Marston Muses are getting a makeover

Conservator Francis Miller with a Marston sculpture.

Conservator Francis Miller inspects Marston Hall's mechanical engineering muse sculpture. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

Marston Hall Muses

Each muse holds objects associated with its engineering field of study.

  • Civil: Level, sextant, Gunter chain, reel measures
  • Electrical: Sphere, calipers
  • Mechanical: Bearing, gear, anvil
  • Mining: Pick, lantern, block of ore

When renovations for Marston Hall began taking shape, so did a plan for restoration work on the sculptures perched atop the east side of the building.

"The Marston Hall Muses are an important part of history for the College of Engineering and all of Iowa State," said University Museums director Lynette Pohlman. "They are so iconic."

The four limestone sculptures, each of which stand eight feet tall and are original to the building, represent the engineering disciplines taught at the college when construction began on Engineering Hall in 1900. Each of the unique Greco-Roman, robed women holds artifacts that symbolize the area of engineering it represents -- (from left to right) mining, civil, mechanical and electrical. They are affixed on pedestals along the fourth-floor parapet of the building and gaze across central campus.

Francis Miller, a Connecticut-based conservator, is on site this week, working from scaffolding that stands four stories high. He and his assistant are cleaning, treating, sealing and repairing the sculptures. The process takes more than two weeks, with a return trip next month to install a replacement piece (mining pick axe) and apply a consolidant to the statues.

Closeup of cleaning work.

"The limestone surface is soft and very pitted," Miller said. "The consolidant will strengthen the stone and slow down loss."

Miller has worked on several other large campus artworks, including many Christian Petersen sculptures. The artist who created the muses is unknown. Based on the different ways they were carved, Miller suspects there were at least two sculptors.

The project is a collaboration between the College of Engineering and University Museums, with an estimated cost of $40,000.

For more photos, visit the Iowa State Facebook page.

Camp with Cy at the state fair

Iowa State's presence in all 99 counties will be showcased at this year's state fair exhibit, themed "Camp Cy: A Statewide Adventure." In partnership with ISU Extension and Outreach, the exhibit will feature interactive stations that demonstrate ways ISU is helping Iowans throughout the state.

"Iowa State is proud of its service to all Iowans, and this year's Camp Cy exhibit captures some of our creative projects that will interest people of all ages," said university marketing director Carole Custer.

Selfie central

Share your #CampCy experience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Located in the northeast corner of the Varied Industries Building (open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Aug. 13-23), visitors will find a campsite with three cardinal and gold tents that house a variety of displays, including:

  • Forward Learning Experience: Virtual reality roller coaster and 3-D printed replicas of Cy and the campanile
  • Conservation Station: Soil and water quality activities, including a rainfall simulator
  • Camp check-in: State map with local, county programming highlights
  • Featured appearances: 4-H representatives, retired astronaut Clayton Anderson, Insect Zoo, Monarch Conservation Consortium, and Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic

Four CyclONE City Cy statues will be situated throughout the exhibit, along with athletics trophies (Big 12 men's basketball championship, Cy-Hawk football, Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series) and replicated campsite items -- all perfect spots for Cyclone fans to take photos and selfies.

Thousands of football posters will be distributed and temporary tattoos will be applied, and daily prize drawings -- including gift cards and tickets to athletics events -- will be awarded. Expect guest appearances by Cy the mascot (Aug. 16 and 20), women's basketball head coach Bill Fennelly (Aug. 19), wrestling head coach Kevin Jackson (Aug. 22), President Steven Leath and other ISU administrators.

Farm Strong fair T-shirt

State fair T-shirt

The University Book Store will sell Cyclone merchandise and apparel in the university's exhibit space. Three exclusive state fair T-shirt designs (Farm Strong, Home Grown Cyclone and Cy Tour Guide) will be available for $10 each. 

More extension

As part of the Camp Cy theme, ISU Extension and Outreach will offer fairgoers a chance to send Cy a letter from camp. The "postcard" will include a list of other venues at the fair that feature ISU experts, projects and exhibits. Postcards can be placed in a mailbox in the 4-H Exhibit Building, where entrants will be eligible for daily prize drawings and the Apple watch grand prize.

Thousands of statewide youth will participate in the fair with 4-H exhibits, presentations and competitions. An estimated 2,800 4-Hers will bring 3,900 projects and performances to be judged in the 4-H Exhibits Building. Another 2,000 youth will show a combined 6,000 entries -- livestock animals and horticulture -- in the agricultural buildings.

As an alternative to the regularly scheduled live poultry shows cancelled due to the avian flu outbreak earlier this year, an egg cooking contest and poultry "skillathon" will be held on Aug. 13.

Food finder

The State Fair Food Finder mobile app and website is back, powered by a partnership with ISU extension and The Des Moines Register. The location-based app can find food stands (along with nutritional information) and search the fair's schedule of events (including a list of healthy activities).

Animal care

The College of Veterinary Medicine will be well represented at the state fair. Dr. Kelly Still-Brooks, a clinician in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, will serve as the fair's veterinarian. Assistant professor Dr. Troy Brick and four ISU vet med students will assist her in overseeing the health of all exhibit and special event animals.

An estimated 20 ISU Vet Med volunteers -- a mix of students and professors -- plan to take part in the state fair's youth vet camps. The free program provides kids, ages 10 to 18, with a hands-on experience with small animal health and welfare.

Locally grown for you

male student walking between two rows of brussels sprouts

Horticulture senior Brad Bathey inspects rows of brussels sprouts in a research plot at the ISU Horticulture Farm. Produce grown at the farm, both by the Student Organic Farm organization, undergraduate students and as part of research projects, is sold each week. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

It's that time of year. Rows of vegetables are growing wider and taller, and plants heavier with their fruit. And that's good news for Iowa State employees and students, who have a weekly opportunity to purchase and enjoy the produce.

Launched during spring semester 2014 by students in the Horticulture 465 class – with an emphasis on business management and marketing -- the project features a produce web site and a lot of behind-the-screen labor at the horticulture research farm east of Gilbert.

The website is updated on Monday afternoons (mid-June through late October) with vegetables and fruits available that week. Customers have until noon Thursday to place their orders. Produce is delivered to campus on Fridays for pickup on the plaza east of Curtiss Hall (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.); look for the blue canopy. In the case of rain, distribution moves indoors to Curtiss' Harl Commons.

At pickup, cash and personal check are accepted forms of payment. The website requires an ISU Net-ID, which limits the sale to the university community and steers clear of any concerns about local competition.

The produce all comes from the horticulture farm, from one of three possibilities: Hort 465 students, who planted a little over an acre this year; Student Organic Farm club members who have about two acres to work with; and faculty-led research projects spread out across more than 15 acres. All produce sold is safe for eating.

While the three-semester Hort 465 class ended its run this spring, farm superintendent Nick Howell said the produce sale will continue, whether by staff or horticulture interns seeking a farmer's market type of experience.

Horticulture senior Brad Bathey, who's working at the farm this summer, said he loves Fridays.

"Meeting customers, talking with people about how to prepare or serve the produce they bought -- that's an experience most college horticulture students don't get," he said.

Regents review tuition request, approve more leased apartments

Members of the state Board of Regents had little reaction to a proposed 3 percent tuition increase for spring 2016 semester for resident undergraduate students at their Aug. 5 meeting. The increase would raise spring tuition $100 for most Iowa State resident undergraduates; up to $133 for programs with previously approved differential tuitions. If approved, it would raise an estimated $1.65 million in additional revenue for Iowa State. The board will vote on the proposal at its Sept. 9 meeting.

In December, the board approved a third straight tuition freeze for resident undergraduates, while approving increases ranging from 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent for all other students. The freeze anticipated the Legislature's support for the regents' proposed performance-based funding model, which didn't occur. In fact, new state dollars in the three public universities' operating budgets total about one-tenth what the increases were a year ago.

The diminished state appropriations, coupled with three years of frozen tuition for resident undergraduates -- which make up just over half of ISU's student body -- compelled all three universities to reallocate dollars to pay for priorities in their new budgets.

If approved, the increase would reestablish base tuition for ISU's resident undergraduates at $6,848.

More off-campus apartments

The board approved the residence department's request to rent 12 apartment units (48 beds) in the building at 3732 Tripp St. from Jensen Five L.C. from Aug. 6 through July 31, 2016, for additional student housing. This brings the total number of leased off-campus beds to 1,502 this fall. Rental rates will be consistent with those the board approved in April for other off-campus buildings the residence department is leasing. Senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden said the department's priority is to house freshmen on campus and assign returning upperclassmen to off-campus housing.

President Steven Leath told the board he made a commitment to students to not use residence hall dens as sleeping rooms on a long-term basis. If students need to be housed temporarily in hall dens, he said they'll be "in real beds in real rooms" within the first two weeks of fall semester.

When asked about anticipated fall enrollment, Leath said that the increase in student numbers could be similar to recent years. In the last two falls, enrollment was up 1,400-2,200 over the previous year.

Compensation for President Leath

The board unanimously approved a 5 percent salary increase for Leath for the year that began July 1, bringing his salary to $525,000. The board also approved a five-year deferred compensation plan for him (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2020) with an annual contribution of $125,000, and a five-year appointment for Leath covering that same time period.

Student Innovation Center design to begin

Board members gave Iowa State the green light to proceed with planning for the Student Innovation Center, a proposed $80 million, 175,000-square-foot facility to be built south of Sweeney Hall. The site was selected for its proximity to undergraduate academic programs. The board also approved demolition of the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory and the south portion of the original Sweeney Hall to create space for the new building.

Madden said the project will be paid for with university funds ($20 million), a $20 million anonymous gift and state appropriations ($40 million over four years, FY17-20, approved by the 2015 Legislature).

Student health center update

Leath provided an update to board members on changes instituted at the Thielen Student Health Center in response to what he termed a "highly critical but accurate report" completed this spring by university-hired consultants, Keeling and Associates. Those changes include:

  • Hiring a new interim director, Mary Hensley, who retired in 2012 from the University of Minnesota medical center and is certified as a healthcare executive, healthcare finance professional and medical practice executive
  • Hiring a quality improvement officer
  • Hiring certified medical assistants to serve at the front desk
  • Exploring a partnership with McFarland Clinic that could add physicians to the health center staff

Leath expressed gratitude to medical college leaders at the University of Iowa for valuable advice and assistance. He said Hensley and associate vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon, who preceded Hensley as interim director, would provide a more in-depth update to the board at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Facilities corporation

The board approved Iowa State's proposal to, in cooperation with the ISU Foundation, set up a nonprofit ISU Facilities Corporation that will finance large building projects when cash funds or state appropriations are not available and the usual regent-issued bonds not appropriate for the project. Unlike the regents' academic revenue bonds or enterprise bonds, which use tuition and fees for service, respectively, to repay the debt, the facilities corporation bonds would use other sources -- for example, private gifts or income from sponsored research -- to pay off the bonds.

"We see this as an effective way to move ahead with some major building projects, particularly with interest rates as low as they are now," Madden said. The corporation would own a building until the bonds are repaid, with the university as tenant and the board as lessee. The corporation's first bond issue, an estimated $20 million for the Advanced Teaching and Research Building, would occur in 2016.

Cremation garden for ISU cemetery

The board approved Iowa State's five-year agreement with the company Fans4Ever to design, construct and market a columbarium and garden adjacent to the east side of the university cemetery. A cremation garden responds to two needs: the alumni association has received requests from alumni and friends to bury cremated remains on campus, and, at the current interment rate, available spaces in the cemetery could be filled in five years.

The university will set rules about who may use the cremation garden; an early estimated cost per niche is around $6,000.

Madden said the garden could include an area that held stone markers to memorialize individuals with a tie to the university, such as when a current student dies unexpectedly.

Madden said that nationwide, about 50 percent of interments are of cremated remains. He said industry experts predict that will grow to as high as 75-80 percent. The project will not proceed until there are enough presales to cover the development costs.

"We'll test the market and see if there's a demand for this before we move forward," Madden said.

TIER update

The board received written reports from two consultants, Huron Consulting and Chazey Partners, in its two-year-old Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER). The former was hired to find efficiencies and savings in the three universities' purchasing operations; the latter to review and "validate" university-specific plans to improve processes in financial services, human resources services and IT services.

In analyzing 10 purchasing categories -- such as copiers, scientific supplies or food -- Huron found opportunities for greater collaboration for process efficiencies and price leveraging.

Huron calculated total annual savings of $3.9 million to $7.8 million for seven of the 10 categories across the three schools.

Huron Consulting will be retained to assist with technology recommendations and new vendor negotiations in seven of the 10 categories, and to help the schools transition to a center-led service model, in which purchasing strategies would be coordinated by the board office but the actual purchasing would be handled by each school. The additional contract will cost $510,000; the work will take an estimated nine months.

Chazey Partners estimated the up-front investment to implement changes to the three processes at $20 million for the three universities. Once changes are implemented, the consultants estimated annual savings of $14 million at the three schools, beginning in FY2017.

More business

In other action, the board:

  • Approved Iowa State's purchase of an Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope ($3.66 million) for the nearly completed Sensitive Instrument Facility at the Applied Sciences Complex. Funding sources include university general funds, the College of Engineering and Ames Laboratory.
  • Received an update on the University of Iowa's presidential search. Meeting Aug. 4, the search committee whittled 46 applicants down to nine candidates who will be interviewed off campus. The goal is to announce by early September no more than four finalists who will be brought to campus for interviews.
  • Approved budgets for the fiscal year that began July 1. Iowa State's operating budget is $675 million; its total budget, including restricted funds and auxiliary units, is just under $1.4 billion. In comments to the board, Leath noted that 85 percent of about $19 million in reallocated dollars in the operating budget came from salary savings from retiring faculty.
  • Approved a 20-year lease between the board and the ISU Research Park Corp. for about 17,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the 42,000-square-foot Hub Square Facility scheduled for completion next year. The research park will own the building and Iowa State will reimburse construction costs up to $12 million (the amount of the 2013 state appropriation for the facility and considered a prepaid base rent for the first 20 years.) Iowa State will pay its share of operating costs.
  • Appointed Mark Braun, University of Iowa vice president for operational efficiency and regulatory analysis, as interim chief operating officer for the board of regents, effective Aug. 5. Braun served as the TIER (Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review) project manager in the board office from August 2014 to April.