The calendar must be lying

Two men move mulch from a truckbed to wheelbarrows

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Campus services student employee Praneeth Perera (center) and staffer Doug Tenhaeff (right) unload mulch to wheelbarrows Monday near the Lab of Mechanics and Black Engineering buildings. Taking advantage of unusually mild temperatures that afternoon, campus services teams spread about 15 tons of mulch on campus beds in a single day.

Travel ban could hurt international enrollment

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said about 115 students and four employees at ISU were impacted by President Donald Trump's executive order that suspended travel into the United States from seven countries.

"This is something that is still very much in flux," Wickert said at the Feb. 2 meeting of the Professional and Scientific Council. "Obviously, it's a big concern at all universities in the country. We're monitoring this on a very regular basis."

Wickert said the directive also might impact international enrollment, as was the case after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

"We don't know what that effect will be here at our university or nationally," he said. "I might speculate that I think it will lead to a sharp reduction in international enrollment, because I think there will be some prospective students that might say, 'I guess I'm not going to study in the United States after all, I'll go to an excellent university in another country.'"

He also urged the Iowa State community to show empathy to individuals who "are not allowed to freely travel," and to communicate with and support one another.

Representative realignment

P&S Council members will vote next month on proposed changes to the bylaws that realign the council's representation areas. The changes are in response to the restructuring of the former office of the vice president for business and finance to assign responsibilities to the university services and president's offices.

Election season

Nominations for council officer positions will be accepted and voted on at next month's meeting. Current nominees are:

  • President-elect: Jeff Hartwig, animal science
  • VP, university planning and budget: Jordan Bates, internal audit
  • VP, university community relations: Nick Van Berkum, sociology
  • VP, equity and inclusion: Samone York, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Secretary and treasurer: none

Nominations for P&S Council seats will be accepted Feb. 13-March 10, with elections held March 20-31. Pending approval of the proposed bylaws changes, open seats by representation area include:

  • Academic affairs, 9
  • Finance, 1
  • President's office, 4
  • Student affairs, 3
  • University services, 3

Other business

  • Council members approved the nomination of Ryan Barbauld, associate director in admissions, to fill a vacant seat in student affairs
  • Wickert said planners are working to "minimize the effect" of the FY17 budget reversion on students, and that the FY18 budget is "a known unknown" 

Top 20: What our undergraduates are studying

Roughly one-third of this spring's undergraduate students are concentrated in 10 majors. And about one-fifth of undergraduates are enrolled in the next set of 10 majors. Within this spring's 28,334 undergraduates, 14,070 -- just under 50 percent -- are enrolled somewhere in that group of 20 undergraduate majors. The numbers are part of spring enrollment data posted by the registrar's office.

With the exception of Design, which limits enrollments to meet accreditation requirements, each of the undergraduate colleges is represented more than once among the 20 largest majors. Mechanical engineering (2,054 students), kinesiology (1,119) and animal science (938) remain the largest undergraduate programs by enrollment.

Not majors, but large groups

Additionally, there are 1,750 undergraduates (including 582 freshmen and 666 sophomores) this spring listed in "pre-business" and 486 students (including 279 freshmen) in the "open option" in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The two categories capture significant student numbers, but are not degree-granting majors.

Two other degree programs have significant student numbers in the "pre" category, architecture at 190 and computer science at 231 students. If combined with undergraduates fully admitted into the degree programs, the tallies rise to 487 and 506 students, respectively.

Top 20 undergraduate majors, by enrollment



1. Mechanical engineering


2. Kinesiology and health


3. Animal science


4. Elementary education


5. Aerospace engineering


6. Chemical engineering


7. Psychology


8. Computer engineering


9. Biology (AGLS and LAS)


10. Civil engineering






11. Marketing


12. Software engineering (ENG and LAS)


13. Electrical engineering


14. Industrial engineering


15. Finance


16. Agricultural business


17. Apparel, merchandising and design


18. Accounting


19. Supply chain management


20. Agricultural studies






Spring semester 2017


Spring demolitions will clear Student Innovation Center site

Oldest section of Sweeney and Nuclear Engineering Lab

The oldest section of Sweeney Hall (right) and the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory (left) will be demolished this spring to clear the site for the 140,000-square-foot Student Innovation Center. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

When it's completed in 2020 north of Hoover Hall, the $84 million Student Innovation Center won't just change the west campus skyline. It has triggered a re-do on the function and layout of Bissell Road on its west flank, and most importantly, it will improve how Iowa State students learn.

Learn more

Presentation and Q&A on west campus development plans:
Feb. 15, 4:10 p.m., 0308 Elings Hall

It also has compelled campus planners to remove two outdated buildings to create space for it. Around April 1, demolition will commence on two 86+ year-old sections of Sweeney Hall and the 83-year-old Nuclear Engineering Lab. The last tenants in both will be relocated to other campus spaces by the middle of this month, some temporarily until they move to the Student Innovation Center.

Here's a bit of history about these two sites.

Nuclear Engineering Laboratory

The building acquired its current name in 1959 when the university installed a nuclear reactor for teaching and research purposes. Iowa State previously offered bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering; today the mechanical engineering department offers a nuclear engineering minor.

The reactor, with just a 10-kilowatt capacity, was in service from 1959 to 1998, typically at about 1 watt. It operated on three kilograms (about 6.5 pounds) of uranium, but in nearly 40 years of use, it consumed less than one gram, said ISU's radiation safety manager Scott Wendt, who received two nuclear engineering degrees from Iowa State. The remaining uranium left campus in two shipments (1998 and 2000) and the reactor was deconstructed in the summer of 2000, following the proposal submitted a year earlier to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The decommissioning included removing any soil beneath the reactor floor that contained radioactivity.

Once the reactor was gone, the entire building was scanned for radioactivity as part of the decommissioning. The NRC completed its review of the process and in 2003 informed university officials that the facility and the site were suitable for unrestricted use. Wendt noted that this is the highest clearance possible from the NRC.

For the last 13 years, the building has housed mechanical engineering faculty research labs, emeritus faculty and graduate student offices; and student organization work spaces such as space mining, robotics and vehicle racing teams. It also was the administrative home of the Information Assurance Center.

The building was constructed in 1934 as the Agricultural By-Products Laboratory for the federal government and first repurposed (and renamed) West Chemical Engineering in 1946.

Old Sweeney, or the original Chemical Engineering

The two southeast sections of Sweeney Hall date back to 1927 and 1931 and were known then as the Chemical Engineering Building. (The building complex was named for former department chair Orland Sweeney when the 1964 section was completed.)

The 1927 two-story building, designed primarily for research, had an open center with a partial second-floor balcony and a firehouse-type brass pole for quick descents. The open area accommodated tall equipment used for pilot plant research in agricultural waste. Its one-story north addition (1931) originally contained two labs, offices and a classroom.

Most recently, the oldest two sections of Sweeney were home to industrial and manufacturing systems engineering faculty research labs and graduate student offices, and student organizations including the solar car team and Gaffer's Guild.

The 1964 and 1994 sections of Sweeney will remain in place.


Related stories:

New building will be a student-centered collaboration zone, Jan. 12, 2017
Regent decisions scheduled for tuition, Student Innovation Center, faculty PDAs, Dec. 1, 2016

Sweet, soothing sounds


Lisa Rock, center, and her band pay tribute to the music of Richard and Karen Carpenter. Contributed photo.

Treat your valentine to a night of romantic music at "Close to You: The Music of the Carpenters" on Feb. 14 (8 p.m., Stephens Auditorium).  

Singer and songwriter Lisa Rock pays tribute to the music of brother-sister duo Richard and Karen Carpenter, whose soft rock/pop sound dominated the 1970s music scene. Rock and her six-piece band will perform hits like "Rainy Days and Mondays," "We've Only Just Begun" and, of course, "Close to You."

Tickets, $25 to $55, are available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster

Grab dinner, too

Concertgoers may attend a dinner prior to the performance (6:30 p.m., Scheman Building) by calling the Iowa State Center ticket office at 294-2479. Tickets for the meal are $32 per person, and should be ordered by noon on Feb.13. The menu, prepared by Iowa State Center executive chef Kevin Streiff, is available online.