Who knew? It's local

Two students visit at booth featuring apples and cider

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Horticulture junior and club member Thabisa Mazur (left) visits with senior Skyler Davis while selling ISU hort farm apples and locally produced apple cider during the second annual local food festival Tuesday on central campus. Under a local foods-themed umbrella, the event featured free samples, recipes developed by ISU Dining chefs and items for sale by student organizations and area producers and vendors.

Leath: Build a campus community that is respectful and inclusive

President Steven Leath in front of live cameras.

President Steven Leath's 2016 address was livestreamed for remote viewers. An archive of the speech is available online. Photo by Gary Clarke.

Seek increased state support. Pursue a two-tiered tuition structure. Launch a historic comprehensive fundraising campaign. Grow the university's research enterprise and support entrepreneurism. Build a model campus, where all feel welcome and valued.

View the address

Video of Leath's speech

President Steven Leath shared these priorities and his observations on the year ahead and just past during his annual address Sept. 14.  Approximately 220 faculty, staff and students attended the event in the Memorial Union Great Hall; another 90 individuals watched the address via livestream video.

Here are highlights:

Maintaining quality amid growth

While Iowa State recently posted its eighth straight record enrollment, Leath said the "enrollment increase was at a much more modest rate. It's what we planned for and what we hoped for. We want to continue to make an Iowa State education accessible, but we want to grow at a pace that allows us to protect and maintain our quality."

Years of lagging state funding have put the high-quality ISU experience at risk, Leath said. "We have been unable to make meaningful improvements in our national ranking and our student-to-faculty ratio because of the tremendous growth we've seen," and despite hiring more than 400 new faculty over the past five years.

Leath added, "We definitely appreciate what the governor, the Legislature and the Board of Regents have done for us, and try to do for us, but the reality is -- it's not enough."

In 2008, when ISU's record growth began, Iowa State received about $12,700 in state funding per resident student. At that time, nearly 50 percent of the university's operating revenue came from the state and 50 percent from tuition and fees.

Today, Iowa State receives about $9,400 in state funds per resident student, shifting the budget revenue ratio to approximately 30 percent from the state and 70 percent from tuition and fees.

Two-tiered tuition

The university will continue seeking increased state support for higher education, Leath said.

At the same time, "we must make adjustments to the revenue stream that we have the most control over, and, unfortunately, that's tuition and fees."

Officials will propose to the regents a two-tiered tuition structure in which freshmen and sophomores pay a lower rate than juniors and seniors. The rate for upperclassmen would reflect higher costs of more specialized coursework, experiential learning opportunities and personalized instruction. Under ISU's plan, the two-tiered structure would be eased in over a three-year period.

The proposed two-tier tuition structure, together with fee increases, "will help us maintain the quality our students expect and deserve," Leath said. He added that, despite the proposed increases, Iowa State would remain one of the most affordable universities among its peer institutions.

Moving students forward

In 2012, Leath launched his Moving Students Forward campaign to raise $150 million in private gifts for student financial aid over five years. That goal, met and reset to $200 million, recently hit its mark, a year ahead of schedule. So far, more than 23,000 students have received support from the fund.

Campaign launch

Student support will continue to be a priority as Iowa State kicks off its most ambitious fundraising effort -- a campaign to raise more than $1 billion, Leath said. The official campaign goal and theme will be announced at the public launch Sept. 30. More campaign details will be shared with colleges, departments and units in the weeks and months ahead.

Research successes

Four years in, the presidential program to provide seed funding to research teams taking on grand, potentially world-changing challenges is going well, Leath said. Two of the original teams winning awards through the Presidential Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research -- one, at work on crop bioengineering, and the other, on design and manufacture of nanovaccines -- are ready to become interdisciplinary research centers, Leath said. These successes prompted the president to expand the program last year to provide funding for projects related specifically to data-driven science.

Leath also acknowledged "the exceptional work of our faculty," in securing two funding records in a year of economic volatility. External funding last year reached $425.8 million and research funding increased 12 percent to $252.5 million.

New Veterinary Diagnostic Lab needed

While expansion of biosciences facilities (the four-story addition to Bessey Hall and the new Advanced Teaching and Research Facility) continues, university officials are beginning work to secure funds for a new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL).

The VDL puts Iowa State on the map as a national leader in protecting animal and human health, Leath said. However, the 1970s-era facility is "now grossly outdated and overcrowded."

Leath said the university will launch a private fundraising effort and make a case to the state Legislature to provide $100 million over five years to help fund a new facility, projected to cost $120 million.

Economic development activities

The new Economic Development Core Facility at the ISU Research Park, which opened over the summer, "is finally bringing together all of our economic development assistance efforts in one modern, attractive, easily accessible location," Leath said.

This one-stop shop supports expansion of high-value companies that attract top talent to the research park and state. Two such companies -- Boehringer Ingleheim and Vermeer -- recently opened new buildings at the park.

Vermeer's new Applied Technology Hub soon will be home to the ISU StartUpFactory, an intensive program to help students, faculty and staff create businesses.

Over the past four years, the size of the research park has nearly doubled, Leath said, "but we're not done. "We'll be asking the Board of Regents next month to approve another 80-acre acquisition to the park."

A model for diversity

Leath said he believes Iowa State can become a model of diversity and a truly inclusive community.

"We took an important step last year by bringing Dr. Reg Stewart on board and establishing the office of diversity and inclusion," he said. "Now we're moving to expand that office. We are in the final stages of hiring our first LGBTQA+ program director. We're also going to hire our first Hispanic/Latinx program director."

Stewart and others will develop a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the campus climate and provide important information on the educational experiences of underrepresented students.

Other efforts to improve the university climate include an immersion orientation program before fall classes began to help international students make a smooth transition to campus, adding staff to student counseling services, creating a new position for a sexual misconduct prevention coordinator and expanding ISU police's multicultural liaison offer program.

Leath called on the university community to read and embrace the Principles of Community, drafted a decade ago by student leaders seeking to inspire more respect, open-mindedness and community on campus.

"Racism, bigotry, discrimination -- these are difficult issues to talk about, but we need to talk about them," Leath said. "We're not going to always get it right. But if we can't talk about these things openly and respectfully, it's going to be a lot harder to address these issues and have good results. In fact, the only way we're going to make real progress toward a more inclusive, welcoming campus is if we have open, respectful conversations on these issues."

Strategic plan

Iowa State's six-year plan, approved in July, won't become "an old document that just sits on the shelf that we don't really look at again -- or just bring out in six years," Leath said. To ensure follow-through, a group spent the summer developing an implementation and accountability strategy for the plan.

Progress will be tracked and the plan will be updated as needed during annual reviews, Leath said. Top administrators have been charged with managing the plan's four overarching goals. The goals and their managers are:

  • Ensure access to the student experience. Managers: Senior vice president for academic affairs and provost Jonathan Wickert and senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon, with support and input from vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart
  • Enhance the university’s research profile by conducting high-impact research to address the grand challenges of the 21st century. Manager: Vice president for research Sarah Nusser
  • Improve quality of life for Iowans through service and programs dedicated to economic development and the promotion of healthy communities, people and environments. Managers: Vice president for extension and outreach Cathann Kress and vice president for economic development and industry relations Mike Crum
  • Enhance and cultivate the ISU experience where faculty, staff, students and visitors are safe and feel welcomed.  Managers: Vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart and senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory


Iowa State partners on initiative to advance higher ed recruiting

Iowa State is helping to lead a regional effort aimed at enhancing faculty and staff diversity, and assisting dual-career couples through the hiring process.

The Central Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a collaborative effort with the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and 11 other member institutions, is intended to help attract a diverse pool of job seekers to higher education jobs across the region.

"Iowa State's colleges and units are committed to increasing diversity among faculty and staff, and HERC is a tool that will help us achieve our goals," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "It's a great example of the higher education community working together to ensure opportunities reach the broadest possible audience."

According to Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources (UHR), a primary feature of the HERC is its regional jobs website, which provides job seekers access to more higher education jobs than any other website.

Features of the jobs website

All Iowa State faculty and professional and scientific positions post automatically to the HERC job board at no cost to departments. The search engine is free to anyone seeking employment in higher education and other for- or nonprofit organizations. Job seekers also can receive automatic email notifications when positions in their fields are posted on the site.

The HERC website features a dual-career job search function, as well as numerous resources and professional development opportunities for members, partners and job seekers.

The Central Midwest HERC includes member institutions in Iowa, eastern Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota and the Quad Cities metro area. The consortium also will target for- and nonprofit associate members to join as partners in supporting recruitment, diversity and dual-career couples.

Iowa State's HERC involvement is led by university human resources; the offices of the senior vice president and provost, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and equal opportunity; with additional support from the ISU Research Park.

Nationwide, more than 700 colleges, universities, hospitals, research labs, government agencies and related organizations are members of a regional HERC (18 to date), and more than 88,000 job seekers have registered. All regional sites tie into the national HERC website.

Questions about the Central Midwest HERC, including how to access services, may be directed to Dana Rasmussen in UHR, 294-4977.

Bus stop surveys are part of CyRide study

Students at a CyRide bus stop

Students await their bus outside Memorial Union earlier this week. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

CyRide buses and their riders are getting some special attention this week and next. Observers, working on behalf of a consulting firm, will distribute short surveys to riders and count how many individuals board and depart from each bus stop.

The counts and surveys are part of a year-long study to determine if the current route structure is the most efficient and effective for the transit system that carries nearly 7 million rides a year.

CyRide has grown dramatically over the past decade without a lot of change to its route structure, said CyRide transit director Sheri Kyras. The study, conducted by national transportation consultants Nelson\Nygaard, will help determine if CyRide should restructure services to meet more of the community's demand.

Your thoughts, please

"We hope many members of the Ames/Iowa State community will participate in this study by offering their ideas," Kyras said. 

More opportunities for input will occur in October and November with an online survey and public meetings.

Longtime partners

Four years into an infant bus service, the city of Ames joined with Iowa State to create the CyRide transit agency in 1980. Today, the agency is funded by Ames (24 percent), Iowa State (10 percent) and ISU student fees (66 percent). Over 90 percent of CyRide passengers are ISU students.

The CyRide fleet consist of 105 buses -- six articulated, 91 standard and eight mini buses.

Sept. 25 network upgrade may slow connections

New internet routers will be installed on campus Sunday, Sept. 25, from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals using Iowa State's network and websites may experience intermittent periods (up to 30 minutes) of little or no connectivity, most likely in early morning when work starts. 

Those who are on campus will be able to reach other on-campus resources, such as Blackboard and AccessPlus. Emergency services, such as fire alarms and connectivity to 911 operators will be maintained. However, on-campus users may not be able to connect to off-campus websites, such as CyBox and CyMail.

Off-campus users may be unable to reach university sites.

Upgrade brings speed, reliability

"The IT networking and communications teams have been preparing for this upgrade since 2015," said chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach. "The technology teams and our service partners look forward to providing ISU with a new and improved level of connectivity and appreciate everyone's patience during this installation. This is an important upgrade, providing our campus network with greater speeds and more reliability."

Updates on the upgrade

During the upgrade, updates about any extended outage will be posted on the:


Senate opens with look at 2016-17 initiatives

The Faculty Senate's Sept. 13 meeting literally started on a good note as president Jonathan Sturm, a professor in music, brought the meeting to order with a short performance on his violin.

During his remarks, Sturm discussed several priorities and initiatives for 2016-17, including:

  • Open access to research at ISU: "I'm hoping that we can move more toward an opt-out policy [for inclusion in the digital repository] ... where we, as faculty, are committed to an ideal that our research is freely available, with unlimited access, to the world."
  • Diversity and inclusion: "The Faculty Senate curriculum committee and the equity, diversity and inclusion committee will be working together this year to review and ultimately send in some recommendations on our diversity curriculum."
  • Equal pay: The compensation committee will work with the provost's office and an outside consultant to "take a real look at Iowa State and how our salaries are playing out across gender and racial backgrounds."
  • Ethical conduct of research: "Let's keep [this] as a front-burner topic and explore ways to increase its pervasiveness across campus."

Dead week, sexual assault prevention and student evaluations of faculty also are among the issues Sturm expects the senate to study this year.

Diversity and inclusion update

Vice president for diversity and inclusion (VPDI) Reg Stewart provided an update on the work that will "anchor" his efforts this year. He will focus will on:

  • Policy, including a review of the religious accommodation policy and the creation of a bias reporting system and response team
  • Planning, including a campus climate assessment (likely in fall 2017)
  • Personnel, including a VPDI council and monthly professional development meetings

Other remarks

  • Student government president Cole Staudt said that, in November, initiatives will be launched as the result of summer task force work in three areas: mental health, sexual assault prevention and civic engagement
  • Associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince said the provost's office will provide funding for revised or newly created U.S. diversity courses that are "relevant" and "really focus on contemporary issues"

Roll up those sleeves: Flu shot clinic is Oct. 10-21

It's coming -- cold, snow and the flu. The weather is out of our control, but ISU employees can help limit the spread of the flu by getting a flu shot.

Stay healthy

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water, use hand sanitizer
  • Sneeze or cough into a sleeve or tissue
  • Stay home when sick
  • Regularly sanitize work surfaces and high-traffic areas (phones, counters, computers, etc.)
  • Strengthen immune system (eat fruits and vegetables, exercise and rest)

Occupational medicine staff will administer flu shots at no cost to employees (while supplies last) weekdays, from Oct. 10 to Oct. 21 (9 a.m.-4 p.m., 205 Technical and Administrative Services Facility). No appointment is necessary. Bring your ISU ID card to the shot clinic and wear a short-sleeved or loose-fitting shirt for better access to your arm. Parking is limited in front of TASF, so consider walking, biking or busing to TASF.

Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Pregnant women should check with their physicians prior to vaccination. Peak flu season is December through February, but it can start in October and last through early May.

ISU will administer the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four viruses including strains of H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B. Employees are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. More information about the 2016 flu vaccine is available on the ISU WellBeing website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Flu shots are provided at no cost to the following employee groups:

  • Faculty
  • Professional and scientific
  • Merit
  • Post docs
  • ISU Foundation
  • Iowa State Daily
  • Retirees on university health plans who are not yet 65

Undergraduate and graduate students and visiting scholars are not eligible to receive flu shots at the clinic. These individuals should contact Thielen Student Health Center, 294-5801, for flu vaccine information.

For additional information about the flu shot clinic, visit the ISU WellBeing website. Contact the university human resources service center, 294-4800, with additional questions. 

Regents approve FY18 state funding requests

The downside to Iowa State's eight years of enrollment growth, during a period of stagnant state funding, is that the state appropriation per resident student has dropped more than 25 percent -- from $12,705 in 2008 to $9,421 this fall -- President Steven Leath told members of the state Board of Regents last week.

"The bottom line is this: inadequate state funding has put a huge burden on the families of our students; that's pretty apparent," Leath said. "It puts us in a difficult position as we think about how we're going to stand by our commitment of affordability and accessibility without jeopardizing quality."

Still, Leath called state support "vital to our mission" in presenting to the regents last week Iowa State's request for 2 percent growth in each of the next two fiscal years to both the general university and direct appropriations (for example, extension and outreach, veterinary diagnostic lab or the research park). The board, which met Sept. 7-8 at the University of Iowa, faces an Oct. 1 deadline to submit operating and building funding requests to the state for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017.

If approved by the 2017 Legislature, a 2 percent increase to the general university appropriation would add $4.8 million to this year's $708 million operating budget. Leath said additional state funding will help:

  • Recruit and retain top faculty
  • Lower the student-faculty ratio
  • Continue to lower student debt, which is down 14 percent from 2006

However, Leath said a 2 percent increase in state support is far from what Iowa State needs to even maintain where it's at now. "Making up the difference" will have to come from tuition revenue, he said, including a proposed 2 percent increase in each of the next two years, possible additions to Iowa State's differential tuition list and targeted fee increases. The universities will present 2017-18 tuition proposals to the board next month.

Funding request for vet lab

The board also approved Iowa State's proposal to request a state commitment of $20 million per year for five years (FY 2018-22) to replace the veterinary diagnostic laboratory (VDL) at the College of Veterinary Medicine. It would be a free-standing facility at the Vet Med campus. Funding for the estimated $124 million project also would include $20 million in private gifts and $4 million in university funds.

Senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory told board members that the VDL runs more than 1.2 million tests annually, many of which are critical to protecting the safety of the country's food supply. She said only one other lab in the country has the same capabilities.

Since it opened in 1976, the VDL's employee base has grown from 11 faculty and 20 staff to 25 faculty and 120 technical staff in space that hasn't changed. In addition to providing more space for modern diagnostic technologies, a new facility will meet biosafety and biocontainment requirements.

The regents will send the request to the governor and the 2017 Legislature.

Record enrollment

In his monthly report to the board, Leath shared Iowa State's eighth straight year of record enrollment, at 36,660. This includes record numbers of nonresident students (15,640) and international students (4,131). Leath also shared improvements in these markers from a year ago:


Fall 2016

Fall 2015

Average ACT score*



One-year retention



Six-year graduation



*Direct from high school freshmen

UNI presidential search

The regents approved a timeline for the search for Northern Iowa's next president, which officially opened Sept. 12. Select candidates will be interviewed at an off-site location around Nov. 12, with finalists' interviews with both the UNI community and the board targeted for the first week in December and a president selected soon after. A 21-member search committee is working with higher education search specialist, AGB Search, Washington, D.C. UNI provost Jim Wohlpart has been serving as interim president since July 3. Former president Bill Ruud resigned to become president of Marietta College, Ohio.

Other ISU business

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

  • Begin an expanded (from $1.8 million to $3.4 million) project at the College of Veterinary Medicine to relocate the Gentle Doctor Café and add an adjacent commons and meeting room. This will involve a second-floor addition to the north side of the complex and renovation of existing space. The addition's exterior will look similar to the new large and small animal hospitals nearby: a combination of white metal panels and glass windows. The proposed commons, with a capacity of 50 people, is designed as flexible space for collaborative academic uses, meetings and special events. Currently, construction is scheduled to begin in May and last about 16 months. There will be food service at the college during construction, likely a reduced menu in a temporary location. College funds ($3.35 million) and private gifts ($100,000) will pay for the project.
  • Award an honorary Doctor of Science degree to alumnus and Orange City native Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, for "outstanding contributions to the advancement of science and technology, particularly in the field of aerospace engineering." Muilenberg received a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1986. He'll be honored at a May 2017 graduation event.
  • Promote one more (previously tenured) faculty member, bringing the total number of actions at Iowa State for 2016-17 to 59, (58 cases were presented in April).
  • Begin design work on a $22 million project to expand the chilled water (air conditioning) capacity on the north and west sides of campus in response to recent building projects and anticipated growth in the next 10 years. Specifically, it will add two chillers and one cooling tower to the north plant (Kooser Drive), replace the underground electrical line between the power plant and north plant to operate the chillers, and install new underground chilled water pipes near Kooser and Bissell Road. Utility revenue bonds ($18.75 million) and utility funds ($3.25 million) will pay for the project.
  • Name an indoor tennis practice facility for 1956 alumnus, Des Moines attorney and longtime ISU supporter Bruce McKee. The naming officially will occur when the university purchases the building by the end of an initial five-year lease with developer Dickson Jensen. The tennis facility is under construction on South Dakota Avenue south of the basketball practice complex. McKee provided a $500,000 gift for the purchase of the $2.5 million facility.

Campus events raise money for United Way

The United Way of Story County's annual fundraising campaign kicked off last week. Several units and colleges have planned university-wide events to reach Iowa State's 2016 goal of $425,000. More events will be added as details are finalized.

United Way campus fundraising events

  • Bake sale, Sept. 19 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., College of Design atrium), College of Design
  • Bake sale, Sept. 23 (10 a.m.-1 p.m., Carver Hall first floor commons), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Picnic lunch, Sept. 23 (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Extension 4-H Building patio), ISU Extension and Outreach
  • Pizza lunch, Sept. 26 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., MacKay Hall south lawn), College of Human Sciences
  • Bake sale, Sept. 28 (8:15 a.m. until sold out, 1550 Beardshear Hall), office of the senior vice president and provost
  • Online auction, Sept. 28-Oct. 7 (noon), College of Human Sciences
  • Barbecue lunch, Sept. 30 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., MacKay Hall south lawn), College of Human Sciences
  • Online auction, Oct. 1-15, student affairs
  • Online auction, Oct. 3-6 (noon), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Online auction, Oct. 3-6 (4 p.m.), College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Book sale, Oct. 4-5 (10 a.m.-4 p.m., Curtiss Hall first floor rotunda), College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Online auction, Oct. 6-13 (noon), university services
  • Bake sale, Oct. 10 (9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Bessey Hall lounge), departments of ecology, evolution and organismal biology and of plant pathology and microbiology
  • Caramel apple sales, Oct. 12 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., College of Design atrium), College of Design
  • Pizza lunch, Oct. 12 (11:30 a.m., Science II main hall), departments of entomology and natural resource ecology and management
  • Walking taco lunch, Oct. 12 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., College of Vet Med fish tank lobby), College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Picnic lunch, Oct. 18 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Marston Hall east lawn), College of Engineering