Taking a break for spring

ROTC members play pick-up football

Monday's warm temperatures prompted a game of football in front of the Armory with Air Force ROTC members, from left, Conner Tillo, Tyler Laska, Brock Helwig and Doug Schwamb. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Regents approve property purchase, online degree, bond sale

Meeting March 11 in Iowa City, the state Board of Regents approved Iowa State's purchase of five acres and the building at 925 Airport Rd. for $1.4 million. The property formerly housed a John Deere implement dealership and is adjacent to a Central Stores storage facility. Senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden told board members that, initially, it will meet some university long-term storage needs, and part of it may be used as a shipping/receiving facility to reduce traffic and congestion on campus. Additional warehouse space also is needed as ISU Research Park firms grow, particularly Harrisvaccines.

Items that potentially could be stored in the building include ISU Theatre props and costumes, which currently are stored in the Industrial Education Building (scheduled to be razed); and Reiman Gardens' Nature Connects LEGO exhibits between installations.

New bachelor's degree

The board approved a bachelor of science program in early childhood education and programming in the College of Human Sciences. It will be offered entirely online through the seven-university Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, and students may take courses at all seven schools. The program's primary focus is to prepare professionals to work as teachers or administrators in childcare programs. Participants won't be licensed to work in public schools.

It's anticipated that most participants will be members of military families. The program is being offered in response to a request from the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Defense to meet the educational needs of military service members and spouses who are interested in careers working with young children, and to better serve U.S. military installations.

TIER update

Regent Larry McKibben outlined a new management plan for the implementation phase of the board's Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER). Mark Braun, who had been serving as project manager in the board office, will return in April to his position at the University of Iowa as vice president for external relations and the president's chief of staff, with reduced duties on the TIER project. Three regents each will have broad oversight for a group of business cases: Milt Dakovich, cases related to facilities; McKibben, cases related to administration; and Katie Mulholland, cases related to academics, including admissions. In addition, each campus has a contact person for all implementation matters who also is the consultant's primary contact on specific cases; associate vice president and chief of staff Miles Lackey serves in that role at Iowa State and with Pappas and Ad Astra consultants.

Braun provided this update on the work of the board's four current consultants:

  • Chazey Partners (HR, IT and financial transactions business cases): First phase of analysis is complete (data gathering, conversations and workshops on all three campuses). Chazey staff will take the next two weeks to review three sets of information: universities' data and plans, original Deloitte business case information and the information Chazey gathered in phase 1. These three will be "meshed together" to further develop implementation plans, he said.
  • Huron Consulting (purchasing): Consultants have been doing data analysis and have identified six of the seven categories for which they will do "deep dive" analysis. Three other categories will receive a high level review.
  • Pappas Consulting (academic review): Hired in February to do Phase 2 analysis on two cases: distance education and time to graduation, consultants have been reviewing information gathered by the previous consultant. From this, they're developing a work plan. Tentatively, they plan to visit the campuses the last week of March and first week of April.
  • Ad Astra (classroom and faculty scheduling): Consultants have been analyzing data provided by the universities and are on track to present preliminary results by the end of spring semester.

Student retention

The board received annual reports (as of fall 2014) on student retention and graduation rates at each of the three universities. Iowa State's fall 2013 entering class had a one-year retention rate of 86.4 percent, compared to 86.1 percent overall for the three regent universities and 77.9 percent for public four-year colleges nationally.

One-year retention rates (Fall 2013 entering class)

All students






     African American


     American Indian


     Asian American


     Hispanic American


     Two or more races



AFSCME contract

Tom Evans, the board's staff attorney, reported that the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Iowa Council 61), did not reach agreement on a two-year employment contract, which would cover most ISU merit employees beginning July 1. The impasse is on the issues of wages and insurance. An arbitration hearing was held Feb. 26-27, and the arbitrator's binding decision is due by March 15.

2015-16 parking rates

The board took a first look at parking permit prices for campus lots and the Memorial Union ramp, which would go up $3 to $12 annually under proposed rates for the year that begins July 1. A vote on parking proposals will occur at the board's April 23 meeting.

Parking permit increases



Proposed FY16

24-hour reserved






General staff*









Staff motorcycle



MU ramp


















*Includes residence department and Ames Lab staff
**Valid November-February

2015-16 residence/dining rates

The residence department's preliminary FY16 budget estimates 12,774 students living in university-managed housing, an increase of 537 students from this year. To accommodate student demand for housing beyond the existing permanent spaces, 329 beds will be offered in residence hall dens, and off-campus apartments operated by the department will expand to 1,454 beds (up from 1,059 this year).

As proposed, most residence hall and on-campus apartment rates would go up 3 percent on July 1. That's an increase of $112 to $216, depending on the building. The exceptions are a proposed 2 percent increase ($93-$113) at University and Schilletter Village apartments, and 8 percent ($464-$586) for off-campus leased apartments. Student meal plans would go up approximately 3 to 3.5 percent, depending on the plan selected.

The board will vote on residence and dining proposals at its April meeting.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the sale of $11.765 million of Athletic Facility Revenue Refund bonds (taxable) to advance refund $12.175 million of bonds issued in 2007 to partially fund the first phase of renovations at Jack Trice Stadium. Repayment on the 2007 bonds wasn't scheduled to begin until next year. Lower interest rates will result in estimated interest savings of $818,000 for the athletics department.
  • Approved revisions for ISU's 2015-16 general catalog. The changes include 75 title changes, 123 new courses and 195 dropped courses, for a net effect of 72 fewer courses.
  • Received ISU calendar year 2014 reports on human resources and on campus safety and security.
  • Heard from the board's policy and operations officer Joan Racki that the dime increase in the state's gas tax, effective March 1, will send an additional (estimated) $400,000 each calendar year to the regents' Institutional Roads fund. This fund helps pay for both maintenance and replacement road projects on the regent campuses.

Initiative puts university classrooms on 10-year upgrade cycle

Pearson 2nd floor corridor

All 11 general university classrooms on the second floor of Pearson Hall will be renovated as part of a new classroom improvement initiative. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Spurred by enrollment growth, aging buildings and innovations in teaching methods, the university has embarked on a plan to upgrade all 214 general university classrooms on a 10-year cycle. The effort will be financially supported every year with $500,000 from the office of the senior vice president and provost and $250,000 from facilities planning and management. Other partners – primarily departments and colleges that most use specific classrooms – will match those funds each year of the renovation program.

The Student Experience Enhancement Council, faculty senate and academic department chairs all have identified classroom upgrades as a priority, and last month the first significant project was approved by President Steven Leath and the Capital Projects Advisory Committee.

"I'm not sure any university is more efficient in its use of classrooms than Iowa State, and that's a great credit to our faculty and our facilities and scheduling professionals," Leath said. "This initiative will upgrade every general university classroom to better meet the specialized needs of faculty and our academic programs."

Pearson Hall

"We'll be making impactful changes to 214 rooms over the next decade," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "Smaller projects – for example, lighting improvements or seats replacement -- already are occurring, and the first significant renovation will modernize all 11 general university classrooms on the second floor of Pearson Hall."

Pearson is a 53-year-old facility. Associate vice president for academic planning and resources Ellen Rasmussen estimates the second floor renovation will be a two-year project, with the rooms out of use for about 16 months. The next steps, she said, are to hire design professionals and seek input from faculty in departments using the Pearson classrooms about what capabilities and features are needed. Upgrades could change the mechanical and lighting systems, room finishes, furniture and instructional technology, and create better uses for corridor spaces or alter the size/capacity of rooms. Ten of the classrooms currently have seating capacities between 34 and 40 students; the 11th room seats about 100 students.

In addition to the provost's office and FPM, units providing funds for the project are the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and information technology services. Rasmussen said actual contributions will be determined once detailed cost estimates are known.

A steering committee for the project will include representatives from the LAS college, ITS, FPM, the provost's office, room scheduling and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

How does it rate?

Students and faculty assess the helpfulness of a classroom renovated to promote active learning.

Phased projects

Rasmussen said the classroom improvement initiative will intentionally include projects of varying durations and price tags. She said the intent also is to distribute them across campus and to mix in rooms of different sizes. Above all, a steering committee will need to coordinate these projects with other building projects – for example, the Marston Hall renovation – to keep as many classrooms in use as possible during any given semester.

Iowa State made other big investments in classroom improvements in the last dozen or so years -- $14 million from the state Legislature in FY03-06 and $2 million in federal stimulus funds in FY10, for example – but Rasmussen said several things make this approach different:

  • Faculty will have input to the renovation projects
  • Funding is internal and ongoing, not one-time
  • Multiple ISU units will partner on each project

The primary focus of the 10-year plan is on renovating existing classrooms, but Rasmussen said the hope is that the process also will uncover some under-used spaces that could be added to the university's inventory of classrooms.

"When you raise general awareness about space, one of the outcomes could be that you pick up some good classroom spaces," she noted.

Classroom planning study

A continuing 10-year cycle for improving all general university classrooms was among the recommendations in a classroom improvement study completed for Iowa State in February 2014 by the Des Moines-based consultants INVISION. Others included:

  • Create more work and study spaces outside classrooms for small group work and conversations
  • Develop a culture of matching appropriate classes and classrooms, which could reduce incidents of faculty teaching back-to-back in the same room
  • Develop a single help desk for real-time, on-call assistance to faculty, whether a request is related to IT, maintenance or teaching support
  • Prioritize 75- to 150-seat classrooms for upgrades (they're the most used and the most in-demand)
  • Include more general university classrooms in future building projects

The consultants' work included focus group discussions with both faculty and students, a thorough assessment of 48 classrooms, review of all 214 general university classrooms, analysis of classroom use data from the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters, and comparisons with current trends in higher education. The consultants noted that Iowa State could improve its classroom capacity three ways: increase room use, increase the number of seats filled per room or add classrooms – or some combination of the three.

Building better classrooms


Students huddle in small groups during a CLPS 332 class in Gilman 2104. Designed to promote "active" learning, the classroom is equipped with multiple monitors, white boards and desks on wheels for small group sessions. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Can a classroom's physical space make learning easier and more impactful? Melissa Rands, a doctoral candidate in the School of Education with an emphasis on research and evaluation, says absolutely -- and she has the data to back it up.

Classroom funding

Iowa State has a 10-year plan in place that will upgrade all 214 general university classrooms.

Last year, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) asked Rands to assess the effectiveness of 2104 Gilman Hall, an active learning classroom that was remodeled in 2013 by CELT with the help of a $300,000 grant. Rands conducted focus groups with faculty and students familiar with 2104 Gilman, and presented her findings at a CELT seminar on March 5.

What is an active learning classroom?

An active learning classroom is not your mother's classroom. Instead of a teacher presiding over rows of students sitting in desks, an active learning classroom consists of components, both low- and high-tech, that make learning more interactive. In 2104 Gilman, these items include:

  • Moveable tablet-arm chairs
  • Document camera
  • DVD/video/computer output projection
  • Huddle boards (portable white boards)
  • Monitors throughout the room
  • Writing surfaces greater than 35 linear feet

The questions

Rands asked the focus group participants to describe:  

  • How they used the classroom and its features
  • The impact of the classroom design on teaching and learning
  • Aspects of the classroom's design that need to be changed to promote active learning

The results

Rands discovered students used the moveable chairs most often for collaborative work, and the huddle white boards to visually bring their ideas to life. Faculty also used the huddle boards for quick classroom assessments. For example, the small groups would write answers on the huddle boards so the instructor could quickly determine how well the students understood the information. The least used -- and perhaps the least understood -- devices in the classroom were the supplemental monitors. Both students and instructors felt they weren't technically savvy enough to use the monitors effectively.

One of the biggest benefits of 2104 Gilman, Rands found, is the flexibility to change the classroom space to accommodate various active learning situations. Students and faculty said they could move in and around the space easily, achieving greater interaction between the students and the instructor. Students in the focus group told Rands that they felt the physical space of 2104 Gilman "erased the line" between the students and the teacher, resulting in a learner-centered environment.

Some tweaks

The focus groups gave 2104 Gilman high marks, but there still is room for improvement. When Rands asked what aspects of the classroom design needed to change, students and faculty said the space could use:

  • An area for personal belongings
  • The option to remove or store excess chairs and desks
  • Better acoustics
  • Larger tables or work surfaces

Faculty also said they would appreciate training on how to better use the room's technological capabilities.


Following her analysis of the focus groups, Rands concluded:

  • Committing resources to classroom redesign to promote active learning is a worthwhile investment
  • Low-cost additions and learning tools were cited as the most effective features of 2104 Gilman
  • Classrooms should be assessed using flexibility and adaptability as the criteria
  • Tech tools require training
  • Students should participate in the design and evaluation of learning spaces

For more information about using 2104 Gilman, contact room scheduling, 294-4493.

Council shares concerns about services survey

Associate vice president and chief of staff Miles Lackey gave members of the Professional and Scientific Council an update on the state Board of Regents' efficiency study at their March 5 meeting. Last month's employee survey on service processes was the focus of questions and discussion.

The survey -- an assessment of transactional service processes in human resources, information technology and finance -- is part of the information gathering being conducted by the Chazey Partners consultant firm as part of the regents' Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER). Lackey said about 2,100 employees who spend more than 10 percent of their time on work related to those services were asked to complete the survey. Workshops and meetings with targeted stakeholders also are being held.

"It helps Chazey to establish our current state of operations -- to determine the amount of effort we're putting into delivering these services -- and provide feedback from customers and clients about how happy they are with the level of service they're receiving," Lackey said.

Prior to the meeting, council members provided questions about the survey, which Lackey used for his presentation. Among his answers:

  • No layoffs will occur as a result of the study
  • The survey establishes a baseline for FTE investment in delivering services
  • Emphasis was placed on transactional services
  • The consultants understand that variations, unique needs exist across the institution
  • The university is not necessarily looking at a centralized, across-the-board approach
  • Decisions will be collaborative, with input from impacted units
  • Evaluation of reporting structures will occur

Lackey acknowledged that the survey may have been sent to employees who do not regularly perform the transactional services, and said the list has "since been pared down."

Council members shared additional feedback about the survey, including concerns about the clarity of the language.

"What information can you possibly get out of it when no one is interpreting what you're asking the same way?" asked Dan Rice, director of recruitment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"Let's see the survey results -- what sort of information we can glean from the data -- go back and follow up with the unit leads and figure out if there are some large anomalies," Lackey said. "If there are, we're going to have to recalibrate. Hopefully, they'll be able to tease out what is valuable, what is right and what is inaccurate."


In other business, council members elected their 2015-16 officers:

  • President-elect: Clayton Johnson, academic adviser, College of Design
  • Secretary/treasurer: Kate Goudy-Haut, program coordinator, human development and family studies (second term)
  • Vice president for university community relations: Jessica Bell, administrative specialist, natural resource ecology and management
  • Vice president for equity and inclusion: Katie Davidson, program assistant, College of Veterinary Medicine (second term)
  • Vice president for university planning and budget: Jordan Bates, program manager, internal audit

Current president-elect Tera Lawson, program coordinator in the School of Education, and the newly elected officers begin their terms at the conclusion of the June 3 council meeting.

Other business

The policies and procedures committee introduced a motion that endorses a draft policy outlining guidelines for use of assistance animals on campus. However, the motion recommends a clearer definition of the term "housing unit" used in the policy.

The draft policy establishes procedures for accommodating service animals and emotional support animals. It is open for public comment through April 21. Questions and comments can be sent to policy@iastate.edu. Council members will vote on the motion at their April 1 meeting.

Dean of students Pamela Anthony and Mark Hall, a representative from the Spelman and Johnson consultant group, updated council members on the search for ISU's inaugural chief diversity officer. The search committee is gathering input -- through meetings and a town hall series -- from the campus and Ames community to develop a position description.

Hall said "consistent themes" from the input indicate the candidate should:

  • Be a collaborator, coordinator and community builder
  • Have "personal skills, political savvy and charisma" to bring groups together in a "complex, decentralized academic organization"

Microsoft Office software for your home devices

The latest software offering for Iowa State faculty, staff and students comprises a suite of Microsoft classics that can be installed on up to 10 personal devices for free.

The Office 365 ProPlus program includes versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and, for PCs and mobile devices, the note-taking app OneNote.

Members of the ISU community can install the cloud-based software on up to five Macs or PCs and up to five mobile devices as well, said Darin Dugan, systems analyst in information technology services.

Users are allowed to use the software and even upgrade to new versions as long as they remain Iowa State employees or students. When employees leave the university or students graduate, they must buy licenses or personal subscriptions to continue using the software at full capacity. Otherwise, the programs will function in read-only mode. Microsoft periodically checks eligibility against valid ISU Net-IDs.

Install ProPlus on PCs or Macs

  • Sign on to Office 365 by clicking "Outlook" at the top of the ISU homepage or by going to outlook.iastate.edu. Students should sign on to office365.iastate.edu.
  • Click "Office 365" (black bar at the top)
  • On the next page, click "install now" to download and run the installation file

Install ProPlus on mobile devices

  • Sign on to Office 365 by clicking "Outlook" at the top of the ISU homepage or by going to outlook.iastate.edu. Students should sign on to office365.iastate.edu.
  • Click "Office 365" (black bar at the top)
  • Click "Office on your devices" (middle column)
  • Make ensure you've selected the right device (for example, "iphone" or "Windows tablet")
  • Provide an email address and click the "send email" button. You'll receive instructions on downloading your app shortly.

MS software still available through HUP, too

Iowa State faculty and staff also can continue to buy Microsoft Office for $9.95 through the older Microsoft Home Use Program. The HUP program, however, restricts users to purchasing either a PC or Mac version of the software (not both) and only allows installs on two computers. It doesn't offer software upgrades or apps for mobile devices. Software purchased through HUP must be removed when faculty and staff leave the university.

Senate approves criminal justice degree

A proposed bachelor's degree in criminal justice was unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate at its March 10 meeting. It was expedited in one meeting so the state Board of Regents can consider it alongside a related proposal from the University of Iowa.

Senate president-elect Rob Wallace told senators that the liberal arts colleges at Iowa and Iowa State worked closely while crafting their degree programs. ISU's degree will be housed in the sociology department.

"It's definitely going to serve a large number of students for a long period of time," Wallace said. "As a matter of procedure, the LAS college is also working basically parallel with the LAS college at the University of Iowa."

ISU's proposal contains an internship requirement as part of its 37-credit "applied theory" degree program, rather than the emphasis on theory in Iowa's program. The proposal also differentiates ISU's program from a criminology focus at the University of Northern Iowa and indicates ISU will work on agreements to cross enroll online courses offered by all three schools.

Other business

Erin Wilgenbusch, senior lecturer in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, was elected to the athletics council. In addition to a designated faculty athletics representative, the senate has four members on the committee that monitors the ISU athletics program.

Chieftains gig is a lucky break for local fan

Kerry Gibson

Kerry Gibson looks forward to performing with the group he's revered for two decades. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Kerry Gibson, who was born on St. Patrick's Day, will get an early birthday present Friday night. At some point during the evening, he'll step onto the Stephens Auditorium stage to sing backup for one of his favorite groups -- The Chieftains.

Gibson, a communications specialist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, says he loves all things Irish and has been a fan of the Dublin-based folk group and their Uilleann pipe-playing leader Paddy Moloney since the late 1980s.

Backing up The Chieftains

  • Ames Chamber Artists
  • Kerry Gibson, Ames Laboratory
  • Connie Hardy, ISU Extension and Outreach
  • Tim Hoekstra, Ames
  • Karen Mullaney, Gilbert
  • John Pleasants, ecology, evolution and organismal biology
  • Barb Schendel, Ames
  • Iowa State Singers, Iowa Statesmen
  • Zoe Bardin
  • Marcus Cross
  • Dustin Galvin
  • Jacob Rigdon
  • Jenna Sandquist
  • Eliza Smith
  • Seth Wilharm

Several other Iowa Staters -- faculty, staff and students -- as well as Ames area singers will join Gibson on stage. James Rodde, the Louise Moen Endowed Chair in Music and director of choral activities, assisted Iowa State Center officials in finding local talent to provide the chorus for two songs on The Chieftains' program. Rodde plucked singers from two Iowa State groups -- the Iowa State Singers and the Iowa Statesmen -- and the Ames Chamber Artists.

Spring break provided a lucky break for Ames Chamber Artists, Gibson said. Because the band's March 13 performance is the Friday before break, Rodde wasn't able to find as many students.

"He asked our group if anybody wanted to sing," Kerry said. "I jumped at the chance."

Gibson and the others have been practicing on their own, acquainting themselves with the songs they'll perform -- "Shenandoah" and Elvis Costello's "Long Journey Home." They'll meet the band just a few hours before the performance for a sound check and rehearsal.

Birthday wishes

Singing with The Chieftains is "going to be a blast," Gibson said. But he admits, if fate allows him a couple more birthday wishes, a Paddy Moloney autograph on the liner notes of his favorite CD album and a photo with his folk hero would be frosting on the cake.