Free bird


This great blue heron took a breather on the island in Lake LaVerne during a beautiful autumn day last week. It's likely he or she was passing through Ames on the way to a warmer destination before winter strikes, though it's not unusual for great blue herons to hang out near lake edges and shorelines in this part of the country. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

Proposed tuition increases remain under 2 percent

Following three years of steady tuition for resident undergraduate students, Iowa State is requesting increases of less than 2 percent for all but its veterinary medicine students for the 2015-16 year. Proposed rates include a 1.75 percent increase for resident students (undergraduate and graduate), 1.2 percent for out-of-state students and 3.2 percent for all veterinary medicine students. The state Board of Regents will review proposed rates when it meets Oct. 22-23 in Iowa City. A vote is expected at the board's Dec. 3 meeting.

A live audio stream of open sessions of the board meeting is available on the regents website.

Proposed ISU tuition increases, 2015-16 (two semesters)




  Increase Tuition Increase Tuition











Vet Med






Mandatory student fee

The proposed $1,087.90 mandatory student fee reflects one increase, $4.50 to the student services fee.

Mandatory student fee

2015-16 proposed rate





Health facility


Student activities


Student services








*Standard technology fee. The range, based on program and grade level, is $184-$446.

Common fees, program-specific fees

Each university also maintains a fee list for specific services charged only to students who use them. Iowa State will ask to adjust several fees at the rate of the tuition increase:

  • Continuing education and Lakeside Lab credit-hour fees, increase 1.8 percent ($5-$8)
  • Graduate registration fee during semesters of thesis work only, increase 1.8 percent ($16)

Building projects

Iowa State will bring three construction requests to the board:

  • Final approval for a $4 million plan to construct research laboratories for new faculty members in about 10,500 square feet of basement space in Hach Hall intentionally left unfinished when the building opened in 2010. Private gifts will cover the cost of the project.
  • Final approval for a $6.2 million residence department plan to remodel the unused Friley Hall dining room into a food court/dining center with a seating capacity of 300. The cost will be covered by department funds ($1.7 million) and dormitory revenue bonds ($4.5 million).
  • Begin planning for summer 2015 improvements to the exterior walls of Larch residence hall to improve insulating value and reduce condensation, similar to the work done at Willow Hall last summer. The estimated project cost of $3.3 million will be covered by department funds.

Flexible study in Wisconsin

The board also invited Aaron Brower, interim chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and UW Extension, to give a 20-minute presentation on Wisconsin's "flexible option program," which gives nontraditional students a more personalized, convenient and affordable way to earn a degree or certificate while balancing work, family and other responsibilities. The program is a partnership between University of Wisconsin campuses and Wisconsin extension, and tracks what students know, rather than how much time they spend learning.

Academic business

Iowa State will request final approval for these academic program changes:

  • Name change for the integrated studio arts department in the College of Design, to art and visual culture, effective spring 2015, to better align with the program's offerings
  • Termination of M.A. and Ph.D. programs in history of technology and science (history department), due to reduced department funding, faculty retirements and inability to maintain the graduate programs, effective after two remaining students graduate (expected this fall)
  • Name change for Ph.D. program in the history department, to rural, agricultural, technological and environmental history (currently is agricultural history and rural studies), effective spring 2015. This will integrate elements of the discontinued Ph.D. program, above.
  • Name change for the interdisciplinary M.S. and Ph.D. programs, to genetics and genomics (currently is genetics), to better reflect the curriculum and faculty research, effective spring 2015
  • Revisions to ISU's 2014-15 general catalog, including 162 new courses and 111 eliminated courses

Five questions for the leader of university human resources


Julie Nuter, associate vice president for university human resources. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

Julie Nuter took over the helm of Iowa State's university human resources (UHR) department last December. In less than a year, she led an overhaul of the university's online hiring system, creating a more efficient and user-friendly process using PeopleAdmin 7. Inside recently sat down with Nuter to find out what else she has planned.

The basics

Name: Julie Nuter
Position: Associate vice president for university human resources
Time at ISU: 10 months
Previous post: Associate vice president for human resources, DePaul University, Chicago

What is your focus for UHR?

When I think about human resources and the impact we have, I focus on two things: talent and how we attract, retain, develop and reward that talent. I'm very focused on supporting our leaders, faculty and staff in being successful in the work they do here. I'm interested in making sure there are programs in place to develop skills and careers, and that we reward great performance because we are a university focused on excellence. We need to create the systems, supports and programs -- and ultimately the culture -- that exemplifies that excellence as well.

Do you have any specific programs in mind?

Last spring, we launched a manager training needs assessment. We'll be developing an action plan from that needs assessment. It will include enhancing current programs and creating new learning and development opportunities for the campus. We are also transitioning to a university-wide employee training portal that brings together the diverse options across campus. It would be a central place -- a catalog of training -- for employees to know what training is offered. It would offer a single way to register for different types of training, whether it is classroom or online training. It also could integrate with other resources, such as job aids, reading lists or other supports that might be helpful. Our focus on management training is to prepare excellent managers who will lead ISU forward.

What's the one thing ISU could do better as an employer?

Iowa State has a great story to tell, and we could do a better job of telling that story from an employer's standpoint. We have a great brand as an institution of learning, research, extension and outreach, and economic development. And so, by default, that means we have great people doing great things. I think our brand as an institution is well known, but the connection to us as an employer has not necessarily been made. We need to focus on how that message carries out in everything we do in human resources, especially how we interact with employees and support campus to be successful using our HR policies and procedures. The recruitment process is one of the key ways to tell our story and our new jobs portal leads us in that direction. Another key way is through benefits, whether it's open enrollment, someone's initial enrollment or a life-event change. Those are all opportunities for UHR to have an impact. I'll also be hiring a new director of benefits. One of my hopes for this position is a focus on a communications strategy that supports telling this great story.

You moved to the Ames area from Chicago. What's been the nicest change?

My commute. My commute went from an hour and 15 minutes one way to 15 minutes, so my quality of life has dramatically improved as a result. I grew up in a farming community in Illinois and I've also had the big-city experience. I'm really enjoying living in the country right now, and so is my family.

You've been at Iowa State nearly a year. Do you consider yourself a Cyclone?

Absolutely. I have pride in being a Cyclone. It was palpable when I was interviewing for this position because I would meet people who obviously were Cyclones, and it was infectious. My son's wardrobe is largely cardinal and gold. From a personal standpoint, when there's a great story about Iowa State, the first thing I do is share it on my Facebook account with my family and friends. So, it's top of mind for me. This is a community of great pride. People have wonderful stories to share and I look forward to having my own wonderful stories. 

Campus audience brings questions to TIER consultants

During a TIER campus forum Monday, audience members questioned the impact of proposed efficiencies on department budgets, staffing levels, quality of services and faculty ability to teach. Four members of Deloitte Consulting, the company hired in February to conduct the state Board of Regents' Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review of Iowa's three public universities, presented eight proposed business cases -- a cost/savings/risks/benefits analysis of specific efficiency proposals -- and responded to questions.

The 90-minute forum was live streamed and is archived online. Deloitte's slides (PDF) also were archived. Miles Lackey, the president's chief of staff and Iowa State's liaison to the board's TIER committee, noted that there still are opportunities to provide input on any of the proposed business cases:

  • Send written comments to:
  • Provide oral comments during the regular public hearing preceding the board's Oct. 23 meeting (Thursday, Oct. 16, 4-5 p.m., Memorial Union Oak Room)

Review the business cases

Eight proposed administrative efficiencies

"Your feedback is going to help the regents as they consider each of these administrative business cases. We really do appreciate any feedback you can provide," Lackey said.

"We'll continue to work with our shared governance partners to receive feedback and provide that directly to the board," he added.

President Steven Leath and his counterparts from Iowa and Northern Iowa also will be given time to provide additional campus feedback to the board on Oct. 23.

Audience questions

Following is a synopsis of issues raised by audience members at the Oct. 13 campus forum, and the consultant team's responses.

Concern: Several of the proposals indicate positions would be eliminated and there's uncertainty about the possibility of layoffs when attrition can't take care of the staff changes. The past five years have seen cuts in support staff even as enrollment keeps rising.

Response: First, any positions that might be affected by efficiencies are estimates at this point. In any kind of implementation, there would be very detailed HR work to look at attrition rates you could expect in specific departments and what kinds of skill gaps could occur. Second, any changes in staffing would only be prompted by changes in technology that enable the processing in some of these transactions we're talking about. Third, these business cases are not stagnant. We recognize that your environment is constantly changing, so any of the current analysis of how this could unfold in the short term would have to be re-baselined over time as your enrollment and campus needs change.

Concern: The networked printing proposal doesn't seem to take into account faculty and advisers' time (for example, a five-minute walk to pick up copies eats up network savings), and also creates concerns about document privacy.

Response: We don't anticipate that 100 percent of local printers would go away. There needs to be a detailed inventory of where the printers are, what's the usage and how can we optimize them. The most expensive liquid you can buy is printer toner (one gallon equals the price of 3,000 gallons of gas). Part of the solution also is users getting comfortable with the network printers and features such as "store and print," which takes care of some security features.

Concern: Several years ago, there was a move to centralize data storage on campus and departments' storage costs went up. It was much cheaper to purchase new servers and build our own server farm than to go with a centralized model. If we centralize again (or more), costs to departments would go up, particularly under the Resource Management Model [budget model].

Response: Our business case looks at the entire system, basically, as one. In the design phase, it looks like there would be some cost efficiencies, but that needs to be passed on to the colleges and departments. It will be critical for you to keep that question strident. The pricing of these services is going to have to follow the efficiencies that are going to be gained.

Concern: Over last five years, under the RMM, many departments have chosen to do financial processing, trained staff to do it effectively, and chosen to do it that way because they're responsible for how their funds are spent and they know that the processing is best done at the local level. Now we're going in the opposite direction. Also, how will staff, faculty and customers be involved in that more detailed analysis work during implementation?

Response: We know that many units have built their own infrastructure. In many cases it works great, in some, not as well. Shared services doesn't have to mean centralization; it's about redefining the work that's done and collaboratively rebuilding the processes and evaluating where that work should be performed. In many cases, you'll want to have that local support. For things that are purely transactional in nature, those may be done a little further from the individual. Under the shared services model, you could have a model that's building floor-specific, building-specific or even campus zone-specific.

If any of these areas are chosen for implementation, we've seen the most success using working groups consisting of faculty, staff (sometimes students) -- people who do the work every day -- or their customers. It's a very collaborative process, and what's been the most effective is where people are designing the future together. We recognize that whoever is affected by this change should be the ones designing the work.

There is no intent to centralize everything on any campus. It's always a mix. We have to work with you to find the right balance, to find those components of work that make sense to do in a consolidated location or through a consolidated process, and to keep the really critical components that are needed at the local level.

Concern: Faculty would be asked to give up their laptops, on which they keep class presentations and research data, and which they'd like access to 24/7.

Response: We are not suggesting any changes to laptops or mobile devices. We are talking about changes to desktop computers. We are proposing that some proportion of them could be changed to these newer (thin client) devices that are the next-generation computing technology.

Concern: Changes for institutional IT infrastructure might force changes on the educational IT infrastructure that would negatively impact ISU's core educational mission. (IT evaluation by faculty last year indicated clear preference for local IT services, not centralized services).

Response: We're recommending a centralized approach for core infrastructure services, for caring and feeding of servers and desktop devices. But we understand that classroom services are best left local because you have the response time, the localization. We also recognize that proprietary applications and business requirements should be left where they are. That being said, we think there are some enhancements of process, policy and tools that still would benefit all these teams.

Concern: My experience (in industry and higher ed) is that the further the department is from the service provider, the greater the potential for slow service or bad service. Without an SLA (service level agreement) in place, how is quality enforced?

Response: I wouldn't say drown yourselves in SLAs, but certainly the right seven to 10 would be appropriate. Mean time to repair is a key SLA for desktop services. Will it indicate issues with every user? No. But over time, if you can bring the average down, that indicates the level of service.

Any SLA that identifies metrics that you want to measure should be established collaboratively working with faculty, staff and students to understand what things are important to them. Where we've seen service level agreements be the most successful is where there's a regular process to check in on how well those SLAs are working, and to have recourse if there are service levels that are not being met and to be able to address those immediately.

Early voting opportunities available on campus

Vote bricks

Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

The Story County elections office set up an early voting location in the Memorial Union's Colonel Pride Lounge to help students participate in the 2014 general election. The polling site offers absentee voting and voter registration to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 17. Ballots for all Story County precincts are available at the satellite locations, except Parks Library. Sample ballots are available online.

The remaining satellite absentee voting dates and locations include:

  • Thursday, Oct. 16, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., MU Pride Lounge
  • Thursday, Oct. 16, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Parks Library*
  • Friday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., MU Pride Lounge
  • Saturday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., both HyVee locations (640 and 3800 Lincoln Way)
  • Saturday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Collegiate Methodist Church (2622 Lincoln Way)
  • Saturday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., both HyVee locations (640 and 3800 Lincoln Way)
  • Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Ames Public Library (515 Douglas Ave.)
  • Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Ascension Lutheran Church (2400 Bloomington Rd.)

*Only the precinct 4-3 (includes Helser, Friley, Eaton and Martin) ballot is available at this site

Open forums planned for Reiman Gardens director candidates

Five candidates for the Reiman Gardens director position will interview on campus in the coming weeks. The candidates are:

  • Cathryn Hoyt, former research director and executive director, Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Fort Davis, Texas
  • Edward Lyon, director, Allen Centennial Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Patrick Newman, director of programs, Red Butte Garden, Salt Lake City
  • Aaron Steil, manager of public programs, Reiman Gardens
  • Mark Weathington, assistant director and curator of collections, JC Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

More information about the candidates, including their résumés, is posted on the search website.

The campus interviews include open forums with the university community. All forums are from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Reiman Gardens' Garden Room. Open forum dates are:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 22, Cathryn Hoyt
  • Friday, Oct. 24, Edward Lyon
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29, Patrick Newman
  • Thursday, Nov. 6, Aaron Steil
  • Tuesday, Nov. 18, Mark Weathington

The next director succeeds Teresa McLaughlin, who announced in May that she would be stepping down to run Reiman Gardens' Nature Connects LEGO traveling exhibit. McLaughlin has served as director since July 2001.

2013 data shows NTE instruction increase

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said there was a "slight uptick" in instruction by non-tenure eligible faculty when he presented his annual report on NTE numbers at the Oct. 14 Faculty Senate meeting. He noted that the data was from October 2013 and did not reflect the net gain of 26 tenured and tenure-track faculty added in fall 2014 (105 hires, 42 retirements, 37 resignations).

"We really need to do this discussion after October, because it's at the end of October every year that we do the institutional payroll snapshot and that is how we get the official number of employees on campus," Wickert said. "Next year, I recommend we do this presentation after the October payroll snapshot."

Wickert said that NTE faculty, which includes professional clinicians, instructors and researchers, account for about one-third of instruction at ISU in each of the three methods of calculating instructional FTEs (full-time equivalents) -- by section credits, credit hours or course sections taught. By department, 22 have less than 25 percent total instruction by NTE faculty and 35 departments exceed that mark. Seven departments are under 10 percent and four have more than 50 percent NTE instruction.

"It all comes down to balance," he said. "It's a balance of resources, a balance of meeting enrollment demands and the types of classes that we offer. There are some constraints that we have there."

Wickert said departments with a "high professional component" -- for example, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, veterinary medicine and civil engineering -- often use practitioners to teach some of their classes.

"This really gets to the heart of who teaches our students. We want to make sure our students are getting the best education that they can and we're staffing our classrooms with the right mix of faculty who have the ability to teach core classes, specialized classes, theoretical classes and applied classes."

Other business

Senators unanimously approved a proposed minor in leadership studies. The 15-credit interdisciplinary program would be administered in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and coordinated through the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

A quick look at the eight administrative business cases

On Oct. 2, the state Board of Regents received eight proposed business cases in various administrative areas from the Deloitte consulting team. Those eight subsequently were presented to university audiences on the three regent university campuses. The board is expected to talk about the proposals at its Oct. 23 meeting in Iowa City, and vote on each of the eight during a special Nov. 14 telephonic meeting.

Here's a summary of the eight business cases:

In the area of information technology

(two technology-related proposals would precede two operational proposals):

  • As use cycles end, replace desktop computers with thin client option (networked computer without its own hard drive), and replace personal printers with networked duplex printers that serve groups of employees. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State, including lower energy costs, is $1.6 million-$2 million.
  • Reduce the number of software applications purchased or developed within and across the three universities* and create an inter-university council that finds a consensus regarding the overall inventory, particularly in areas common to all (for example, facilities management or library management). Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $1.6 million.
  • Technology changes from the above proposals, future innovations and leaner supervisor/employee ratios will "transform" central IT services.* Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $500,000.
  • Reduce duplication of services between central IT and distributed IT units.* Use a central team for common infrastructure-related services (for example, server or network management, help desk, end user support), with department teams focusing on local or specialized needs such as research. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $1.5 million.

In the area of internal financial transactions:

  • Streamline and standardize how the universities provide some finance transactions (suggested are travel and expense reports, purchase requisitions, accounts payable and accounting services), offering them at either the college* or university** level. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State, once startup costs are recovered, is $1.7 million to $2.9 million. Both options would involve retraining and relocating employees. As estimated by the consultants, shared services at a university-wide level could result in greater savings, but also greater shifts in staffing.

In the area of human resources:

  • Revise Iowa State's decentralized HR services model. Options include purchasing** ($10 million) or updating** ($2.3 million) the current HR information system, with the goal of decreasing manual processing and data entry, increasing access to information and improving security and reporting capabilities. Some HR liaison employees around campus would be retrained. Once implementation costs are recovered, estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $800,000 to $2.1 million.

In the area of facilities management:

  • Invest in energy-saving initiatives (for example, digital control systems, occupancy sensors and new light fixtures) with short payback periods and financed through a new energy management fund of $1.85 million. The emphasis is on saving money rather than sustainability. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $270,000. (This proposal applies to Iowa State and Northern Iowa.)
  • Adjust thermostats in classroom buildings during the summer (this proposal applies only to Northern Iowa).

*Consultants estimate that positions lost due to efficiencies gained could be absorbed through normal ISU attrition rates

**Consultants estimate that positions lost due to efficiencies gained would require both attrition and phased retirements

Inaugural summit highlights arts and humanities research

With the intent of building visibility for faculty research and encouraging collaborative research – both among and beyond the arts and humanities -- the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities will host an inaugural half-day research summit on Thursday, Oct. 23 (9 a.m.-noon, 302 Catt Hall). The summit is open to the public and guests are welcome to come and go as their schedules allow.

The event will include two panel presentations/discussions and two "lightning round" sessions, in which each participant introduces her or his scholarship in an energetic, four-minute segment, modeled after a format gaining popularity at academic and business conferences. The first panel will highlight how the arts and humanities can engage with science, engineering and technology research in significant ways. Members of the second panel will share examples of how winning a major award took their research to a higher level. All presenters are faculty in the colleges of Design and Liberal Arts and Sciences (in an arts/humanities discipline).

Associate professor of music Christopher Hopkins, who became director of the center in February, said one of his goals for the center is to provide research-based, collegial programming for the faculty it serves.

"The CEAH was established to be cross-cutting, not only bringing an interdisciplinary perspective to arts and humanities research, but to make it more visible across our departments and colleges," he said. "We have an excellent faculty in the arts and humanities. We need more opportunities to get to know each other, learn of others' work and be inspired by each other."

Hopkins said outcomes of a successful summit would be new collaborative projects, further conversations and greater collegiality among faculty.

Research summit schedule (all sessions in 302 Catt)

  • 8:45 a.m., Gathering
  • 9:05 a.m., Welcome
  • 9:20-9:55 a.m., Lightning round research presentations (seven presenters scheduled)
  • 10-10:40 a.m., Panel discussion, "Connecting Arts and Humanities with the Sciences: Creativity, Communication and Culture," moderator Steve Herrnstadt, industrial design
  • 10:45-11:05 a.m., Lightning round research presentations (four presenters scheduled)
  • 11:10-11:55 a.m., Panel discussion, "Advancing Arts and Humanities Research with Major Awards," moderator Barbara Ching, English
  • Noon-1 p.m., Light lunch reception