Two young Cyclone fans help themselves to football schedule posters at the university's main exhibit at the Iowa State Fair. The fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 17. The main university exhibit, featuring a very popular alumni wall, is in the northeast corner of the Varied Industries Building. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.
Administrators briefed the Professional and Scientific Council on a variety of issues -- from the Iowa Board of Regents' efficiency review to recent upgrades on the university network -- during the council's first meeting of the academic year on Aug. 7. Providing the updates were senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert, associate vice president for university human resources Julie Nuter, and chief information officer Jim Davis.
New hires, new facilities
Wickert reported that Iowa State will start the academic year with 104 new faculty and more than a dozen new academic advisers. Facility improvements include a renovated MacKay Hall auditorium and two new buildings -- Elings Hall, home to the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, and its partner, Sukup Hall, which contains research and teaching labs.
"It's a big deal," Wickert said of the reaccreditation process. The process resembles reaccreditation for academic departments, but on a university-wide scale, he said. Iowa State is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission approximately every seven years. An intensive self-study is part of the review. Olivia Madison, who is stepping down as library dean Sept. 1, will join the provost office to help with that preparation.
First TIER implementation
Wickert said the regents' decision last week to negotiate a purchasing contract on behalf of the three state universities represents the first implementation of a recommendation coming out of the board's Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER). Deloitte Consulting, the board's consultant on the review, predicts $16 million to $40 million in annual savings from bulk purchasing contracts for such things as food, small package deliveries, office supplies, furniture and some lab supplies.
Much of the TIER review remains in the study phase. For example, Wickert said, distance education, institutional research and the competitiveness of academic programs, particularly in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are among academic areas that will be discussed and studied in the fall.
Streamlining the hiring process
Nuter reported that Iowa State's new online classification system goes live Sept. 9. It makes use of the PeopleAdmin software, which streamlines the hiring process for both managers and job applicants.
"This is a significant upgrade for our classification and hiring sytem," Nuter said. Information on the new system and training opportunities are available online.
Network, wireless upgrades
Davis reported that network upgrades underway throughout spring and summer have been completed and are ready for the fall influx of students.
"While upgrading the network infrastructure, we also increased the capacity of the campus network by a factor of 10," Davis said. Network capacity went from 10 GB to 100 GB.
"We know there were a lot of bumps in the road," Davis said, referring to campus outages that occurred during some of the upgrade work. Davis thanked faculty, staff and students for their patience.
Other improvements to campus connectivity include wireless upgrades. Approximately 1,100 new wireless access points -- about half of what's planned -- have been installed in various places on campus. In a separate project, 4,800 new access points have been added in the residence halls. There's one access point per room, Davis said.
Upfit: add a new or customized feature to an existing product
About 18 months ago, transportation services began upfitting vehicles it leases to Iowa State departments. And while it's not quite Pimp My Ride, the product possibilities are extensive: snow plow blades, ladder racks, running boards and nerf bars, canoe racks, tonneau and hard shell pickup bed covers, and trailer hitches for the exterior; racks, shelves, cabinets, seat or bench removal, and special mats inside.
Some upfit projects are practical needs, some are "wants" that make the department employees' jobs easier or more efficient, says Butch Hansen, shop manager at transportation services.
"Tell me your wants or your needs, tell me your budget and I'll try to help you," he said.
Hansen said the process begins with a call to him. He puts together a bid and the department chooses to accept it, modify its request or decline the upfit. Hansen said the cost of the upfit can be worked into a department's monthly lease payment, so there isn't an investment up front. The department receives another vehicle to use during the time its leased vehicle is being upfitted.
Department vehicles typically are on three- or five-year leases from transportation services.
Upfits you could share
Three minutes into a conversation with Hansen, it's apparent that he's not in the "no" business, but he admits to some limits to what his staff can do to department vehicles. ISU's practice is to keep vehicles in the fleet for 10 years or 100,000 miles before they're sold at a public auction. Which means there may be multiple lessees over that vehicle's university life. Alterations and additions made to fleet vehicles should be standard enough that another user would find the change advantageous, too, Hansen said.
For more information about upfitting your department's leased vehicle, contact Hansen, 4-7552.
Fall semester may be more than a week away – the first day of class is Aug. 25 – but students have been returning to Ames for several weeks now. The pace picks up when student apartments, including off-campus apartments leased to Iowa State, open for move-in on Saturday, Aug. 16. Iowa State residence halls open for new students on Tuesday and returning students on Thursday. Student meal plans begin at lunch on Tuesday.
Destination Iowa State, a multi-day welcome event for freshman and transfer students, kicks off with a picnic dinner Thursday evening, Aug. 21, in the Iowa State Center courtyard, and concludes with a hypnotist show (9 p.m., Hilton) and a new event, late night 'Recreation Nation' (10:30 p.m.-midnight, State Gym) on Saturday, Aug. 23. In between – and in teams of about 15 students -- are educational sessions, team meals, community service projects and nightly large group events to help students transition to college life, meet classmates and get to know their campus.
Destination Iowa State staff are preparing for 5,500-plus freshman and transfer student participants this year.
Starting a new job is both exciting and stressful. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) hopes to ease first-day jitters for Iowa State's newest faculty members and teaching assistants with two free seminars, Aug. 19 and 20. Registration for both events is required by Aug. 17.
University Teaching Seminar, Aug. 19 (8 a.m.-4 p.m., Memorial Union)
New faculty members and teaching assistants are invited to attend this full-day conference of workshops and presentations; lunch is on your own. The morning session (separate sessions are planned for faculty and teaching assistants) covers ISU-specific topics, including students, teaching, learning and policies. The afternoon workshops will delve into the U.S. classroom, engaging and supporting international students, technologies for teaching and learning, accommodations for students with disabilities, effective grading, writing good test questions, classroom management and preparing for the first day of class.
New Faculty Orientation, Aug. 20 (7:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Scheman Building)
This orientation session, aimed at all new faculty -- tenured, tenure-eligible and nontenure-eligible -- gives instructors the opportunity to meet with one another and Iowa State's senior administrators. The day's events include a panel discussion with faculty who will share their best practices for success at Iowa State; first-year tips from the college deans; presentations on successful research programs; and the importance of extension and outreach. Additional breakout sessions cover information about the Ames community, flexible faculty policies, research funding, mentoring and more. Finally, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert will share his thoughts on what it means to be part of a land-grant university.
General admission tickets ($25 plus fees) still are available through Ticketmaster for an Aug. 27 outdoor concert by country music artist Jerrod Niemann in the renovated plaza at the Iowa State Center. Also performing will be Craig Campbell.
The concert begins at 6:30 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m. Guests may bring blankets and lawn chairs; but coolers, umbrellas, pets, food or beverage containers and large bags are not permitted.
This event is scheduled in conjunction with the 2014 Farm Progress Show near Boone Aug. 26-28.