Produce website brings new dimension to hort class

Sorting apples

Horticulture 465 students Mark Rippke (left) and Lindsay Meylor send apples through a washing and sorting line at the Horticulture Research Station earlier this week. Photo by Amy Vinchattle.

A produce sales website connected to a horticulture course has attracted more than 50 campus buyers in its first four months. The produce website, which is maintained and updated weekly by students in Hort 465 (Horticulture Enterprise Management), is accessible to faculty, staff and students -- those with an ISU net ID. (Non-compete laws prevent the students from selling produce to the public.)

The website introduces a retail component to the class, which teaches students to run a fruit and vegetable operation from the planning, growing and business angles. Previously, staff at the Horticulture Research Station, where the produce is grown, sold it wholesale to ISU Dining, the hospitality management program's Tearoom in MacKay Hall or local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups.

Take a look

Produce sales website

Available fresh produce is posted each Monday afternoon; the website closes to shoppers at noon Thursday, and buyers pick up their produce on campus Friday inside the east loading dock at Horticulture Hall (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.). For example, this week's selection includes apples, potatoes, onions, conehead cabbage and cauliflower. Products sold this summer and fall include raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, squash, snap peas, carrots, lettuce, eggplant and kale. Some of the produce sold was grown by class members, but the website also features produce grown by horticulture research teams and the Student Organic Farm, a student organization. While not certified organic, the produce is grown using organic practices.

Sophomore Lindsay Meylor, who plans to grow produce for farmers markets someday, said the business aspects taught have been especially helpful. Junior Mark Rippke said interacting with customers has been a great experience. While the class is offered all three semesters, the two agreed that a highlight of the fall class has been students' early involvement in the work toward achieving GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification for the research farm with the U.S Department of Agriculture. That, and their four-hour lab that lets them spend Thursday afternoons working at the hort station east of Gilbert.

The produce website was created with a grant from the Leopold Center, technical expertise from the Brenton Center and the time of a horticulture summer intern, who researched and loaded its content.

Performance-based funding: What it is and why it's important

Budget building underway now for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015, will use a new formula for sharing the general university* appropriation from the state among the three public universities. The formula, which rewards the universities for meeting state Board of Regents priorities, was developed by a board-appointed task force and approved by the board in June. Since it would move tens of millions of dollars from the University of Iowa to Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa, the model has created controversy. In this Q&A, Inside summarizes the new model and the funding inequity it corrects.

How important is general university funding to Iowa State's overall budget?

Iowa State's FY15 general university allocation, $180.9 million, represents about 28 percent of its operating budget (which excludes auxiliary units and restricted funds). By comparison, tuition revenues represent about 58 percent of the budget.

How has that funding traditionally been allocated?

Dating back to the early 1950s, the schools shared the general university appropriation on a perceived 40 percent/40 percent/20 percent (Iowa/Iowa State/Northern Iowa) split. The actual allocations have varied over time. This year's (FY15) $501 million appropriation is divided on a 46 percent/36 percent/18 percent split, mirroring at least the last 15 years. In real dollars, it sent $230.9 million to Iowa, $180.9 million to Iowa State and $89.2 million to Northern Iowa this year.

A true 40-40-20 split over the last five years alone would have sent $85 million more in state support to Iowa State and $66 million more to Northern Iowa. On average, about $30 million each year was allocated instead to Iowa.

Responses in this Q&A were pulled from task force and board of regents documents and discussions. Assistant vice president for financial planning and budgets Dave Biedenbach also provided information.

What's the rationale for that split?

Neither the Iowa Code nor the regents' policy manual provides guidelines on allocating state appropriations. The current model is simply history-based. Funding increases or decreases each year are increments of the previous year's numbers.

Since the 1960s and 70s, many states have based at least part of their appropriations on student enrollment. Iowa never did; however, enrollment is the basis for 75 percent of each school's allocation in the new model.

How does an enrollment-based formula affect Iowa State?

Currently, it benefits Iowa State, which has both the largest student body and the highest in-state enrollment of the three regent universities. The chart below illustrates the inequity in this year's general university allocations, relative to the number of in-state students being served. The historical "base-plus" funding model is in place this year.

General university state support for resident students 2014-15





General University allocation




Resident students (Fall 2013)




Resident student FTEs




$$/Resident FTE





How does the new funding model correct the inequity?

Generally, it awards dollars to schools that are educating in-state students, including some high-priority student populations. Universities need to not only enroll resident students, but also graduate them.

If the funding formula were implemented in a single year, board data this fall indicates an estimated $46.5 million would have to move from Iowa to Iowa State and Northern Iowa on July 1, 2015 -- and about $22.8 million of that would come to ISU. However, to avoid dramatic revenue swings, the board's three-year implementation plan limits reallocations to 2 percent of a school's 2013 operating revenues. That translates to no more than $12.9 million moving from Iowa to the other two universities in a single year. About $6.3 million of that should come to Iowa State on July 1.

The board's FY16 funding request to the state (submitted in September) is based on the new model and actually asks the 2015 Legislature for $12.9 million specifically to implement it without taking funds from Iowa. This request is part of a broader board strategy to recover about $75 million in state support for the regents universities still not recouped from even deeper budget cuts and reversions during fiscal years 2010-12.

Does the new funding model need legislative approval?

The mechanics of the funding model do not require legislative approval. However, the Iowa Legislature has sole appropriating authority and must approve the allocation of state dollars to the three public universities.

What priorities does the funding model encourage?

The model's metrics reflect the board's current strategic plan (PDF), which has a focus on accessible, affordable education for Iowa residents, educational excellence and support for the state's economic development. The general university appropriation will be distributed using this formula:

  • 60 percent: Universities' enrollment of resident students
  • 5 percent: Universities' enrollment specifically of graduate and professional resident students
  • 10 percent: Accessibility, measured by universities' enrollment of four targeted resident student populations (low income, ethnic minority, veteran and Iowa community college transfer students)
  • 5 percent: Progress to degree by resident undergraduate students, measured by the number who have completed thresholds of 24-48-72 credit hours
  • 10 percent: Degrees completed by resident students
  • 5 percent: Sponsored research levels, recognizing universities' contributions to state economic development
  • 5 percent: University-specific metrics set by the regents

What's happened with the new funding model since the board approved it?

The board approved the funding model on June 4, and over the summer representatives from the three universities and the board office recommended definitions for each metric. The board approved these definitions (PDF, pp. 38-39) at its Sept. 10 meeting. Associate vice president for business and finance Pam Cain and assistant vice president for financial planning and budgets Dave Biedenbach were Iowa State's members on this team.

On Oct. 27, the regents sent to every legislative member a letter (PDF) endorsing the performance-based funding model. In addition to board leaders, the three regent university presidents signed the letter. It states that "this model provides equity across the universities and creates a direct link between state taxpayer dollars and Iowa students." It concludes that the model "demonstrates accountability to the legislature, governor and citizens of Iowa."

The University of Iowa offers most of the state's professional programs, including dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law. Given the additional expense inherent in these programs, should Iowa receive more state support?

Students enrolled in professional programs at both Iowa State and Iowa pay higher tuition to account for the higher cost of these programs. In nearly all cases, the tuition assessed to resident students does not cover the entire cost of the program, and some state support is necessary to fully fund the program. In the new funding model, the state subsidy counts graduate and professional students twice:

  • The 60 percent allocation is based on all resident students -- undergraduate, graduate and professional
  • An additional 5 percent allocation, which is based only on graduate and professional resident students, is intended to recognize the higher cost of their programs

Does the new model discourage universities from recruiting nonresident students?

No. Board policy mandates that tuition assessed to nonresident students must at least cover the cost of instruction. So, the revenue contributed by nonresident students through higher tuition rates should continue to meet or exceed the revenue contributed by resident students through tuition and state appropriations. There is not a financial disincentive to recruit nonresident students.

Nor is it behind the intent of the new model. In its final report (PDF) last May, the task force noted that "too narrow a focus on enrolling resident Iowans would not be a positive step for our state," for several reasons:

  • Students from other parts of the country and the world bring diversity and energy that benefit Iowa resident students
  • Iowa ranks seventh among the 50 states for its "net importation" of college students, which spurs the Iowa economy and – when graduates remain in Iowa – boosts the state's college-educated population
  • Heated competition for resident students, either among the regent universities or between the regent universities, private colleges and community colleges, isn't healthy for the state's higher education system
  • The number of college-age Iowa residents is projected to fall 17 percent by 2030

*The funding formula applies only to the state's general university appropriation. All three universities receive other state education appropriations for specific programs or units. Examples include the state hygienic lab and Center for Biocatalysis (Iowa), the Ag Experiment Station and livestock disease research (Iowa State), and the STEM collaborative initiative and Recycling and Reuse Center (Northern Iowa).

Post-tenure review, NTE hires among topics at Faculty Senate

Changes to post-tenure review procedures were introduced at the Nov. 11 Faculty Senate meeting. The changes stem from a review of policy changes approved in 2011.

"There have been areas of concern that were consistently brought forward," said Steve Freeman, chair of the promotion and tenure task force that worked on the changes. "We had lots of data that we were using when thinking about how to make improvements to the policy we have."

Three changes (PDF) were introduced:

  • Replacing the "superior" performance evaluation with "exceeding expectations"
  • Eliminating the salary increase tied to post-tenure review
  • Clarifying administrator responsibilities in the review process

"Part of the conversation we were clearly hearing from faculty on review committees and department chairs is that there was significant stress at the department level on trying to decide what the definition of superior meant," Freeman said. "There is a huge gap between 'meeting expectations' and being 'superior.'

"I think that it detracts from the purpose of the post-tenure review, which is really a peer-review process for continuous improvement of all of our faculty," Freeman said. "Having that designation got in the way."

NTE numbers

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert addressed a question about departments that consistently have a high number of non-tenure eligible (NTE) faculty.

"In some cases, they bring great professional practice experience to the classroom," Wickert said. "In other cases, we're hiring them to help out with the heavy lifting of undergraduate classes."

He said hiring fewer NTE faculty would increase teaching loads and impact research commitments of tenured faculty.

"At the end of the day, I think it's really about striking the right balance between the teaching and research mission," Wickert said. "I think we do a pretty good job of it. There is some context behind each of the numbers, and a reason the numbers are the way that they are."

For example, the world languages and cultures department uses NTE faculty for instruction instead of teaching assistants because there is no Ph.D. program.

A look at the library

Joyce Garnett, interim library dean, presented an overview of current and future use of the library. She said the library has about 2 million visitors annually and Iowa State is a "net-lender" within the interlibrary loan system, lending twice as much as it borrows. ISU's digital repository, a free resource available to scholars and users worldwide, has about 30,000 items that have been downloaded 2.3 million times.

Garnett said a team of librarians and faculty, led by library associate professor Lorrie Pellack, will create a survey that looks at the needs and practices for future of research, scholarship, teaching and learning.

"This will give us an informed base for decision-making and planning for the future of the library," Garnett said.

Potential topics for the consideration include:

  • Repurposing library space
  • Blended learning
  • Demand-driven acquisitions
  • Scholarly communication and open access
  • Using the library as a publisher
  • Research data management
  • Research metrics (productivity and impact)
  • Collaboration of librarians and faculty

Health and well-being

Stephanie Downs, ISU's wellness coordinator, gave senators an overview of her first six months on the job and her focus on the shift from wellness to wellbeing -- physical, financial, social/emotional, community and career.

"What I want to do is help people shift beyond the jogging and broccoli mentality and start to think about all the aspects of well-being," Downs said.

She told senators that the creation of a communication plan, an action plan and a well-being advisory council are among the items on her to-do list.

Other business

A proposed cross-disciplinary undergraduate certificate in computing applications was introduced. The program is a partnership of three departments -- computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and supply chain and information systems. Senators will vote on it in December.

Other Faculty Handbook items also were introduced, including:

Strathe named School of Education director

Marlene Strathe

Marlene Strathe

An Iowa State alumna who has led three other universities as vice president for academic affairs and provost will return to Ames to lead the School of Education.

Marlene Strathe will become the next director of the School of Education on Jan. 1, 2015.

“Dr. Strathe is a seasoned administrator with a wealth of educational experience,” said Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences. “Her leadership will greatly assist the School of Education in its multifaceted efforts to advance learning, teaching, research and outreach to benefit people of all ages and from all backgrounds.”

Strathe has held high-ranking leadership positions at several other institutions. She served as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs as well as interim system CEO and president at Oklahoma State University. She was provost and vice president for academic affairs at both the University of Northern Colorado and University of North Dakota;  and assistant vice president of academic affairs at the University of Northern Iowa. She's currently a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University.

“Having been a vice president for academic affairs and provost at multiple institutions, she certainly knows complex organizations, has worked with and supported faculty members, and can make positive connections with the many different constituencies with which our director must interact regularly,” said Robert Reason, a School of Education professor who co-led the national director search. “I look forward to working with her to move the school forward.”

Amy Slagell, an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences served as co-chair of the search committee.

“The search process brought together students, staff and faculty from the School of Education with representatives from student affairs, Extension, the Ames school system, and the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Sciences, and Liberal Arts and Sciences,” Slagell said.

“We all look forward to working with her in her new role,” Slagell said. “The breadth of her experience will be a great fit for the collaborative environment we foster at ISU.”

Strathe’s research interests include academic administration, special vocational needs education, and teacher education and preparation.

She earned four degrees from Iowa State, including bachelor’s degrees in both government and bacteriology, a master’s degree in psychology/counseling and higher education, and a doctorate in education with an emphasis in research and evaluation. She also holds an education specialist degree in educational psychology/evaluation from Northern Iowa.

John Schuh, a Distinguished Professor of education who has served as the school’s director since July 1, 2013, will continue to direct Iowa State’s Emerging Leaders Academy.

"I would like to thank John Schuh for his outstanding leadership of the School of Education," White said. “His wisdom, skill and thoughtfulness have served the school well. I am deeply grateful for his caring and superlative service."

Surplus equipment auction is Saturday

Vintage books, from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Four-drawer fireproof file cabinets. Desks, tables and chairs. Treadmills and weight equipment. Oak doors and windows. Computer towers and printers. Floor buffers and vacuums. Overhead projectors. An LP gas forklift.

These are a few of the items that ISU Surplus will sell at auction Saturday morning (Nov. 15).

Central stores director Norm Hill calls it an "overstock auction." He said ISU Surplus has been inundated lately as buildings, such as Marston and Davidson halls, have been cleared for renovation or demolition.

The two-ring auction begins at 9:30 a.m. in the new storage facility located east of the surplus warehouse building at 1102 Southern Hills Drive. The auction should be completed by 12:30 p.m. Payment may be by cash, check or these credit cards: MasterCard, Visa and Discover.    

Pre-auction inspections

The public may inspect items at the storage facility on Friday (1-3:30 p.m.) and the day of the sale, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Kick off your holidays with 'Elf the Musical'


Contributed photo.

For some families, it's a must-see holiday classic. And this year, you have the option of watching it live on stage. Elf the Musical, based on the 2003 New Line Cinema hit starring Will Ferrell, takes the Stephens Auditorium stage for a 7:30 p.m. performance on Nov. 15.

Elf the Musical chronicles the humorous tale of Buddy, a young orphan who crawls into Santa's sack of toys and mistakenly is transported to the North Pole. Buddy thinks he is one of Santa's elves, but his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face facts. With Santa's permission, Buddy journeys to New York City in search of his birth father, to seek out his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Ticket holders are encouraged to participate in crafts and other Elf-themed fun beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Celebrity Café, located on the ground floor at the north entrance.

ISU students attending the show can enjoy free pizza and refreshments, courtesy of Jeff's Pizza, in the ISU Student Lounge (third floor balcony) during intermission. Just bring your student ID.

Tickets, $24-$63 ($28-$45 for youth and students), are available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster

ISU Theatre celebrates 100 years this weekend

This year marks the 100th anniversary of organized theater at Iowa State. In 1914, associate professor of public speaking Fredrica Shattuck recruited interested students and formed the Iowa State Players.

As part of the celebration, a gala performance will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15 (7:30 p.m., Fisher Theater). It will feature monologues, play scenes, singing and dancing by alumni, students, faculty and staff. Michael Dahlstrom, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism, will serve as master of ceremonies. A reception will follow.

Admission is free, but seating is reserved. Reservations can be made by phone (294-2624), email, or in person at 2130 Pearson Hall. Tickets also are available at the door.

Gala performers who are ISU graduates and former student performers include:

  • Kelly Bartlett, professional ballroom dancer and owner of the Dance Tonight dance school, Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Tim Davis, professional actor and producer
  • Brendan Dunphy, research associate in the entomology department and professional actor
  • Frank Ferguson, chairman of Curriculum Associates, Boston, a publisher of K-8 educational materials
  • Tony Forsmark, professional actor
  • Phil Henry, actor and scenic designer with Six Elements Theatre, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Gary Roberts, retired speech, drama and English teacher at North Polk High School
  • Scott Siepker, professional actor and adjunct professor of acting at Drake University, Des Moines
  • Christopher Michael Sutch, English teacher at Marshalltown High School

Faculty and staff performers include:

  • Doris Nash, costume shop supervisor
  • Jane Cox, professor of music and theatre
  • Brad Dell, assistant professor of music and theatre
  • Amanda Petefish-Schrag, assistant professor of music and theatre

About a dozen current ISU Theatre students also are scheduled to perform. All scheduled performances are posted online.

The 100th anniversary celebration also will include a series of presentations about life in the theater on Saturday, Nov. 15 (10 a.m.-3 p.m., MU Maintenance Shop). Admission is free; registration is not needed. Panel presenters include:

  • 10-11 a.m., Jim Lile, ISU Theatre alum and technical director/assistant professor at Florida State University
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., ISU Theatre alums Tony Forsmark, professional actor; and Jack Meggers, professional film marker
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m., Kelly Bartlett, ISU Theatre alum, 2002 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship recipient and professional ballroom dancer
  • 1:30-3 p.m., Carole Horowitz, former ISU Theatre marketing manager and community arts activist; and ISU Theatre director Jane Cox