Five questions for a Cyclone storyteller

Tom Kroeschell

Tom Kroeschell, producer of "Cyclones 101." Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Cyclones 101

Last fall, a new athletics video series kicked off in tandem with the 2016 football season. Fed by "lots and lots" of history stored in one man's brain, the "Cyclones 101" stories are researched and told by director of programming Tom Kroeschell. A Cyclone by birth (both parents are alumni), "professor Kroeschell, doctor of CYcology" already has nearly 30 episodes on his syllabus with plenty more where that came from. The free episodes are released via the @CyclonesTV Twitter account, and publicly available on the athletics website and YouTube channel.

Talk about the evolution of the "Cyclones 101" series.

I wanted to make a contribution to our Twitter efforts. This was a way to do that and use what I have gleaned from being in athletics for 31 years here. I'm just the kind of a guy that likes to find a good story and tell it. It's just fun.

I have great support from some very talented people in our office. Dani Orris (media production manager) gave me a lot of encouragement to do it. Austin Minnihan (media production specialist) made the cool open [intro video].

What is the optimal length for a feature?

About 1:20. I have done a few longer, those we have titled "night class." For example, the 1957 ISU men's basketball victory over Wilt Chamberlin [and the Kansas Jayhawks]. That's a monumental day in Iowa State sports history and merits a little longer feature.

Do you have a list of stories to do?

I don't have a working list. I have a mind full of these stories. I've always loved Iowa State athletics history and Iowa State university history, so we try to work in things to give people an idea of what it was like at that time if we're going to go pretty far back. There are so many stories to tell.

How do you come up with story ideas?

I talk with people who have stories, and the library's "Iowa State Alumnus" [alumni magazine, 1905-48] is a treasure trove of athletics and university issues -- absolutely fascinating. Fascinating stuff. That's where you get some of your ideas -- it's what was going on then, and a lot of that has been forgotten now.

I also do the documentaries for Cyclones TV. When you're in the middle of researching, you come across something that's not going to fit, but think 'that's a cool little story or nugget.'

How do you research the features?

I spend time down in the microfilm media center in the basement of the library. They know who I am.

I also use the athletics archives, university archives, the "Alumnus" and personal interviews. Becky Jordan (reference specialist) and the people at special collections could not be nicer or more professional. 

Leath covers budget, legislation and enrollment during senate update

President Steven Leath provided his annual update at the Feb. 14 Faculty Senate meeting. His remarks touched on several topics, including the budget, state and federal legislative issues, projected growth, faculty excellence, the research enterprise and the fundraising campaign.

Mid-year budget cut: "As you would expect, the No. 1 priority in Beardshear is to protect the academic core and minimize the impact on our academic mission, so just over half the reduction -- about $4.2 million -- will be absorbed centrally."

FY18 budget: "We have a very large request -- $100 million over five years for a major capital project to build a brand-new veterinary diagnostic lab. It's a critically important project that's risen to the top of our list. It plays a huge role in our $17 billion animal agriculture industry in this state. We'd have to put about $20 million in fundraising into that project."

Collective bargaining legislation: "Bottom line at the university, we want the state to be committed to competitive wages and good benefits for our employees. Right now it seems to be on a very, very fast track and it's reasonable to expect a fairly large and complete overhaul very soon."

Managing growth: "One question you're probably asking is 'are we going to be bigger or smaller next fall?' We'll be bigger. I think we've done a good job with turning the dials and we're growing at a much more modest pace than we were a couple years ago."

Tuition: "We're still the most affordable university in our peer group, whether you're looking at it from a resident point of view, or a nonresident point of view. We've never gotten the resources in scale with the size that we've grown. The reality is that we could raise [resident] undergraduate tuition eight percent at once and nonresident undergraduate tuition 10 percent at once and still be the lowest of our peer group. So we're trying to make that point that we want to be affordable and we want to be accessible, but we don't necessarily have to be the cheapest."

Executive order impact: "Right now it looks like graduate student applications from outside the U.S. have gone way down -- not just for Iowa State, but it's a phenomenon in the U.S. Until this thing shakes out and calms down, we are going to see a fundamental decline in applications and that's going to affect a number of things in our graduate programs."

Forever True, For Iowa State $1.1 billion fundraising campaign: "To put it in perspective, if you don't see me on campus, I have to raise $328,000 a day, seven days a week, for the next four and a half years. If you think about that, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, and you have to -- unfortunately -- be gone quite a bit to raise these kinds of dollars and you have to go where the people with those resources are. This will be a pretty intense period. The deans and everybody in upper administration are heavily engaged in this."

Dead week policy approved; nursing degree and transfer GPAs under consideration

Presidential update

President Steven Leath provided his annual update at the meeting, touching on topics such as the budget, legislation and enrollment management.

Senators approved a change to the Faculty Handbook's dead week policy at the Feb. 14 Faculty Senate meeting, eliminating in-class quizzes and exams on Thursday and Friday of the week prior to finals. Online and take-home exams can be assigned no later than noon on the Wednesday of dead week, and cannot include material introduced after Tuesday of dead week.

Exceptions include:

  • Classes that meet only on Thursday or Friday
  • Course labs
  • Half-semester courses
  • Make-up exams
  • Regular assessments "intended to enhance student engagement and guide course delivery," such as clicker quizzes
  • Exemptions approved by the provost's office

The proposed dead week policy change (section 10.6.4) were developed by the senate's student affairs committee, in partnership with student government leadership. It will be in effect for the fall semester.

"It's not that a unit exam can't be given, we're just asking that it be shifted to Tuesday or Wednesday," said Ann Smiley-Oyen, student affairs committee chair. "On Thursday and Friday, if you want to introduce new material, that is not a problem -- you simply do the assessment of that material on the final exam. This is simply a chance to give students some breathing room on Thursday and Friday."

Learning management system review

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, said an RFP (request for proposal) for learning management system (LMS) bids will be posted soon, with vendor demonstrations and reviews planned for March and April. ISU's license with its current system, Blackboard Learn, expires in December 2017.

VanDerZanden outlined these "takeaways" for faculty:

  • Most faculty are expected to use the current Blackboard Learn system for fall 2017
  • Early adopters can choose to migrate courses over the summer and use the new LMS in fall 2017
  • Spring 2018 courses will be migrated during fall 2017 semester
  • Summer and fall 2018 courses also will be migrated in fall 2017

"As you can imagine, this is a multiphased, multifaceted project that has a lot of moving parts," VanDerZanden said. "We understand that this is a significant undertaking for a number of people on campus, and being collaborative and communicative and doing whatever we can to support the process is really what our goal is, in the end."

New academic programs

Two proposed academic programs were introduced, including:

  • A bachelor of science in nursing, jointly administered by the colleges of Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students with an associate degree in nursing from an accredited program would be eligible to enroll, with curriculum especially designed for currently employed nurses pursuing an "RN to BSN" track.
  • A pharmacology and toxicology minor, offered by the biomedical sciences department and interdepartmental toxicology program. The minor is intended for undergraduate students interested in careers that involve "toxicology, toxicant effects in animal and environmental systems, and drug action."

Other business

Senators will vote next month on:

  • A motion to eliminate a summer option that admits students who are below the minimum requirement for the Regents Admissions Index (245). Low participation (about 50 students), moderate success and retention rates, and staffing demands were cited for its discontinuation (effective summer 2018).
  • A motion to raise the minimum grade point average requirement for transfer students (without an associate's degree) from 2.00 to 2.25, effective fall 2019. A review shows lower retention and six-year graduation rates for students admitted with a GPA under 2.25.
  • Faculty Handbook changes (section 3.2) that better outline minimum qualifications for faculty appointments, to meet revised guidelines from the Higher Learning Commission
  • A proposed "Statement of Faculty Core Values," intended to serve as an external communication of basic principles and the role of faculty at Iowa State

Regents meet in Ames next week

Artist's sketch of water falls and pool in garden

Landscape architect's sketch of the proposed Sycamore Falls area in the southwest part of Reiman Gardens. Submitted image.

Iowa State will seek final approval on a $3.4 million plan to improve the southwest corner of Reiman Gardens when the state Board of Regents meets Feb. 22-23 at the Alumni Center. No state funds would be used for the "Sycamore Falls" project; it would be completed with private gifts, including a $1.7 million lead gift from Roy and Bobbi Reiman, for whom the gardens were named 22 years ago.

The proposed area is 1.25 acres at the south end of the gardens, bordered by Beach Avenue on the west and University Boulevard on the east. Sycamore Falls is part of the gardens' 2015 master plan.

The work includes terracing the hillside to create a series of water pools that cascade over walls and collect in a circular pool surrounded by a walkway. It will include native ornamental plants and incorporate seven 80-year-old sycamore trees, which will create a natural eastern border for the plan area. The intent is to create an outdoor space for events and gatherings.

If the project receives board approval, construction would begin in April and continue into early fall, with final plantings scheduled for spring 2018.

Audio of all open sessions during the regents' two-day meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website. The agenda and supporting documents also are online.

2017-18 parking rates

Iowa State is proposing to leave parking rates (hourly and annual and academic-year permits) at this year's levels for all stalls managed by the parking division.

Permits for the Memorial Union ramp, which is managed by the MU, would go up an average of 2.5 percent ($5 to $12), as proposed. The illegal exit fee at the MU ramp would go up $20, to $120, as proposed. The board will review rates next week and vote on them at its April meeting.

Memorial Union ramp permits


Proposed FY18





Fall, Spring



Winter (Nov-Feb)






2017-18 student housing and dining rates

Iowa State will ask the board to approve residence hall and apartment rate increases of about 3 percent (in whole dollar amounts). Annual increases range from $120 (Richardson Court and Union Drive traditional-style double without air conditioning) to $255 (using a double room as a single in the new Geoffroy Hall). Actual annual rates would range from $4,106 (non-air conditioned quad) to $8,773 (Geoffroy super single).

The exception is Schilletter and University Village apartments, where the proposed increase is 2 percent ($97-$117).

For purposes of annual comparison, a double room (no AC) and Gold meal plan (235 meals and $100 dining dollars per semester) would go up $161 (1.9 percent) for the year, from $8,356 to $8,517.

ISU Dining has made changes to its student dining options, eliminating some plans and introducing others. Meal plans would go up less than 1 percent. The popular Gold plan would go up a proposed $28, to $3,955.

A 50-meal block would go up $29 (about 3 percent) as proposed, to $550. The proposed "door" rate for breakfast in a dining center would go up 25 cents, to $9.50. The lunch/dinner rate would go up $1.25, to $12.50.

The board will review housing and dining rates next week and vote on them at its April meeting.

Franklin Park sale to the city

Iowa State would like to sell to the city of Ames a four-acre park on South Franklin Avenue for $166,000. The city has leased the parcel from the university since 1960; the lease most recently was renewed in December. Last month, city officials indicated their desire to purchase the property and maintain it as a park.

Iowa State first bought the land in the early 1940s and used it for offices and temporary housing. Prompted by the lease review last year, university officials decided the property no longer was critical to Iowa State's mission.

If the board approves the sale, proceeds would be used for strategic investments, including deferred maintenance projects.

Faculty presentations to the board

Iowa State faculty are scheduled to make these informational presentations to the regents:

  • "ROTC Contributes to Excellence in the U.S. Armed Forces," Scott Curtis, Navy ROTC professor and chair of naval science; Ethan Dial, Army ROTC professor and chair of military science and tactics; and William McTernan, Air Force ROTC professor and chair of Air Force aerospace studies, presented to the academic and student affairs committee, Wednesday, 1 p.m.
  • "ISU Faculty Elected to National Academy of Science," Distinguished Professor of statistics Alicia Carriquiry and Distinguished Professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine James Roth will make short presentations on their research and its relevance to the state and nation, presented to the full board, Thursday, approximately 11 a.m.

Other business

Elsewhere on the agenda, Iowa State will seek permission to:

  • Revise the general catalog for 2017-18. Proposed revisions include adding 107 courses and eliminating 125 courses, a net decrease of 18 courses. The new courses are primarily due to new program and certificate offerings. The most significant activity is in the colleges of Design (adding 23 courses, dropping six), Engineering (adding 14, dropping 46) and Liberal Arts and Sciences (adding 38, dropping 37).
 As approved by previous board action, appearing for the first time would be: B.A. in criminal justice; B.S. in entrepreneurship; minors in geographic information, public relations and urban studies; and a graduate certificate in business analytics. Deletions from the catalog would be the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in botany.
  • Eliminate the Community College Policy Center in the School of Education due to faculty retirements and attrition and the interdisciplinary Information Infrastructure Institute due to changes to both internal funding and the nature of the research in this area.
  • Purchase the tennis practice facility on South Dakota Avenue from Dickson and Luann Jensen for $2.7 million. Last April, the board approved a five-year lease on the facility with a purchase option anytime during the lease period.
  • Sell approximately $9 million in bonds on behalf of the residence department to refund in advance the 2018-28 maturities on a 2007 bond sale that helped pay for two dining center renovations (Oak-Elm and Maple Willow Larch). Anticipated lower interest rates would save the university an estimated $484,000.

A regents system internal audit team has completed its review of Iowa State's weapons storage and transportation policies and practices, in connection with the fall audit of ISU flight service. The board's audit and compliance committee will receive a summary of that audit Wednesday afternoon.

Groups ease transition for underrepresented faculty, staff

Embarking on a career move is exciting, albeit riddled with some apprehension.

Will I be successful in my new job?
Will I get along with my colleagues?
Will I enjoy living in my new community?

On top of that, if you identify with an underrepresented group -- such as Black, Asian-American or LGBTQ+ -- and your new job is at a predominantly white university in a mostly white college town, that apprehension quickly can escalate to anxiety.

Iowa State's faculty and staff affinity (FSA) groups, some with roots to the 1980s, seek to quell such anxieties and open doors to social and networking opportunities. There currently are five active groups on campus. Membership numbers into the hundreds, with room for more. The groups are:


The primary focus of the groups is to create a welcoming, inviting atmosphere for underrepresented ISU faculty, staff and their families and supporters.

"There are many social events and opportunities for meaningful connection within a group and between the FSAs," said Nicci Port, project director for LGBTQA+ affairs in the division of diversity and inclusion. "Different groups have different purposes, but in general, it's about building community and getting acculturated to the campus in the hopes for the retention of really creative, diverse faculty and staff."

All are welcome

Any faculty and staff member may participate in an affinity group, whether or not they are a member of the FSA's identified population. To join, contact the group's leadership team to get on an email list. There are no obligations to take part in the activities.

Sometimes, a family member might be the impetus for a faculty or staff member to seek out membership in an FSA.

"We bring in faculty and staff who may not be a particular demographic, but a spouse or partner may be," said Reginald Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion. "By establishing the type of network that says we are welcoming people to the community, everyone can immediately find a place."


Port said most faculty and staff use membership in the affinity groups to connect socially to the campus and Ames communities.

"When people join a group, they may be in search of nuts-and-bolts information -- where are the people who are like me, where are the places I can hang out and fully be me, where can I find a faith community -- and from there, they connect in whatever ways they prefer," Port said.

Typically, each group meets about once a month, usually for social and networking events. Activities may include a welcome-back cookout in the fall, book clubs, progressive dinners or end-of-year gatherings.

"Events are designed to be engaging and afford opportunities to build relationships outside of formal work constructs," Stewart said.

Faculty and Staff Association Council

While the affinity groups operate independently, leaders from each group meet monthly as part of the Faculty and Staff Association (FSA) Council. The council, established in 2013, also meets with representatives from the division of diversity and inclusion and academic affairs.

The primary purpose of the meetings is to touch base and provide information about what each FSA is doing. In some cases, those conversations have led to larger, university-impacting collaborations. Through the FSA Council, FSAs have taken part in the university's strategic planning process and participated in the search committee and hiring process for the vice president for diversity and inclusion. Currently, the council is working with university human resources to put prospective ISU employees in contact with current faculty and staff from underrepresented populations during the on-campus interview process.


The division of diversity and inclusion funds programming for the affinity groups.

"The most fundamental thing is that we want to make sure the work of building an inclusive campus is funded and supported by Iowa State University," Stewart said.

"The work of these faculty and staff associations has always been grassroots. We can make administrative oversight and policy, but really the core activity comes from the community, the people."

Start a group

Don't see a group that speaks to you? Consider starting one. Stewart says if you've identified a potential group and need guidance on how to proceed, contact the division of diversity and inclusion, 294-8840.

"We can provide best practices and mentor them," Stewart said. 

Doering named associate VP in student affairs

Laura Doering has been named associate vice president for enrollment management and student success, effective March 20.

Doering, ISU's registrar since 2012, has more than 30 years of experience in public higher education and progressive experience in enrollment management, student success initiatives and strategic planning. As registrar, Doering overees and provides leadership to numerous programs and systems, such as enrollment projections, commencement, academic infrastructure, tuition and fee assessment, student academic records and the veterans center.

Prior to her appointment as university registrar, she held senior leadership positions in the admissions and registrar office at Iowa State, including senior associate registrar and director of transfer relations. Before coming to Iowa State, Doering was the director of student activities at Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny.

Doering holds a master’s degree (1999) in education from Iowa State and a bachelor of arts degree (1986) in communication from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. 

“It will be a privilege to serve Iowa State University in this new role and work with the very talented team of individuals who are deeply committed to student success, the overall student experience and meeting the university’s enrollment objectives,” Doering said. “I’m excited to work collaboratively with committed colleagues across campus toward a common understanding of enrollment management at Iowa State, closing the achievement gap, increasing degree completion, enhancing student learning and belonging, and supporting and contributing to the strategic priorities of the division and the university.”

Doering will report to the office of the senior vice president for student affairs and assist in overseeing student affairs operations. She will provide leadership for the development of an enrollment management model which will include accomplishing the university’s goals toward recruiting and retaining an academically strong and diverse student body. Doering will oversee the process for developing and reporting enrollment projections used for university budget and planning. She will also provide leadership to the admissions, student financial aid and registrar offices, and the enrollment research team, learning communities, student support services programs and Educational Talent Search/Upward Bound.

“Laura has the right combination of characteristics needed to be successful in this role,” said senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon. “She has years of demonstrated and recognized leadership and success at Iowa State University, in the state of Iowa, and nationally in a number of key areas beyond her role as registrar. I know that she cares for our students and their success and that she is deeply committed to the university.”

Doering succeeds Harmon, who became the senior vice president for student affairs in March 2016.

Englin assumes expanded VP role

Residence director Pete Englin has been named assistant vice president for student affairs in addition to his current duties. Englin moved into this expanded role on Jan. 30.

As residence director since 2005, Englin coordinates the operation of programs and service delivery to more than 12,000 students residing in university-owned and managed traditional residence halls, suites and apartments.

As assistant vice president for student affairs, Englin reports to senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon and provides executive leadership for both ISU Dining and the residence department. ISU Dining director Mohamed Ali will continue to direct dining operations.

“I am so honored to serve in this expanded role,” Englin said. “We already have a natural partnership between housing and dining. This stronger tie will help both organizations bring a greater level of service to our students.”

Englin will collaborate with division leadership to set the vision for capital planning and space management for student affairs. He also will manage student affairs strategic planning and represent the senior vice president for student affairs on various committees and planning groups related to university capital projects.

“I’m really excited about Pete taking on an expanded leadership role in the division. He is one of our most senior cabinet members,” Harmon said. “As assistant vice president for student affairs, Pete will bring his experience to the division cabinet and student affairs will benefit from his leadership.”

Reiman Gardens dedicates 2017 to 'Water'


Visitors to Reiman Gardens' current exhibition, "Petals and Parasols," stroll under a canopy of colorful umbrellas. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Reiman Gardens will be awash with all things water-related throughout 2017, aptly reflecting this year's theme of "Water." From now through December, visitors may peruse exhibits of vivid floral displays that feature items related to oceans, lakes and rivers.

Following is a glance at some of the exhibits currently on display, and others in the works. For a complete listing and more details, visit the Reiman Gardens website. Regular admission rates apply.

Current displays

"Petals and Parasols," Hughes Conservatory, through April 23

Whether you call them parasols, umbrellas or bumbershoots, Reiman Gardens has a plethora of colorful ones on display, both inside and outside the Hughes Conservatory. Orchids and other vibrant flora are juxtaposed among the umbrellas, as if waiting for a spring rainfall.

"River Stories -- Views from an Iowa Watershed," Garden Room Gallery, through March 31

This educational display incorporates "photostories" using Photovoice, a community-based process that uses photography and group dialogue to understand topics of importance or concern. In this exhibit, Iowa women farmers provide photos and documentation regarding Iowa's watershed concerns and land conservation.

Upcoming exhibits

"Washed Ashore," throughout Reiman Gardens, April 29-Oct. 31

Ten, larger-than-life sea creatures made from trash collected from beaches will dot the grounds during this long-running exhibit. The sculptures will make their national debut at the gardens, bringing with them a message of conservation and recycling. Additional information about the sculptures, including photographs, is available online.

Garden displays

Just as nature changes its colors throughout the seasons, Reiman Gardens will offer several garden displays to showcase the beauty of spring, summer, autumn and winter foliage.

  • "Springtime Swirl," Campanile Garden, Herb Garden, South Mixed Border, Children's Garden, mid-April through mid-May
    A variety of 50,000 colorful tulips make a splash as they mimic a landscape of watercolors.
  • "Totally Tubular," Hughes Conservatory, April 28-Aug. 13
    A nod to summertime and surfing, tubular-shaped flowers may inspire onlookers to catch a wave.
  • "Thrillers, Spillers and Tummy Fillers," Herb Garden, May 15-Oct. 15
    See thyme, oregano and other herbs spring from fountains to create colorful waterfalls.
  • "From the Deep," Campanile Garden, May 15-Oct. 15
    Whimsical displays inspired by sea monsters tease the imagination about what lies deep beneath the ocean.
  • "Bath Time and Bubbles," Children's Garden, May 15-Oct. 15
    A stream flowing under a covered bridge, a frog splash pond and bubbles are just a few of the ways kids will enjoy this exhibit's water theme.
  • "Torpedoes and Tomatoes," Home Production Garden, May 15-Oct. 15
    Submarine sandwiches are the inspiration for the vegetables that grow in this summertime garden.
  • "Cardinal Tide," Hughes Conservatory, Aug. 18-Nov. 5
    The kickoff of Iowa State's fall semester colors the conservatory in cardinal plants and flowers.
  • "Snow and Ice," Hughes Conservatory, Nov. 10-Jan. 7, 2018
    The RG Express train returns and chugs its way through a landscape of snow and ice, complete with white poinsettias, flocked trees and snowflakes.