Reiman Gardens art fair is Sunday

Reiman Gardens Art Fair

The annual garden art fair will bring more than 50 artist exhibits to Reiman Gardens on Sunday, July 13. The artwork -- including jewelry, watercolors, pottery, woodworking and glass -- will be on exhibit and for sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can purchase lunch (Battle's BBQ and Capanna Coffee and Gelato) and enjoy live music as they tour the booths and garden grounds. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for children, and free for members, ISU students and children three and younger. Contributed photo.

New funds will support university priorities

In the new fiscal year that began July 1, Iowa State will continue its multi-year investment in the four broad university priorities first identified by President Steven Leath in fall 2012: maintain academic excellence, enhance the university's basic and applied research footprint, promote economic development in the state and improve the campus environment.

Late last month, Leath received and approved proposals from his three senior vice presidents on uses for $39.94 million in new revenue (a net figure that excludes additional funding for student financial aid). The budget still must be approved by the state Board of Regents, and is expected to be on the board's Aug. 6 meeting agenda.

Following is a summary of how the incremental funds will be used this year to help fund the university's top priorities:

Priority: Maintain academic excellence ($18.76 million)

  • Recruit and retain faculty in disciplines with strong programs and high student demand ($12.86 million). Examples include targeted hires in the Presidential High Impact Hires initiative as well as senior faculty who are members of national academies.
  • Priorities identified by the Student Experience Enhancement Council that improve the student experience ($4.71 million). Examples include additional funding for student recruiting space, student advising positions, supplemental instruction, learning communities and the campus wireless network.
  • Other priorities and initiatives that improve the student experience ($174,000). The primary example is additional student support services.
  • Efforts to keep college affordable ($1.02 million). Examples include graduate scholarships and stipends, and additional advising positions in student financial aid.

Priority: Enhance the university's basic and applied research footprint ($3.0 million)

  • Priorities identified by the Committee on Enhancing Institutional Excellence that strengthen research programs in areas that are core to the university ($938,000). Examples include further work on a digital repository of scholarly work of ISU faculty and students, staff positions in research administration to help develop multidisciplinary grant proposals, and systematic approaches to recruiting graduate students and post docs.
  • Other priorities and initiatives that strengthen research programs in core areas ($2.06 million). Examples include grant-matching funds, support for research farm operations, and new career services and writing centers specifically for graduate students.

Priority: Promote economic development ($1.89 million)

  • Connect faculty, staff and student resources with industry, communities, business and state agencies. The primary example is establishing the economic development/industry relations office that reports to the president.

Priority: Improve the campus environment ($1.50 million)

  • Invest in a clean, safe and secure campus environment. Examples include funding for the central deferred maintenance fund ($1 million) and institutional roads fund ($100,000), staff positions in the areas of public safety and facilities services, and employee professional development.

Other FY15 investments ($14.79 million)

  • $9.53 million: Performance-driven compensation plan for faculty and P&S staff
  • $3.90 million: Campus infrastructure and services, including operating three new buildings and replacing IT core equipment
  • $980,000: Contract-covered merit employee salary and insurance increases
  • $377,000: Inflationary increases on external services, contracts and licenses

Leath also accepted the senior VPs' plans for $23.13 million in reallocations to support the priorities listed above, all but $406,000 of which is in the academic affairs division. While not new funds, the reallocated dollars are new commitments to priority areas.

IT review offers insights into ISU learning ecosystem

Better support for faculty during the 10-minute classroom changeover and streamlined access to more electronic learning tools are two likely outcomes from a recent needs assessment of the ISU learning ecosystem. These and other recommendations can be found along with the needs assessment report. Two documents are available:

  • A 29-page report (PDF) from MindWires consulting, a California firm specializing in digital education and planning
  • A four-page summary (PDF) of key findings and action steps prepared by the Iowa State steering committee overseeing the study

Last fall, consultants came to campus to lead focus groups and develop surveys designed to reveal key issues and opportunities for ISU.

"It’s OK to ask faculty and students what technology they want,” said Jim Twetten, co-chair of the steering committee and director of academic technologies in IT services. “But users are rightly focused on their discipline’s content, and often don’t know what’s possible, technology-wise. So this was a chance to engage in dialog on day-to-day teaching and learning activities."

Once those common activities and desires were known, educational technology specialists could begin to work toward new solutions. Some of those solutions could be technological, while others may be more procedural, Twetten said.

The reports point toward the need for greater support in both the physical and electronic learning arenas.

"The study shows a real need for increased support of online and blended learning on campus, and shining a spotlight on teaching innovation so the whole campus can benefit," said Ralph Napolitano, co-chair of the steering committee and associate director for online learning in the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).

The 10-minute classroom changeover period

Faculty concerns about the 10-minute changeover became more apparent during the focus group discussions.

"When instructors meet at the classroom technology podium -- one trying to unplug a laptop and move out, the other connecting and opening an electronic toolkit -- they've got a lot of technical things to do," Twetten said. "Add students peppering them with questions and those 10 minutes roll by fast. We need to find a way to make the technology even more straightforward so that faculty can concentrate on their students."

Twetten said that service providers for classrooms will get together to look for ways to remove some of the hassle from the changeover. Options might include such things as:

  • Putting IT experts in buildings with heavy classroom concentrations for more immediate support
  • Setting up programs in which students in classes are identified as the technology support assistants for faculty members
  • Standardizing more technologies in general assignment classrooms, providing instructors with a more familiar setting
  • Creating a side room near the classroom, where an instructor can set up technology on a wheeled cart while the previous instructor is finishing up (Troxel Hall has such a system)

Learning management systems

Faculty and student opinions about learning management systems (LMS) were a key focus during the review. Iowa State currently uses Blackboard. While support for the use of a learning management system is broad among both faculty and students, the two groups have somewhat different priorities for it.

"For faculty, reliability is No. 1, clearly more important than new features," Twetten said.

Students want reliability as well, but they long for one consistent home for all their online needs, Twetten said. They don't want to have to log into different places -- Blackboard, Moodle, ThinkSpace, faculty pages or cloud-based software -- for different classes.

"The study did confirm some frustration with Blackboard that we’ve heard from students and faculty before," Twetten said "But people also recognized the high cost and commitment needed to change systems, and faculty pointed toward other technology concerns that were a higher priority to them."

Moving forward

The review provides useful information for planning and investing in physical and virtual learning spaces on campus, Twetten said. For example, educational technology planners hope to:

  • Develop a comprehensive classroom technology plan. The plan would include basic features and technologies that every classroom should have, along with add-ons for some rooms. There might be several tiers of classrooms with different levels of equipment and support.
  • Increase the level of user expertise and support in online learning. The more traditional model puts a heavy burden on faculty members who may not receive help from support staff, Napolitano said. For blended or totally online classes, a team with experts in instructional design, pedagogy and technology could provide support not previously available in all areas.
  • Designate a single contact point for classroom troubleshooting. It can be confusing to understand who to call for various classroom issues, ranging from a burned-out light bulb to a malfunctioning touchscreen, Twetten said. A single contact point and dispatch would make for more rapid problem resolution.
  • Develop a strategy for how emerging online electronic tools are provisioned and integrated into the ISU learning ecosystem. Interoperability standards are emerging, nationally, Twetten said, and an organized approach to integrating tools helps lessen the burden on faculty while also responding to the student desire for having more instructional resources in one place. 

Network upgrade snags the phones

A major upgrade that will boost Iowa State's network capacity from 10 GB to 100 GB hit a snag Wednesday morning when a malfunction in the new equipment brought down the university phone system, and to a lesser extent, other online campus services.

The trouble occurred about 5 a.m., during installation of a core router -- one of two major routers that move network traffic between smaller distribution routers. The university phone system, which operates through the Internet, experienced intermittent service for approximately six hours. There were sporadic outages in Internet and email services.

Angela Bradley, ITS associate chief information officer, said outside consultants  have been helping campus engineers troubleshoot what appears to be a hardware issue with the new routers.

"We apologize for the extended network connectivity issues and understand the urgency and critical nature of both telephone and network service," Bradley said.

Once the new equipment is successfully in place, Iowa State's entire network backbone will have 100 GB capacity. The new network will accommodate more online users, increased use of high-speed data and newer technologies, said CIO Jim Davis.

"It also will help us stay ahead of our Internet bandwidth use, which doubles every two years," Davis said.

Mobile app provides campus tools

A completely revamped version of the MyState mobile application for Mac and Android devices rolled out this spring and summer, giving campus newcomers (and veterans) upgraded digital tools in the palm of their hands.

"Because of the way the app evolved and grew over time, it was due for a makeover," said Travis Ballstadt, College of Engineering digital media coordinator and project manager.

The free app, a collaborative project by the college and Information Technology Services, currently offers:

  • CyRide bus schedules and routes, with real-time NextBus tracking
  • Campus map, including building and parking accessibility locations
  • Headlines from ISU and Ames news sources
  • Campus directory with individual phone, address and email information

The app's home screen scrolls through photos pulled from ISU Photostream, which features crowd-sourced campus images. It also displays the current temperature in Ames.

"Those who used the earlier versions of the app will notice that, while some features are much improved, others have gone away — most of those features will return better than before, and other new features will pop up," Ballstadt said. “I’m very excited about some of the ideas that our student developers have been working on and the direction this app is headed.”

Free downloads of the MyState app are available in the Apple and Google play app stores.

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 and we'll add it to the list.