For whom it's named

Group walks down residence hallway

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

ISU President Emeritus Gregory Geoffroy (right), with his wife, Maria, tours the residence hall named for him with residence staff member Kody Henke (left) Wednesday morning. The Geoffroys visited Ames for the grand opening of the residence department's first new building since 2003.

Geoffroy ("JOE-free") led Iowa State from 2001 to 2012. "I am very deeply honored to have my name associated with a part of the university that I always held very, very dear -- and that was anything to do with Iowa State students," Geoffroy said during a short ceremony.

When it's full this fall, Geoffroy Hall will be home to more than 780 students in 14 houses. More about Geoffroy Hall.

Dead week policy changes are under consideration

Senators are considering proposed dead week policy changes (PDF) introduced at the Jan. 17 Faculty Senate meeting. The changes, developed by the academic affairs council's student affairs committee, seek to "reduce the stress of the final week of classes and to facilitate time to focus on preparation for final exams."

As proposed, the policy would restrict quizzes, tests and exams on the Thursday and Friday of dead week (the week prior to final exams). Presentations and projects included on the semester syllabus would be exempt. Other proposed exemptions include:

  • Classes that meet only on Thursday or Friday
  • Course labs
  • Half-semester courses
  • Testing center exams that are due by the end of the week (must be available to students no later than Wednesday)
  • Test exemptions approved by the provost's office

"Basically, this is just asking faculty to adjust slightly to take some of the stress off students taking exams on Friday and then turning around again to take final exams on Monday," said Ann Smiley-Oyen, chair of the student affairs committee.

Some concerns and suggestions for the policy changes were voiced during senate discussion. Annemarie Butler, senate secretary and associate professor in philosophy and religious studies, said she will put forward an amendment at the next meeting, allowing optional "unit-ending" tests on those days.

"Other places have things like reading days, where there are no classes for two days, and they can therefore get those two days and the weekend to study," Smiley-Oyen said. "We can't do that here. This is the best option we've been able to come up with, and the more exceptions that get put into this, the more it's watered down."

Senators will vote on the policy changes at their Feb. 14 meeting.

Tenure bill

Senate president Jonathan Sturm shared his view on proposed state legislation aimed at eliminating tenure at Iowa's community colleges and three regent universities. The bill (senate file 41) was introduced Jan. 10 by state senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) and referred to the education committee.

"This is an ideal opportunity for us to be vocal across the state and to educate citizens of Iowa -- who really often have a misunderstanding of what [tenure] is," Sturm said.

Provost Jonathan Wickert also referenced the proposed legislation during his remarks.

"This is not the first time that this particular concept has come up," Wickert said. "This particular bill was introduced without asking us for any information or data. President (Bruce) Rastetter, on behalf of the Board of Regents, indicated that the board does not support the bill. I'm hearing similar things through my channels that it does not have broad support. I think that's a bill that's simply not going anywhere."

Technology update

Chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach, who presented an update at the senate's October meeting, provided a follow-up on the latest efforts in information technology.

"What we try to do is always start with 'yes,'" Kurtenbach said. "That's an attitude we're trying to implement throughout the system of not only central IT, but also folks distributed throughout the colleges."

He said initiatives that IT staff are working on include:

  • Security (identity and access management)
  • Storage for research projects
  • Next learning management system (Blackboard or another vendor), in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Standard telephone system, moving from three systems to one
  • Classroom technology support improvements
  • Pilot study of classroom testing method

Kurtenbach said ISU's switch to the Workday enterprise resource planning and student information systems will impact everyone.

"I want to make it clear today that we do need your engagement with the enterprise and student information systems when they roll [out]," he said.

Kurtenbach said ISU staff currently are learning about system integration, data conversion and the functionality of the Workday system during "discovery sessions." Phase one implementation begins in April.

Other business

  • Sturm said Aon-Hewitt, a national consulting firm, has been selected to help collect and examine faculty salary equity data (gender and minority), a collaborative study involving the senate, university human resources and the provost's office
  • Wickert said the state's proposed midyear budget cuts would be handled "in a very responsible way that preserves our core vision here at the university"
  • Senators unanimously approved a proposed undergraduate certificate in merchandising (PDF), administered by the apparel, events and hospitality management department
  • Senators unanimously approved proposed bylaw changes (PDF) that adjust senate committee responsibilities to align with the reorganization of the former business and finance office into two divisions (university services and finance)
  • Peter Martin, University Professor in human development and family studies, was voted the next president-elect, running unopposed

Search for university human resources VP begins

The committee searching for the next vice president for university human resources hopes to bring candidates to campus for interviews by late spring.

University counsel Michael Norton and Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Beate Schmittmann lead the eight-member search committee.

Schmittmann encouraged faculty and staff to suggest candidates for the position.

"We've engaged Parker Executive Search to assist in our recruiting," she said. "But we'd also like to enlist the help of our valued university community to identify candidates."

Send suggestions

Names should be submitted as soon as possible to the search firm. The job posting notes that, while applications will be accepted until the position is filled, only those received by Feb. 10 will be assured full consideration.

Nominations can be emailed to the search firm's Porsha Williams or Mitchel Bonds. Nominations also may be delivered by mail or phone:

Porsha Williams, vice president
Mitchel Bonds, associate
Parker Executive Search
5 Concourse Parkway, Suite 2900
Atlanta, GA 30328
Phone: 770-804-1996,ext. 113
Fax: 770-804-1917

Search committee

  • Michael Norton, university counsel, co-chair
  • Beate Schmittmann, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, co-chair
  • Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty
  • Tim Day, Faculty Senate president-elect and biomedical sciences professor
  • Kathy Dobbs, controller
  • Margo Foreman, director, equal opportunity office
  • Kate Gregory, senior vice president for university services
  • Clayton Johnson, president, Professional and Scientific Council, and academic adviser in engineering student services

Kristi Darr, director of human resources, is serving as interim vice president for university human resources. The VP post previously was held by Julie Nuter, who resigned last summer to accept a position with Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.




Pammel Court exhibition brings back memories

Family dinner in Pammel Court residence.

Submitted photos (RS 7/4/H Box 473, Folder 7. University Photographs).

Prior to last fall, adjunct assistant professor of history Mark Barron and the students in his public history (history 481X) class knew very little about Pammel Court, Iowa State's former married student housing complex. Now Barron and his students could be the university's resident experts.

Kitchen view of Pammel residence.

RS 7/4/H Box 473, Folder 7. University Photographs.

The students, with the help of library staff and the Ames Historical Society, spent fall semester researching and collecting more than a hundred photographs, documents, letters and other memorabilia for an exhibition dedicated to Pammel Court. They also talked to several former tenants, including children who lived there while their parents finished school.

"For Married Students: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978" is on display in Parks Library's special collections and university archives (fourth floor) through May 5 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

During the research phase, Barron, who joined Iowa State a year ago, was surprised by the nostalgia Iowa Staters feel for Pammel Court.

"Being new to Iowa State, I didn't understand that people have such a deep connection to Pammel Court, " he said. "Everyone we talked to has some memory or story about Pammel Court."

Outside view of Pammel Court residence

RS 21/7/222 “Janet A. Jepeway Pammel Court Photographs."

Meeting a need

Pammel Court was established in 1946 along the north side of Pammel Drive to accommodate about 1,500 World War II veterans seeking college educations through the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly called the GI Bill. Iowa State officials needed to find housing quickly for the servicemen and their wives and young children. The solution was military housing, typically half-domed Quonset huts and other trailers.

Throughout the next few decades, Pammel Court ballooned into its own community on the north side of campus, along the railroad tracks and west of Stange Road.  At its peak, there were about 1,100 housing units, plus a grocery store, recreation centers, laundry facility and nursery school.

Though Pammel Court was meant to be a temporary solution to the post-war housing crunch, students appreciated the cheap rent (about $25 a month in 1947, equal to about $350 today). Pammel Court was opened to single students in 1978. The last of the units, which housed University Community Childcare prior to its current location at 2623 Bruner Dr., were demolished in 2004.

Stolee to serve as interim ombuds officer

Jessica Stolee, human resources coordinator in extension and outreach, will begin serving as ISU's interim ombuds officer beginning Jan. 23.

Stolee succeeds Elaine Newell, who has served as ombuds officer since the post was created in the fall of 2008. Newell recently accepted a position as legal counsel to the Iowa State Court Administrator.

The ombuds officer provides confidential assistance to ISU employees and students, helping them informally work through challenges in the workplace or at school. 

"We're very grateful to Elaine for helping us launch this useful service, which over the past eight years, has helped many members of the ISU community," said chief of staff Miles Lackey.

The ombuds office is located in 37 Physics Hall. To make an appointment with the ombuds officer, call 294-0268 or email For more information, see the ombuds website.

The search for a permanent ombuds officer will start soon and "we hope to have someone on board before the end of the semester," Lackey said. 

Police chief candidate forums wrap up next week

The second finalist for Iowa State's assistant vice president-chief of police post will interview on campus Friday, Jan. 20. Finalist Michael Newton's CV will be posted Jan. 19 on the university services division's open forums website.

The first finalist, interim police chief Aaron Delashmutt, interviewed on Jan. 17. Open forum details and vitae for the remaining finalists, who will interview on Jan. 25 and a date to be identified, will be added to the website the day prior to each visit.

Participate in the forums

Students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the open forums, where the candidates will introduce themselves, speak on the topic of "campus policing in the 21st century" and answer questions.

At the open forums, paper evaluation forms will be provided. Completed forms will be collected after the forum. They also may be dropped off or mailed to 3590 Beardshear by 5 p.m. Jan. 26. Anyone attending an open forum who prefers to receive and submit an evaluation form electronically may contact search committee member Maureen De Armond.

Public forums (2:50-3:50 p.m.)

  • Jan. 17, Aaron Delashmutt, Iowa State, CV
  • Jan. 20, Michael Newton, University of Wisconsin, Madison, police department, CV, 1310 Beyer
  • Jan. 25, Charlotte Evans, University of Nebraska, Omaha, public safety department, CV, MU Oak Room
  • Feb. 10, Candidate 3, MU Gold Room

Jan. 24 editor's note: The candidate for a scheduled Jan. 23 interview had a family emergency. That candidate's campus interview was reschedled to Feb. 10.

Goose playground

Canada geese plod across the lake ice

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Geese march across the ice toward open water on Lake LaVerne earlier this month. The numbers of Canada geese hanging out at the lake have ebbed and flowed this winter. Some days, there's a dozen; other days it's in the hundreds. The lake's open water and central Iowa's relatively mild winter attract both local and migratory birds, but campus services manager Les Lawson said the goose deterrent light installed this fall seems to be working. The geese are not on the water at night, but only during daylight hours when the light is off, he said. Heads up, south campus pedestrians.

An update on the learning management system review

Information Technology and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) are continuing their review of Iowa State’s learning management system (LMS). Faculty, staff and students can assist now by reviewing a proposed list of required elements for vendor proposals and offering feedback by Jan. 31.

CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden and IT director Mike Lohrbach are co-leading the effort to determine the university's future teaching and technological needs. Iowa State currently uses Blackboard Learn, hosted locally on university servers. That license ends in December 2017, providing an opportunity to evaluate the newer, cloud-based version of Blackboard Learn -- and explore alternative products.

Processing campus input, developing RFP

VanDerZanden and Lohrbach conducted six listening sessions with faculty, instructional support staff, graduate and undergraduate student leaders, and central staff whose work interfaces with the LMS. Additionally, more than 330 employees, including 270 faculty, offered input through an online survey.

An LMS review steering committee was established, with representation from the Faculty Senate, faculty, college instructional support staff and procurement services. It also includes CELT and IT staff. Members are:

  • David Cantor, College of Business
  • Denise Crawford, College of Human Sciences
  • Lisa Gestrine, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Steve Holland, College of Engineering
  • Eric Johnson, procurement services
  • Zayira Jordan, accessibility coordinator, IT
  • Jacob Larson, IT
  • Zhen Li, IT
  • Steve Lonergan, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Emily Morgan, College of Design
  • Annette O’Connor, Faculty Senate and College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Gary Ockey, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Allan Schmidt, CELT
  • Amy Ward, CELT
  • Mike Wilson, IT

Based on the listening sessions and survey, the committee developed a list of required and preferred elements for a request for proposals (RFP) to ensure that vendors address specific needs. These elements include the broad categories of course management, migration, mobile capabilities, learning analytics, accessibility, technology and integration.

The required and preferred elements list, part of a draft RFP, is posted in CyBox. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to provide comments about the list through Jan. 31 (a link to a comments site is provided).

Next steps

The RFP will be issued in February, with a proposal deadline of March 10. The current plan is to choose two to four vendors who would provide campus demonstrations after spring break. The steering committee will collect and evaluate input on the demonstrations before making a decision in April.

For more information on the LMS review, contact Lohrbach or VanDerZanden.

Spring lectures lineup runs the gamut

Leslie Odom Jr. photo with horizontal crop

Leslie Odom Jr., star of "Hamilton," will speak at Stephens Auditorium on March 29. Contributed photo.

Environmental responsibility. The economy. American security. Cyber hacking. Rap and reality. These topics and many more make up the spring lectures program schedule. A few are highlighted below. A complete list of lectures is available online, all of which are free and open to the public.

"Rap, Race, Reality and Technology," Chuck D, Jan. 26 (8 p.m., Great Hall, Memorial Union)

Chuck D is co-founder of the rap group Public Enemy, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. As a rapper, Chuck D delivers messages about race, rage and inequality, and is known for creating politically charged and socially conscious hip-hop music. He is a national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League and the National Alliance of African American Athletes. He is co-author of the book "Fight the Power: Rap, Race and Reality."

"Good for Business, Good for the Planet," Rick Ridgeway, Feb. 2 (8 p.m., MU Great Hall)

Ridgeway is vice president of public engagement at Patagonia, an outerwear manufacturer whose main business principle aims to protect and preserve the environment. An accomplished mountaineer, Ridgeway has held numerous positions at Patagonia and is responsible for key sustainability initiatives, including: Footprint Chronicles, designed to bring transparency to the supply chain; Worn Wear, which encourages reduced consumption through its repair-and-recycle program; and the Responsible Economy Campaign.

"It's the Economy," Adam Davidson, Feb. 22 (8 p.m., MU Great Hall)

Davidson, co-founder and host of National Public Radio's "Planet Money," also covers business, technology and economics for "The New Yorker." Previously, he wrote the "It's the Economy" column for "The New York Times Magazine," helping readers better understand confusing economic and financial concepts. Davidson was awarded a Peabody and other awards for reporting about economics in funny and engaging ways.

"'Hamilton' and the Road to Success: In Words and Music," Leslie Odom Jr., March 29 (7 p.m., Stephens Auditorium)

Odom won a Tony Award for playing Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical, "Hamilton," which tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton through the language and rhythms of hip-hop and rhythm and blues. During his talk, Odom will discuss his life and career, before answering questions from the audience and performing songs from the musical. Odom also received a Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Musical Theater Album as a principal soloist on the original Broadway recording for "Hamilton."

There is general admission seating for this event; no tickets required.

"America and the Middle East: Shifting Sands in the Security Relationship," Deborah Jones, April 3 (8 p.m., MU Great Hall)

Jones, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, was U.S. Ambassador to Libya from 2013 to 2015, and U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait from 2008 to 2011. She served as principal officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey, from 2005 to 2007. Additional assignments included posts in Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates. She also served as senior faculty adviser for National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

"Cyber Sabotage: The History and Politics of Russian-American Hacking," Fred Kaplan, April 18 (7 p.m., MU Great Hall)

Kaplan, a journalist, writes a national security column for "Slate" magazine and has authored five books about American politics. His recent book, "Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War," chronicles the long history of hacking between the United States and Russia. His book, "The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War," was a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Kaplan also has written for "The Atlantic" magazine, the Boston Globe, "Foreign Affairs" magazine and The New York Times.