Algae, beware

Flat boat on Lake LaVerne distributes liquid chemical into the w

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

The campus services team of Curt Johnson (operating the boat motor) and David Madsen cruised Lake LaVerne Tuesday conducting the annual distribution of liquid aluminum sulfate in the water. "Alum," as it's called, binds together nutrients in the water and these clusters fall to the bottom of the lake. Lower nutrient levels help control algae levels in the lake, especially during hot, dry weeks, said Chris Strawhacker, a landscape architect with facilities planning and management. Oxygenated water created by aerators in the lake address the same issue. Depending on weather and water quality, Strawhacker said some years require a second alum dose in the fall. The process is harmless to fish and other lake inhabitants.

You're invited: Listening sessions are starting point in presidential search

Dan Houston and Luis Rico-Gutierrez lead a search committee meet

The 21-member presidential search committee is led by alumnus and Principal Financial Group president and CEO Dan Houston (left) and College of Design dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Following a series of listening sessions with Iowa State constituent groups this month, the search for Iowa State's next president officially will launch on July 6 when the job advertisement posts on higher education job sites. Aug. 24 is the application deadline for guaranteed consideration, with an anticipated 8-12 semifinalists selected for interviews during the last week in September at a neutral location and finalists interviewing on campus the week of Oct. 9.

All 21 members of the presidential search committee participated in the group's first meeting June 5 at the Alumni Center. Jim McCormick and Janice Fitzgerald of the firm AGB Search joined them. State Board of Regents president Michael Richards read the group its charge, noting that the search committee will choose a small group of finalists and the board will select a president.

McCormick confirmed that nominees and applicants would remain unnamed through the semifinalist phase. At the time the finalists visit campus, their names will be shared publicly.

Share your thoughts

McCormick and Fitzgerald will lead the listening sessions, accompanied by search committee members and regents who want to sit in. Discussion and comments at the sessions will shape the content of the position description and the job advertisement, which the AGB team will draft and the search committee will approve.

Four public sessions are scheduled for next week; individuals may attend any of the sessions:

Monday, June 12

  • 1:30-3 p.m., MU Pioneer Room
  • 5:30-7 p.m., MU Campanile Room

Tuesday, June 13

  • 8:30-10 a.m., MU Pioneer Room
  • Noon-1:30 p.m., Design on Main, 203 Main St.

Those who cannot attend a session but would like to provide input on desired candidate characteristics and qualifications may email their comments by June 19 to

McCormick said three questions will drive the listening sessions:

  • What are the challenges the next Iowa State president will face?
  • What kind of leader is needed to face these challenges?
  • Why would someone want to come to Iowa State?

Thoughts on a president

Search committee members also responded to these questions during their meeting. Following is a summary of their comments.


  • Rapid and recurring student enrollment growth and the issues it creates with space, resources and the student-faculty ratio
  • Reduced availability of federal research dollars and the strain it puts on Iowa State's research output and membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU)
  • Diversity and inclusion incidents and issues
  • Finishing a $1.1 billion capital campaign successfully
  • Broad workplace changes that will impact many staff, such as the P&S classification/compensation system review and implementation of Workday software
  • The state's political climate and nurturing a positive relationship with both the state Board of Regents and state legislators
  • Decline in international student applications, in part due to national political climate
  • Tension with Iowa media (by more than one previous president) and the ability to navigate communications issues as they arise

Qualities needed in the next president 

  • People skills, especially the ability to deal well and often with legislators
  • Collaboration experience and skill, given Iowa State's broad list of engaged constituent groups: students, legislators, alumni, businesses, faculty and staff, regents
  • Appreciation for shared governance, willingness to participate in it
  • Recognition of Iowa State's unique student experience and that they're not merely active; "they run things in a very important way"
  • Recognition of the Iowa State "gestalt," and that the university is about more than science and technology. Disciplines in design, humanities and human sciences contribute to the unique Iowa State experience, too.
  • Understanding of the land-grant responsibility and impact

Iowa State, Ames pride points

  • Student success -- by not just the high performers but also the students "our peer schools wouldn't accept"
  • High faculty retention levels despite challenges of high enrollments; faculty like it here
  • Strong student affairs network as well as its seamless relationship with the academic side to help students succeed
  • Ames is a safe, clean community in which to raise a family
  • A research park that's better than it was five years ago and growing exponentially
  • Loyal, supportive alumni who want to be involved
  • Membership in the respected Big 12 Conference and an athletics director who "likes to win" but also "gets integrity" and the importance of graduating student-athletes
  • Iowa's core values are alive and well

The short list

Reading from the charge, Richards said that the board will expect the search committee to provide an unranked list of the finalists. In October, following the campus interviews but prior to the board's interviews with the finalists, Richards said the regents would meet with the search committee to discuss the strengths of each finalist.


New look available for university websites

New website theme

It was about two years in the making, but a fresh online look is available for ISU departments and units. The new theme can be downloaded in multiple formats.

"We wanted to focus on accessibility and usability," said Jeff Sorensen, IT's web development services manager. "It was a campuswide effort, with input from many areas."

Sorensen said the theme was built on the Bootstrap framework and is mobile-friendly. Web developers from many parts of campus, including the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences, partnered with IT to develop and provide the theme in four formats -- Drupal, WordPress, HTML and PHP.

Users will notice a contemporary flat design, with clean typography and plenty of white space. Gone are the boxes, vertical lines and left-side navigation. The header and footer were developed to incorporate standard features -- for example, sign ons and contact information -- to help with usability.

"We want to provide users with a consistent look and feel as they navigate through university websites," Sorensen said.

Consistency starts at the top

Sorensen said the top gray navigation bar is intended to be consistent across all university sites. It provides a link to the university homepage and campus-wide resources, such as sign ons, the alphabetical index and directory.

The top section (header) is designed for site-specific information, including a search box. It also contains drop-down navigation menus that can expand to many levels. The drop-drown navigation bar remains fixed at the top of the web page as users scroll down.

The bottom section (footer) allows sites to identify and link to all programs or affiliations, such as shared reporting lines. Contact information, social media links and recommended legal information -- for instance, the nondiscrimination and privacy policies -- also are part of the footer.

"This was the logical place to go big," Sorensen said. "Users should find it easy to get in touch with the department. And for consistency, please don't change the structure of the information in the footer."

Early adopters

Several sites already switched to the new look during the beta testing phase, including the university's homepage and top-level pages. Sorensen said IT web clients will be notified about the rollout of the new theme. Developers can learn more about the features on the theme website, and download their preferred format free with a Net-ID login.

"With the new theme following standard conventions, such as Bootstrap, applying the theme should be a straightforward process for most developers," Sorensen said.

Developers and users are encouraged to email suggestions and bug reports to Sorensen recommends using style sheets or sub themes instead of changing the theme so updates can be seamlessly implemented.

Winfrey named MU director

Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union at North Dakota State University, Fargo, has been named director of the Memorial Union, effective Aug. 14.

Steve Winfrey


Winfrey will report to senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon and administer all MU facilities, programs, activities, products, services and tenant relations. He also will oversee the Student Activities Center, which provides opportunities for students to be successful, independent and responsible learners.

"Steve brings a dynamic set of experiences that includes student development, facility management and development, and diversity and inclusion," Harmon said. "I am very excited that he will utilize his leadership skills to position the Memorial Union for future growth."

Winfrey has worked at NDSU since 2004, serving as Memorial Union director since 2007. He has experience in the overall supervision of a university's union facilities, services and programs, including event services, reservations, strategic planning, assessment, leases, capital planning, building security and custodial services. He supervised the completion of NDSU's student union renovation and addition. Prior to working at NDSU, he was assistant director of leadership programs at the University of Minnesota.

"It is a distinct honor and privilege to be a part of Iowa State University as the incoming Memorial Union director. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to join a team that is focused on providing outstanding programs and services to the Iowa State community," Winfrey said. "I wish to thank the students and staff of Iowa State for inviting me to join the ISU family. I also wish to thank all of my past supervisors, teams and colleagues who have helped prepare me for such an amazing opportunity."

Winfrey received bachelor's (psychology) and master's (counseling and college student personnel) degrees from Creighton University, Omaha.

Former MU director Richard Reynolds retired in December 2015. Associate director Corey Williamson has served as interim director.

Canvas is the new learning management system

Canvas has been chosen as Iowa State’s new learning management system (LMS).

The selection comes after an extensive review process that included multiple rounds of input from campus stakeholders, vendor demonstrations, and the migration of several existing Iowa State courses to let faculty see how finalists’ systems work in real time.

Features for faculty, students

  • Intuitive interface design and easy navigation
  • Flexibility for a variety of instructional approaches
  • Integrated accessibility features
  • Highly functional mobile interface
  • Excellent user (faculty, staff, student) support

"The transition to Canvas is a great opportunity for faculty to reimagine courses and content, make sure materials are accessible for all learners, and to 'bake in' continuous course improvement through real-time learner analytics," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert.

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and information technology will be working over the summer to prepare for the transition to Canvas. Initial plans are for 100-150 instructors to use a limited version of the new system for their fall 2017 courses.

All instructors teaching courses in spring 2018 will use the full version of Canvas, with extensive user support and integration of student data. Workshops and resources will be available during the fall semester to help instructors prepare their spring courses.

CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden noted that Canvas is well positioned to evolve alongside new computer applications and technology platforms, ensuring faculty can take advantage of the latest instructional tools. The transition also is an opportunity for faculty who did not use BlackBoard Learn to take advantage of the capabilities of an LMS to support their teaching.

The LMS review website has more information on the transition to Canvas.

A little help with the P&S job tool

Professional and scientific employees received an email June 1 from university human resources (UHR) with the subject line "Classification and Compensation Review -- Job Profile Tool." The job collection tool is an early component of a broad review of the P&S classification and compensation system. The safety of all links and attachments in the email was verified by IT services.

Input from the tool is being used to create new classifications that encompass the diversity of positions across campus. This collection process will inform and shape the future P&S classification structure by giving UHR the ability to properly categorize jobs into new classifications and job families.

New info

Check out the project website

Employees are asked to complete the tool by June 30; supervisors should complete their review and send all completed tools to UHR by July 14. With about three weeks remaining until the first deadline, UHR staff compiled a Q&A to assist employees who haven't completed their tool yet; several from that document are are included below.

How long will it take to complete the Job Profile Tool?

On average, P&S employees will need approximately 30-60 minutes to complete the tool.

How detailed should my answers be?

Please keep your answers brief. Include broad, key information that encompasses the primary duties and purpose of the position, but not every detail of what you do on a daily basis.

What information do I need prior to starting?

You'll need to know your Net-ID, job classification title and number, your supervisor’s name, your department and pay grade. The tool also will cover:

  • Essential/primary duties
  • Supervisory responsibilities
  • Level of education and experience you think should be required and preferred for the position
  • Certifications and licensures you think should be required and preferred for the position
  • Your level of education, and certifications and licensures you possess that are applicable to the position
  • Physical demands and working conditions
  • Additional comments, for example a title that is more reflective of the job you do

How can I confirm my job classification and number, my pay grade, department and who my supervisor is?

This information can be found in your current position description. Directions for accessing your PD are online. If you are unable to access your position description, or have questions, email or contact your HR liaison.

Related stories

University to collect job information from P&S employees, May 18, 2017
University kicks off review of P&S classification/compenstation structure, May 4, 2017

Introducing Penumbra

Penumbra solar car

Photo by Mike Krapfl.

The familiar car number 9 has a whole new look and size in 2017. Iowa State's student solar car team unveiled a four-door, four-seat vehicle to the public June 2 at the Alumni Center. The 14th car in Team PrISUm's 26-year history, Penumbra will be the university's first-ever entrant in the biennial World Solar Challenge, a Darwin to Adelaide coast-to-coast haul down the Australian outback Oct. 8-12.

The team will test its vehicle during a 99-county SunRun around Iowa, which launched last weekend and wraps up June 24 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton.

Bissell Road closure June 12-25

Campus map indicating road closure section

The section of Bissell Road between Osborn Drive and the entrances to parking lots 3 and 8 will be closed June 12-25. The red lane indicates the closed road section; the gold lanes indicate the modified routes for CyRide buses that normally use Bissell Road. Submitted image.


Class of 2017 adds to scholarship fund

Forever True

Funds raised for the senior class gift count toward the ISU Foundation's "Forever True, For Iowa State" campaign. About $726 million has been raised in pursuit of a $1.1 billion goal by June 30, 2020.

For the sixth consecutive year, the senior class designated its parting gift to a scholarship fund. Initiated by the class of 2012, the Senior Class Gift Scholarship fund has provided about $5,000 to four students since the first award in 2014.

"We accept contributions for many areas on campus," said Mary Evanson, executive director of annual and special gifts in the ISU Foundation. "Over 500 new graduates contribute to Iowa State annually, with most of the funds going toward the class gift scholarship."

Evanson said the 2017 spring graduates already raised more than $23,000 for the scholarship fund. Winter graduates will add to the total.

"We're really focusing on the scholarship fund for the senior gift," Evanson said. "We've gone away from project-based gifts. It's difficult to raise enough for those projects to come to fruition in a timely fashion."

The ISU Foundation created a video highlighting the scholarship fund, sending it to graduates via email and posting it on social media. A phone campaign also was used.

The scholarship fund balance stands at about $63,000. Evanson said that as the balance grows, the payouts will, too. There were single recipients in 2014 and 2015, and two scholarships awarded in 2016.

"The only criteria for the scholarship is that the student is an Iowa State senior who has filled out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form," Evanson said.

Meet the artist

Joe Patrick's "Wizard" painting.

Artist Joe Patrick will talk about his exhibition, "Parallels: The Architecture of Impermanence," during a reception at the Brunnier Art Museum on Sunday, June 11 (2-4 p.m., 295 Scheman, remarks begin at 2:30 p.m.). Patrick, emeritus professor of art at the University of Iowa, finds inspiration in his friends and travels. He splits time in Oaxaca, Mexico, capturing 40 years of visits to markets and gardens in his watercolor and oil paintings, as pictured. He also uses a variety of media in sketching and drawing portraits of friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

The "Parallels" exhibit at Brunnier runs through July 30 (11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday). Admission is free, but a $3 donation is suggested. Photo courtesy of University Museums.

Extension dairy month events include June 9 open house

June is dairy month and the public is invited to celebrate the efforts of Iowa’s dairy farmers who deliver a wholesome and nutritious supply of milk and dairy products, making a significant contribution to the state’s economy. ISU Extension and Outreach is offering several educational opportunities across the state to learn about dairy farming first-hand.

“Our goal is to create the next generation of dairy lovers,” said Leo Timms, Morrill Professor of animal science and extension dairy specialist. “We’re giving visitors an opportunity to get inside a dairy barn and see our commitments to animal well-being, environmental stewardship and production of high quality, safe milk and dairy products. Consumers need to know about local dairy products and the work it takes to make Iowa 12th in the nation for milk production.”

Dairy is the fifth-largest agricultural business in Iowa, generating $4 billion a year in economic activity, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 2012 Census of Agriculture. There are about 1,400 dairy farms in the state and about 99 percent of them are family-owned.

The dairy month open house schedule includes face-to-face conversations with farmers and on-farm milking demonstrations. Open house activities vary by location and may include a meal or samples of dairy products, a kid-friendly area to meet calves and visit educational exhibits, and a guided farm tour allowing families to milk a cow and see robotic milking machines.

June Dairy Month open houses

Events are held in partnership with the Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, Northeast Iowa Community College and various agriculture and commodity group sponsors and supporters in the local communities.

Visitors are asked to take precautions and follow biosecurity policies if they have been at another livestock operation. Those who have recently returned from a trip abroad are asked to wait five days before visiting farms with animals. Visitors are asked to change clothing and footwear if going from farm to farm and to refrain from bringing any food items to the farm. For more information contact the farm manager of the dairy operation.