ROTC cadets take bridge from blueprints to reality

ROTC cadets work on footings for footbridge.

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

A couple years in the making, a coordinated effort this week replaced an aging -- and somewhat tilting -- footbridge that crosses Clear Creek.

The creek flows through the area known as Pammel Woods in the northwest corner of campus. The area serves as an outdoor classroom for Iowa State students and a training ground for the Army ROTC program.

"We use it almost every Wednesday," said Master Sgt. Chris Shaiko, senior military instructor. "This is a great way for us to give back to the area we use."

Iowa-based Snyder and Associates designed the bridge, which spans 45 feet across the creek. It is 6-feet wide and, unlike its predecessor, includes hand railings. Shaiko said it was designed to accommodate two lanes of cadets crossing in full gear.

Facilities planning and management staff provided equipment and support, the provost's office and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provided funding, and members from the Iowa National Guard 224th engineer battalion, based in Fairfield, were on site to assist as "subject matter experts." But it was a group of about 30 ISU ROTC cadets that spent time between classes earlier this week to organize and implement the construction.

Kyle Schmidt, a senior civil engineering major, said the vision for the project took root his sophomore year. He credited Christian Stornello, who now is an enlisted Army private, and many cadets -- past and present -- who helped make it a reality.

"I'm completely geeking out about building this bridge," he said. "I'm excited to see it happen after all this time."

Ames legacy

The original footbridge was constructed more than 30 years ago as an Eagle Scout project. Then-17-year-old Steve Dinsmore organized Boy Scout Troop 275 and a group of ROTC volunteers for the project. They converted donated telephone poles and lumber planks into a footbridge aimed at preventing erosion from path users who climbed the banks to cross the creek.

Dinsmore, now a professor in natural resource ecology and management, said the structure likely was damaged by floodwaters that shifted one of the telephone poles.

"I knew it would last a while, certainly more than 10 years," Dinsmore said. "It was meant to be a simple thing. It will be nice to see it replaced."

Baldwin named student health center director

Erin Baldwin headshot

Erin Baldwin

Erin Baldwin, chief operating officer for the Mahaska Health Partnership in Oskaloosa, has been named director of the Thielen Student Health Center, effective Jan. 4.

Baldwin has senior leadership experience in provider-based clinics, pharmacy, lab, radiology, physical and occupational therapy, food and nutrition services, behavioral health services and public health. She earned a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care at the University of Kansas (2003) and master’s degrees in healthcare administration and public health from the University of Iowa (2006).

As part of her responsibility for strategic planning for student health, Baldwin will focus on administrative structure, patient access and critical care needs. She also will work with staff on financial strategy and management for the clinic.

"Improving the level of service and care provided by the Thielen Student Health Center is a key university priority," said President Steven Leath. "We recognize that healthy students are more engaged, productive and successful. Erin Baldwin has the credentials to ensure the health center is operating at the highest level and our students are receiving first-rate, holistic care."

Senior vice president for student affairs Tom Hill acknowledged the transitional assistance of Mary Hensley, who has served as interim director since July 2015.

"I would like to thank Mary for her brief, but very productive and beneficial role," Hill said. "Mary has been able to provide the guidance and focus needed to transition staff and programming towards new leadership."

ISU Plan open change period runs Nov. 2-20

It's that time of year again. Faculty, professional and scientific staff, and supervisory and confidential merit employees may review and update their ISU Plan benefits during the annual open change period, Nov. 2 (9 a.m.) through Nov. 20 (5 p.m.).

Dates to remember

  • Nov. 2 (9 a.m.): Open change period begins; participation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Nov. 11 (9-10:30 a.m.): Live webcast
  • Nov. 20 (5 p.m.): Open change period ends
  • Dec. 4 (9 a.m.) Benefit confirmation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Dec. 11: Corrections to benefits statements due at 3810 Beardshear
  • Jan. 15, 2016 (9 a.m.): Final benefits statements available on AccessPlus

No changes for 2016

The 2016 ISU Plan medical (PPO and HMO) and dental benefits remain the same as last year, and there are no cost increases. To review the current coverages and costs, visit the benefits page on the university human resources (UHR) website.

How to update your benefits

ISU Plan participants may alter their medical, dental, flexible spending and Avesis coverage online through AccessPlus. Some employees may be unable to use AccessPlus and some changes may require paper forms, which are available on the benefits website or through UHR. Don't have any changes this year? Then do nothing and your current choices will carry over to 2016. However, even if you're planning no changes to your benefit elections, the open change period is a good opportunity to review your benefits and beneficiaries. Contact the UHR service center, 294-4800, with questions about changing your benefits online.

More information

UHR is holding a live, interactive webcast for ISU Plan participants on Nov. 11 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. To participate, log on, enter your name under the "Enter as Guest" heading, then click "Enter Room." If you're unable to attend, a recording of the broadcast will be available on UHR's benefits Bulletin Board following the presentation.

New online portal streamlines employee training

It's only fitting that an institution of higher learning like Iowa State should have a centralized system that faculty and staff can tap into to learn about ongoing professional development and safety training. Unfortunately, that has not been the case …  until now.


Find out more with the list of frequently asked questions.

Learn@ISU is a new online learning management portal, which allows employees to browse and register for any ISU training class, no matter which department is sponsoring it.

The idea was born out of vice president of university human resources Julie Nuter's desire to find a better way to provide ISU employees with professional development opportunities. She and her staff partnered with environmental health and safety, which had been using an online training tool for some time, to create the system.

"Learn@ISU is, more or less, a facelift for the EH&S system, with the addition of a new login page and support website," said Linda Cronk, EH&S communications specialist.

Departments that currently have classes in the system are university human resources, EH&S, university counsel and enrollment services. Classes from the purchasing and controller departments will be added in about a month, and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) will add courses the beginning of spring semester.

How it works

To register for a training class, log on to Learn@ISU (university home page > Info for > Faculty and staff  > Sign-Ons) with your Net-ID and password. From there, browse the course catalogs by list, look at a calendar schedule of upcoming classes or conduct a quick search for a particular class. 

The "My Menu" tab is all about you -- your personal profile, training requirements, and, eventually, a history of training classes you've taken at Iowa State. The "My Training Needs" tab links to a questionnaire that can help employees determine which safety training classes their jobs require.

Good for departments

Learn@ISU allows departments to target training for specific groups and to manage their own courses.

"Departments can use Learn@ISU for targeted training delivery and tracking," Cronk said. "It's an easy-to-use system, but we provide training and support for any department that wants to use it."

Department representatives interested in learning how to add training classes to Learn@ISU should complete a training area request form. UHR and EH&S staff will meet with the department to determine its training needs and provide a custom training session.

"Our training partners on campus are key to the success of Learn@ISU," Nuter said. "Their contributions will help employees stay connected to training for on-the-job success. I also hope managers will look at Learn@ISU as a resource for tying learning into performance and individual development plans."

What about AccessPlus?

All training classes currently available on AccessPlus will be migrated to Learn@ISU within the next few months. Questions about those classes should be directed to the department offering the class, or to

Consultant's class scheduling, course offering findings go to regents

The state Board of Regents took a first look at a proposed tuition freeze next fall for resident undergraduates at Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa during its Oct. 22 meeting in Iowa City. As proposed, University of Iowa undergraduates would play catch-up with their counterparts, paying a 3 percent tuition increase occurring at the other two universities this spring semester.

In September, the board approved a 3 percent 2016 spring semester tuition increase -- to $6,848 -- for resident undergraduates only at UNI and Iowa State. Next fall, Iowa resident undergraduate tuition would be raised 3 percent.

More coverage

Oct. 21 board meeting summary

  • Academic business cases
  • Faculty work week
  • Proposed tuition increases for ISU students are:

    • 4 percent, for resident veterinary medicine students
    • 3 percent, for nonresident undergraduates, all graduate students and nonresident veterinary medicine students

    A vote on tuition and mandatory student fee proposals is scheduled for the board's Dec. 2 meeting.

    ISU Student Government president Dan Breitbarth told the board that ISU students facing an increase this spring are relieved to not have to budget for another increase next fall. However, he noted, "There's still additional need for financial resources at Iowa State University. We want to make sure that our wonderful faculty and staff continue to receive salary increases that are competitive nationwide, and we want to be able to provide additional resources that our increasing student body continues to need as well."

    Breitbarth added that part of the funding equation is convincing legislators in the 2016 session to increase state support for the regent universities, and said he intends to be part of that effort.

    Undergraduate student leaders from UNI and Iowa both expressed support for gradual, consistent tuition increases over tuition freezes offset with more severe spikes to catch up.

    Supplemental tuition

    Iowa State requested its first supplemental tuition since 2011-12, $500 per year for three years, for current and new nonimmigrant, noncitizen international students. The revenue would help cover costs of additional services needed for international students, currently funded by all students. These services include additional time with academic advisers, English language training and reporting requirements for international students, and higher costs in admissions work and financial transactions.

    Mandatory student fees

    Iowa State also is requesting a $33.50 increase to the mandatory fee for all ISU students, broken out in two pieces:

    • A $20 increase to the health fee to implement Keeling and Associates' recommendations to improve the student health center
    • A $13.50 increase to the student services fee to support additional CyRide service and projected fuel cost increases for the bus service

    As proposed, mandatory student fees at Iowa State would range from $1,075 to $1,337 next year.

    TIER business cases

    Associate vice president and chief of staff Miles Lackey, who also serves as Iowa State's liaison to the board's TIER (Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review) process, provided an update from Ad Astra. The board contracted with this consultant team last winter for recommendations to:

    • Improve classroom and laboratory use through informed scheduling policies
    • Optimize faculty assignments in a course schedule that is data-driven and student-centered

    Lackey said the consultants analyzed course section schedules and room schedules and compared the data with a comparable group of schools in its own Higher Education Scheduling Index, a database compiled from its 800-plus clients at universities and colleges. Each of the three regent universities received its own set of recommendations – directional in nature and requiring further development prior to implementation, Lackey said. Implementation will not look the same at all three schools, he said.

    Among its findings for Iowa State:
    Classroom scheduling

    • Existing classroom spaces can support the current enrollment growth. Stricter scheduling policies will be needed for classrooms of 100+ seats, which are more in demand. In some cases, technology upgrades would improve the usability of classrooms. Additional 100+ seat classrooms may be needed in the future.
    • More classes could be scheduled in non-prime times, including evenings.
    • Lab demands create a space bottleneck for some departments, restricting program growth. An additional four to five labs (new or renovated) would support quality and growth. Another strategy is to shorten lab setup times.

    Course offerings

    • Iowa State's undergraduate course scheduling process is "exemplary." The Course Availability Group is effective at making sure most courses have sufficient seats to meet student demand. Keep the emphasis on courses required to complete degrees.
    • Allocation of ISU faculty time is relatively efficient. Sections that statistically are not needed make up 6 percent of the schedule (12 percent is the average at similar universities). Sections needed but not offered amount to 1 percent of the schedule (5 percent is the average at similar institutions).
    • "Off-grid" scheduling -- courses not in the normal Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Tuesday-Thursday meeting patterns -- during prime time is higher than average (55 percent of hours scheduled are outside the grid). Best practices are prevalent but policies aren't always enforced. Given the decentralized nature of academic scheduling, target policies would be the most reliable way to improve this.

    What's next in TIER

    Regent Larry McKibben said board members and the university communities will review the Ad Astra report, as well as the Pappas Consulting report presented a day earlier. The TIER representatives at the three universities should collect feedback on their respective campuses, to be shared with board members at a special November telephonic board meeting (not yet scheduled) to discuss implementation. McKibben said he'd like each university to develop its own implementation plan with faculty input.

    "It's my personal goal that this isn't going to be a year-long project. We need to maximize the use of the facilities we have, we need to move toward improvements. There may be some silos, some 'ownership' issues [with classrooms] we have to face," he said. "My expectation, on both of these projects, is significant movement through next spring. So we're looking forward, when we get into next fall, to having some things implemented."

    Other business

    In other Iowa State-related business, the board:

    • Approved Reginald Stewart's appointment as vice president for diversity and inclusion, effective Dec. 1.
    • Approved the Center for Statistics and Application in Forensic Evidence in the office of the vice president for research. It is a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)-sponsored center for research, education and outreach in statistical and probabilistic methods for the forensic sciences. Partners in the center are Carnegie Mellon University; University of California, Irvine; and University of Virginia. NIST funding totals $20 million over five years, with a five-year renewal possible.
    • Received an annual oral report from vice president for economic development and business engagement Mike Crum on economic development highlights from the year that ended June 30, 2015. One piece of his report featured Research Park development, running at about six times its normal rate, he said. Workiva moved into its second building, new facilities for Vermeer and Boehringer Ingelheim are being built, and tenants of the new core facility -- including Crum's office – will move in late next spring. Crum said he has or is negotiating with commercial tenants needed to attract private growth in the park, including a restaurant, fitness center, health clinic and child care center. Construction should begin in the spring.
    • Appointed three additional members to three-year terms on Iowa Public Radio's (IPR) board of directors: attorney and former regent Robert Downer, Iowa City; Des Moines Social Club founder and executive director Zachary Mannheimer, Des Moines; attorney and former Iowa Supreme Court justice Marsha Ternus, Des Moines. This brings board membership from seven to 10; recent by-law changes allow this expansion with the aim of increasing private financial support for IPR.

    United Way campaign hits the home stretch

    Iowa State is in the final weeks of its 2015 United Way of Story County campaign. Faculty and staff have contributed $337,042 to date, which represents 81 percent of the campaign goal of $415,000. The campaign will continue until Dec. 1.

    David Spalding, dean of the College of Business and Iowa State’s 2015 campaign chair, said there still is time to help make a difference in Story County.

    "United Way supports local services that meet local needs," Spalding said. "United Way of Story County directly affects the lives of 30,000 people each year through investments and collaborations in the areas of education, income and health."

    Employees who need a pledge card should contact their United Way of Story County unit volunteer, or contact the main office, 515-268-5142. Donations also may be made online.

    Spalding also thanked employees for their contributions to date. "Every dollar makes a difference, and every gift is greatly appreciated," he said.

    United Way of Story County supports more than 90 core programs that meet a variety of basic needs or target areas of unmet need. The organization also funds a grants program for emergency and emerging needs for local organizations.

    Homecoming Hub debuts Friday

    Homecoming displays on central campus.

    Homecoming displays line the sidewalks on central campus. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

    Victory Lane is painted, Yell Like Hell teams are competing and food is being served in the tent on central campus. Iowa State's 103rd homecoming, "Make a STATEment," is underway and a new feature has been added to the lineup of events.

    The alumni association will host its inaugural Homecoming Hub Friday, Oct. 30 (1-8:30 p.m.), in the Alumni Center. Visitors can pick up a free, limited edition print of Jack Trice Stadium, campus map and events schedule, and enjoy snacks and refreshments. There will be giveaways and tours, and merchandise will be available for purchase.

    Homecoming 2015 logo

    Homecoming 2015: Make a STATEment

    Events are free, unless marked. Homecoming buttons ($5) are on sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the free speech zone outside The Hub and at a table near the ISU Book Store entrance.

    Thursday, Oct. 29

    • 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on Campus, central campus, Panchero's Mexican Grill (burrito bowls), free with homecoming button

    Friday, Oct. 30

    • 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Food on Campus, central campus, Iowa Pork Producers (pork patties), ISU Dairy (ice cream) and Olde Main (root beer floats), free with homecoming button
    • 1-8:30 p.m., Homecoming Hub, Alumni Center, merchandise, campus maps, event schedule, giveaways and treats
    • 1:30 p.m., Honors and Awards Ceremony, Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building, followed by a dessert reception (2015 award winners)
    • 3-5 p.m., Open house and tours, Human Sciences (118 MacKay) and Agriculture and Life Sciences (Curtiss) colleges
    • 5-9 p.m., Pep Rally and Yell Like Hell finals, Alumni Center, live music, food trucks, merchandise, carnival games, giveaways, Cardinal Court recognition and appearances by coaches and student-athletes
    • 6 p.m., Swimming and diving vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Beyer Hall
    • 7 p.m., Soccer vs. Texas Tech, Cyclone Sports Complex
    • 8-10 p.m., ExCYtement in the Streets and lawn displays, Greek neighborhood
    • 10 p.m.-1 a.m., Pancake feed, central campus, $3
    • Midnight, Mass campaniling and fireworks, central campus

    Saturday, Oct. 31

    • Noon, Volleyball vs. Oklahoma, Hilton Coliseum, $5
    • 3-5:30 p.m., Cyclone Central tailgate, Alumni Center, games, prizes, merchandise, cash bar, marching band performance and optional catered meal
    • 6 p.m., Football vs. Texas, Jack Trice Stadium, $30-$65