Simply delicious


A red beet, spinach and beluga lentil salad, left, grilled chicken, top, and chickpea chili topped with diced onion and daiya pepperjack cheese, bottom, are just some examples of the healthy cuisine offered at the new Simple Plate venue, Union Drive Marketplace. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

ISU Dining introduced a new lunch and dinner option in January that's healthy, delicious and just the right size. Simple Plate, located at Union Drive Marketplace, serves salads, vegan, lean-meat and gluten-free dishes, all in USDA-recommended portion sizes. Entrées include churrasco flank steak, sweet potato and corn succotash, lemon-herb roasted chicken and edamame pesto, among others. Daily menus are available online.

A fire at Union Drive Marketplace last June created an opportunity to fast track a plan for the new Simple Plate venue. ISU Dining combined existing and new equipment to go from planning to plating in only six months, a process than can take up to two years. 

Leath talks funding, budget and more with senate

President Steven Leath, a guest at the Feb. 10 Faculty Senate meeting, spoke primarily about budget issues, including the state Board of Regents' proposed performance-based funding model being considered by the Iowa Legislature.

Among his remarks to the senate:

Performance-based funding
"The 60 percent in-state [student] focus gets all the publicity and hype, but the model is obviously more than that."

* * *

"Our growth has probably been a little too fast in some ways over the last few years, but it's mostly been in agriculture and engineering, and heavy growth in biological sciences. Realistically, the performance-based funding model is based on a three-year, rolling average. I think we would continue to see an increase in funds for at least the foreseeable future."

* * *

"Right now, we get about $9,000 from the state for undergraduate in-state students; the University of Iowa gets over $14,000. Nine thousand [dollars] is below the cost of education. We really need a better model to pay for their education. There are two ways to do that, to raise tuition -- which we're trying not to do -- or get more from the state. The cost of education difference between us and Iowa isn't merited."

* * *

"I think we'll see some action this year. There is a big sensitivity right now in the Legislature that we have a lot of Iowa kids and we're not getting adequate resources. We are cautiously optimistic something good for us will come out of this, I'm just not sure what it's going to look like."

Student-faculty ratio
"We have a 19-to-1 student/faculty ratio. I don't want that ratio to get any higher. We hired a lot [of faculty] last year -- [Provost Jonathan Wickert] and his team hired over 100 -- and it's going to be over 130 this year. Realizing that causes complexities with space and resources, I still think that's something we need to do, especially while we have the opportunity."

Student Innovation Center
"We're hoping to get this Student Innovation Center, and move all the student projects out of the Armory, as well as some other places on campus, and have a first-class facility for student hands-on experience, learning, capstone projects and other things."

Tuition freeze
"Actually, the students at UNI and the students here were not in favor of a resident undergraduate tuition freeze. It cost us over $2 million. Our students made a rather eloquent argument that they'd rather see the small incremental increase and have some of that $2 million go in to deal with some of the growth issues on campus. This one caught us all off guard. It makes performance-based funding even more critical."

* * *

"They tied this tuition freeze into the idea that we would more than recoup this from the TIER study. That efficiency study is costing us about $2 million, so it's not a free study. Most of the big savings happen over time. Miles Lackey, my chief of staff, thinks he can generate $1-$2 million in the short-term, but we have to continually remind the regents that basing all of these potential savings in the TIER study is a little risky."

Space at AIB campus
"[University of Iowa] President Mason has never talked to me about being a partner on the AIB campus, never personally invited us, never proposed anything."

* * *

"Over the last six months, my chief of staff and [College of Business] Dean Spalding have looked at space in Des Moines to enhance our profile there and upgrade our MBA program in Des Moines. They found a lot of great space -- frankly, 100 percent of it is better than the AIB campus. We're not enthused at this point. While this process is taking place and so much is in flux and so many questions are being raised, we thought we would just stand back for a week or two."

Research priorities
"Generally, the priorities don't usually come from me, they come from faculty groups. A lot of the cluster hires and focus come from the colleges and multidisciplinary groups. If we do another round of big multidisciplinary grants to help seed projects, that will no longer be in my office. We moved all of that administration into [vice president for research] Sarah Nusser's shop when she came on board. I would expect her to run that program from a research platform. The closer you keep that to faculty, the better off you're going to be."

Faculty survey results

Associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince presented a summary of results from the national COACHE (Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education) faculty satisfaction survey conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education last year. The survey, which focuses on nine areas, was available to all faculty. Only pre-tenure faculty were surveyed in past years. About 50 percent of ISU faculty participated.

ISU identified five land-grant institutions for peer comparisons, including North Carolina State, Purdue, Arizona, California-Davis and Minnesota. Iowa State ranked among the top two in six areas:

  • Health and retirement benefits
  • Facilities and work resources
  • Departmental engagement
  • Senior leadership
  • Mentoring
  • Interdisciplinary work

ISU ranked below its peers in three areas:

  • Tenure reasonableness
  • Departmental leadership and collegiality
  • Satisfaction with time spent teaching and teaching loads

ISU faculty identified overall characteristics they were satisfied and dissatisfied with, listed in the chart below.



Quality of colleagues

Geographic location

Cost of living


Sense of "fit" here

Too much service

Academic freedom

Lack of support for research

Opportunities to collaborate

Quality of departmental leadership


Bratsch-Prince said the survey results will be used to identify areas for improvement, including a focus on:

  • Mentoring associate professors
  • Communicating the tenure and promotion criteria and process
  • Developing department leadership and collegiality

"You’ll be seeing initiatives coming from our office and the colleges in the next year," she said.

Chief diversity officer hunt: Search firm selected, town halls set

The national firm Spelman & Johnson Group (SJG) will assist in the search for Iowa State's chief diversity officer. The firm's first task will be to join the university search committee, led by dean of students Pamela Anthony, in collecting input on the role of Iowa State's chief diversity officer.

"This is a new position at Iowa State and we'd like to hear from interested individuals and groups as we develop a job description," Anthony said.

Town hall series

She encouraged the university community to share ideas on the chief diversity officer's role during a series of town halls, which begin this month. Town halls are scheduled for:

Wednesday, Feb. 18,

  • 2:15-3 p.m., Oak Room, Memorial Union
  • 4:15-5 p.m., Oak Room, Memorial Union

Thursday, Feb. 19

  • 10:15-11 a.m., Cardinal Room, Memorial Union

Tuesday, March 3

  • 12:15-1 p.m., Gallery, Memorial Union

Wednesday, March 4

  • 9-9:45 a.m., Oak Room, Memorial Union

Tuesday, March 10

  • 5:30-6:15 p.m., Oak Room, Memorial Union

Tuesday, April 7

  • 2:45-3:30 p.m., Gallery, MU

"We're looking forward to hearing not only from the university community, but external stakeholders as well," Anthony said.

Chief diversity officer website

In an effort to provide transparency and updated information about the CDO search, the search committee has created a chief diversity officer website, Anthony said. Questions about the CDO search may be directed to

About SJG

"SJG is a nationally recognized leader in higher education leadership searches and is familiar with Iowa State," Anthony said. "Senior associate Mark Hall, who is assigned to the ISU search, has led several searches within the division of student affairs in the past three years."


The chief diversity officer post stemmed from a 2013 study of ISU diversity programs and initiatives. President Steven Leath commissioned the study from The Jackson Consulting Firm, Madison, Wisconsin, and accepted a key recommendation to create a chief diversity officer at Iowa State.

Regents approve alternative admissions index

Iowa students applying to any of the three regent universities will be assessed consistently even if they hail from a high school that no longer provides class rankings. The state Board of Regents approved an alternative Regent Admission Index (RAI) at its Feb. 5 meeting in Cedar Falls. It will take effect for freshmen entering college in summer 2016.

The RAI used since 2009 includes four weighted measurements believed to be strong indicators of a student's likelihood for success: ACT composite score, high school GPA, number of core courses completed in high school and class rank. Over the last six years, the number of Iowa high schools to stop providing class rank has grown from three to about 40, and each of the three universities developed its own method for filling that gap in the formula for applicants from those schools.

The alternative RAI changes the weighting applied to the other three measurements in the 2009 formula:

  • Alternative RAI: ACT composite (x 3) + High school GPA (x 30) + High school core courses (x 5)
  • Primary RAI: ACT composite (x 2) + High school GPA (x 20) + High school core courses (x 5) + High school rank (x1)

Applicants need a score of 245 with either index to receive automatic admission to a regent university.

Regent Larry McKibben proposed using the alternative RAI for all applicants.

"If we think the alternate is acceptable, why not just adopt it for all 380 Iowa school districts?" he asked.

Board staff member Diana Gonzalez, who led the admissions team that developed both indexes, said the alternative RAI "puts pressure on the ACT and high school GPA scores – and the committee had a lot of discussion about that."

She also said that while an ACT composite score has predictive value, she believes high school GPA and high school rank have higher predictive value.

Regent Katie Mulholland suggested that the universities gather data for a year to see how the alternative RAI affects students before deciding whether it should replace the primary index.

Business master's program

In other business, the board approved an interdisciplinary Master of Business Analytics Program at Iowa State and a distinctly different Master of Science in Business Analytics at the University of Iowa, with the two connected by a five-year memorandum of cooperation. Areas identified for cooperation include: referral of students to the other program when in the student's best career interests, acceptance of up to nine credits of approved courses from the other school's program, and an annual workshop at which business analytics faculty will share syllabi, trends and instructional ideas.

ISU Business dean David Spalding told members of the board's Education and Student Affairs Committee that the degree is intended to "train students to analyze large amounts of data, leading to more effective and intelligent business decisions."

"Iowa business executives are excited about these programs," he said.

TIER update

McKibben, who co-chairs the board's Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER), said the selection of a consultant to complete the academic programs portion of the review will be completed by Feb. 13, with the hired firm "on campus shortly thereafter."

Mark Braun, the board's TIER project manager, reported that Ad Astra Information Systems, the consultant hired last fall to work on two administrative business cases related to classroom use and scheduling of faculty, should complete its work in April.

Faculty resignations

ESAC members also received from the three provosts an annual faculty resignations report for the year that ended June 30, 2014.

During FY14, 35 Iowa State faculty resigned, an increase from FY13's 21 resignations but not far from the past decade's annual average of 36. The FY14 group included 11 professors, nine associate professors and 15 assistant professors.

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told board members that there isn't a single underlying "theme" for the faculty departures.

"There tends to be a personal story behind each one of these," he said, such as a family's preference to live in an urban area, a job opportunity in industry, a job offer at a top national university. Wickert offers to meet with each resigning faculty member before he or she leaves.

Twenty of the 2014 resignees participated in ISU's online faculty exit survey, which was put in place in 2004. The primary reasons cited for leaving were dissatisfaction with the departmental environment, a lack of perceived advancement opportunities and dissatisfaction with pay. About two-thirds of respondents indicated they were "somewhat or very dissatisfied" with their chairs. Fifteen of the 20 respondents indicated they had accepted a new position elsewhere that provides a “much higher" (8) or "somewhat higher" (7) salary than their ISU salary.

Diversity report

Included in the board's consent agenda were annual diversity reports from the universities for the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014. The table below indicates female and minority representation among ISU employee groups.

Iowa State employees: Sept. 30, 2014

Employee group






183 (44%)

34 (8%)

Tenure-track faculty


403 (32%)

318 (25%)

Non tenure-track faculty


383 (56%)

104 (15%)



1,142 (51%)

280 (12%)



786 (88%)

38 (4%)



94 (68%)

10 (7%)

Skilled crafts


14 (5%)

7 (3%)



299 (99%)

56 (19%)



3,304 (53%)

847 (14%)


Forker plans, additional apartments, stadium bonds

In other ISU business, the board:

  • Gave Iowa State permission to begin planning an estimated $5 million renovation of about 6,200 square feet in the original portion of the Forker Building for the kinesiology department. The project will create additional faculty offices and restrooms on the ground floor, and replace windows and install a fire sprinkler system throughout the 1940 portion of the building.
  • Gave ISU residence department officials permission to negotiate leases with Jensen Properties on nine apartment buildings (housing 395 students) in southwest Ames. The proposed arrangement will be for two years (Aug. 1, 2015, to July 31, 2017) and cost an estimated $2.1 million per year. Iowa State currently leases and operates off-campus apartments for 1,059 students. Fall 2015 projections estimate as many as 1,800 requests above the residence department's available permanent beds. The 700-bed Buchanan Hall 2 won't be ready before fall 2017.
  • Approved the sale of $32.3 million in athletic facilities revenue bonds to cover part of the cost of the expansion project underway on the football stadium south end zone. The lowest bid carried an interest rate of 3.007 percent. Schedule payment on the bonds begins in July 2016 and lasts for 25 years.


New vendors join food truck lineup

B Fabulous BBQ truck

Huxley-based B Fabulous BBQ sets up shop weekdays (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) between Agronomy and Bessey halls. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Despite winter's return last week, outdoor food vendors have soldiered on through cold and snow, providing midday lunch and snack options at spots across campus.

Associate director of purchasing Cory Harms, who coordinates the university's contracts with the vendors, said there are five stands currently, with a sixth -- Burgie's coffee truck -- scheduled to return to west campus in March.

Harms says that's about what he has room for. He said he weighs foot traffic in an area and available open spaces in determining optimal locations for the food businesses.

"They're doing us a service, so we want them to stay and to be successful," Harms said.

He noted that the four continuing vendors have operated through the winter.

New vendors:

  • Since Jan. 28: Huxley-based B Fabulous BBQ, east of Bessey Hall. Menu features pulled pork, brisket nachos, smoked turkey sandwich, pork tacos, "BFF Burger" (ground beef patty with bacon and cheese cooked inside) and an occasional special such as cowboy chili. Homemade sides include baked beans, mac and cheese corn, coleslaw and banana pudding.
  • Arriving the week after spring break: Ames-based Burgie's Coffee and Tea, southwest of Coover Hall with morning hours (9 a.m.-noon Tuesday through Friday). Menu features specialty drip coffees, handmade espresso and espresso-based beverages, chai, loose leaf teas, hot cocoa and breakfast burritos.

Continuing outdoor vendors:

  • Finley's Curbside Beastro, west of Kildee Hall
  • El Mexicano, west of Kildee Hall
  • Streets of Europe, south of Hoover Hall
  • The Cheesesteak Factory, between Beardshear and Carver halls

Campus food trucks operate Monday through Friday, generally from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and accept cash and credit cards.

ISU working group establishes policy for P&S search committees

One recommendation from the state Board of Regents' Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER) is that Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Iowa establish standards, services and support for professional and scientific staff searches while also improving search efficiency and effectiveness. The project is identified as TIER business case HR-10, and the universities have until March 1 to deliver their action plans to the board.

"Our charge is to establish a clear policy for professional and scientific search committee size and structure," said Julie Nuter, associate vice president for university human resources. "Additionally, ISU is to simplify the search process by reducing the amount of administrative time dedicated to searches, decreasing time-to-fill metrics (the time between the job being posted/advertised and the offer accepted by the finalist), and creating more efficient and effective recruiting processes."

Iowa State currently has no policy for P&S search committees. The new policy's focus will be to establish guideposts for P&S staff recruitment and for director-level and above search committees.

Iowa State's HR-10 working group

Nuter and a small group of employees from ISU's key administrative areas, called the HR-10 working group, have been tasked with establishing Iowa State's policy for P&S search committee size and structure. The group has met weekly since December, gathering information about other universities' recruiting practices, training, services and resources.

The group also is seeking input from across campus. The survey, which was emailed to top administrators and some hiring managers earlier this week, will help the working group better understand Iowa State's current P&S hiring practices. Human resources liaisons will participate in future focus groups and, as a policy is finalized, leaders from the colleges and units will have a chance to offer feedback.

"The policy will likely provide flexibility for colleges and units to decide on using search committees for non-director level searches, based on their unique needs," Nuter said.

A positive step

Recognizing the significant time commitment required of search committee members, Nuter says the new policy will help make the university's hiring process more efficient.

"We can likely reduce the burden on individuals and units by identifying when search committees have the greatest impact and supporting all hiring managers, both faculty and staff supervisors, with the resources and training to be effective," she said.

What's next

Nuter says the HR-10 working group will provide the following to the regents by March 1:

  • A draft P&S recruitment and selection policy for review by the Policy Library Advisory Committee and the P&S Council's policies and procedures committee
  • An action plan to support the policy's recommendations, including training priorities, web-based resources, applicant tracking system technology and enhanced recruiting services
  • A rollout plan for tracking and monitoring the new policy's success and impact

Though the regents' three public universities all are creating P&S search committee policies, that doesn't mean Iowa State's policy will mirror Iowa's or Northern Iowa's.

"The effort at ISU to establish standards will be specific to our university," Nuter said. "There was recognition by the board of regents that we need to make it work for us, our environment and our priorities."

Council hears IT preview

Jim Kurtenbach, interim vice provost and chief information officer, was invited to speak at the Feb. 5 Professional and Scientific Council meeting in advance of his presentation at the April 14 P&S seminar (2-3 p.m., Memorial Union Campanile Room).

Kurtenbach outlined three information technology services (ITS) priorities given to him by the provost:

  • Security: "ITS can't do it alone. We work real closely with the colleges and the business units and are broadening that out to everyone on campus."
  • Customer service: "IT is a commodity today. Everybody expects that commodity to work really well and we just aren't built to that level yet."
  • Compliance with TIER (Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review): "I have a good feeling [the consultants] are here to enable and help."

Kurtenbach said he is trying to combat "fear of the unknown" by taking information technology services out to the campus with face-to-face meetings and shared (or loaned) ITS personnel.

"Right now, we're doing a lot of job sharing," he said. "I'm trying to embed as many people from ITS into every business unit I can, and hopefully that will improve the communication flow and remove some of the fear."

International friends

Silas Pippitt, program coordinator in the international students and scholars office (ISSO), gave council members a short presentation about ISU's Friendships International program. The program is launching a new model this semester that centers on large-group events, rather than initial one-on-one pairings of international students with Ames community members.

"International students can show up, interact with community members and if a natural pairing forms, then there is an opportunity for that one-on-one interaction outside of the event," Pippitt said.

Events are open to all and hosted by several different organizations, such as the Kiwanis, Rotary Club and church groups. Event details will be posted on the ISSO website.

Other business

  • Council members approved a motion to amend council rules and bylaws (PDF), including changes that move all officer elections to the March meeting
  • Brenda Behling, director of academic policy and personnel in the provost's office, reported on Iowa State business items from the state Board of Regents meeting, including ISU's flipped classroom initiative

Student technology funding, made easy

More ideas, faster approval. That's the goal of recent changes in the funding process for student-focused technology projects.

The Computation Advisory Committee (CAC), the student and faculty group that oversees funding expenditures collected through the student technology fee, recently updated its traditional annual review of proposals to a crowdsourcing process using Iowa State's Techstarter site.

Beginning immediately, anyone on campus can use Techstarter to submit ideas for technology-based projects that benefit student learning.

First stop: Techstarter

Techstarter was introduced last year to help identify technology wants and needs on campus. It allows users to submit their ideas and lend support to other ideas by "liking" or supporting their projects.

CAC committee chair and associate professor of mechanical engineering Eliot Winer said Techstarter allows CAC to:

  • Encourage more ideas by initially requiring only a brief abstract
  • Advance and support ideas put forward by the campus community (monthly reviews are conducted throughout the academic year)
  • Select projects for further proposal development and potential CAC funding

The idea is to lower the barriers to entry, Winer said.

"We're trying to encourage more innovative educational technology ideas," he added. "We also wanted the ability to fund projects at any point throughout the year."

The new process

Anyone -- students, faculty and staff -- can enter ideas on Techstarter. Faculty, staff and students then have the option to:

  • Like an idea
  • Support it by helping to fund or pilot the idea, or
  • Follow the idea (receive email notifications when the idea receives comments or status changes)

CAC members will review Techstarter proposals each month as a committee. Selected ideas will be assigned a facilitator to help build formal proposals for committee review. Ideas the committee doesn't act on will remain on Techstarter for other campus groups or individuals to observe or pick up for themselves.

"If the proposer brings a good idea forward and pursues it aggressively," Winer said, "the idea could move from Techstarter to execution in a matter of a weeks."

To learn more details about CAC's new Techstarter proposal process, visit CAC's web site under the section "Proposal Process."

Happy (Chinese) New Year

Chinese dancers

Ring in the Year of the Goat with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the organization's annual spring festival gala on Sunday, Feb. 15 (6:30-8:30 p.m., Memorial Union Great Hall). The Chinese New Year celebration will feature entertainment -- comedy, song and dance -- and performers in traditional costumes. The ISU juggling club also will perform. Admission is free and open to the public. Door prizes will be awarded. Submitted photo.