Winter color

Two women amid a greenhouse full of red and pink poinsettia plan

Horticulture Club members Lexie Boyens (left) and Merisa Lengeling tend to more than 400 poinsettia plants inside the Horticulture Hall greenhouse on Tuesday. Club members will sell more than 600 of the traditional holiday plants at locations across campus through Saturday (University Book Store entrance on Thursday, Beardshear ground floor on Friday and indoors at Reiman Gardens on Saturday morning). Information about prices and colors is online. Photo by Christopher Gannon.


Reginald Stewart in Beardshear Hall

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Reginald (Reg) Stewart, Iowa State's inaugural vice president for diversity and inclusion, arrived on campus Dec. 1.

As the university's chief diversity officer, he will advise senior leaders on planning efforts and develop initiatives -- including employee and student recruitment and retention -- that increase Iowa State's diversity. Stewart comes to Ames from Reno, where he also served as the University of Nevada's first chief diversity officer.

President Steven Leath created the executive-level post last spring in response to recommendations in a 2013 study of the university's diversity programs.

Introduced briefly to the state Board of Regents Wednesday, Stewart told board members his interest in working at Iowa State is based on two things: an engaged student body and a motivated staff and faculty. "With those two working in tandem, we can impact change. You need both," he said. "That was remarkably appealing to me."

Stewart's office is in 2680 Beardshear; he can be reached by phone at 294-8840 or email at

Strategic plan is not a list, but a framework

The end result of the strategic planning process under way at Iowa State will not be a document that lists all the important activities that occur at the university, Steve Freeman said in opening remarks at a public forum Tuesday in the Memorial Union Oak Room.

Freeman, chair of the strategic planning steering committee and University Professor of agriculture and biosysystems engineering, told forum participants that Iowa State "will continue doing the many things we do to help students, faculty and staff succeed.

Talk to the planners

Submit your strategic planning comments or questions online.

"However, the strategic plan will not document everything the university values or everything we're going to do. The strategic plan is not about what happens on a day-to-day basis," he added. "It’s about priorities. It’s a framework going forward that shows what we intend to focus on and where we should invest our resources to make the university better."

Early input as groups begin work

Two forums (Nov. 18 and Dec. 2) were set early in the planning process so that steering committee and subcommittee members could hear what issues are important to the university community before they begin work, Freeman said. Most groups are starting to meet this week.

Forum highlights

In the Nov. 18 forum, many participants stressed the need for transparency and communication throughout the planning process and asked for more input into plan development. Freeman said the strategic planning groups will work diligently to keep the university community informed about the process and encourage feedback.

A key part of that communication is the strategic plan website. The site includes:

  • Key documents and resources that planners are using
  • Committee and subcommittee meeting minutes
  • A comments section for submitting suggestions or questions to the steering committee or a subcommittee

Planners will make extra efforts to communicate with students via email and social media.

At Tuesday’s forum, participants suggested the strategic plan committees consider such issues as:

  • The need for more space on campus for teaching, research, interdisciplinary work and student activities
  • Creating closer ties between economic development and the rest of the university, and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship among students, faculty and staff
  • Iowa State's continued responsibility as a land-grant to reach out and work with the entire state in areas ranging from economic development to college access

It's OK to stretch

Over the next few months, a steering committee and subcommittees will fashion the first draft of the plan that will guide university activities for fiscal years 2017-22.

Freeman said the challenge in creating a strategic plan is developing measurable goals. "How will we know that we're better off five years from now? How do we measure that?"

He added, "It's OK for our campus to have stretch goals that we might not meet in six years, if at least we've made progress. We don't want the strategic plan to just be a bunch of checkmarks. We should be challenging ourselves."

Regents conditionally approve tuition rates for next year

Meeting Wednesday in Ames, the state Board of Regents set tuition rates for the 2016-17 year, but pledged to revisit the issue following the 2016 legislative session if state support for the three universities next year falls short of the board's appropriation requests. "Conditional" was part of the motion approved on a 9-0 vote, and student regent Rachael Johnson asked for clarification on what that meant.

"We've asked the state to support more the public universities, rather than placing the burden on student debt," said board president Bruce Rastetter. "If we're not successful, it's my recommendation that this board come back and revisit tuition increases. Because, at the end of the day, the universities need the resources to compete and improve programs and maintain quality."

In September, the board approved incremental state funding requests of $8.2 million for Iowa State, $7.6 million for Northern Iowa and $4.5 million for Iowa, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.

"It's critical for us to gain that state support," Rastetter said, "and we will be back here talking about tuition increases if we don't get that state support."

The board approved a tuition freeze for the 2016-17 year for Iowa State and Northern Iowa resident undergraduates – who will have a 3 percent increase this spring semester -- and a 3 percent increase ($200) for Iowa resident undergraduates. Board members approved increases for all other Iowa State students, including:

  • A 3 percent increase ($594) for nonresident undergraduates
  • A 3 percent increase for all graduate students (range of $244-$632)
  • A 4 percent increase ($826) for veterinary medicine resident students and a 3 percent increase ($1,386) for nonresidents

The board also approved Iowa State's supplemental tuition request, $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.

Finally, the board approved a $33.50 increase to ISU's mandatory student fee, split between a $20 health fee increase and a $13.50 student services fee increase. The mandatory student fee next year for Iowa State students will range from $1,075 to $1,337.

Faculty development assignments

The board approved 31 professional development requests for Iowa State faculty for the 2016-17 academic year. The group includes 18 men and 13 women. Fifteen of the proposals will occur during the fall 2016 semester, and eight each in the spring semester and the full academic year. Projects include completing books, spending the year as a Fulbright scholar, doing field research, working abroad with current collaborators and developing a course. A summary of proposed faculty projects is online (Iowa State's faculty list begins on page 25).

Associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince told board members that Iowa State has several expectations for proposals that receive a green light:

  • Outcomes of the professional development assignment will benefit students
  • Work completed will improve a faculty member's leadership in his or her discipline
  • Iowa State's university reputation will be enhanced

Building projects

The board approved requests on three previously announced construction projects. They are:

  • The schematic design and budget ($11.5 million) for plans to enhance a 10-acre space between the south end of the football stadium and Reiman Gardens -- phase three of stadium improvements. The proposed plaza will include a water fountain, trees, grass areas, new drives and walkways, and a storm water filtering area. The project will be paid for with private gifts, athletic facilities bonds (sold previously) and athletics department and university funds. The number of parking spaces south of the stadium will be reduced, said senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. Work is anticipated to begin in spring 2016 and be completed by next winter.
  • A revised $7.9 million budget (an increase of $1.7 million) for the dining center renovation at Friley residence hall. The project will convert inactive dining and kitchen areas into a food court with four venues (instead of two), and student and private dining spaces, and create a new east entrance to Friley Hall. ISU Dining will operate this dining center. Work could begin in June 2016 and be completed in June 2017.
  • A $5.5 million renovation in the Forker Building for the kinesiology department. The project will convert underused ground-floor men's locker rooms to faculty and graduate student offices, replace exterior windows in the new office area, create new restrooms, replace mechanical equipment and install a fire sprinkler system in the 1940 portion of the building. Work will begin in spring 2016 and should be completed by fall 2017.

Honorary degrees, bond sale

In other business, the board approved Iowa State proposals to:

  • Award honorary doctoral degrees on Dec. 19 to Iowa State and Ames High alumna and international economist DeAnne Julius and Iowa businessman Eugene Sukup.
  • Demolish the Spangler Geotechnical Lab (built in 1949) and attached storage building (built in 1983) east of the Applied Sciences Complex. The facility is functionally obsolete and its functions were relocated to other College of Engineering facilities. The estimated demolition cost is $250,000.
  • Issue $12.1 million in bonds to advance-refund $18 million in academic building revenue bonds sold in 2007 to finance parts of two projects: the veterinary teaching hospital and diagnostic lab and the Coover Hall addition and renovation. Payments on the 2007 bonds were to have begun in July 2016 and continue into 2027. Lower interest rates will save the university nearly $1.3 million.

New era for Cyclone football

Matt Campbell enters media event room

Matt Campbell (front), formerly the head football coach at the University of Toledo, was introduced as the Cyclones' head football coach during a Monday media event. In introducing Campbell, athletics director Jamie Pollard identified five qualities that convinced him Campbell was a good fit for the Iowa State job: head coaching experience, student athlete recruiting success, high character, winning tradition (as both player and coach) and Campbell's genuine desire to lead the program. Campbell has a six-year contract. 

Former Cyclone head football coach Paul Rhoads was fired on Nov. 22. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Severe winter weather reminders


Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Winter already has given us a taste of its fury. Be prepared for future winter storms with this guide to university policies and procedures for severe weather.

Severe weather policies and information

Cancellations and closures

To learn about ISU cancellations and closures, check the:

Where to park

If your usual parking lot hasn't been cleared of snow by 7:30 a.m., parking will be available first at:

  • Iowa State Center (lots A3, A4, B5 and B6); CyRide will shuttle drivers to campus via the free orange route
  • Lots 29 and 30, north of Molecular Biology
  • Lot 41, north of General Services Building

For more information, see the parking section of the environmental health and safety website.

If classes are canceled, but the university is not closed

  • University offices will remain open
  • Employees who can't make it to work should contact their immediate supervisors
  • Employees may request to make up the time, use vacation or take leave without pay
  • Staff covered by AFSCME should refer to severe weather language in the contract

If the university is officially closed

  • Classes are canceled and most university offices are closed
  • Vital operations (for example, police, parking, food service, power plant, animal care, critical maintenance or snow removal) generally are not closed; employees should follow policies established for those areas
  • Staff covered by AFSCME should refer to severe weather language in the contract
  • Employees who are unsure if they should report to work should communicate with their supervisors
  • Some staff members whose offices are closed may elect to work regular hours, with supervisor approval

CyBox gets IT's thumbs-up

CyBox add-ons

Here are a few of the CyBox tools:

  • Box notes: Take notes, share ideas and collaborate in real-time with your team
  • Box edit: Edit or create files directly on Box through Microsoft Office
  • Box for mobile: Applications for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry
  • Box sync: IT doesn't recommend this tool at this time

Faculty, staff and students produce numerous gigabytes of data each week. Just 1,000 gigabytes (known as a terabyte) is the equivalent of about 300 hours of high-quality video. All of that data has to go somewhere.

That’s where CyBox can help. Information technology services (IT) made CyBox – the ISU-branded version of the online file-storage service – available to campus users in April 2013. CyBox use has grown steadily, especially in recent months. Today, there are over 27,800 users on campus who collectively upload more than one new terabyte of data each week. At present, ISU stores more than 47 terabytes of data on CyBox.

Unlimited storage

Faculty, staff and student storage quotas recently increased from 200 gigabytes of individual storage to an unlimited amount per user. Unlimited quotas for users and groups will allow users to move or add to existing capacities without concern over space or cost. The creation of "group accounts" maintain business continuity as individuals move in or out of the university.

“There are a number of benefits, both for users and for technology professionals, utilizing CyBox,” system analyst Mark Bland said. “For users, CyBox offers unlimited storage space, flexibility and security at no charge. For technology professionals, CyBox reduces the pressure on university servers, where that data would otherwise be stored.

However, Bland stressed, "CyBox should only be used for university classes or business.”

Security features

CyBox features include the ability to access files across devices and store notes. CyBox also includes security features such as encryption and meets FERPA and HIPPA privacy guidelines for storing confidential data. will soon roll out improvements to its web application for faster performance and a more intuitive design.

Additionally, students can keep their accounts when they leave ISU, although the individual storage limit drops to 50 gigabytes when anyone leaves the university.

If you aren't using CyBox already, you can get started by visiting


It's beginning to look a lot like winter


Free cookie decorating returns to WinterFest 2015 while supplies last in the Memorial Union's Trophy Tavern. File photo by Bob Elbert.

Embrace the chill in the air and celebrate all things winter during WinterFest 2015. Most events are held in the Memorial Union and are free, unless indicated. A complete list of activities is online.

Holiday fun at The Knoll

ISU first lady Janet Leath invites the campus community to a free holiday open house at The Knoll from 3 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4. Tour the home's first floor, which is decked out for the holidays, while sipping a cup of Knoll hot chocolate (adapted from the recipe of former ISU first lady Ellen Sorge Parks). Parking near The Knoll is limited, so bundle up and enjoy a wintery walk to the event.

  • Clothing drive, (through Dec. 4), preferred items are hats, socks, coats and gloves for the Ames Emergency Residence Project, drop-off locations are at the MU Main Lounge (across from the post office), Carver Hall (near the pop machine on the main level), Beardshear Hall (next to the Student Answer Center), Gerdin Business Building (inside the undergraduate office), LeBaron Hall (main entrance) and Hoover Hall (main entrance by the staircase)
  • University Book Store winter savings sale, (Dec. 3-4, 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 6, noon-4 p.m., UBS), 50 percent off selected items throughout the store, list of other deals
  • Art Mart, (Dec. 3, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., MU Campanile Room), features glass, pottery, prints, jewelry and more priced between $3 and $20, proceeds support sponsoring organizations and artists
  • Seasonal beverage sampling, (4-7 p.m., MU Market Café), beverages include holiday blend coffee, eggnog latte, candy cane mocha and macadamia white mocha
  • Andy Albright Jingle Jog, (registration 4-5:15 p.m., MU Multicultural Center; run begins at 5:30 p.m., $20, proceeds fund a freshman scholarship
  • Campanile tours and carillon music, (4-6 p.m., campanile), tours led by ISU carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam
  • Photos with the snow princess and ice queen, (4-7 p.m., MU Cardinal Room), inspired by the hit Disney movie, Frozen
  • Spin art Frisbees, (4-8 p.m., MU Commons), while supplies last
  • Bingo, (4-8 p.m., MU Pioneer Room)
  • Bowling and billiards, (4-9 p.m., CyBowl and Billiards, formerly the Underground)
  • Aqua massage beds, (5-10 p.m., MU Pine Room), relax and unwind after a long week
  • I Spy ornament craft, (5-8 p.m., the Workspace)
  • Tree-lighting ceremony, (5:30-5:45 p.m., steps of Beardshear Hall), live music
  • Cookie decorating, (6 p.m., Trophy Tavern in the MU Commons), decorate sugar cookies and drink hot chocolate, while supplies last
  • Photo snow globes, (6-8 p.m., MU Cardinal Room), while supplies last
  • Letter-writing service project, (6-8 p.m., MU Cardinal Room), sponsored by ISU Student Veterans of America
  • Wax hands, (7-11 p.m., MU Commons), make molds of hand gestures
  • Ice skating, (8 p.m.-2 a.m., Dec. 5, Ames/ISU Ice Arena), free for the first 600 participants
  • Comedian Demetri Martin, (9 p.m., MU Great Hall), tickets are $20 ($12 for students) and available online
  • Late-night pancakes, (10:30 p.m., MU Food Court)

Actors tackle multiple roles, scenes in ISU Theatre show

Expect a fast-paced contemporary show with ISU Theatre's production of Love and Information, which opens its two-weekend run Dec. 4 in Fisher Theater.

Rather than starring in single roles, a cast of 18 plays multiple characters -- more than 100, in fact. The action sprints from scene to scene, but all of them have a central theme based on developing or maintaining personal relationships in the information age.

"Most actors are playing anywhere from five to eight different characters in the two-hour run of the play," said show director Amanda Petefish-Schrag, who is an assistant professor in theater. "The actors have had to work diligently to clearly establish the circumstances and background of each scene and character, and consider carefully what each character wants/needs in order to keep the characters distinct from one another as the play progresses."

Petefish-Schrag said there are more than 50 scenes in the show. Each can last from 20 seconds to five minutes. The set is flexible, with pieces that can be quickly and easily reconfigured for different scenes.

"Structurally, this play is written in seven sections, each containing multiple scenes. Caryl Churchill (the playwright) stipulates that each of the seven sections must be played in order, but the scenes within each section can be played in any sequence," Petefish-Schrag said. "The playwright provides neither character nor context for any of the scenes. This raised a multitude of questions for us as a cast and production team. The cast worked collaboratively to develop answers, which we hope allows the text to speak even more clearly to a contemporary audience at Iowa State."

Showtimes for Love and Information are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 11 and 12, 1 p.m. Dec. 6 and 2 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets are $18 ($16 for seniors, $11 for students) and available through Ticketmaster and the Iowa State Center box office.