Five questions for a professor who loves to teach


Professor Brad Shrader captures the attention of students in his Management 377 class. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

It's safe to say that Brad Shrader has impacted hundreds -- probably thousands -- of Iowa State students since he set foot on campus in 1984, the same year the College of Business was founded. Whether he's introducing undergrads to competitive business strategies or challenging MBA students to consider business ethics and professional responsibility as well as profit margins, Shrader enjoys watching students learn. Even with multiple titles and honors tied to his name, he is -- first and foremost -- a teacher.

The basics

Name: Charles Bradley Shrader (he prefers Brad)

Position: Morrill Professor and University Professor in the department of management, Ralph and Jean Eucher Faculty Fellow

Time at ISU: 32 years

Is teaching your job or your passion?

Yes and yes.

When did you first think about becoming a teacher?

I began my career as a consultant. I worked for a small boutique firm and I did fine. But in the back of my mind I always thought I'd really like to go for a Ph.D. The ambition nowadays for the Ph.D. isn't necessarily always to teach. It's also for research, certainly in business.

When I was 18, I served a two-year Mormon mission. Quite frankly, that changed me, it fundamentally did. I had to learn to stand for something and I had plenty of opportunities to teach and plenty of opportunities to get rejected. As part of that, the feedback I received as a missionary was this sense that I should be a teacher. Prior to that I had no clue what I wanted to do. Just none. That was the life event that changed it for me. It was, "You better grow up, you better figure out what's important." It's people that are important. That was the light going on.

You talk about teaching as a moral obligation. What do you mean?

Sometimes you hear faculty talk about a teaching load. Load. Remember that song that says, "Take a load off, Annie (some say Fanny)?" It's like a burden. I don't want to be heavy about that, but it's an interesting way to put it. A teaching load. It's something I have to do to let me have time to do what I really want to do. But can I take my own agenda into the classroom and somehow make it work seamlessly with the bigger agenda of teaching? It seems to me that's how you should go about it.  

I remember when I was in a doctoral consortium, I went to an Academy of Management meeting and sat at the feet of the great names in management. I remember a guy named Don Hambrick, who is at Penn State, and he basically said, "Look, teaching and service are part of the deal." That statement stuck with me. If I view teaching as painful, as a load, as root canal work, that's not going to go. Why not make it into something interesting, provocative, upbeat and relevant, and that energizes research also? I would guess that most faculty who are perceived as good teachers operate that way. There's a sense of caring. I'm here because I like being here, I want to be here. I want this to be uplifting and positive, rather than drudgery.

What keeps you motivated after 30-plus years?

It's a variety of things. Students really do. Iowa State students are great. The Iowa State kid that sits in a classroom is a good person at heart. The other thing, on a selfish note, is I've just been blindsided by awards. I've had no thought or clue or hope or inkling about the awards I've won. When something good happens in the context of work, and it's on top of all the other good things, you're thinking, what did I do to merit this? I used to teach MBA classes during the summers at Tulane University (New Orleans). I was there during Katrina. My Katrina cohort in the Tulane MBA was very small, about 20. When I left, we had dinner together. I had a really good experience with that group and I still remember many of them. A couple of months later, I'm sitting at home and I get a phone call and it's the head of the MBA program at Tulane. He says, "You've won one of our teaching awards." I had no clue. I didn't even know they had awards. All I'm saying is when you're rewarded for something, it's this connection that enhances the idea that yes, I was doing it right. It's an incredible, pleasant surprise.

What advice do you have for new faculty members?

Try to find joy and meaning in the three parts of faculty work -- teaching, service and research. Most people enjoy their research, they like being published. There is a beauty and exhilaration to doing research. When you do a study and the analysis, and up on the screen pops the results, you're the first person in the world to know that. That's exhilarating. But also find that in teaching and service. I think we are developing a two-tiered system in academe: Those who teach and serve, and those who just do their own thing. I'm not sure that's sustainable. I think this institution is blessed with a lot of people who are committed to teaching and service. This is a special place.

Energy Secretary Moniz will give graduation address

Ernest J. Moniz

Energy Secretary Moniz

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz ("Moan-EEZ") will give the address at Iowa State's spring undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7. The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum and the public is welcome. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the registrar's website.

Moniz, a nuclear physicist, has led the federal Department of Energy (DOE) since May 2013, following a unanimous confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate. As Energy Secretary, he is tasked with advancing President Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy -- to reduce the threat caused by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promote American leadership in clean energy technology, clean up the legacy of the Cold War and strengthen energy management and performance. For example, last year Moniz and his Iranian counterpart negotiated technical aspects of the agreement that led to a rollback of Iran's nuclear program.

Previously, Moniz served for more than 40 years on the physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. Prior to his appointment as Energy Secretary, he was the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at MIT. Much of his research is in theoretical nuclear physics and in energy technology and policy studies.

Moniz served as founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative and director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, leading multidisciplinary studies on nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas and solar energy in a low-carbon world. His time at MIT also included stints as head of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center and the physics department.

Moniz's appointment in the Obama administration is not his first national service. During the Clinton administration, he served as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (1995-97) and as under secretary of the Department of Energy (1997-2001).

Moniz is a founding member of the Cyprus Institute, since 2005 an international, nonprofit group of cross-disciplinary research centers that focus on issues of global significance.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Humboldt Foundation and the American Physical Society. A native of Fall River, Massachusetts, Moniz received a bachelor's degree in physics from Boston College and a doctoral degree in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

Moniz also will help dedicate the DOE Ames Laboratory's new $9.9 million Sensitive Instrument Facility at the Applied Sciences complex on Friday, May 6.

Reminder: Commencement schedule tweaked

As first announced in January, several changes to commencement weekend will be implemented this spring to improve the experience for families. The key ones are:

  • Four of the six undergraduate colleges have assigned times in Hilton Coliseum Friday afternoon, evening or Saturday morning for their college events
  • The Graduate College ceremony will move to Thursday evening (from Friday)
  • Final exams will end at noon on Friday
  • Graduation traditions – for example, caps and gowns, conferring of degrees or a keynote speaker – that over time had crept into the college events will be reserved for the university-wide ceremonies

VP search committee named

A nine-member committee will lead the national search for Iowa State's first senior vice president for university services. The new post is part of President Steven Leath's reorganization of the university's business and financial operations.

The committee includes:


  • Lisa Eslinger, senior vice president of business and operations for the ISU Foundation
  • David Spalding, dean of the College of Business


  • Veronica Dark, professor of psychology and past president of Faculty Senate
  • Pete Englin, director of the department of residence
  • Chris Jorgensen, senior associate director of athletics
  • Reginald Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion
  • Tera Lawson, program coordinator in the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching and president of the Professional and Scientific Council
  • Sarah Nusser, vice president for research and professor of statistics
  • Julie Nuter, vice president for university human resources

Spalding noted that student leaders were invited to serve on the committee, but declined due to busy end-of-semester activities.

"We will work to have student leaders meet with finalists when they are on campus," he said.

The search timeline is abbreviated, with a goal of bringing finalists to campus for visits in early May and bringing a new SVP on board by July 1.

Related story:

Mandatory course approved for international undergrads

Members of the Faculty Senate unanimously approved a required course for first-year international students at their April 5 meeting. The one-credit, semester-long seminar, University Studies 110X, is intended to help incoming undergraduates transition to university life in the United States.

As proposed, the orientation course will include a weekly lecture section and weekly meetings with smaller recitation groups led by current students (one American and one international). The course will be jointly administered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the International Students and Scholars Office.

Upcoming votes

Senators have a pair of new items to consider for a vote at the April 19 meeting.

A proposed entrepreneurship major was introduced, to be administered by the College of Business. The bachelor of science program is intended to prepare students for:

  • Starting new businesses or nonprofit organizations
  • Assisting in the launch or operation of businesses
  • Managing and contributing to entrepreneurial activities in established organizations

The proposal states that the degree program would complement -- but not duplicate -- existing entrepreneurship programs at ISU, including an entrepreneurship minor, the CyBIZ Lab and an entrepreneurship learning community.

Changes to the Faculty Handbook also were introduced. As proposed, "collaborator" faculty appointments would be eliminated and "visiting" and "affiliate" faculty appointments would be more clearly defined. If approved, current collaborator faculty would transition to affiliate faculty appointments.

"These have been somewhat confusing for people -- which we should use, maybe they've been used different ways, they weren't well defined," said Martha Selby, chair of the senate's governance council.

VP reports

Chief diversity officer and vice president for diversity and inclusion Reginald Stewart addressed the senate, providing an overview of his first months on the job.

"The most common question I get asked is, 'what's the plan?'" Stewart said. "There are perceptions that diversity and inclusion is a problem that needs to be solved, therefore we need to get to a plan. I don't approach this work at all as a problem that needs to be solved. I approach it as an opportunity to improve the organization, to make Iowa State better."

Jim Kurtenbach, vice president for information technology and chief information officer, provided an update on several issues, such as collaborations, security and communication improvements and new concepts. He said work is being done on:

  • Selecting a new enterprise resource planning and student information system
  • Replacing classroom clickers with software that works with student smartphones and devices
  • Phasing out bubble sheets and transitioning to electronic testing in classrooms

Kurtenbach also talked about Network 2020, an initiative that would improve security and connectivity.

"I want technology to work for us, not us to work for technology," he said. "How do we put technology in place so you don't have to worry about security? How do we put technology in place that protects your data and you?"

Council considering recommendations for lactation spaces

The Professional and Scientific Council is considering changes to lactation spaces and policies that were introduced at the April 6 meeting.

The council's peer advocacy committee developed the recommended changes in collaboration with several other campus groups, units and committees. Among the recommendations:

  • Create a process to identify and approve designated lactation spaces
  • Assign ownership of the spaces to a centralized unit
  • Increase the number of spaces, with attention to the distribution of locations
  • Develop guidelines or a policy to ensure compliance with laws and requirements
  • Initiate an educational awareness campaign for users, potential users and others

"Our committee has received many, many emails and comments from people," said Ben Green, chair of the peer advocacy committee. "Clearly we found an issue that's important to people and we're happy to try to address it."

If approved at next month's meeting, the proposal will be sent to university human resources with a recommendation for action.

Updates from UHR

In her report, associate vice president for university human resources Julie Nuter provided an overview of current initiatives. These include:

  • Creating the Community Health Partnership to work with the City of Ames and local health care providers to address priority health concerns (such as mental health and chronic condition support)
  • Adopting a self-insured funding model (with Wellmark) for the Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program, which will cut costs and improve coverage
  • Collaborating with the state Board of Regents and other Iowa schools on the Greater Iowa Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
  • Developing the annual affirmative action plan
  • Evaluating the enterprise resource planning and student information system

Other business

Amendments to the council rules and bylaws were introduced. The language clarifications include:

  • Adding the president and president-elect as members of the university planning and budget committee
  • Designating ex-officio and non-council member non-voting roles

Be safe during severe weather season


The Iowa State campus is no stranger to flooding. The last significant flooding event occurred in August 2010. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Thunderstorms, flooding, tornadoes. Iowa State's campus has experienced it all over the years. Will this spring's weather be calm or a calamity? It's best to be prepared.

Check out the Environmental Health and Safety website for lists of the university's weather coordinators, evacuation maps and weather radio locations. The site also offers numerous tips, detailed below, to stay safe when the storm clouds roll in.

Good ideas

  • Be aware of weather conditions at all times, especially if severe weather is predicted
  • Sign up for an email or severe weather text alert from local news organizations
  • Download a weather app for smartphones or mobile devices (many are free)
  • If you receive a severe weather alert, spread the word to your co-workers, especially those who work outside


Of all natural disasters, floods occur most frequently and are the most costly. They also are the leading cause of death among natural disasters.

  • Head to higher ground if a flash flood warning is issued for your area
  • Don't drive or walk through floodwaters
  • If you work in a flood-prone area, be prepared to evacuate quickly.


All thunderstorms produce lightning. Lightning is the second most common cause of natural disaster deaths.

  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to harm you
  • If you hear thunder -- even in the distance -- move to a safe place. Fully enclosed buildings are best. Sheds, picnic tables, tents and covered porches do not protect from lightning. If no safe buildings are nearby, get in a car (with a hard metal top) and close the windows. Stay there for at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
  • If you are planning outdoor activities, know where to go for safety and how long it will take to get there
  • Consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them inside if thunderstorms are predicted
  • Don't use a corded phone while there's thunder and lightning, unless it's an emergency. Cordless and cell phones are OK.
  • Avoid touching metal, such as tools
  • Avoid using plumbing fixtures since pipes conduct electricity
  • Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls


Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms, reaching winds of up to 300 miles per hour.

  • If you hear a tornado siren while inside a building, go to a windowless interior room on the lowest level; bathrooms often are best.  Avoid buildings with large expansive roof structures, like the Armory. Many campus buildings have designated storm shelters.
  • If you are walking across campus and hear the tornado siren, get to the nearest building and follow the same procedures
  • If you are driving a car and debris begins flying around you, pull over and park. Your next two options are:
    • stay in the car, buckle your seatbelt and keep your head below the windows and cover it with your hands or a blanket
    • if you can safely get to a ditch or area lower than the road, exit the car, lie down and cover your head

Heat stress

Excessive heat exposure causes more deaths each year in the United States than hurricanes, lightning, tornados, floods and earthquakes combined. For yourself and your coworkers, know the signs of heat stress:

  • muscle spasms
  • heavy sweating
  • fainting, collapsing
  • blurred vision
  • weakness, fatigue
  • pale, clammy skin
  • dizziness
  • confusion, erratic behavior

To avoid heat stress, take frequent breaks in a cool, shaded area and drink water. If symptoms appear serious, seek medical help.

Collaborative spring musical opens Friday

The Secret Garden cast members Grace Chermak and Kailey Gibbs.

Senior Grace Chermak, left, as Lily, and Ames sixth-grader Kailey Gibbs, as Mary Lennox, are part of the 21-member cast performing in A Secret Garden, a collaborative production by the music and theater programs. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

The audience will take a trip to The Secret Garden in ISU Theatre's annual spring collaboration with the music program. The production, set in early 20th-century England, is an adaptation of the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It opens a two-weekend run on Friday, April 8, at Fisher Theater.

Associate professor Brad Dell is directing the 21-member cast in what he calls an ensemble-driven production.

"It certainly is a big undertaking," Dell said. "The fun part is getting all the folks to bond, collaborate and help to tell the story as a group."

The two-act musical centers around Mary Lennox, a recently orphaned 11-year-old sent to live with unfamiliar relatives. Mary, portrayed by Ames sixth-grader Kailey Gibbs, discovers a neglected Victorian garden. The unhappy girl sets out to revive the garden with clandestine help and opposition -- from people and the ghosts of their past. In the process, she begins to change her life and those of the people around her.

"Human beings are the center of this story," Dell said. "It's a universal and compelling story of the perseverance of the human spirit. It's only through letting go that the characters are able to move on and transform, like the garden."

Dell said the show is ideal for the whole family -- appropriate for children, but not just a children's story -- and that the visuals are compelling.

"The visuals have been particularly inspired by the ghost story element, and the sumptuous beauty of the music," he said.

Tickets for The Secret Garden are $24 ($16 for students) and available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (April 8-9 and 15-16); 2 p.m. on Sunday (April 10 and 17).

Purchase tickets for Saturday's student fashion show

Female students adjust garments on student models during a fitti

Student designers make adjustments to their Fashion Show entries during "Fit Night" in early March, leading up to judging last weekend. Photo courtesy of Human Sciences communications office.

Tickets still may be purchased for Iowa State students' 34th annual Fashion Show on Saturday, April 9 (7 p.m., Stephens Auditorium). Tickets are $22 ($16 for students) at the Stephens box office; an additional fee applies to online Ticketmaster purchases.

This spring's show will feature nearly 140 student-created entries. Runway models will wear about 75 percent of those; the rest will be displayed as mounted exhibits at Stephens. Fashion Show co-producer Kate Bruce said student designers submitted a total of 175 entries in 16 categories.

Judging was completed Saturday, April 2, by a guest panel that included Jackie Hasek, ISU alumna and buyer for Steve Madden Ltd; Ardith Singh, design director for Lou & Grey; Greg Rosborough, design director for Abasi Rosborough; and Lorynn Divita, a Baylor University faculty member and coauthor of the textbook, Fashion Forecasting.

More student scholarships

The winner of the show's top prize, Best in Show, receives $1,000. In past years, winners in other categories received $300 or $500, depending on the category's competitiveness. Lesser cash scholarships were awarded for second and third places in each category. But, in February, a successful crowdfunding campaign through the ISU Foundation's FundISU raised nearly $27,000 for the Fashion Show's operating expenses, exceeding its goal of $20,000. Organizers are using some of the funds to set consistent award levels, with the goal of $500/$300/$200 for 1st/2nd/3rd place entries in each category. Student winners this weekend will share more than $13,000 in scholarship prizes, about 25 percent more than last spring.

Morrill Hall exhibition

Some of the winning entries from the show will become part of "The Fashion Show Exhibit 2016," scheduled for April 27-Aug. 28 in the textiles and clothing program's Mary Alice Gallery, 1015 Morrill Hall. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.