Goodbye, geese

Canada geese on the banks of Lake LaVerne.

Lancelot (or Elaine) tries to drive Canada geese from the swans' territory on and around Lake LaVerne. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Lancelot and Elaine call Lake LaVerne home, but often have unwelcome visitors move in and make a mess. This week, an environmentally friendly deterrent will be installed to make the area less inviting to Canada geese and the "stuff" they leave behind.

"Geese are a problem for us on campus," said campus services manager Les Lawson. "Goose droppings are a big issue -- they raise the nitrate levels of the lake, which promotes green algae growth. For pedestrians and visitors, the aesthetics and the aggressive habits of mating pairs also are a concern."

A solar-powered light, available through Ohio-based Away With Geese, may be the answer. Once installed, a flashing amber light will activate from dusk until dawn -- essentially annoying the geese enough to move on to a different location.

"Geese like to have open water so they have a safe place to rest at night," Lawson said. "If we can take that safe place away from them, hopefully they will find another place to reside."

The device will float on the pond year-round, with the light at eye level for geese trying to overnight in the area. Because of sensitive eyesight and sleep habits unique to geese, other birds -- including ISU's iconic swans -- should not be affected.

"Geese sleep with their heads up and the light bothers them," Lawson said. "Swans sleep with their heads under their wings, so the light should not bother them."

Peaceful surroundings

Passersby likely will not notice anything more than a dimly blinking light on the water -- a humane alternative to chemicals, noise-making devices and other harsh deterrents.

Lawson said they are starting with one light, but additional devices may be needed to cover the area. At less than $400 per unit, he said this cost-effective, maintenance-free and environmentally friendly option was worth a try. And if it works, the benefits will be enjoyed by the lake's visitors and permanent residents.

"Swans and geese do not get along very well," Lawson said. "Our swans are constantly trying to push the geese off the lake, so I am hoping they can have some peace."

ISU leaders continue FLSA discussions, decisions

Iowa State administrators continue to make decisions about the new overtime regulations required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The university must comply with the new standards by Dec. 1.

As more information becomes available and decisions are finalized, university human resources (UHR) posts updates on its FLSA website. Here, employees will find an FAQ that is updated regularly; resources, including letters from President Steven Leath to faculty and staff; and links to additional Inside Iowa State articles about FLSA.

Following is a look at the latest details provided by university officials.

Salary threshold, exemptions

The U.S. Department of Labor says an annual fulltime salary of $47,476 ($913 per week) is the new threshold for employees who are exempt from overtime. In most cases, employees who earn less than that will be considered nonexempt and eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week.

Iowa State has determined that most employees, primarily professional and scientific staff whose salaries fall below the new threshold, will become nonexempt. This means these employees will be required to track their hours.

UHR anticipates communicating to supervisors regarding employee statuses beginning the week of Oct. 17. Supervisors will be asked to communicate directly with their employees.

Time tracking

Employees who are determined to be nonexempt will be required to track their time worked -- both regular and overtime -- beginning Dec. 1. Iowa State is working to set time-tracking standards that comply with FLSA guidelines. At a minimum, employees will be required to record the number of hours worked per day, and the number of hours worked per week. The university currently has a paper time-tracking method in place, which will continue at this time. Departments that have existing electronic systems in place may continue to use these systems. However, further guidance and other time-tracking tools are forthcoming.

Salary for post-docs

Leath has approved a proposal to raise the minimum full-time salary for post docs to the exempt threshold of $47,476. These salary increases will become effective Nov. 1. UHR currently is reviewing post-doc positions with less than full-time appointments, and it's likely these individuals will need to track their time worked beginning Dec. 1. UHR will notify post-docs who fall into this category on or before Nov. 1.

Budget impact

Iowa State has no central pool of funds to cover additional overtime costs for new nonexempt employees. Units and departments must discuss potential options to fund overtime earned by their employees. UHR and OUC have recommended that compensatory time be available for supervisors to manage overtime costs. Leath has endorsed this recommendation. More details about how compensatory time would be managed at Iowa State still are in the works.


UHR and OUC have engaged multiple work teams across campus to develop the tools necessary for Iowa State to comply with the FLSA's new overtime regulations. Continue to watch for updates on UHR's FLSA website and in Inside Iowa State to learn the latest developments.

Email UHR at with additional questions. 

ISU will seek differential tuition for five more programs

Iowa State will ask the state Board of Regents next week to consider differential tuition for juniors, seniors and graduate students in five programs: animal science, biology, computer science, industrial design and natural resource ecology and management. The proposed differentials -- $1,600 in the undergraduate programs and $1,124 in the graduate programs -- would be implemented over three years. The differential tuition in 2017-18 is a proposed $534 for undergraduates and $374 for graduate students. The increases reflect higher instruction costs of special laboratory, studio and other hands-on styles of learning. In the case of animal science education, the additional tuition will help pay for livestock purchase and care expenses.

The board meets Oct. 19-20 in Cedar Falls. The agenda and supporting documents are online. Audio of all open portions of the meeting will be streamed live on the board's website.

Tuition for most resident undergraduates would go up $142 (2 percent) next year, as proposed. Three percent increases are proposed for nonresident undergraduates ($614), graduate students ($254 for residents, $654 for nonresidents) and veterinary medicine students ($646 for residents, $1,430 for nonresidents).

Iowa State also proposes to adjust several previously approved tuition differentials to create some consistencies. These changes include:

  • Raise the differential tuition rate for bachelor of architecture students to the same level as the five undergraduate programs. Architecture students have paid differential tuition since the 2012-13 academic year, currently about $1,250. To reach a $1,600 differential in three years, an additional $98 for residents and $106 for nonresidents would be assessed in 2017-18.
  • Raise the tuition differential for upper division Business students over three years to match that for upper division students in Engineering, ag systems technology and industrial technology (currently a difference of about $560 for resident students). As proposed, next year, junior and senior Business students would pay an additional $190 (resident) or $180 (nonresident). Differential tuitions were first assessed in 2006-07 for Engineering students, in 2009-10 for Business students and in 2012-13 for ag systems technology and industrial technology students.

The 2017-18 year also is the second of three years that tuition for all international students will increase an additional $500 per year above nonresident tuition increases.

The board's vote on 2017-18 tuition rates is scheduled for its Dec. 5-6 meeting.

Residence needs

Iowa State is proposing to name the nearly complete "Buchanan II" residence hall for former president Gregory Geoffroy (2001-12). The naming would recognize Geoffroy's role in the expansion of the university, including a dozen major building projects, a capital campaign that raised more than $800 million and doubled endowed faculty positions (to 150), and record enrollment and sponsored funding levels. Geoffroy also launched a grassroots fundraising effort to save and renovate Morrill Hall. The proposed Gregory L. Geoffroy Hall will add 784 beds to the residence system when it opens spring semester.

Iowa State also proposes to sign new five-year leases (Aug. 1, 2017-July 31, 2022) with Jensen Properties (for 828 beds in southwest Ames) and American Campus Communities (299 beds in Legacy Tower on Stanton Avenue), for a total of 1,127 beds in off-campus apartments. This is down from the 1,462 beds the residence department currently leases from the two firms; those leases expire next summer. The residence department would continue to furnish and staff these apartment locations as it does its on-campus apartments.

The proposed leases contain a 15-month opt-out clause for either party, giving Iowa State the option to terminate a lease if demand for university student housing decreases.

Bond sales

The board staff will report on two bond sales, for which bids will be opened the morning of Oct. 20. The first is an estimated $16.5 million of dormitory revenue refunding bonds. They'll replace refunding bonds sold in 2006 to refinance bonds sold in 1999 and 2000 that financed phase two of the Frederiksen Court student apartments. Lower interest rates on the 2016 bonds could save the university more than $2 million.

The second is an estimated $23.4 million of utility system revenue and refunding bonds for two purposes: to partially fund a $22 million project to increase chilled water capacity on the west side of campus and to refund 2006 bonds issued for a chilled water project at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Lower interest rates could save the university an estimated $0.5 million.

Presentations, warehouse lease

In other board business:

  • Iowa State will seek permission to terminate a five-year lease with Harrisvaccines for the south half of the university warehouse on Southern Hills Drive off of Airport Road, replacing it with a 10-year lease (Jan. 1, 2017-Dec. 31, 2026) for the entire warehouse to the ISU Research Park, for use by Merck and Co., which purchased Harrisvaccines last winter. The docket item notes that "the university's long range goal is to build a relationship with Merck, encouraging future growth and expansion." The north half of the warehouse facility currently is home to ISU Surplus, which is preparing for a temporary relocation to the university's central receiving facility next door.
  • Scheduled presentations to the board include: "Supporting the Information Needs of Iowa's Public Universities," library dean Beth McNeil, co-presenter (Wednesday afternoon); "Annual Economic Development and Technology Transfer Report," vice president of economic development and business engagement Mike Crum, co-presenter (Thursday afternoon); and an update on a joint financial literacy project among the three regent universities, presenter Tahira Hira, professor emeritus in human development and family studies (Thursday morning).
  • Iowa Public Radio will ask that Vickee Jordan Adams of Des Moines, a Wells Fargo vice president for external communications, be named to the 10-member board of directors. Board member JoAnn Johnson's three-year term expired Sept. 30.
  • The University of Iowa will seek permission to demolish six apartment buildings on Des Moines' Fleur Drive and on the southeast corner of the former AIB campus, which now is known as the Iowa Center for Higher Education. No cost estimate is included in the proposal. The 47-year-old buildings, used as student dormitories for the last 30 years but currently unoccupied, don't fit the university's programming plans for the campus. They are not accessible for persons with disabilities and don't contain fire sprinkler systems. The area would be graded and seeded as green space until another need is identified.

Nonsupervisory merit open change period begins Oct. 17

Nonsupervisory merit employees may review and change their benefits options during the annual open change period, Oct. 17 (9 a.m.) through Nov. 18 (5 p.m.).

Noteworthy dates

  • Oct. 17 (9 a.m.): Nonsupervisory merit open change period begins; 2016 participation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Nov. 2 (9-10:30 a.m.): Live webcast
  • Nov. 18 (5 p.m.): Open change period ends
  • Dec. 2 (9 a.m.): Benefits confirmation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Dec. 9 (5 p.m.): Corrections to benefits statements due at 3810 Beardshear
  • Dec. 16 (9 a.m.): Final 2017 benefits statements available on AccessPlus

Few changes this year

The 2017 medical plans remain Blue Access, Iowa Select and Program 3 Plus, and the premium details haven't changed. Employees will continue to contribute $20 a month for single coverage for these plans. The employee contribution for family coverage remains $20 a month for Blue Access. Family coverage for Iowa Select still is 15 percent of the total premium, and family coverage for Program 3 Plus remains the difference between the total premium and 85 percent of Iowa Select's total premium.

There is no dental open enrollment for 2017, which mean employees may not add coverage or dependents.

Out-of-pocket increases

The medical maximum out-of-pocket costs for Iowa Select and Program 3 Plus will increase to $1,000 (from $650) for single coverage, and $2,000 (from $1,450) for family coverage. All deductibles, coinsurance and copays will go toward the out-of-pocket limit for all plans. There are no out-of-pocket increases for Blue Access.

Making changes

Employees may change their medical, flexible spending and Avesis (eyewear/contacts/Lasik) coverage online through AccessPlus. Enrolling in or increasing employer-sponsored group term basic or voluntary term life insurance requires paper forms. If no benefits changes are needed, no action is required. However, it’s a good idea to review current benefits elections as well as dependent and beneficiary information.

More information

University human resources' (UHR) benefits office is hosting a live, interactive webcast on Nov. 2 (9-10:30 a.m.) about the 2017 benefits changes for nonsupervisory merit employees. To participate, log in online, enter your name in the "Enter as a Guest" heading, then select "Enter Room." A link of the recorded session will be available on UHR's benefits bulletin board a few days after the live presentation.


Final home stand

Female soccer player dribbles a soccer ball

Photo courtesy of athletics communications.

Midfielder Danielle Moore is among six seniors on the Cyclone soccer squad who will compete at home for the last time this week. The team hosts Big 12 foe Texas on Friday, Oct. 14, and intrastate opponent Drake on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Both contests begin at 7 pm. at the Cyclone Sports Complex on Mortensen Road. Admission is free; gates open at 6 p.m.