Stealing a peek

Students peek at solar eclipse in front of Curtiss Hall

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Freshman Shawn Shindelar (left) uses protective glasses to view the solar eclipse outside Curtiss Hall during a class-passing period Monday afternoon, also the first day of the school year. We'll find out how large the student body is this fall following the official count on Sept. 1, the 10th day of the semester.

Presidential search shifts to next phase

The search for Iowa State's next president will soon move from collecting applicants to considering them.

Today, Aug. 24, marks the final day for candidates to apply to guarantee best consideration for the opening created when former President Steven Leath left this spring to become president of Auburn University.

After the deadline, the 21-member search committee will meet on campus Sept. 12 to select up to a dozen semifinalists. Committee members also will discuss questions to pose to candidates tapped for interviews.  

The number of applicants for the position will be released Sept. 12, said Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the state Board of Regents. All nominees and applicants are confidential, except for finalists named later this fall. The portion of the Sept. 12 committee meeting devoted to selecting semifinalists will be held in private.

Once semifinalists are picked, the consultants assisting in the search will conduct reference checks and schedule the committee's private interviews at an off-campus, neutral site Sept. 26-27. The committee will select finalists after its interviews.

The number of finalists may be disclosed after the Sept. 27 meeting, but the identities of finalists won't be made public until 24 hours before their on-campus interviews, Lehman said. Finalists are scheduled to visit campus for interviews and public forums the week of Oct. 9.  

In a special meeting set for Oct. 23 in Ames, the Board of Regents will receive the search committee's recommendation, interview finalists and select Iowa State's 16th president.  

Interim President Benjamin Allen has been leading the university since May and will continue in that role until The Knoll's new occupant is on the job in early 2018.


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Eighty tenured, tenure-eligible members join the ISU faculty

Iowa State hired 80 tenured or tenure-track faculty members between last September and this month. Seven started during the spring semester, 10 have upcoming start dates between mid-September and Jan. 1, and the rest arrived on campus this summer. The group includes seven full professors, 10 associate professors and the rest at the assistant professor level.

The size of the group is consistent with last year's 76 new faculty. Partner accommodation, in which the university is able to offer a position -- tenure-track, non-tenure eligible or professional and scientific -- to the spouse or partner of a new faculty member, increasingly impacts the final hire number, said associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince.

"Iowa State has to have a robust dual career program. We're not a community with multiple institutions, and some may perceive us as having fewer employment opportunities for partners," she said. "If we're going to be competitive in attracting outstanding faculty, we have to assist them somehow."

The university's participation in a regional recruitment consortium is another tool that helps faculty spouses and partners find appropriate careers in the area.

Bratsch-Prince estimates that, on average, one-third of new tenure-track faculty each year request help in finding employment for a spouse. Fifteen years ago, that was an infrequent occurrence, she said.

"Work-life balance is important to them. It's also important to us because if we have two employees who are happy at Iowa State, we're more likely to retain them both," she noted. National job satisfaction data also supports that, she said.

And it's not unheard of for the partner to become a superstar, she added.

"We hire some really outstanding couples," she said.


Thirty-five percent of the past year's new hires came in the School of Education and four departments: management, electrical and computer engineering, computer science and animal science.

Bratsch-Prince said there are two influences at work:

  • Hires to replace faculty who resigned or retired. The School of Education is an example.
  • Hires to grow large programs that are "mission-critical" to Iowa State. Software engineering/big data and animal science are examples.

Eighteen departments made a single tenure-track faculty hire in the last year. She thinks that's a reflection of the February state appropriation reversion and the need to be more conservative with growth plans.

Looking ahead

With new data on faculty retirements and resignations for the budget year that ended June 30, college leaders are strategizing hire plans now for the year ahead. Bratsch-Prince said the goal remains to chip away at lowering Iowa State's student-faculty ratio below the current 19-to-1. Tuition increase decisions to be made later this fall by the state Board of Regents, following a summer discussion of funding needs at the three regent universities, could impact those plans, she said.

By college: Tenured, tenure-track faculty hires, Sept. 2016-Aug. 2017

Agriculture and Life Sciences


   Animal science


   Agricultural education and studies




   Food science and human nutrition


   Natural resource ecology and management








   Supply chain and information systems










   Electrical and computer


   Civil, construction and environmental






   Industrial and manufacturing systems


Human Sciences


   School of Education




   Human development and family studies


   Apparel, events and hospitality management


   Food science and human nutrition


Liberal Arts and Sciences


   Computer science










   Geological and atmospheric sciences


   Greenlee School


   Philosophy and religious studies


   Political science






   World languages and cultures


Veterinary Medicine


   Biomedical sciences


   Vet clinical sciences


   Vet diagnostic and production animal medicine


   Vet pathology




*Ten faculty members have start dates between Sept. 16 and Jan. 1, 2018




Fifth dining center opened this week

Female student loads lettuce into a salad bar in a new dining center

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

ISU Dining student employee Liz Haut loads lettuce into the salad bar at the new Friley Windows dining center Monday morning. Facing Lake LaVerne on the east side of Friley Hall, Windows is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday to help distribute diners during peak periods on campus.

Windows has seating for 380 diners and multiple stations that offer pizza, rotisserie chicken, a dedicated vegan venue, soups and breads, a salad and fruit bar, desserts, Blue Bunny ice cream and "Savor" -- inspired by international street foods. The door rate is $12.50.

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A window onto the (dusty) process, Nov. 3, 2016

Take those aches and pains seriously


Paul Hokanson, environmental health and safety, performs an ergonomics check on an office chair. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

When you were a kid and your mom told you to sit up straight at the dinner table, you probably groaned and begrudgingly shifted upright in the chair. As working adults, Mom isn't around to remind us to have good posture in our offices and labs, and we're paying the price with aching backs, stiff necks, sore fingers and throbbing shoulders.

These ailments -- called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) -- affect the body's movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e., muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.). MSDs are common in workplaces across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are the single largest category of workplace injuries and are responsible for almost 30 percent of all workers' compensation costs.

The good news is MSDs are preventable. Even better news for Iowa State employees is that environmental health and safety (EHS) offers help to stave off those pesky aches and pains.  

"We really want people to be physically comfortable during their workday, as this can affect their job contentment and productivity," said Paul Hokanson, industrial hygienist in EHS.

Help is available

EHS offers employees three options to help relieve physical pain and discomfort.

  1. Online ergonomics resources, including Iowa State's program and links to other resources. Information is available on myriad topics, including proper lifting techniques, products and equipment, and workstation arrangements.
  2. Online courses ("Office Ergonomics" and "Laboratory Ergonomics"): These free, 30-minute courses describe how to set up ergonomic workstations and offer tips for lab employees. The courses are available in the EHS catalog at Learn@ISU.
  3. Workplace ergonomics evaluation: If these two free options offer no relief, individuals may request a workplace ergonomics evaluation, which costs $249 (payable by the employee's department) and requires supervisor approval. Complete an ergonomics questionnaire to begin the process.

An evaluation involves Hokanson observing employees' postures, work habits and workstations to determine what changes or equipment could ease their discomfort. Following the observation, Hokanson provides recommendations.

"Some of those recommendations may be that they acquire a new keyboard tray for better arm position, change the height of the computer monitor or use an ergonomic mouse," he said.

Common complaints

Hokanson said most complaints from Iowa State employees stem from poor workstation setup and repetitive motion. Discomfort in arms and wrists from mouse or keyboard use are the most common ailments.

Lab employees are at risk for repetitive motion injuries from pipetting -- the process of using a thumb to draw fluid into a small tube and transferring the fluid to a different tube or vessel. Doing this over and over often results in aching thumbs, Hokanson said.

Don't delay

Employees experiencing physical discomfort in their workspaces should take action sooner rather than later, Hokanson said.

"We can provide a lot of information so people can make corrections in their workstation or lab before they reach a point where they have discomfort," he said. 

Employee reporting hierarchy sets foundation for Workday

WorkCyte updates

The WorkCyte website tracks the implementation progress for Workday and other enterprise systems, and provides monthly updates. Questions and comments can be submitted online.

One of the primary building blocks of the Workday enterprise software system is its supervisory organization, which shows the reporting lines for positions and employees. Although full implementation of Workday is more than a year away, that supervisory building block is being created to ensure it's ready to go live.

"This is the fundamental part of the foundation that will be laid in the system," said Cara Roesch, a member of the WorkCyte change network team. "The whole reason for this exercise is to clearly document the hierarchy of the university."

Roesch said establishing an employee reporting hierarchy is essential for future business processes and transactions that will be completed in Workday, such as approving travel expenses, making purchases and hiring staff.

"It allows managers to view activities and take action with one or two simple clicks," Roesch said.

Data collection

University human resources (UHR) and information technology staff collaborated on an online tool to collect the data for what essentially is a university-wide interactive organizational chart. About 160 human resource liaisons and department administrative staff collect and update the data, which includes the positions of all employees (faculty, staff and students) and their supervisory reporting lines.

About 12,000 records were verified (updated or confirmed) during a 10-day span last month, said Diane Muncrief, UHR director of human capital capabilities.

To ensure that the supervisory organization is accurate and complete, data will be collected multiple times before Workday goes live next year. After that, the supervisory organization will be updated automatically through human resources business processes in the system.

New takes on familiar titles highlight free movie series

The Student Union Board's Cyclone Cinema will be at home again this fall in 101 Carver. Feature films with recent theater runs but typically prior to their DVD release dates are shown twice a night (7 and 10 p.m.) Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

The fall lineup includes continuing stories of popular titles -- "Cars," "Despicable Me," "Spider-Man" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- as well as new takes on a few known franchises: "Baywatch," "Wonder Woman" and novelist Stephen King's "It."

George Micalone, director of student activities for the Memorial Union, said last year was a record-setter for Cyclone Cinema. Attendance surpassed 30,000, shattering the previous record by about 4,000 movie-goers.

Sunday captions

Cyclone Cinema's Sunday screenings will include captions. Requests for captions at other screenings should be made to one of the student volunteers before the movie begins.

Concession stand

If snacks make your movie night better, bring a few dollars. The Cyclone Cinema concession stand sells popcorn (butter or kettle) and several varieties of boxed candies for $2, and bottled Coke products and water for $1.

Fall 2017 movie schedule:

  • Aug. 24-27, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (rated PG-13), stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana
  • Aug. 31-Sept. 3, "Baywatch" (R), Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron
  • Sept. 7-10, "The Big Sick" (R), Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan
  • Sept. 14-17, "Wonder Woman" (PG-13), Gal Gadot and Chris Pine
  • Sept. 21-24, "Baby Driver" (R), Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey
  • Sept. 28-Oct. 1, "Cars 3" (animated, G), voices of Owen Wilson and Cristela Alonzo
  • Oct. 5-8, "The Hitman's Bodyguard" (R), Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson
  • Oct. 12-15, "Spider-Man Homecoming" (PG-13), Tom Holland and Michael Keaton
  • Oct. 19-22, "Despicable Me 3" (animated, PG), voices of Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig
  • Oct. 26-29, "The Dark Tower" (PG-13), Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughy
  • Nov. 2-5, "Atomic Blonde" (R), Charlize Theron and James McAvoy
  • Nov. 9-12, "Dunkirk" (PG-13), Fionn Whitehead and Tom Glynn-Carney
  • Nov. 16-17 only, "Logan Lucky" (PG-13), Channing Tatum and Adam Driver
  • Nov. 23-26, fall break
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 3, "It" (R), Bill Skarsgård and Jaeden Lieberher