Female student studies on laptop in crowded hallway

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Oblivious to the traffic around her, materials engineering sophomore Morgan Ash (seated) studies in the Gerdin Business Building on the first morning of spring semester. Ash and her fellow students officially will be counted on Jan. 23, the 10th day of the semester.

Planning begins for mid-year budget cut

University leaders have begun planning for a state funding cut with less than six months remaining in the budget year that ends June 30.

In his adjusted budget released Tuesday, Gov. Terry Branstad proposed $110 million in reductions to the FY17 state budget, with the Board of Regents system absorbing the largest single cut, $25.5 million. That budget-trimming decision relied on the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference, which at its October and December meetings forecasted state revenue shortfalls due mostly to a struggling agriculture economy.

Ultimately, the 2017 Legislature has the authority to make changes to the current state budget. Iowa State won't know the actual reduction assigned to the regents system -- or the university's share of that reduction -- until legislators take final action. A timeline for that discussion and decision isn't known yet.

"While we understand the concerns associated with the state’s tax revenues shortfall, it's unfortunate to have to make budget reductions midway through the fiscal year," said President Steven Leath. "I have been meeting with elected leaders this week to emphasize the critical role that state funding plays in meeting the needs of our students -- which has become even more important as our enrollment has grown by more than 23 percent over the past five years.

"We will continue to make this case as we engage with legislators through this process," Leath added.

Balancing the FY17 budget

Chief financial officer Miles Lackey said that Iowa State will use a variety of measures to balance this year's budget. These will focus primarily on:

  • Postponing nonessential deferred maintenance and repairs
  • Delaying some searches or eliminating vacant positions (personnel savings)
  • Reducing expenditures for professional development, equipment, travel, printing and communications (operating expense savings)
  • Reducing some campus-wide services temporarily

"Reductions that extend beyond the current fiscal year would require more systemic changes," Lackey noted. "Those plans would be developed through our annual budget planning process."

FY18 budget requests

Until the Legislature makes a decision on amending the current year's budget and clarifying Iowa State's base appropriations, Lackey said budget development for the year that begins July 1 is on hold.

Iowa State's top state funding priorities for FY18 remain a 2 percent across-the-board increase for operating support (which includes education, agriculture and economic development appropriations) and a multiyear commitment to a new facility for the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Incremental state support would help Iowa State lower its student-faculty ratio by recruiting and retaining faculty in high-enrollment and high-impact disciplines. It also would be invested in student-centered efforts such as academic success and health/wellness programming and financial literacy initiatives. Another priority is expanding Iowa State's online learning offerings and upgrading campus classrooms and laboratories.

Iowa State's lone facilities request to the Legislature this spring is a five-year funding commitment to replace the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. As proposed, the $124 million, freestanding facility would be paid for with $4 million in university funds, $20 million in private gifts, and state support totaling $100 million ($20 million/year in fiscal years 2018-22).

FY18 is the third and final year of state funds for the two biosciences building projects, with a combined $23.5 million scheduled. It also is the second of five years of support, approved in 2015, for the Student Innovation Center; scheduled funding in FY18 is $9 million.

Council briefed on Workday implementation process

Professional Development Conference

"Cultivate Your Adventure: From Initiating to Innovating"
Feb. 28, Scheman Building
Registration: $80 ($95 after Jan. 31)

Members of the Professional and Scientific Council were introduced to information technology's interim change manager Francis Quinn at their Jan. 5 meeting. Quinn will help guide the transition to Workday enterprise software, which will integrate Iowa State's business and student information systems.

"We're in phase zero of deployment of the Workday system," Quinn said. "What it means is that [we're] paying a particular level of attention to local uniqueness. This is a very large institution. It's a very complex institution, and it's an institution that's undergoing a very dramatic growth and change at this moment."

About 10 Workday employees are working fulltime on the project. They will identify and train ISU personnel who will be on the core implementation team, and evaluate how the university already is providing services.

"We have to open up the hood on ISU -- with all its warts, all its tools, and all its eccentricities and particularities -- and show [Workday] what's under the hood so they can get a better idea of what it is that you need and is special around here. Because, yes, there are some processes that are standard across our industry, but there are other things that are particular or special to the way that we do things here."

Quinn said there will be three systems deployed over a long stretch (years) of time. The human capital management (HCM) and financial/payroll systems will be implemented first, followed by student information systems.

"Any major software implementation brings about a lot of change. It is no exaggeration in saying that this deployment will affect every last, single soul on this campus," Quinn said.

He said a document outlining the strategy and "road map" for the planning phase will be ready by the end of March.

Council business

Council members passed a motion to add a statement about diversity and inclusion to its list of priorities and strategic initiatives. The language, developed and introduced by the executive committee, states that the council will "work to identify available resources and create new opportunities for advocacy, education and professional development" on diversity and inclusion topics.

Administrative updates

Vice president for research Sarah Nusser presented an update on the university's research mission, including five general themes related to the second goal in ISU's new strategic plan:

  • Health (people and environmental)
  • Sustainability
  • Advanced manufacturing and materials
  • Data-driven science
  • Global citizenship

Ed Holland, director of benefits in university human resources, provided hiring data from the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a regional hiring collaboration with several other institutions and organizations. He said in its first couple months of use, Iowa State received 83 applications (50 faculty, 24 P&S and nine post-docs) through the regional jobs website, with two completed hires and several candidates still in the hiring process.

New building will be a student-centered collaboration zone

Student Innovation Center stairway schematic

The Student Innovation Center design includes terraced seating areas alongside the open stairways, with views through glass walls that invite collaboration. Contributed schematics, KieranTimberlake and Substance architecture firms.

In 2020, the landscape on the west side of campus will include the Student Innovation Center. Situated on Bissell Road, south of Sweeney Hall, the eye-catching glass building will be a central hub for multidisciplinary student collaboration. 

The building (about 140,000 square feet) will house an auditorium and some classrooms, but also will include:

  • Meeting rooms and breakout spaces
  • Fabrication areas (from electronics, to woodworking, to textiles, and more)
  • Open study space
  • Collaboration space (indoor and outdoor)
  • Seating areas
  • Administrative areas (for onsite staff)
  • Student organization offices
  • A test kitchen
  • A store (selling products that are made at the center)
  • A café

Nearly half of the $84 million project will come from state appropriations, with the balance made up of private gifts.

Student Innovation Center outside view schematic

The glass-encased building gives passersby a look at collaboration in action (looking from the southeast).

Student Innovation Center view from top floor schematic

A fourth-floor multipurpose room, with its view to the south and east. The building features four above-ground levels and one below-grade floor.

Student Innovation Center ground floor schematic

Open hallway space will include whiteboards and seating. An inner courtyard allows space for outdoor projects.


Student affairs associate VP finalists interview next week

Finalists interviewing for the post of associate vice president for enrollment management and student success will be on campus for interviews and open forums next week. The forums will be held from 11 a.m. to noon in the Memorial Union's Soults Family Visitor Center. Afternoon public "meet and greet" receptions in 2350 Beardshear Hall also are planned.

The position, created as part of a reorganization in the student affairs office, will oversee the admissions, enrollment research, registrar and student financial aid units, learning communities, federal TRiO programs and student affairs technology systems.

Candidate résumés and evaluation forms are available on the student affairs website.

Finalists and public events

  • Jan. 17, Katharine Johnson Suski, admissions director, Iowa State, 11 a.m.-noon forum (MU Soults Center), 4 p.m. reception (2350 Beardshear)
  • Jan. 18, Mary Aguayo, enrollment and policy strategist, University of Wyoming, Laramie,, 11 a.m.-noon forum (MU Soults Center), 4 p.m. reception (2350 Beardshear)
  • Jan. 19, Laura Doering, registrar, Iowa State, 11 a.m.-noon forum (MU Soults Center), 3 p.m. reception (2350 Beardshear)
  • Jan. 20, Erik D'Aquino, interim executive vice president for student affairs, Erie Community College, Buffalo, New York, 11 a.m.-noon forum (MU Soults Center), 4 p.m. reception (2350 Beardshear)

Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. honored this month


Contributed photo.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 16 and the campus community is honoring King's legacy with several events in January. All events are free and open to the public.  

  • POSTPONED to Jan. 23 due to inclement weather: Community birthday celebration, (6-7:30 p.m., Ames Middle School, 3915 Mortensen Rd). Celebrate King's birthday with music, stories and birthday cake. A program begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • Legacy convocation, Jan. 19 (3:30 p.m., Memorial Union, Sun Room). Panel discussion on the topic of King's dream and how it is -- or is not -- being actualized in this country's current social justice climate. Panelists are faculty members Lori Patton Davis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and T. Elon Dancy II, University of Oklahoma. Moderator is Daniel Spikes, ISU School of Education. The Advancing One Community Awards also will be presented. The 2017 recipients are: 
  • Student: Noel Gonzalez, a graduate student in architecture, has created inclusive spaces across campus, particularly in the College of Design and through the Multicultural Vision Program. He was instrumental in re-establishing the National Organization of Minority Architects at ISU and helped create the BUILD mentorship program in the College of Design.
  • Faculty: Javier Vela-Becerra, associate professor in chemistry, is the founder of the ISU chapter of Colegas, an organization that strengthens the bonds between Hispanic/Latinx faculty and staff on campus and the Ames community. He also founded Project SEED, which provides summer science and research experience for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged high school students. Currently, he serves as the equity adviser for the College of Human Sciences. 
  • Staff: Nicci Port, project director for diversity and inclusion for LGBTQA+ affairs, has worked for a more inclusive ISU campus for 15 years. She is the founder of the LGBTQA+ Faculty and Staff Association, the ISU Pride Summit and the ISU Faculty and Staff Affinity Council. In addition to her current role under the vice president of diversity and inclusion, Port has advocated for justice and inclusion through her work in the department of residence, dean of students office and the College of Human Sciences. 
  • Lecture, "A Deeper Black: Race in America," Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jan. 30 (7 p.m., MU Great Hall). Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic and author of several books conveying the challenges of being black in America. His latest book, "Between the World and Me," is written as a letter to his teenage son about the challenges he'll face growing up black in America. Coates also is journalist in residence at the School of Journalism at City University of New York's School of Journalism and a contributor to Time, O and The New York Times Magazine. Previously, he was the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Associate Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Service opportunities

A few campus groups are hosting service opportunities on Jan. 16 for faculty, staff and students to honor King.

  • GIS mapping party: Iowa State's geographic information systems (GIS) facility and IowaView are hosting a mapping party (10 a.m.-1 p.m., 206 Durham). No experience is necessary. Attendees will participate in Open Street Map (OSM), a crowd-sourced map of the world that is open source, free and available for any use. OSM provides online web mapping tools for users to map roads, buildings, water bodies and features of interest using satellite imagery as a base. Past projects have worked with the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders to create new maps in areas of the world dealing with disasters and emergencies. To participate, register via email by Jan. 13; list your pizza preference and whether you need a laptop computer.
  • Sole Hope: The Workspace is hosting a volunteer day for Sole Hope (2-10 p.m., east basement of the MU). Volunteers will cut shapes out of denim jeans to form a shoe. These will be shipped to Uganda, where local shoemakers will craft shoes that are given out at medical clinics to help prevent foot-related diseases caused by jigger bugs. Donations of jeans can be dropped off in advance at The Workspace. Sole Hope encourages a $10 donation per pair of shoes, but it is not required to attend.

Film series offers award-winning spring lineup

The Student Union Board's spring film series gets underway this week with the 2016 remake of "The Magnificent Seven." This semester's 14-movie Cyclone Cinema lineup features several award-nominated performances and the top Golden Globe Award winner, "La La Land."

With the exception of the spring break and week preceding it, weekly showings are scheduled at 7 and 10 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, in 101 Carver Hall. Admission is free. Drinks (water and Coca-Cola products) and snacks (popcorn and candy) are available for $1 and $2, respectively. Sunday showtimes are captioned; other showings can be captioned by request.

Cyclone Cinema spring series

  • Jan. 12-15, "The Magnificent Seven," rated PG-13, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke
  • Jan. 19-22, "The Accountant," R, Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons
  • Jan. 26-29, "Hacksaw Ridge," R, Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer and Vince Vaughn
  • Feb. 2-5, "Moana," PG (animated), Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho
  • Feb. 9-12, "Doctor Strange," PG-13, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton
  • Feb. 16-19, " Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," PG-13, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Colin Farrell
  • Feb. 23-26, "Arrival," PG-13, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker
  • March 2-5, "La La Land," PG-13, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
  • March 9-10 (two nights only), "Hidden Figures," PG, Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner
  • March 23-26, "Why Him?" R, James Franco, Bryan Cranston and Zoey Deutch
  • March 30-April 2, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," PG-13, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Forest Whitaker
  • April 6-9, "Passengers," PG-13, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt
  • April 13-16, "Table 19," PG-13, Anna Kendrick, Wyatt Russell and Amanda Crew
  • April 20-23, "Sing," PG (animated), Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Seth MacFarlane