Hammocks in the sun

Two female students hang out in hammocks near the campanile

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Remember when students hung their hammocks in the shade of trees to hide from the sun's heat? With the arrival of October this weekend, they've flipped their preference. Earlier this week, sophomore Maria Daubenberger (left) and junior Tessa Dall relaxed on central campus -- in the fall sun.

New overtime regulations go into effect Dec. 1

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is nothing new. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the FLSA into law in 1938, creating a national minimum wage and the 40-hour workweek, prohibiting child labor and guaranteeing overtime pay for certain jobs.

Today, the overtime component of the FLSA is receiving lots of attention because the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is implementing a key change to the provisions for determining which employees are covered by the FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements. The change, which sets a new salary level threshold for exempt employees, impacts all U.S. businesses and universities, both public and private. The federal government is mandating that all employers implement the new salary level threshold on Dec. 1.

What is the new salary level threshold?

The new regulation requires that an employee be paid a salary of at least $47,476 ($913 per week) on an annual full-time basis to qualify for exempt status. Those under that salary level are nonexempt and their pay must meet the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA. This means they may be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week.

This change significantly increases the salary level threshold, currently $23,660 annually. Certain professions are considered to be exempt from overtime and thus the new salary threshold of $47,476 does not apply. For institutions of higher education, these professions include most teachers and academic administrators as well as some others.

Implementation of the new regulations at ISU

"Our key focus right now is meeting the Dec. 1 deadline when the new regulations become effective," said Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources. "We very much value our employees and our focus right now is how we will pay people appropriately in accordance with the Department of Labor's mandates.

"Through Dec. 1 and after, we will continue to work with departments and managers to develop training opportunities and timekeeping methods to fully implement the new regulations at Iowa State."

The process for how employees will record and report overtime still is under review. UHR is working closely with members of the campus community to determine the best approach for Iowa State and will communicate those details when they are available.

How the regulations might affect you

  • Some employees who previously were exempt will become nonexempt. This means they now will be covered by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. These employees will be eligible for overtime pay where applicable under the FLSA rules and regulations.
  • Some employees who currently are exempt but make less than $47,476 may receive a pay increase to bring their salaries above the threshold necessary for exempt status. This generally will occur when an employee’s current salary is close to the threshold, the employee’s job duties otherwise meet the requirements for exempt status, and it is anticipated that the employee’s overtime pay would be greater than the difference between the current salary and the new salary threshold for exempt status.
  • Some employees hold positions for which the salary basis threshold for exempt status does not apply. This includes employees whose primary duties include teaching and some other jobs, such as certain academic administrators, lawyers and physicians. Generally, these employees will not be affected by the new regulations.
  • Employees who are nonexempt under the FLSA will be required to track their time more closely, including any time spent on work activities outside the office. UHR is working to develop the tools, guidance and training to facilitate this change for employees and their supervisors.

Part of a larger review

“Compliance with the Dec. 1 changes is our near-term objective," Darr said. "UHR is excited for the long-term enhancements to the professional and scientific classification and compensation structure that are in the future."

University administration funded a review of the structure that will take place over the next few years. The structure review is an opportunity to define:

  • Job categories and job families for P&S jobs and establish alignment with new FLSA regulations
  • Pathways for P&S career development
  • P&S pay structure that balances market, equity and performance
  • Pay administration practices and policies to maintain the pay program

A review of potential consultants for the project is underway. 

What's next

There's more to be said about the FLSA and its new regulations. Look for additional information in upcoming editions of Inside Iowa State and from departmental leaders. In the meantime, go to the university human resources website  for more information, or contact FLSA@iastate.edu with questions. 

Hiring cycle will bring 76 tenured, tenure-eligible faculty to campus

Iowa State hired 76 tenured or tenure-eligible faculty in the 12 months leading up to this semester, bringing its five-year total to 444 hires. Ten of this year's hires have start dates during the next 12 months. Faculty retirements (160) and resignations (138) during those years resets the net growth to about one-third of the total, or 146 faculty members.

Those five years include two of unprecedented hiring: 105 tenured or tenure-track faculty leading up to fall semester 2014 and 123 faculty preceding fall 2015. Iowa State's enrollment leapt by 1,491 students (4.5 percent) and 1,269 students (3.7 percent), respectively, those two falls.

Compared to 123, 76 might seem a bit off the mark. But last year's leaner budget meant there were fewer positions to fill. And the escalated hiring in the two years previous is not a sustainable pattern, said associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince.

"One hundred twenty-three faculty hires in one year is really exceptional. Those were huge efforts, an all-hands-on-deck scenario," she said. "It's a labor-intensive, very important task and [faculty on the search committees] take it seriously."

Bratsch-Prince said "between 60 and 80 faculty hires a year is probably a good place for us to be."

The provost's office approves more searches than that, knowing that each year some searches will not result in a faculty hire -- which is not necessarily a bad thing, she noted.

"A failed search is a search in which you hire the wrong person," she said. "You want to hire the right person for the position, department and the institution. If you don't find the right candidate for the position, then do it again next year.

"Our deans have said 'we won't penalize you for having high standards,'" Bratsch-Prince added.

Clearing 2,000

The October payroll (when the university's annual employee count is taken) should reflect a faculty group that exceeds 2,000 for the first time. Still, eight straight years of record enrollments have kept Iowa State's student-faculty ratio at nearly 19:1. President Steven Leath told the state Board of Regents earlier this month that it will require flat enrollment and 300 additional faculty members to reach his student-faculty ratio goal of 16:1.

Strategic hiring

Colleges have additional priorities, but Bratsch-Prince said university hiring currently is focused on five high-impact areas:

  • Big data
  • Translational health
  • Food security
  • Areas that are important to the state economy, for example, agriculture and biotechnology
  • Disciplines with high student enrollment

"A strength of Iowa State that comes out again and again is that we're very collaborative and interdisciplinary," Bratsch-Prince said. "That's our institutional culture; that's a real value we hold."

By college: Departments with two or more faculty hires


Faculty hires

Agriculture and Life Sciences




Animal science


Biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology


Plant pathology and microbiology






Supply chain and information systems














Chemical and biological


Civil, construction and environmental


Materials science




Human Sciences


Apparel, events and hospitality management


Food science and human nutrition


School of Education




Liberal Arts and Sciences






Physics and astronomy


World languages and cultures




Veterinary Medicine


Biomedical sciences


Veterinary clinical sciences


Veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine




*Departments with 1 faculty hire

University community recognizes 50 of its finest

Assistant professor Rachel Meyers and President Steven Leath

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Rachel Meyers, assistant professor of classical studies in the department of world languages and cultures, received the James Huntington Ellis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching from President Steven Leath on Sept. 26. Fifty faculty and professional and scientific staff received university-wide or state Board of Regents awards during the annual ceremony in the Memorial Union Great Hall.

Images of all recipients who attended the ceremony are online in Iowa State's Photo Shelter website (click on Galleries > Public > 2016 ISU Awards).

Trash compactors continue to save some green


This solar trash compactor near The Hub is in one of campus' busiest locations. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Seven years after their debut, the green, solar-powered trash compactors dotted across campus continue to take big bites out of facilities planning and management's operating expenses while also making campus more sustainable.

FPM placed the first compactor west of busy Curtiss Hall in 2009 and periodically moved it to other heavy-traffic areas on campus to determine if it could help save time, money and labor costs. The results were positive.  In 2008, before solar trash compactors were part of the campus landscape, FPM spent $35,723 on litter removal, according to Merry Rankin, director of sustainability programs. By 2015, that number had decreased to $19,846.

Today, 96 of the Cy-emblazoned green containers are in place with another 20-plus ready for installation by December. Iowa State's Student Government funded 47 of the most recent compactors at a cost of $4,760 each.

"Of the many things Student Government could support, it was very exciting and motivating for the sustainability movement at Iowa State that they chose to put that money toward the solar trash compactors," Rankin said.

Big impact

With the installation of each solar trash compactor, three concrete-encased metal trash bins are removed from campus. By the end of the year, Rankin estimates only about 25 of the original 300 concrete bins on campus will remain, all near residence halls. In true sustainable fashion, the bins go to asset recovery as they are removed.

"It's our intent that they be reused in their current form," Rankin said.

Fewer concrete trash bins means FPM will save money and increase efficiencies. Why? Trash compactors take the guesswork out of determining when to collect the garbage. Electronic "eyes," activated by solar panels on top of the compactors, monitor the trash depth. A flashing light indicates when a container is full and triggers a wireless monitoring system that alerts FPM staff via computers to empty the compactor.

Not knowing if concrete trash bins are full requires FPM to send large, gas-guzzling (8 miles per gallon) trucks to collect garbage daily. Instead, knowing exactly which solar compactors need dumping requires only small utility vehicles, which consume about 5 gallons of gas per week.

In addition, Rankin said while FPM employees are picking up trash from the compactors, they can work on other projects -- like tree trimming.

"This supports social sustainability by making the most efficient use of our teams' skills and expertise," Rankin said.

Another advantage of the solar trash compactors is that they are fully enclosed. That means no unwanted visitors (think birds, squirrels, raccoons) can get in them and drag garbage on the ground, saving FPM more time and money.

Future funding

Besides Student Government's funding of the latest compactors, typical purchasers are FPM, the department of residence and the office of sustainability. However, Rankin encourages other units to consider funding them as well.

"There may be other partners on campus who want to come forward. That would make the environmental and economic impact that much greater," Rankin said.

Related story:

High-tech trash, Aug. 27, 2009

Lactation spaces receive updates

Last spring, the Professional and Scientific Council took up the issue of lactation spaces on campus and -- after much input from the campus community -- determined there is a need for additional updated spaces and guidelines for their use and future development.  

There is no way to gauge how many women use the university's lactation spaces, but they are available to all nursing mothers on campus, including employees, students and visitors.

"These spaces are just one more way we can foster family values and inclusivity on campus," said Julie Graden, childcare and family services program coordinator.


Last spring, employees from university human resources (UHR) and facilities planning and management (FPM) began to outline a coordinated approach to improve the lactation spaces. Over the summer, FPM managed remodeling efforts for half of the university's 18 permanent lactation spaces. The unit also provided $32,000 to create a new lactation space in Atanasoff Hall and improve several older spaces with new signage and aesthetically pleasing upgrades, such as paint, lamps, pillows and wall décor. In addition, FPM added many U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) standards to the rooms, including an electrical outlet, chair, table, privacy curtain or door, and made sure they were compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"In addition to meeting the DOL's regulations, we tried to make the rooms as inviting as possible," Graden said.

Temporary spaces available

Various departments and buildings may provide temporary lactation spaces. Department supervisors or building representatives should know where these rooms are located.

Because the university does not officially monitor the temporary locations, it's difficult to know what changes those rooms may need. Kerry Dixon, FPM project manager, said Iowa State is happy to work with departments to improve the spaces.

"We are more than willing to help evaluate these temporary areas to make sure they are compliant with the Department of Labor's standards," Dixon said. "If some of these spaces could also be included on the university's lactation spaces list, that would be great."

More to come

Guidelines for lactation spaces, including what unit or units will be responsible for their ongoing administration and funding, still are in the works within UHR and FPM. A plan for adding more spaces on campus also is being developed.

"The long-term desire is to identify additional locations across campus, especially in the southeast corner of central campus, including Heady, East, Food Science, Curtiss, Gerdin and the Memorial Union," Dixon said.

In the meantime, Graden said nursing and expectant mothers with questions or concerns about lactation spaces should speak with their supervisors or contact the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, 294-4154.


Related story:

Council considering recommendations for lactation spaces, April 7, 2016

ISU Theatre opens season Friday

2016-17 productions

  • Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Sept. 30
  • Cabaret, Nov. 4
  • The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Dec. 2
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Feb. 24
  • Little Women (musical), March 31
  • The Tempest, April 20

A new season for ISU Theatre opens this weekend with a dark comedy that features a musical finale. Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play is a contemporary production starring a group of survivors who band together after an apocalyptic event.

"Mr. Burns hinges on the act of storytelling -- mythmaking -- as a means not just of entertainment, but of survival," said assistant professor and show director Amanda Petefish-Schrag. "In the face of anxiety, uncertainty, catastrophe, the stories we tell ourselves, the television we binge watch, the songs we play on loop, get carried with us -- transformed by us -- as we meet our uncertain future."

The survivors find a common interest in The Simpsons animated TV show. Their collaboration progresses through three acts that take place in the future. The first act is set in the near future, with the survivors bonding after a worldwide disaster. By trying to remember and recreate the dialogue of an episode of The Simpsons, the survivors find a distraction from their plight.

That turns into more than just an exercise in the second act, as the audience catches up with the survivors seven years later. The group is performing a Simpsons-based postapocalyptic show that also includes other pop culture pieces from the past.

The third act, performed musically, reveals the long-lasting (about 75 years later) societal effects of the survivors' efforts. What began as a bonding exercise turns into an epic production interwoven with Simpsons characters, pop culture, a tribute to lives lost in the apocalypse and a reflection on events throughout the past.

The cast features eight actors, in addition to six chorus members and/or musicians. The show opens its two-weekend run in Fisher Theater on Friday, Sept. 30. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets, available through Ticketmaster or the Stephens box office, are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $11 for students.

Saddle up for weekend rodeo

Collegiate rodeo teams from five states will be on campus this weekend, competing in the 54th annual Cyclone Stampede Rodeo. Hosted by the ISU Rodeo Club, the event features three showtimes at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center and a lineup of traditional rodeo competitions.

"This is the last fully student-run rodeo in the nation," said Steve Roose, a junior majoring in agricultural studies and vice president for this year's event.

ISU will field a team of 15 competitors among the Great Plains Regional teams participating in this National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) qualifying event. Individuals compete for prize money, championship belt buckles and national qualifying points. Teams also earn national qualifying points.

Rodeo show times are 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and a 1 p.m. championship round of top finishers on Sunday. Each show lasts an estimated three hours, with nine events on each schedule:

  • Bareback riding
  • Tie-down roping
  • Breakaway roping
  • Saddle bronc riding
  • Goat tying
  • Team roping
  • Steer wrestling
  • Barrel racing
  • Bull riding

Other entertainment will include the Whistle Nut and Ole rodeo clown act, and vendors will offer refreshments and merchandise. Ticket prices are $15 ($10 for ISU students and free for children 6 and younger), available at the door. The public is welcome to observe rodeo activities between Saturday's shows, which includes timed events only, with no "rough stock," such as bulls and broncs.