Four floors make a building

Student Innovation Center under construction

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

After months of pouring concrete -- for a foundation, vertical columns and four floors -- crews this week began framing that will enclose the Student Innovation Center on the west side of campus. The project is headed toward a spring semester 2020 completion date. Read more about the construction in this week's College of Engineering story.

Wintersteen welcomes faculty at first senate meeting

President Wendy Wintersteen helped the Faculty Senate usher in the new academic year at its Sept. 11 meeting. During her remarks, Wintersteen touched on topics including enrollment, funding, research excellence, Workday and campus climate. Below are a few of her comments.

"We had expected, for a number of years, a leveling off of students here at Iowa State University. Over the spring semester, we had conversations about what should be our enrollment goals. As a small group of leaders in the university, we had focused on -- probably in the next few years -- we're going to be in this 35,000 to 37,000 [range] in terms of total numbers at Iowa State. We were on the low end of that range, perhaps, but we're at a place where we felt very good."

"We're very concerned about the decline in our international students. We're going to be having conversations in the next few months about how we can continue to have a very strong international student population."

"We are focused on a request for the state Legislature of new money for $7 million."

"We're going to continue to have a high priority on how we reward our faculty and staff, in terms of salary increases. We recognize that we are losing ground in competitiveness of our salaries for faculty."

"It's going to be a serious, and I think very important, change for Iowa State and how we serve our faculty and staff."

Improved service delivery
"Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Sarah Nusser [vice president for research] have been leading the institutional leadership effectiveness team to explore opportunities for how we can deliver improved service here. They've been learning from other universities about how their models work and reaching out to campus leaders to talk about those models and what different models might look like at Iowa State. We expect to have a more significant update in the next month or so. It's an important part of how we can move forward in a way that demonstrates our commitment to efficiency and improved service."

Campus climate
"There are public meetings scheduled for this semester, so I encourage you to participate, if you are able to, in this discussion. It's an important part of who we are at Iowa State, that we're willing to go out and learn about ourselves and improve the climate."

Diversity and inclusion
"We really have to work hard to have a welcoming and inclusive environment at Iowa State. Here at the university is the opportunity for students from all over Iowa, the nation and the world to come together and meet individuals who are different than themselves and to learn how great that opportunity is to sit down, have a conversation and learn about another's perspective that is very different than your own perspective and to value that opportunity. They will never have the opportunity again like they have here at a university."

VPDI faculty fellow

Diversity and inclusion was a common theme throughout the senate meeting. José Rosa, professor of marketing and the inaugural faculty fellow in the office of the vice president for diversity and inclusion, told senators that his position was created to provide a "direct and enduring faculty voice" in the office.

He said the new position is needed for the short and long term, to address concerns expressed in the campus climate survey conducted last fall.

"This will be a different place 20 years from now, and the time to get ready is now," Rosa said. "By addressing worries and concerns today -- and developing policies and processes and a culture that helps reduce those concerns -- we enhance our ability to sustain excellence in service, teaching and research for the nation, the state and the world."

Term faculty update

Associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince said colleges and departments need to update their governance documents to implement reorganized and new term faculty tracks approved by the senate last spring.

"We've come up with a general plan for implementing the new titles," Bratsch-Prince said. "It's really up to the colleges and departments to revise their governance documents to reflect hiring, governance, evaluation, renewal, advancement policies and processes for term faculty."

Colleges should submit their revised governance documents to the provost office by Dec. 1. Department documents are due to colleges by March 15, 2019.

"Those [updates] need to be in your department handbooks and college handbooks before we're going to appoint anybody into these new titles," Bratsch-Prince said.

She was quick to point out that the new titles are administrative changes, not advancements or promotions. New titles will not be in effect prior to July 1, 2019.

"The transfer of term faculty titles is an administrative action and doesn't change the faculty member's job duties, does not change their contract date and will not change their salary. It's simply an administrative process," Bratsch-Prince said.

Biochemistry proposal

Senators are considering a request for a name change for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' agricultural biochemistry undergraduate major, to biochemistry. The proposal will be voted on at next month's meeting.

"The major has no agricultural required classes, although this doesn't prohibit electives in agriculture," said Andrea Wheeler, chair of the senate's academic affairs council. "The name change is simply a more accurate description of what the major is, which is a basic science major."

The change would give ISU two biochemistry majors -- one each for CALS and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"This is not unprecedented because there are biology and genetics majors offered in CALS and LAS," Wheeler said.

She said the programs share the same core subjects but differ in the colleges' required general education courses. The college deans agreed to share the tuition dollars on a trial basis for the first three years.

Other business

In other business, senators:

  • Approved proposed changes for the Faculty Handbook's discrimination and harassment policy (section Revisions eliminate redundancies, match terminology in the university's policy library and move the "Harassing Behavior" language to its own section.
  • Elected Chris Williams, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, as chair of the senate's resource policies and allocations council in a two-person race.

New position is among efforts to streamline student onboarding

Thousands of new students start their Iowa State adventure each year, and a collaborative effort to make their transition easier is becoming a reality.

The "onboarding" process provides information and resources to welcome and acclimate new students -- from academics to a sense of belonging. Keith Robinder, associate dean of students and co-chair of the new student onboarding committee working to improve the process, said coordinated and thoughtful onboarding can translate into student success and retention.

"As an institution, Iowa State University is committed to providing all new students the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to succeed as Cyclones," Robinder said. "This provides a solid foundation for their academic learning -- as well as their personal well-being as members of our campus community -- and is critically important."

The project, a joint effort of the student affairs and academic affairs divisions, is moving into what Robinder called an operational phase. After more than 18 months of study and development by multiple teams, the committee submitted its report Aug. 1 to senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. The senior VPs are moving forward -- and investing in -- several recommendations:

  • Hiring a full-time staff position to coordinate and implement campuswide onboarding procedures and resources
  • Funding the creation and delivery of centrally branded information to new students
  • Developing a set of core competencies (learning outcomes)

Robinder said the steering committee will launch a national search to fill the new staff position, which will be part of the student affairs division.

'Cyclone Core Competencies'

The committee established four "key outcomes" -- each with subcomponents -- for onboarding new students. They aim to:

  • Give all students the knowledge and ability to navigate ISU
  • Integrate new students into the campus community and culture
  • Raise awareness of experiences that aid academic success and integration
  • Meet compliance requirements

Robinder said the "Cyclone Core Competencies" will provide a foundation for students to be successful at Iowa State. They will guide the content for an "Introduction to Iowa State University" online course. The no-credit course will be required for all new degree-seeking students and likely piloted in the fall 2019 semester.

"Throughout the first phases of the project, we discovered that while some students take multiple introductory courses and receive redundant communications from multiple sources, other students miss these important learning opportunities," he said. "This effort will streamline content and coordinate delivery of key information so that all students are welcomed and prepared."

Share ideas, questions

Robinder and committee co-chair Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost for academic programs, will lead a pair of campus forums later this month. Campus members are invited to attend and bring their questions. The open forums are:

  • Thursday, Sept. 20 (9-10 a.m., MU Gold Room)
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26 (3-4 p.m., MU Gold Room)

"The primary goal is to bring together all campus stakeholders to ensure there is a common understanding of the work completed thus far, which serves as the basis for our recommendations and priorities as we proceed," Robinder said.

Project history

Initiated in January 2017, a campuswide task force studied current practices for onboarding new students, including communication and programming procedures. Subcommittees examined all new student populations -- undergraduate, graduate, professional (Vet Med), transfer and distance ed/nondegree students. Last October, project teams took a deeper dive into specific areas of the onboarding process to develop recommendations with input from students, faculty and staff.

The steering committee compiled the teams' recommendations in its report to Harmon and Wickert. The report identified two priority areas:

  • Consistent communications and content development for a digital repository of resources
  • Continued curriculum development and coordination

Robinder said an implementation team, with subcommittees focused on the two priority areas, will be formed as the project moves forward.

"These work groups will include key leadership from continuing members of the project and new members that bring subject matter expertise to enact several key changes to improve our campus new student onboarding efforts," he said.


Related stories

Deferred maintenance is a mounting concern


This facility condition index map shows how much deferred maintenance is estimated in general education buildings relative to their replacement value. Courtesy of facilities planning and management.

Like most universities, Iowa State struggles with mounting deferred maintenance costs for campus buildings. Associate vice president for facilities Paul Fuligni told the Professional and Scientific Council last week that facilities planning and management (FPM) staff tallied a maintenance backlog of $436 million through fiscal year 2018.

That staggering estimate is the result of years of underfunding both typical upkeep and recurring replacements and repairs, Fuligni said as he presented a report on deferred maintenance titled "State of Elegant Decline."

"This is like living on your credit card at home, right? Every month, you've got to pay the utility bill, you've got to pay for groceries, you've got to pay the doctor. Well, if you start doing that on your credit card, the next month you still have to pay all the same costs, but you also have to pay off the debt. That's where we are. That's where most public institutions are, to be frank. Nobody's fully funding their annual sustainment requirement," he said.

Cost of keeping up

That's not likely to change, Fuligni said. It would cost an estimated $42 million per year to stabilize the condition of Iowa State's 7.3 million square feet of general fund facilities, which doesn't include self-supporting units such as the athletics and residence departments, according to the report. To trim the deferred maintenance bill in half over 10 years would take an additional $23 million per year.

"That's a lot of money. The university can't afford it, nor could we get access to enough buildings every year to do that kind of work," Fuligni said.

In FY18, FPM spent about $12.3 million on maintenance and repairs. It plans to spend about $16.3 million in FY19. Iowa State would need to spend about $25.2 million per year to match the average for research universities, according to data from APPA, a professional association for higher-education facilities managers.

"I don't recommend doing that all at once, but it's just something to think about as the university revisits its budget process and thinks about allocations," Fuligni said. "We're relying on this old infrastructure to do what we do every day."

Other state Board of Regents institutions also face climbing deferred maintenance needs, with the backlog for campus buildings and utilities across the system doubling in the last decade. The total outstanding building maintenance at regents institutions was $772.3 million as of this fall, according to a report presented to the board this week. APPA data shows Iowa State's 2018 backlog, at $60 per square foot, is lower than the $66 per square foot average for a research university as of 2017.

Keep calling

The university's maintenance and improvement committee helps prioritize limited repair funds, triaging long-standing and pressing needs like the work being done now on the Beardshear Hall air-handling unit -- a project that's replacing a 110-year paddlewheel that exceeded its expected lifespan by 70 years.

But those choices are difficult because of the length of the to-do list. More than 40 campus buildings have deferred maintenance that would cost more than 10 percent of the price of replacing the building. Gilman Hall has the biggest backlog, at $28.2 million, according to the report. It also was tops in service calls in FY18, with 315.

Despite the daunting accumulation of work to be done someday, Fuligni said FPM staff don't ignore fire protection or other life-safety concerns. And he urged P&S Council members to continue reporting maintenance issues, even if they're not fixed immediately.

"We'll get there eventually," he said. "Please don't give up on us."

The bottom 12

The FPM report detailed the FY18 deferred maintenance estimates and service calls at a dozen academic buildings most in need of repairs:


Deferred maintenance

Service calls


$28.2 million



$16.7 million



$15.4 million



$13.7 million



$10.3 million



$10.0 million


Science I

$9.9 million


Science II

$8.6 million



$7.0 million



$6.3 million



$6.2 million



$4.4 million


Other council business

President Stacy Renfro shared a list of personnel data the council's executive committee is asking university human resources to provide on an annual basis to assist in council decision-making. The data includes information on turnover (such as reasons for leaving and time taken to fill the position), at-will employment and performance evaluation completion rates by unit.

Council members also adopted seven strategic initiatives for the coming academic year.

Search begins for next Engineering dean

Iowa State has launched the search for its next James and Katherine Melsa Dean of Engineering. The successful candidate will succeed Sarah Rajala, who last month announced her retirement at the end of the 2018-19 academic year.

The process will begin with the nomination of high-quality candidates, followed by a review of applications and interviews of semifinalist and finalist candidates in early 2019. The Nashville-based search firm of Buffkin/Baker will assist the committee throughout the process.

"The Melsa Dean of Engineering is a high-profile position, both on Iowa State's campus and in the international engineering community," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "We are looking for an accomplished leader who will build on Dean Rajala's successes and take the college's academic and research programs to even higher levels."

Nominate a dean candidate

Members of the campus community are encouraged to submit nominations of talented candidates to any member of the search committee.

Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the College of Design; and Gary Mirka, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and former associate dean and department chair; will co-chair the search. Joining them on the search committee are:

  • Julie Dickerson, professor, electrical and computer engineering
  • Jeff Gust, MidAmerican Energy, Engineering college's Industrial Advisory Council
  • Jahmy Hindman, Deere & Company, Engineering college's Industrial Advisory Council
  • Jocelyn Jackson, graduate student, mechanical engineering
  • Teona Jerman, undergraduate student, civil, construction and environmental engineering; and co-president, Engineering Student Council
  • Jenny Johannsen, senior lecturer, aerospace engineering
  • Clayton Johnson, academic adviser, Engineering student services
  • Duane Johnson, professor, materials science and engineering
  • Monica Lamm, associate professor, chemical and biological engineering
  • Valery Levitas, Distinguished Professor, aerospace engineering
  • Mark Mba-Wright, associate professor, mechanical engineering
  • Mike O'Donnell, associate director, Center for Industrial Research and Service
  • Pratik Ray, associate scientist, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
  • Jennifer Shane, associate professor, civil, construction and environmental engineering
  • Michelle Soupir, associate professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering
  • Gloria Starns, senior lecturer, mechanical engineering

ISU WellBeing to offer flu shots Oct. 1-12

When it opens Oct. 1, the annual flu shot clinic for university employees will introduce a one-stop, paperless registration process. Employees will check in on an electronic tablet with the nurse who administers the vaccination. Employees still will use their 9-digit university ID number, so they should bring their ISU Card if they haven't memorized their number.

While supplies last, flu shots will be dispensed for 10 days: Monday through Friday, Oct. 1-12 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily), in 205 Technical and Administrative Services Facility. No appointment is needed. Staff in occupational medicine again will administer flu shots for ISU WellBeing, university human resources.

The vaccine is provided at no cost for these employee groups:

  • Faculty, professional and scientific, and merit
  • Postdocs
  • ISU Foundation
  • Iowa State Daily benefits-eligible staff
  • Retirees on the ISU health plan who are not yet 65 years old

Employees participating in ISU WellBeing's Adventure2 challenge, which launches on Sept. 24, can score points for getting a flu vaccination.

If possible, employees should wear a short-sleeve or loose-fitting shirt on the day of their flu shot to give the nurse easier access to an upper arm. Visitor parking is limited at the clinic, so walking or biking is recommended.

Spouses and children of employees aren't eligible to receive flu shots through this clinic. ISU students and visiting scholars should contact the Thielen Student Health Center for vaccination information.

The vaccine

Employees who participate in the flu shot clinic will receive a quadrivalent (four components) vaccine that protects against A and B flu virus strains. The four viruses it contains are:

  • A (H1N1)
  • A (H3N2), updated
  • B (Victoria lineage)
  • B (Yamagata lineage)

Several alternative forms of the vaccination exist for the 2018-19 flu season, but will not be options at the flu shot clinic. Employees or retirees who prefer one of these are encouraged to contact their primary care physician:

  • A spray/mist vaccine administered through the nose
  • A high-dose vaccine intended for individuals 65 years and older, who are at greater risk of severe illness from influenza

Regardless of the vaccination received, it takes about two weeks for antibodies that protect against the flu to develop following vaccination.

More information, including a Q&A, is on the ISU WellBeing website, or on the federal Centers for Disease Control influenza Q&A page. Questions may be directed to the UHR service center, 294-4800.


Eighth leadership academy begins its work

Twenty-eight faculty and staff have been chosen to participate in the 2018-19 cohort of Iowa State's Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA).

The initiative helps prepare faculty and professional and scientific staff serving or aspiring to serve in leadership roles for their respective leadership challenges. Participants attend monthly sessions during the academic year on various topics associated with leadership theory and practice, communication, formal presentation, understanding environment and culture, budgeting and resource management, performance management and ethical leadership.

The 2018-19 class will be the program's eighth cohort. Participants are:

  • Rachel Allbaugh, veterinary clinical services
  • Michele Appelgate, Ivy College of Business marketing and alumni relations
  • Jeanine Aune, English
  • Carlton Basmajian, community and regional planning
  • Leana Bouffard, sociology
  • Joe Burnett, chemistry
  • Michael Dahlstrom, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
  • Brad Dell, music and theatre
  • Carmen Gomes, mechanical engineering
  • Heather Greenlee, biomedical sciences
  • Chris Haase, Ames Laboratory
  • Emily Hager, ISU Foundation
  • Cory Harms, procurement services
  • Laura Jesse Iles, plant pathology and microbiology
  • Amy Juhnke, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences communications
  • Sarah Kaatz, office of responsible research
  • Misty Lambert, agricultural education and studies
  • Jacob Larsen, world languages and cultures
  • Brett Lohoefener, university counsel
  • Sven Morgan, geological and atmospheric sciences
  • Ryan Ott, Ames Laboratory
  • Valentina Salotti, finance department
  • Thomas Schrier, apparel, events and hospitality management
  • Sri Sritharan, civil, construction and environmental engineering
  • Jessica Stolee, Extension and outreach human resources
  • Amy Ward, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Sarah Wilson, College of Human Sciences student services
  • Christian Wimmer, student counseling services

ELA was established in 2009 to help prepare a broader and more diverse group of faculty and staff for leadership roles across campus. The program is led by Rod Bagley, professor and chair of veterinary clinical services; and Katharine Hensley, faculty professional development coordinator in the office of the senior vice president and provost.

Applications for the 2019-20 ELA cohort will be available in the spring.

You're invited: University awards ceremony is Sept. 14

The campus community is invited to help honor nearly 60 Iowa State faculty and staff during the university's annual awards ceremony Friday, Sept. 14, in the Memorial Union Great Hall. Collectively, the group will receive 28 awards that recognize their achievements in teaching, research, student advising and mentoring, service, citizenship, leadership and outreach. The awards are Iowa State's highest honors for employees of the university; the recipients were announced in May.

Who's being recognized?

University award recipients

The estimated hour-long ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in the South Ballroom, where refreshments will be served.

President Wendy Wintersteen will present some of the awards. Other scheduled presenters are interim senior vice president for finance and university services Pam Cain, senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon, vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence, vice president for research Sarah Nusser, interim vice president for economic development and business engagement David Spalding, vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart, and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert.