Going in circles to drain away stress


Students walk a labyrinth Wednesday morning in the Memorial Union Sun Room. The labyrinth is an ancient contemplative tool and a new addition to Dead Week stress-relievers. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Students have many options for relieving the dread of Dead Week stress, including a new one this fall with ancient roots.

A labyrinth in the Memorial Union Sun Room Wednesday added to a host of study-break stress reducers this week that includes therapy dogs, coloring books and chair massages. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and had drawn more than two dozen participants by about 2 p.m.

A labyrinth looks like a circular maze, but there's no need to solve it because there are no dead ends. One meandering path leads to a center. Similar patterns are found in various cultures throughout history. Walking the route of a labyrinth is a form of meditation.

"The idea is to clear your mind and quiet yourself," said Mark Rowe-Barth, student wellness director. "It's just a great way to reduce stress, relax and just be."

The student wellness department purchased the canvas labyrinth this summer. Rowe-Barth learned of labyrinths while working as associate director in student wellness at the University of Northern Iowa, which regularly offers labyrinth walks.

Rowe-Barth said he hopes use of the labyrinth canvas will grow, perhaps including an outdoor event this spring or summer. The biggest limitation for indoor use is space, he said. The 108-pound canvas is 36 feet by 36 feet.

"You can't have it just anywhere," he said. 

David Spalding reappointed as Business dean

David Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business, has been reappointed to a five-year term. He has served as dean since August 2013.

Business dean David Spalding

David Spalding

In his first term, Spalding managed record enrollment growth while increasing student and faculty diversity, growing philanthropic support and raising the external visibility of the college across the state and nationally.

"Iowa State's Business college has become a transformative model for engaging students with experiential learning opportunities and preparing students for successful careers," President Wendy Wintersteen said. "David has done an outstanding job leading the college over the last four years, and I look forward to its continued growth."

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert expressed his thanks for a comprehensive review process to the college's Committee to Review the Dean, chaired by Sree Nilakanta, associate professor of supply chain and information systems. Wickert also noted his appreciation to Business students, faculty and staff who participated in the review process and provided insightful and helpful feedback.

"Leading the Ivy College of Business is the highlight of my career," Spalding said. "I am excited to continue working with faculty, students, staff and our partners to move the college to even greater heights, and to best serve the people of Iowa."

Spalding earned a bachelor's degree in history from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and an MBA in finance from New York University. He joined the Iowa State faculty in 2013 after serving eight years as senior vice president and senior adviser to the president, as well as vice president for alumni relations, at Dartmouth. He also held positions with Chase Manhattan, First National Bank of Chicago, GE Capital Corporate Finance Group, Lehman Brothers and the Cypress Group, a private equity firm he co-founded.

Five questions for an engaging officer

ISU Police officer Dwight Hinson

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Dwight Hinson, a four-time All-American wrestler for the Cyclones (1995-98), was one of three ISU Police officers to volunteer for the engagement and inclusion officer (EIO) initiative when it launched in 2015. The community-building outreach program now has seven officers -- all of them Iowa State alumni -- who provide presentations, training, resources and other services to improve the campus climate.

The basics

Name: Dwight Hinson
Position: Officer, ISU Police
Years at ISU: 18

What's the story behind ISU Police's engagement and inclusion officer initiative?

President [Steven] Leath wanted to combat the social climate and brought up the idea of having multicultural liaison officers for law enforcement. We thought it would be a good idea, and my name came up, along with two others.

Over the years, we've been developing this initiative and this whole program. We've been inundated with invites -- more than enough for three to handle. We're trying to spread this out so we have officers on each shift (night, afternoon and morning) that can cover those invites. It's a voluntary role, in addition to our other duties.

Our group meets about once a month, just to talk about schedules and what we're doing. We want to work as a team. We get a lot of invitations to forums, group discussions, activities and events. We want to be seen. We want to let the public know we're reaching out, but not just when we're pulling over cars or doing routine duties.

What are the challenges of the current social climate?

It's very much a challenge for us, but that's why we have the EIO initiative. We don't want kids to come to campus thinking it's not safe. True enough, we're not in a bubble. We don't have any gates that protect the campus. It's a public university, so people come and go. We want students to know that we're here for them, we're doing our best to protect them. The main thing is, don't be scared of us. If you see something, say something. Don't be that person that knew about something and didn't report it.

What has changed the most since you started?

Our department -- and its identity -- has changed a lot. When I first got hired, we weren't armed at all, but we still had to make traffic stops and perform our duties whether you had a gun or not. It's evolved a lot, from a public safety department to a police department. We are police officers, we go through the academy and we're certified like any other police officers. The biggest thing is seeing us as actual police; having the public buy in to who we are.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Engagement with the people. There are days when I decide to go through the MU on my lunch break, and I see the kids who we've done presentations for or attended functions with and we're able to build this camaraderie and discussion -- just being able to reach out to the kids who recognize what you're doing.

Do people recognize you? (Hinson was a four-time All-American wrestler at Iowa State)

Yeah. I'm short -- I fit the mold, I guess -- and then people start looking at the ears and say, "you used to wrestle, huh?" I play it off a little bit and tell them I did OK. Then they look at the name on the shirt and say, "oh, yeah!" The ears give it away, big time. The wrestler ears give it up.

Visitors code of conduct is in the works

Since last spring, a committee of university leaders has been developing a visitors code of conduct for Iowa State, which is slated to launch next fall.

Tentatively called The Cyclone Way, the code uses as its foundation Iowa State's Principles of Community. It's intended to help university visitors understand that all individuals are welcome on campus and should be treated fairly. Visitors could include athletics spectators, concert-goers, prospective students and their families, friends of current students, vendors and so on.

"Remember, Iowa State is a 99-county campus. We welcome countless visitors each year, whether it's to our campus in Ames or any of our offices across Iowa," said Megan Landolt, member of the code committee and assistant for communications to President Wendy Wintersteen. "It's important that we communicate with visitors about the type of conduct we expect and the culture we want to establish."

The visitors code of conduct is a specific action item under Goal 4 of Iowa State's 2017-22 Strategic Plan. Goal 4 states that Iowa State should "continue to enhance and cultivate the ISU experience where faculty, staff, students and visitors are safe and feel welcomed, supported, included and valued by the university and each other."

The visitors code of conduct will not become formal university policy, but vice president for diversity and inclusion Reginald Stewart said the campus community should embrace its ideals and expect the same of visitors to campus.

"As members of the Cyclone community, we are responsible for the climate we create for one another," he said. "Because of our land-grant mission, we work in service to the public and we want all visitors to be knowledgeable of the living, learning, workplace and social climate we value."

An initial draft of the code currently is being vetted with various university stakeholders. The next step is the development of a communication plan, which Landolt says will include having the visitors code of conduct appear on university web pages, social media and building signage. She also expects President Wendy Wintersteen to discuss it in future meetings and appearances. 

Restroom project at Parks Library gets green light

Forty-three Iowa State faculty received preliminary approval from the state Board of Regents Dec. 6 for professional development assignments in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018. The group includes 29 males and 14 females and their plans vary in length from a semester (28), full academic year (12), something in between (two) to a full calendar year (one). 

The board's academic and student affairs committee approved the proposals, which will go to the full board in January.

All Iowa State faculty employed at least half-time -- 1,865 -- were eligible to apply for a PDA, typically used to pursue intensive research or scholarship, or prepare publications. Priority may go to tenured faculty over nontenure-eligible, and to faculty who haven't received a PDA in the past five years. Next year's group includes faculty from the rank of Distinguished Professor to assistant professor. Their average length of service is 11.8 years. The estimated faculty replacement cost, net of the salary savings from faculty on assignment for a full year, is $116,000.

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told regents it's a competitive application process; not all proposals make it through the department, college and finally university approval process. Faculty are required to submit a final report on the outcomes achieved by their professional development assignments, he said.

Dietetics graduate degree

The board approved a Master of Professional Practice in Dietetics (MPPD), a non-thesis, online graduate degree in the food science and human nutrition department. By 2024, a master's degree will be required to take the national credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian. Demand for the MPPD program is high among current dietetic internship graduate certificate students -- about 180 annually -- and credits earned in the certificate program will be applied to the master's degree.

Renovation projects

An Iowa State request to renovate numerous restrooms at Parks Library cleared both the property and facilities committee and the full board this week. The university will gut and reconfigure 14 restrooms across all five levels of the northwest section of the library. The renovations will provide accessibility compliance and add a family restroom to each floor. Work will be done over the summers of 2018 and 2019. General university funds will cover the $2.3 million cost.

Approved by the property and facilities committee in October, these ISU requests received full board approval this week:

  • A two-summer, $4.8 million project to replace all the windows and blinds in Friley residence hall. The cost will be covered by residence department funds.
  • Interior upgrades and renovations at the Knoll, as part of the presidential transition. October's estimated $750,000 project budget has since been reduced to about $150,000 by President Wendy Wintersteen. University (non-general fund) resources will cover the costs.
  • A revised budget for the cancer therapy addition to the small animal hospital at the College of Veterinary Medicine to purchase different oncology equipment than initially proposed, add patient recovery space and accommodate higher-than-anticipated bids. The revised project budget is $3.7 million, an increase of $950,000.
  • A revised budget, an increase of nearly $1.2 million, to $4.5 million, for the window replacement project at Wallace-Wilson residence halls. The increase is due to rising product and labor costs. Work began last summer and will be completed in summer 2018.

And finally, these projects were presented to the board's property and facilities committee this month and will be forwarded to the full board for final approval in January: 

  • A university proposal to house the interdisciplinary Nanovaccine Institute, which the board approved in June but has functioned as a multi-institution research venture since 2013, on the unfinished fifth floor of the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building. Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in chemical and biological engineering Balaji Narasimhan serves as director for the institute, which includes about 70 scientists from 21 universities, health care companies and national laboratories. The project budget is estimated at up to $6.5 million, to be covered by university funds and private gifts. The building's lower floors are scheduled to open next semester.
  • A proposal by ISU Dining to renovate and reconfigure about 75 percent of the Hub interior to separate the coffee and grill venues and reduce congestion. The plan moves the coffee venue to the north end of the building (phase 1), separating it from the grill area. The southeast corner of the building, now used primarily for vending, would be converted to storage. The existing seating areas would be renovated. ISU Dining will pay for the estimated $2.4 million project. The timeline calls for bidding the project in the spring, with the coffee venue ready by the start of fall semester and the grill area several months later.
  • A proposal by the athletics department to reconstruct and expand the parking lots immediately north and south of Hilton Coliseum (C1 and C2) and the roads on the east and west sides of the building. The number of highest-level donors to the department continues to grow, as does feedback about crowding and lack of parking for basketball games. The project includes additional sidewalks, new lighting, improved accessibility and a dedicated parking area for the visiting team bus. The addition of a north driveway to Lincoln Way, for event day use only, is being studied. Athletics department funds will cover the estimated $3.8 million cost.
  • The cost of recreation services' proposal to upgrade, irrigate and light the intramural fields east of Willow residence hall would increase $580,000 (about 28 percent) under an amended plan that includes additional turf upgrading, a retaining wall and some paved areas to better handle foot traffic. Recreation services funds will cover the revised $2.7 million cost.

Interim leaders

The board approved the interim appointments of: Joe Colletti as interim Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and interim director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station; Pam Elliott Cain as interim senior vice president for university services and interim senior vice president for finance (the latter on Dec. 15); and Kristen Constant as interim vice president and chief information officer.

Bond sales

The board approved two bond sales on behalf of Iowa State. The first is for $25.4 million in academic building revenue refunding bonds to advance refund $26 million of bonds sold in 2009 to finance part of the construction costs for Hach Hall. Lower interest rates will save the university an estimated $2.2 million.

The second is $21.5 million in recreational system facilities revenue refunding bonds to advance refund bonds sold in 2010 to finance part of the construction costs for the State Gym expansion and renovation. Lower interest rates will save recreation services an estimated $1.6 million.

Audit conclusion

In response to Auditor of State Mary Mosiman's Oct. 24 report on the university's purchase of a single-engine airplane in July 2014 and former President Steven Leath's use of it for both business and personal use, Iowa State leaders defended the purchase and said Leath's reimbursement payments to date are adequate.

Mosiman subsequently acknowledged the university's response (but did not audit the content of it) and wrote, "the university should ensure all purchases have a business purpose and the business purpose is clearly documented." Regent Nancy Dunkel, chair of the board's audit and compliance committee, and board executive director Mark Braun had no further comment about the issue.


Severe winter weather: Know ISU's policies, procedures


File photo by Bob Elbert.

Don't let the warm temperatures and sunny skies fool you -- winter is coming. Here's a summary of Iowa State's cancellation and closing guidelines when severe winter weather strikes.

Cancellations and closures

To learn about ISU cancellations and closures, check the:

Classes are canceled, but the university is not closed

  • University offices will remain open
  • Employees who can't make it to work should contact their immediate supervisors
  • Employees may request to make up the time, use vacation or take leave without pay

The university is closed

  • Classes are canceled and most university offices are closed
  • Vital operations (i.e., police, parking, food service, power plant, animal care, critical maintenance or snow removal) generally are not closed; employees should follow policies established for those areas
  • Employees who are unsure if they should report to work should communicate with their supervisors
  • Some staff members whose offices are closed may choose to work regular hours, with supervisor approval

Where to park if lots aren't cleared

If your usual parking lot hasn't been cleared of snow by 7:30 a.m., parking will be available first at:

  • Iowa State Center lots (A3, A4, B5 and B6); CyRide will shuttle drivers to campus via the free orange route
  • Lots 29 and 30, north of Molecular Biology
  • Lot 41, north of General Services Building

For more information, see the parking section of the environmental health and safety website.

Holiday ballet performances are this weekend

Ballet dancers perform the dance of the snowflakes

"Dance of the Snowflakes" is one of the performances Clara and the prince see during their travels in the "Nutcracker Ballet." Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Center.

Mid-Iowa's dance talent will be showcased this weekend during the 37th annual "Nutcracker Ballet" performances at Stephens Auditorium. Matinee shows at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10, will bookend a 7:30 p.m. Saturday performance.

More than 200 dancers hailing from about a dozen central Iowa communities fill most of the cast. They'll be joined by professional dancers Kathleen Martin, Ballet San Antonio; and Ryan Jolicouer-Nye, Kansas City Ballet; in the roles of the sugar plum fairy and cavalier, respectively.

Through dance, "Nutcracker Ballet" tells the story of a young girl, Clara, and her Christmas Eve dream of a Nutcracker prince's triumphant battle over a mouse army and her travels with him to an enchanted land. The performance features choreography by Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato Thomas of the Dancenter, Ames, set to Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky's 1892 score, "The Nutcracker."

Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors, ISU students, youth age 18 years and under and groups of 10 or more) and available at the Stephens Auditorium ticket office (noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 90 minutes prior to each show), online via Ticketmaster or by phone, 800-745-3000.

Tickets, $7 each, also are available for a tea with Clara and the mouse king in the auditorium's third-floor balcony following the Saturday afternoon performance.