducts annual reviews of the institution leaders and board executive director Bob Donley.

McLaughlin steps down to lead promising Reiman Gardens' venture

LEGO brick hummingbird

A LEGO brick hummingbird, shown here in Reiman Gardens in summer 2012, is part of the original Nature Connects exhibit. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Some popular exhibits -- dinosaurs, big bugs, aliens -- have appeared at Reiman Gardens over the years. But the most popular exhibit ever was homegrown. Reiman staff's big idea -- sculptures made of LEGO bricks -- has blossomed into an entrepreneurial venture that's appearing in gardens all over the country and bringing in revenue as well.

Fifteen-year gardens director Teresa McLaughlin is so enthused about the exhibit's potential that she is stepping down from the director post to run the Nature Connects exhibit full-time. She'll be an employee of Iowa State's business and finance office, but her new position will be all about driving revenue to Reiman Gardens.

"This revenue will help with much-needed improvements at the 20-year-old gardens," she said.

"The budget I have prepared shows a $3 million gross over a five-year period with approximately $2 million going to support Reiman Gardens operations, equipment and facility upgrades," McLaughlin said. Remaining funds will support construction of the exhibits; two full-time staff members, including McLaughlin; several part-timers who install and remove exhibits; and shipping.

Gardens, zoos lining up

Prospects for the Nature Connects enterprise look good. Twelve gardens around the country, from California to Florida, have leased the exhibit, which runs through January 2017. Twelve gardens and two zoos have signed on for a second exhibit, which recently premiered at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis, and will run through 2018. And exhibits three and four are on the drawing board.

While the content of each exhibit differs, all include LEGO sculptures and reflect a theme of sustainability, conservation and pollination, McLaughlin said.

The sculptures are created by Sean Kenney, a New York City-area artist who is one of 12 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world.

"He likes what the garden exhibits offer," McLaughlin said. "It's all about education, conservation, water resources, how you treat your soil. Gardens really are a cultural resource."

The first Nature Connects exhibit debuted at Iowa State in April 2012. Nearly 500,000 Lego bricks went into the construction of 27 sculptures. During the exhibit, Reiman Gardens admission went from 200,000 to 400,000, McLaughlin said.

"Almost every garden leasing the exhibit has doubled its admission," she added.

McLaughlin will continue serving as gardens director and working on Nature Connects projects until a new director is hired. Agriculture and Life Sciences dean Wendy Wintersteen and associate vice president Dave Miller will co-chair the search committee.

“I’m extremely grateful to Roy and Bobbi Reiman, senior vice president Warren Madden, President Steven and Janet Leath and many others for their support at Reiman Gardens. It's exciting for me to continue helping the gardens thrive while also promoting Nature Connects at public gardens all across the country,” McLaughlin said.

Summer visitors to campus

While Iowa State student numbers drop noticeably in the summer, our campus visitors data spikes. Here's a quick rundown of some of the larger groups heading our way -- and when.

Group Date Participants Staying on campus
Iowa Funeral Directors Association convention May 12-15 400 no
Alumni Days May 15-16 275, senior alumni no
Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games May 22-24 2,700, all ages yes
Odyssey of the Mind World Finals May 28-31 8,000, youth elementary-college plus 7,000 family members yes
Orientation: Fall 2014 June 2-July 3 5,500+ freshman and transfer students yes
Future Problem Solving Program International Conference June 12-15 2,500, youth grades 4-12 yes
USA Track & Field Iowa Association Junior Olympic Championships June 21-22 1,000 no
Iowa Reading Association Conference June 24-25 850 IRA members no
Iowa 4-H Youth Conference June 24-26 1,000, high school yes
National Junior Disability Championships July 5-12 200-250, ages 7-22, physical disabilities no
BravO National Dance & Talent Competition July 7-13 1,000, all ages no
Iowa Summer Games July 11-13, July 17-20 (main weekend), July 25-27 14,000 over 3 weekends, all ages, youth and adults yes
Farm Progress Show Aug. 26-28   no


If you have a large group (100+) coming to campus this summer, send a note to inside@iastate.edu and we'll add it to the list.