Kinetic art by students

Wood, rope and iridescent panels structure

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Second-year architecture students recently installed an oversize sculpture in the northeast corner of Reiman Gardens as part of the gardens' "Forces of Nature" kinetic art exhibition. The exhibit, which also includes 13 wind- and light-activated sculptures created by artist George Sherwood, complements the gardens' movement theme for 2018.

Pictured above, Prisma is a largely wooden structure that twists 70 feet lengthwise, mirroring the same geometry that appears in nature. Students wove Dacron (polyester fiber) hammocks for the middle and end sections. Plastic-coated metal cables provide tension and structure to the wooden frame. Spinning iridescent panels -- 1,500 in total -- fill other sections.

"Forces of Nature" officially opens next weekend and runs through Nov. 3.

Most of midyear reversion to be absorbed centrally

About 75 percent -- nearly $4 million -- of Iowa State's fourth-quarter budget cut will be absorbed centrally through one-time savings, President Wendy Wintersteen told the state Board of Regents at its April 12 meeting in Council Bluffs. Key strategies include using one-time, nonrecurring funds; leaving vacant positions (primarily in the university services division) unfilled through June 30; and investing in fewer campus facilities needs as they arise.

The remaining $1.42 million of Iowa State's portion of the state funding reversion will be allocated proportionately across the university divisions as indicated in the table below.

University division

Assigned midyear cut



Academic affairs


Student affairs


Finance/University services


Division leaders decided how to meet their targets and have submitted their reduction plans. Interim vice president for finance and university services Pam Cain said the timing of the budget cut -- with less than 90 days remaining in the fiscal year -- necessitated temporary reductions. But she also noted that with state revenue lagging and rumors of a state funding reduction circulating since last fall, many budget leaders were conservative in their spending and able to identify unused funds to meet this year's cut. Some examples include:

  • Deferring computer replacements for some staff
  • Offering fewer campus training workshops for faculty and staff
  • Prohibiting planning on additional student events


Wintersteen has said the top priority in any cut would be to minimize the impact on students and Iowa State's core missions. For example, the seven colleges, library, central research and ISU Extension and Outreach are held harmless this fiscal year. Student financial aid and critical student support services also are not impacted.

What happens July 1

Until Iowa legislators approve an FY19 state budget that Gov. Kim Reynolds will sign, next year's state funding remains a question mark. Cain said campus discussions include the possibility of a permanent reduction to the budget when the new fiscal year begins July 1. She said those strategies will differ from decisions for the fourth-quarter cut.

President Wintersteen's April 12 presentation to the state Board of Regents

Wintersteen: Regent universities are critical to the state

Wintersteen's budget outline to the regents projects no new state funding on July 1. Iowa State requested $5 million in additional funding, all of it designated for resident undergraduate financial aid. New tuition revenue is an estimated $5.2 million, Wintersteen said. If the midyear cut becomes permanent, Iowa State would start the new fiscal year with about $200,000 less than it had last July 1.

It's a pattern that goes back years, she noted. Since fiscal year 2001, Iowa State received a total of $75 million in increases in state appropriations, but cuts of $110.4 million -- for a net loss of $35.4 million. And, since FY01, ISU has sustained eight midyear budget cuts, including this spring's.

The impact is hurting more than students' educational experience, she told the board.

"We need to think more broadly about what the regent institutions are doing. Job One will always be the creation of these job-ready graduates, but we do so much more through our missions in research and extension," Wintersteen said. "If we're going to help set the future for Iowa by those missions in research and economic development, we need to bring the top faculty and staff here to contribute their intellectual capacity and help build the economy.

"Declining state support puts all that at risk. What will our institutions look like if the state continues to disinvest?

"If Iowa wants a brighter future, it's going to be in large part because of what happens at the regent universities," Wintersteen said.

Regents system cut: What's impacted

Iowa State's $5.4 million reduction represents 3 percent of this year's general university appropriation. In addition, the University of Iowa is absorbing a $5.5 million cut and three regent entities -- the board office, Iowa Public Radio and the three regional study centers -- will share a reduction of just over $34,000. Language in the deappropriation bill specifies that funding to the University of Northern Iowa and the regents' K-12 special schools serving sight- and hearing-impaired students be left intact.

The regents system reduction of $10.9 million is 44 percent of the state's total $25 million budget cut.


Senate will vote May 1 on NTE faculty changes

Meeting coverage

Substantial changes for nontenure-eligible (NTE) faculty could be approved next month. Nine amendments -- and an amendment to an amendment -- for the revised policies were debated at the April 17 Faculty Senate meeting. The revisions will come up for a vote on May 1, the senate's final meeting of the academic year.

"There are few items that have come before the senate that have received such in-depth attention," said president-elect Peter Martin. "I want to commend all of you for a serious-minded debate. Thank you for that."

After setting a one-minute limit for individual comments, senators spent just over an hour discussing the amendments. As amended, substantial changes would include:

  • Renaming the NTE faculty category "term faculty"
  • New and revised term faculty titles, ranks and tracks
  • Consistent procedures for term appointments, evaluations, reviews and career advancement
  • Unit-level flexibility for term faculty responsibilities

The proposed titles and ranks in five term faculty tracks are:

  • Teaching faculty -- lecturer, associate teaching professor and teaching professor
  • Practice faculty -- assistant professor of practice, associate professor of practice and professor of practice
  • Clinical faculty -- clinical assistant professor, clinical associate professor and clinical professor
  • Research faculty -- research assistant professor, research associate professor and research professor
  • Adjunct faculty -- adjunct assistant professor, adjunct associate professor and adjunct professor

"This is the time to take this back to your department, and your college, and your caucus and get their input before we do this again in two weeks," said Jonathan Sturm, senate past president and 2018-19 president-elect.

Classroom disruption policy

Recommended changes for the Faculty Handbook policy dealing with classroom disruptions were introduced (chapter 10.5) for a May 1 vote. The proposed revisions expand the policy to include all learning environments, such as studios, labs and online courses. The changes also provide clearer procedures and tools to determine and address disruptive student behavior.

Representatives from multiple units -- including ISU Police, university counsel and the student conduct and student assistance offices -- served on a working group that provided input on the policy and faculty resources.

"This whole initiative really grew out of their [student assistance and student conduct offices] plea to the academic division to provide more tools to address situations that come up in the classroom," said Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty. "Faculty did not know how to handle disruptions in the classroom and this aims to provide them with more guidance and steps to follow."

Other business

Senators unanimously approved:

Employee reps share need for salary increases with regents

In their annual appeal to the state Board of Regents April 12, Iowa State's faculty and professional staff representatives said the burden of "doing more with less" is taking its toll. Faculty Senate president Tim Day and Professional and Scientific Council president Jessica Bell were among the regent employee representatives invited to address salary issues ahead of the board's discussion of the topic in June.

Day said that due to rising enrollments in the last decade, tuition "stuck" at the bottom of ISU's land-grant peer group and the state's defunding of higher education, faculty have been asked to do more with less -- and "have answered that call pretty well."

"Faculty on average are teaching 35 percent more student credit hours than they were a decade ago with better results in the form of increasing retention and graduation rate, decreased time to graduation and decreased student debt at graduation," Day said. "All the while, doing a better job of attracting external research dollars (a 22 percent increase since 2013).

"So, while they've answered the call, our faculty are mired at the very bottom of our peer group in terms of salaries," he said.

The result was an uptick in tenured faculty resignations last year.

"I think we're seeing a leading indicator of what could be a crippling loss in faculty and faculty morale at Iowa State," he told the board.

He concluded, "Supporting and retaining our best faculty is absolutely critical to supporting and protecting our place in public higher education and supporting a modern and healthy economy in the state of Iowa."

Bell, too, told board members that Iowa State's P&S employees are doing more with less, taking on additional work when open positions can't be filled "without the hope of meaningful salary increases."

"Two years of midyear deappropriations have left many of us working more hours, overstressed and without prospects for improvement in sight. Employee morale is at a dangerously low level," she said, and retaining high-quality employees is a challenge.

While salary increases won't "fix" employee morale, they would "go a long way to address some of the systemic concerns we are facing."

Bell commended President Wendy Wintersteen for her commitment to salary increases this year and asked board members to "do whatever you can to help her accomplish this."

Promotion and tenure

The board approved promotion and tenure requests for 81 ISU faculty. That number includes 52 promotions to associate professor with tenure, 28 promotions for faculty already with tenure and one tenure-only award. The faculty list features 34 women and 47 men. The promotions officially take effect for the 2018-19 academic year.

The table below shows that while faculty numbers have remained steady, the makeup of the group has shifted over the last three years.

ISU faculty by tenure status

Faculty group








Tenure track




Non-tenure track








Source: 2018-19 Annual Faculty Tenure Report, State Board of Regents

In other business the board approved:

  • Housing and dining rates for next year. Residence hall rates will go up 2.9 percent and apartment rates 1.9 percent. In dollars, the increases vary from $119 to $254 for the year, depending on the hall and room style. Apartment increases vary from $89 to $160 for the year. ISU Dining will raise student meal plan rates 1 to 2 percent next year, with no adjustments planned for Dining Dollars or Flex Meal options. The walk-in rate at dining centers will go up 50 cents, to $10 for breakfast and $13 for lunch and dinner.
  • Parking permit increases for July 1. General staff permits will go up $5 (to $175), reserved permits will go up $17 (to $550) and 24-hour reserved permits $28 (to $950). Departmental permits will go up $30, to $200, and vendor permits will go up $90, to $300. Employee motorcycle permits will increase $2, to $60. Memorial Union ramp permits will go up $5 for a summer permit (to $197) and $12 for an annual permit ($558). Fall, winter or spring permits will go up $6, to either $238 or $244. The MU also will raise the illegal exit fine another $20, to $140.
  • Three honorary degree requests. This spring, alumnus Dwight Ink, holder of the first government degree (1947) from Iowa State, federal civil servant and adviser to seven U.S. presidents (Eisenhower to Reagan), will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Jon Kinzenbaw, inventor, entrepreneur and CEO of Kinze Manufacturing, Williamsburg, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science. In December, alumnus Theaster Gates, artist and professor of visual arts at the University of Chicago, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. More information about their accomplishments is online.
  • Unanimously re-elected president Michael Richards and president pro-tem Patty Cownie to two-year terms. There was one nomination for each leadership post.

New hammock posts take pressure off trees


Student Hannah Hichborn, left, uses one of the newly installed hammock posts with fellow students east of the campanile last week. Though students weren't using them this way that day, the posts FPM installed this spring are designed to support both ends of the hammock -- preventing damage to trees. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Chilling in a hammock is relaxing for the occupant, but it can be stressful for the tree.

With usage on the upswing on campus in recent years, hammocks have taken a toll on many historic Iowa State trees. Straps leave cuts in bark. Increased foot traffic compacts soil, making it more difficult for roots to deliver water and nutrients. And some limbs simply aren't sturdy enough to support hammocks.

"We all love our central campus with its open lawn and beautiful trees, but some of these trees are quite old and fragile. It would be a shame if our love of our stately campus trees could also cause them harm," said Rhonda Martin, landscape architect for facilities planning and management.

In a pilot project this spring, FPM staff installed six hammock posts among a cluster of trees frequently used for hammocking east of the campanile. FPM worked with students from Green Umbrella, a student organization that advocates for sustainability, to identify potential locations for the steel posts, based in part on pre-existing use patterns and lower visibility from sidewalks.

Near a handful of other trees -- some of the oldest and most significant specimens on campus, Martin said -- new signs try to sway students' habits, asking them to respect the distinctive trees by using the designated hammock area.

"We're trying to say, 'Look, we hear you. But how can we do it and still protect the trees?'" she said.

Though hammock-friendly weather has been scarce so far, early indications show additional guidance might be needed. On a recent warm day, numerous hammocks were strung between posts and trees.

"Our intention is students use just the poles, not the trees. So we're halfway there," Martin said.

FPM will consult with the student sustainability group on how to clarify the purposes of the hammock posts, said Martin, who pointed out the tree-relief effort is a pilot project that will need tweaking before any potential next steps. The project group plans to reconvene this fall.

"It's a work in progress," she said.

Tuition increase proposal awaits June decision

The state Board of Regents offered little reaction to Iowa State's 2018-19 tuition proposal during its first reading April 12. The board will vote on it June 7. Presented about five months later than normal, yet still under uncertainty about state operating support for next year, Iowa State's proposal has several components:

  • A 3.8 percent tuition increase ($284 for the year) for Iowa State resident undergraduates and 4 percent for all others
  • The final year of a three-phase, $542 annual tuition differential assessed all international students ($1,500 when implemented)
  • A three-year plan to align Iowa State's various differential tuitions in two levels: $1,600 (all students) and $2,612 ($3,026 for nonresidents including international) annually when fully implemented. Impacted programs would take two to three years to get to the new rate.

The intent of differential tuition is to assess higher costs where they are needed rather than spread them across the entire student body. Differential tuitions would be applied after 60 credits, except in the College of Design. Students in eight studio-based majors (undergrad and graduate) would pay the differential once they complete the Design college's first-year core program.

President Wendy Wintersteen told board members the proposal is consistent with Iowa State's current use of tuition differentials, confirming the dollars "will go directly back into the programs for which they're collected."

She said the additional revenue would "allow us to maintain the quality of these programs by supporting lab-intensive and practical experiential learning courses, hiring and retaining faculty in these areas, reducing class sizes and increasing interactions between faculty and students.

"This is an incredibly important part of our proposal, and we think it's a critical need at Iowa State University," she added.

A student's perspective

Iowa State senior Cody West, who was serving his final day as president of the ISU Student Government, noted the state's pattern of reducing funding for the regent universities leaves Iowa State one option: place the responsibility for maintaining quality education "on the backs of students."

The board invited comments on the tuition proposals from student leaders at all three regent universities.

"I know that I, and many of my peers, may not have had the opportunity to attend and continue our education at Iowa State if we enrolled this fall," West said. "For my last time as student body president, I want to warn the Legislature that they are headed down a dark, unforgiving path."

Most of West's remarks addressed Iowa State's differential tuition proposal. He assured regents the differentials were thoroughly vetted with all Iowa State stakeholders, including students -- many of whom won't be around in three years when many of the proposed differentials would be fully implemented. From a student perspective, West said the proposal:

  • Keeps revenue generated from the upper-division increase in specific academic programs, not the institution's general fund
  • Is "logical and factual" and will improve the university's financial security
  • Risks forcing some students to select a major based on how much it costs instead of "where their passion and dreams lie"

Speaking later in the meeting, board president Michael Richards said the three universities' tuition proposals are "a reasonable short-term good balance to help upfund our institutions." The late spring tuition discussion stems from the board's commitment to dealing with tuition increases one time this year, on the heels of two years of early-summer adjustments following the Legislature's adjournment. Richards indicated a new tack for the board next fall. He said the goal will be to set 2019-20 rates prior to the end of the calendar year "and to have a discussion about longer-term planning regarding future tuition increases."

Iowa State facility projects

In other business, the board approved requests for these ISU projects:

  • Revisions (budget and project description) for the vehicle dynamometer facility, relocated from Sukup Hall to the Ag Engineering and Agronomy Farm southwest of Ames
  • Permission for the athletics department to begin planning for improvements on the north side of Jack Trice Stadium, including a new academic/nutrition sports performance center, additions to the Bergstrom football complex and demolition of the Olsen Building
  • Final approval of plans and budget to replace the poultry farm on State Avenue south of Ames, and approval of three names related to the new facility in recognition of funding support. The farm will be named for Robert Hamilton (deceased), formerly of rural Iowa Falls. The farm's layer hen facility will be named for the Iowa Egg Council, Urbandale, and the genetics research building will be named for Hy-Line North America, West Des Moines.
  • Sale of 68 acres of farmland south of the ISU Research Park to the park, for phase 3 development. The price is $2.1 million, exactly what the university purchased it for in 2016.