Finding balance

Freshman Kyla Boes holds a red orb-like object

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Freshman Kyla Boes checks the balance of a component of her Design Studio project inside King Pavilion at the College of Design. As part of their core design year, Boes and her classmates were finishing up a team assignment to build a mobile that achieves movement and balance.

Final exams wrap up tonight, with graduation celebrations scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Staff invited to explore specialist jobs at Jan. 8 event

ISD job showcase

Tuesday, Jan. 8
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Memorial Union

Employees interested in learning more about specialist positions in finance and human resources should mark their calendars for a Jan. 8 job showcase. Participants can drop in as their schedules allow during the daylong event, which is another step in a phased approach to improved service delivery (ISD).

Who should attend?

The event is open to all employees, but targeted to staff with responsibilities in human resources, payroll and finance. In campus presentations about the ISD models, administrators emphasized their intent to fill specialist positions with qualified current staff.

Specialists will be part of service teams and report to supervisors with similar knowledge and expertise. Jobs include:

  • Financial services specialist
  • Procurement expenses specialist
  • Grants finance specialist
  • Staff recruiting specialist
  • HR partner
  • HR coordinator

What will employees learn?

Finalized position descriptions will be available by Dec. 21 on WorkCyte's ISD website. Employees exploring the specialist roles are encouraged to attend the showcase to find out more. Top administrators in human resources and finance will be available to provide information and field questions about the specialist positions in their areas.

Organizers are working to finalize the day's activities, which will include information tables and displays. Participants also will learn more about:

  • The employee interest survey and an evaluation matrix -- tools that help match staff with specialist positions
  • Workday functions related to specialist responsibilities
  • Transition impacts
  • Support services

Event details

The Professional and Scientific Council is assisting with the job showcase, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union. Participants must check in with their ISU Card or employee ID number at the registration table outside the Sun Room west entrance. No preregistration is required.

Supervisors are encouraged to accommodate employees who wish to attend. Staff do not have to use vacation or comp time to attend the job showcase. There is no need to bring a resume to the event.

Information and materials from the showcase will be posted online after the event for employees who are unable to attend.

Wintersteen, Cain and Darr update P&S Council on service team proposal

Focus groups of front-line finance staff are helping map out in more detail what tasks will remain local and what will be handled by specialists under the improved service delivery (ISD) reorganization.

For more information

Interim senior vice president for finance Pam Cain outlined the plan to get direct input from finance staff as part of an update on the ISD initiative at the Professional and Scientific Council's Dec. 6 meeting. In a Nov. 27 town hall, Cain discussed what the new finance specialists -- including specific roles for general financial services, expenses and procurements, and grant finances -- would and wouldn't do. At the council meeting, she said those descriptions were overly broad and vowed a deeper look that includes input from staff who perform these duties now.

"I know this caused a lot of confusion," Cain said of the draft job descriptions released last month. "I want you to know we're truly committed to getting this right."

Historic changes

Resources available

Workshops through Learn@ISU

  • Inspiring Your Day Through Purpose (Dec. 18, 1-2:30 p.m., MU Cardinal Room)

Courses through

  • Coping with Change
  • Why We Dislike Change
  • The Change Curve
  • Know Your Thought Processes
  • How to Plan for Change
  • How to Develop Mental Toughness
  • Managing Organizational Change for Managers

Need someone to listen?

Don't forget

President Wendy Wintersteen and interim vice president of university human resources Kristi Darr also spoke to the council about the ISD restructuring, which will create service teams to handle most of Iowa State's finance and human resources work.

The reorganization is driven by the move on July 1, 2019, to Workday, a new software platform for Iowa State business processes that will replace numerous aging legacy systems. Currently, HR and finance often are part-time duties for staff who have other responsibilities. In Workday, much of that work will be done by teams of subject-matter experts. Managers with finance or HR experience will oversee the specialist teams, which should offer more consistency, workload balance, training and promotion paths.

It also will mean new positions and new managers for staff who move into the specialist jobs, which the university aims to fill internally. Position descriptions for many staff who remain in department-level units will need to adjust, too.

"I can't remember a time when there's been so much change that's involved so many people and that's created so much anxiety and concern," Wintersteen told the council. "But we are all in this together. So we're going to continue to have these conversations, continue to hear the feedback and continue to make refinement."

Wintersteen, who approved the broad strokes and phased approach of the ISD plan last month, said the software and service structure changes are critical. Iowa State was a leader in enterprise management in the 1970s when it had the state's first automated payroll system but has since fallen behind, she said. Having specialist teams report to subject-matter managers should promote work/life balance and address issues P&S staff often raise about supervision and performance evaluations, she said.

Candid feedback

Cain said one of the issues that complicates the finance specialist position descriptions is bridging the gap between how things are done now and how they'll be done in Workday, which will introduce a host of new terms and shift Iowa State to an accrual accounting system. As initially written, the job descriptions were based largely on Workday's processes.

"We had to step back and change our game plan," Cain said.

That involved reviewing hundreds of individual job descriptions for staff who have finance roles, identifying specific responsibilities to divvy up among local staff, service team specialists and central administration offices.

Focus groups held this week with finance staff -- groups the council helped assemble -- assisted in working through those long lists of financial processes, making sure that breakdowns are comprehensive and practical. The grants finance specialist is getting the closest look, including specific scenarios provided by the office of the vice president for research. Cain said forming a more permanent committee for front-line staff input is possible, as well.  

Finalized job descriptions in both finance and HR will be released next week. Cain said while the descriptions need to be detailed, it's important that employees without a background in finance understand them -- including current staff supervisors.

"They have to make sense to everyone," she said.

What's next

Important details about the service teams -- including staffing levels and what campus units they'll serve -- should be released this week, Darr told the council. Cain estimated the finance side of ISD, which will have more staff than HR, will involve filling about 150 specialist jobs.

Darr said HR staff are working on the employee interest survey which will be used to match interested and qualified staff with service team positions. The survey will be sent to all employees prior to a job showcase event scheduled for Jan. 8.

Additional information on transition teams should be available next month, Darr said. Transition teams will be department-level groups devoted to solving local unit issues created by ISD, like adjusting the duties of impacted remaining staff and making sure responsibilities both written and unwritten don't fall through the cracks.

Addressing the concerns of staff who have just a small role in HR or finance is important, said Tera Lawson, chair of the council's professional development committee. Lawson, program coordinator for the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching, said staff are bound to be anxious when they're not sure how ISD will affect them.

"That is something I personally am tripping over. I can't see it at my front-line, local level," Lawson said.

It's difficult for supervisors to know how employees will be affected until they have more information about which staff -- if any -- will be taking specialist roles, Darr said. That time, however, is approaching quickly, she said.


Related stories

Candidate forums set for associate VP posts in HR, finance

Finalists will be interviewing on campus next week for new associate vice president positions in the finance and university human resources offices. Open forums -- which include a presentation and audience Q&A -- are scheduled during the candidate interviews.

The associate vice presidents are the first hires in a phased approach to filling specialist positions in the improved service delivery structures. The successful candidates will assist with Iowa State's transition to improved service delivery models, lead the central teams of finance and HR specialists, and report to the senior vice president for finance and vice president for university human resources, respectively.

Candidate names will be released the day before their campus forums. Resumes and evaluation forms will be available on the UHR and finance search websites, and through WorkCyte's improved service delivery webpage. Evaluation forms must be submitted by 5 p.m. Dec. 20 to be considered.

AVP for human resources and strategy

  • Dec. 17, 11 a.m.-noon, 2019 Morrill
  • Dec. 18, 1:30-2:30 p.m., MU Gallery
  • Dec. 19, 1:30-2:30 p.m., MU Gallery (editor's note: canceled Dec. 17)

AVP for finance and support services

  • Dec. 19, 10-10:45 a.m., 2019 Morrill (livestream)
  • Dec. 20, 10-10:45 a.m., 2019 Morrill (livestream)


Related stories

P&S Council considers requests for salary hikes, improved performance evaluations

For the second straight year, the Professional and Scientific Council is considering recommending an average salary increase of 3 to 5 percent in FY 2020 for P&S staff.

In a first reading Dec. 6, the council considered its annual compensation and benefits recommendations and report. Final approval will come at its Jan. 3 meeting. The nonbinding request is provided to university administration, which typically sets salary adjustment guidelines in the weeks before the start of the fiscal year July 1.

Mirroring last year's recommendation, the council's compensation and benefits committee is calling for the 3 to 5 percent salary hike for all P&S employees who receive a performance review of satisfactory or better. Increases should at least match the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the council's motion states. The CPI was 2.1 percent last year.

The council's motion asserts that more competitive pay is essential to attract and keep quality staff. A committee report accompanying the motion cited data from the campus climate survey released in May 2018 showing that half of staff respondents had considered leaving their job within the last year, with low salary being the No. 1 reason mentioned. Just 23 percent of surveyed staff agreed Iowa State salaries are competitive with similar positions in industry.

The report also points out that the upcoming budget year follows four years of limited wage growth for P&S staff, including a 1 percent increase in FY19 and none in FY18, even as pay increases are trending up nationwide.

The salary recommendation asks university leaders to seek ways to increase revenue and legislative funding while prioritizing higher employee pay over other projects and new initiatives. It will take more revenue to ensure salaries reflect performance evaluations and differentiate between average employees and high performers, the report says.

Improving appraisals

Council members also completed a first reading of a related recommendation to improve and standardize performance evaluations, a council focus for several years. The motion calls for creating a new form and tracking system to ensure P&S employees are evaluated at least annually. Evaluations would include employee input, review job expectations, be available to employees before meeting with their supervisor and incorporate these aspects:  

  • Assessments of work quality and skills in communication and relationship-building
  • Mutually agreed-upon goals for next year
  • Progress toward last year's goals
  • Diversity and inclusion issues that pertain to the position
  • Review of professional development activities and options

Though reforming the performance evaluation system is likely to take a back seat to major university initiatives rolling out in 2019, the transition to the Workday software platform and the reorganization of human resources and financial staff set the stage for improving the staff appraisal process, said Ryan Drollette, chair of the council's compensation and benefits committee.

"No, we don't expect this to be implemented right now. But we want this to be added to the priority list," he said.

The performance evaluation motion also is up for final approval at the council's Jan. 3 meeting.

Reminder: Spend flex money by Dec. 31

Reviewing your flexible spending account (FSA) balances is a good addition to your end-of-year to-do list. FSAs provide employees the opportunity to reimburse health care or dependent care expenses with funds generated by pre-tax payroll deductions. Claims for 2018 expenses must be filed by April 30, 2019.

Carryover allowed for health care

Don't worry if there's a small amount left in a health care FSA. Up to $500 in unused contributions can carry over to the next plan year. The carryover amount will be available to claim after April 30 and added to 2019 plan year funds.

Federal regulations do not allow refunds of health care FSA money not used during the plan year, beyond the $500 carryover amount. Iowa State uses forfeited funds to help defray administrative costs of the plan.

No carryover for dependent care

There is no $500 carryover option for dependent care accounts. All 2018 claims must be for expenses incurred by Dec. 31 and submitted by April 30, 2019. As it does with forfeited health care FSA funds, Iowa State uses any unspent money in dependent care accounts to cover administrative costs. Federal regulations prohibit employee refunds.

Health care flexible spending accounts and the dependent care assistance program are two separate accounts. Funds remaining in one account at the end of the plan year cannot be transferred to the other.

How to file claims

Iowa State's FSA administrator ASIFlex processes claims and reimbursements. Funds are reimbursed when employees file a claim for either their own expenses or those of eligible dependents. Additional information is available on the university human resources FSA website.

Senate closes out the fall with term faculty teaching report and policy proposals

Meeting coverage

The percentage of instruction being done at Iowa State this fall by term faculty and staff increased from last year. Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert shared the most recent numbers in his report at the Dec. 11 Faculty Senate meeting.

The Faculty Handbook advises that no more than 15 percent of instruction be by term faculty, no more than 25 percent in one department.

Wickert showed three ways of measuring the amount of instruction done by term faculty and staff:

  • Section credits, 35.8 percent
  • Student credit hours, 41.3 percent
  • Course sections, 35.3 percent

Numbers are up from a year ago in section credits (34.8 percent), student credit hours (41 percent) and course sections (33.6 percent).

Based on section credits, 31 of the 56 departments exceeded the 25 percent threshold and the median for the university is 31 percent. Three departments exceeded 50 percent of the section credits taught by term faculty and staff: Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication (65.8 percent), world languages and cultures (56.6) and natural resource ecology and management (55.3).

Using a measurement by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Iowa State’s term faculty appointment percentage sits at 19.2 percent. That is just below the average of ISU's 10 peer institutions (19.5 percent), with the median at 15 percent. Last year, Iowa State’s term faculty percentage was 17.4.

Wickert said instructional full-time equivalents (FTE) were down slightly from years past when looking at distribution of full- and part-time teaching responsibilities among faculty (tenured, tenure-eligible and term), staff and graduate students. The numbers do not include clinical or extension faculty.

"The numbers this year are a little lower than last year, perhaps reflecting increased retirements and resignations, and also slightly lower enrollment this year compared to last year," Wickert said.

Wickert said the numbers need to be watched and discussed, but it is also the reality for universities like Iowa State.

"The rapid increase in enrollment that we have had, the tight budgets we faced, and the growth of the research enterprise on campus, I think, all of those factors come into play to drive some of these numbers," he said.

Bullying and harassment

A pair of proposals addressing bullying were among several agenda items that will be voted on when the senate reconvenes Jan. 22.

First, the governance council is asking for a tweak to the handbook's discrimination and harassment policy (section, adding "bullying" to the language.

"What we are proposing is a very small change -- but perhaps something that has a lot of impact for the Faculty Handbook -- to have everything related to harassing behavior become bullying," said council chair Brett Sponseller.

Second, president-elect Jonathan Sturm introduced a resolution against bullying and intimidation on campus. The resolution calls on faculty to actively work against workplace and educational bullying by:

  • Fostering a zero-tolerance climate
  • Sharing encounters and experiences
  • Building a respectful, empathetic and socially just environment
  • Creating a university policy

"It is a statement of our unity as a faculty behind the kind of behavior that we will accept from ourselves and from our colleagues, and that which we will not tolerate," Sturm said.

The resolution focuses on faculty actions, not student-on-faculty bullying concerns raised during senate discussion.

"This is a start," Sturm said. "Would I like to find some kind of way to create legal language that creates better guidelines and parameters than what we currently have? Absolutely."

Action plan mediation

The senate's faculty development and administrative relations (FDAR) council proposed language for the Faculty Handbook to establish procedures for mediating disputed action plans. An action plan is developed by the department chair and faculty member following an unsatisfactory annual or post-tenure review.

The proposed handbook additions (section outline processes and responsibilities -- for example, roles, timelines, committee selection and outcomes.

"We wanted to put a formal process in place to make it better for the faculty member and to make it better for the administrators," said FDAR member Eliot Winer. "This is just an attempt to get this done in a conciliatory manner with shared governance."

Policy for consistency

To better meet accreditation and review criteria, the academic affairs council proposed Faculty Handbook language that clarifies expectations for consistent learning outcomes across courses, regardless of sections, instructors or delivery (online or in person). The proposed language states that the policy clarification does not limit how faculty teach or assess the course, and faculty can make additions to common core outcomes.

"This change in language seeks to ensure the general and consistent correspondence of a syllabus intent and the actuality of the class," said council chair Andrea Wheeler.

Other business

Senators voted to eliminate a summer option for readmission, currently available to students placed on academic dismissal status following the spring semester. The motion also adds language to the catalog's reinstatement policy:

  • Clarifying that the summer session does not count as a semester for academic dismissal periods
  • Allowing juniors and seniors "with extenuating circumstances" to request a waiver

Senators also approved:

An expected vote was pushed to January for a 36-credit online master's program in event management aimed at event management employees and professionals, international students and alumni. The College of Human Sciences' apparel, events and hospitality management department is waiting on peer response from the University of Northern Iowa, which is reviewing the proposed degree program.

Winter break is coming

It’s a time of year when many gather with family and friends, and Iowa State employees will have a chance to do that for an extended period during winter break.  

As has been the case since 2009, Iowa State leaders approved a partial closure of campus during winter break. Reduced services will begin Monday, Dec. 24, and continue through Tuesday, Jan. 1. 

Employees who use leave during this stretch, which includes three university holidays and a pair of weekends in Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 29-30, will enjoy a significant break. Taking leave on four work days -- Dec. 26-28 and Dec. 31 -- creates an 11-day winter break. This not only benefits employees with a better work/life balance, but allows for energy savings in buildings where thermostats can be lowered. 

How it works 

Offices aren't required to close, and employees aren't required to take time off. Workers who choose not to work during the shutdown period can use vacation time or take unpaid leave. Employees who take unpaid leave will be paid for the three university holidays. 

Many university facilities will be closed and locked during break, as they are on holidays. Facilities planning and management (FPM) staff who work during break use this time to perform project work, such as floor care projects, when staffing levels allow. 

FPM energy management manager Brian Housholder said last year roughly 55 campus buildings closed during the semester break. Twenty-three of those 55 buildings set their temperature back to the minimum 65 degrees while closed, Housholder said. 

University leaders determine workforce needs in the units they oversee and approve office closures or reductions in operating hours. Units or individual employees responsible for essential or ongoing work may be required to continue regular schedules. Examples of critical functions include public safety, snow removal and utility maintenance, as well as some research and customer-service jobs. In units closed during the break, supervisors may establish alternative work locations or projects for employees who elect to work. 

Supervisors in closed units may need to establish how to handle incoming phone and email messages. For example, messages could be routed to a single email and voicemail account checked by a designated employee. Communicating holiday hours on departments websites and in personal voicemail and email messages also is a good idea. 

Staffing questions may be directed to HR liaisons or university human resources at or 294-4800. 

Adding up 

The 2017-18 winter break accounted for electricity savings of almost $152,000 according to FPM utilities services director Jeff Witt. Approximately $64,600 of that savings was during the week following graduation and the reduced activity period. Extreme cold during that time prevented savings in steam usage. 

The amount of savings is dictated, in part, by measures taken by ISU employees before they leave for break. Here is a checklist that will help in that effort:

  • Shut down all computers, printers and other accessories. If possible, plug computers and printers into a power strip and then shut off the power strip. 
  • Leave your office computer on if you need remote access from home, but turn off the monitor, printer, speakers and any other connected devices. A computer's sleep mode uses less energy than full power, but shutting it off completely protects data. A machine may be left on during break if it's providing access to a critical application. 
  • Turn off and unplug copiers and small appliances, such as coffee pots and microwaves. 
  • Unplug chargers for electronic devices. 
  • Make sure faucets in restrooms and break rooms are turned off and not dripping. If you notice a dripping faucet, contact the FPM service center at 294-5100. 
  • If you can manually adjust the thermostat in your office, turn it down to 65 degrees. 
  • Shut down unnecessary climate-controlled plant growth chambers. 
  • Close fume hood sashes completely, if possible. Otherwise, open them only minimally. 
  • Shut down cooling water systems to eliminate potential flooding issues. 
  • Turn off office lights and public lighting, such as hallways, restrooms and conference rooms.
  • Check windows to make sure they're tightly closed.


What is open and closed during break

With the semester break beginnning Dec. 16, here is a list of hours for some public buildings, offices and services. Spring semester classes begin Jan. 14.

Ames/ISU Ice Arena 
Closed Dec. 25 
Check online schedule for daily public skating hours 

Athletics ticket offices 
Closed Dec. 24-28 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2 
Resume normal business hours Jan. 3 

Chemistry Stores 
Closed Dec. 24-26, Dec. 28-Jan. 1, open Dec. 27 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

No service Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 
Reduced hours Dec. 15-Jan. 13, including no service after 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 

Iowa State Center ticket office 
Closed Dec. 24-Jan. 1 

ISU Book Store 
Closed Dec. 22-25, Dec. 29-30, Jan. 1 and Jan. 6 
Reduced hours Dec. 17-Jan. 11 

ISU Dining (dining centers, restaurants, cafés and convenience stores) 
Closed Dec. 14-Jan. 11 
Some locations will have some hours before service returns in full. Check online schedule for details. 

Memorial Union 
Reduced hours Dec. 22-23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Dec. 24-25
Closed 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to 7a.m. Jan. 2 

Parks Library 
Closed Dec. 22-25, Dec. 29-31, Jan. 1, Jan. 5-6, Jan. 12-13 
Reduced hours Dec. 26-28, Jan. 2-4 and Jan. 7-11 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Tech lending (No laptops avaliable for checkout Dec. 17-Jan. 13)
Closed Dec. 24-25, Jan. 1
Reduced hours Dec. 17-21, Dec. 26-28, Dec. 31, Jan. 2-4 and Jan. 7-11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Recreation Services (State Gym, Beyer Hall and Lied Center) 
Closed Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1 
Reduced hours Dec. 15-Jan. 13 
All facilities close at 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 and Dec. 31 

Reiman Gardens 
Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 
Gift shop and indoor holiday train display open late Thursdays through Jan. 3 (4:30-8 p.m.) 

Transportation Services 
Closed Dec. 22-Jan. 1
Kiosk and fuel pumps will be open during the holiday closure. Student organizations needing keys during this time must pick up by 5 p.m., Dec. 21. 

University Museums (all locations)
Closed Dec. 15-Jan. 13 

University trailer guidelines take effect Jan. 1

On the heels of a fall trailer inventory audit, transportation services is implementing trailer procedures, effective Jan. 1, 2019. The aim is improved driver safety and consistent use of trailers across the university, said transportation services director Kathy Wellik.

A key change is that departments will need to pay for an annual inspection by a certified state Department of Transportation inspector for any trailer used on public roads. Wellik said departments have all of 2019 to complete a first inspection on each trailer in its inventory. Her staff can provide a list of approved inspectors. The guidelines also specify who can perform maintenance or service work on university trailers.

Other changes are intended to boost safety for student organizations, which no longer will be allowed to own trailers. Rather, their trailers must be sponsored by a university department. The trailers student organizations use can't be longer than 20 feet or have a weight rating (when fully loaded) of more than 10,000 pounds. The age requirement to drive a university vehicle towing a trailer remains unchanged: 20 years.

Departments or other units that need to purchase a trailer should contact Wellik's office. "Depending on the size and cost of what they need, we can guide them on how to proceed," she said.

Wellik said there are about 280 trailers in the university inventory, everything from horse trailers to canoe trailers, flat beds to tree chippers. Transportation services will keep track of the title, registration and license plates for all trailers.

She noted that exceptions to the guidelines are possible. Written requests should be submitted and require approval from the assistant vice president for business services (Wellik's supervisor). Questions may be directed to Wellik, 294-1657.

Events over the holidays

Looking for something to do over the holidays? Iowa State has several events over the next couple of weeks:  

Sunday, Dec. 16 

  • Noon, Women’s basketball vs. Drake, Hilton Coliseum, $5-$10 
  • 3:30 p.m., Concert, Home Free, Stephens Auditorium, $19.50-$59.50 
  • 6 p.m., Wrestling vs. Ohio, Hilton, $5-$10 

Wednesday, Dec. 19 

  • 6:30 p.m., Women’s basketball, vs. Prairie View A&M, Hilton, $5-$10 

Friday, Dec. 21 

  • 10 a.m.-noon, Reiman Gardens, Family Winter Solstice Pajama Party for those 5 and under accompanied by an adult, youth $7 (member and ISU student youth $3), accompanying adults pay gardens admission. 
  • 6 p.m., Men’s basketball vs. Eastern Illinois, Hilton, $25 and up 

Friday, Dec. 28 

  • 8 p.m., Football vs. Washington State, Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Texas, ESPN broadcast, live audio  

Saturday, Dec. 29 

  • 1 p.m., Women’s basketball vs. Bucknell, Hilton, $5-$10 

Wednesday, Jan. 2  

  • 6:30 p.m., Women’s basketball vs. Kansas State, Hilton, $5-$10 


More than 2,300 set to graduate this weekend

An estimated 2,319 Iowa State students are completing their degrees this month, and many of them will participate in commencement ceremonies this weekend. 

Fall ceremonies

  • Graduates: Friday, 7 p.m., Hilton Coliseum
  • Undergraduates: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Hilton Coliseum 

The fall 2018 graduating class includes an anticipated 1,957 bachelor's, 241 master's and 121 doctoral students.  

For the second straight year the university will hold a pair of graduation ceremonies. The Graduate College ceremony is at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, and the undergraduate ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15. Both events will take place in Hilton Coliseum. Tickets not needed to attend. 

Graduate speaker: James McShay 

James McShay mugshot

James McShay

James McShay, an Iowa State alumnus and, since June, the assistant chancellor for equity and inclusion at the University of Washington, Tacoma, will give the Graduate College address. He oversees the Center for Equity and Inclusion and leads initiatives, programs and research efforts that foster a culture of equity, inclusion and success for students, faculty and staff.  

McShay was a faculty member in multicultural and international curriculum studies and director of undergraduate education for the department of curriculum and instruction while at Iowa State. He also earned a master’s in education (1996) and a doctorate in education (curriculum and instruction, 2000) from Iowa State. 

McShay worked at Iowa State for eight years before going to the University of Maryland in 2009. The New York City native received his undergraduate degree from State University of New York, Oswego. 

Undergraduate speaker: Theaster Gates 

Theaster Gates mugshot

Theaster Gates

Iowa State will award an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to alumnus Theaster Gates for accomplishments in visual arts and urban revitalization. Gates is professor of visual arts at the University of Chicago and will address the students. 

Gates directs the university’s arts and public life initiative. He has had 30 solo exhibitions in the past decade, participated in more than 50 group shows and received numerous awards for his work. Notably, Gates won the inaugural Kennedy Center Award for the Human Spirit (2016); the Artes Mundi 6 prize (2015) presented by an internationally focused arts organization; the Nasher Prize for Sculpture (2018), which is dedicated exclusively to contemporary sculpture; and the Legion d’Honneur (2017), France’s highest order of merit. 

Among Gates’ work is the Rebuild Foundation. Gates created the foundation in 2009 to manage redevelopment and affordable-space initiatives in the under-resourced Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago. 

Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in community and regional planning and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary graduate studies, with a focus on planning, religious studies and public sculpture, both from Iowa State. He also holds a master’s from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.  

Two ceremonies 

In 2010, separate fall commencements for undergraduate and graduate students were combined into one, but higher enrollment and graduation numbers led to the decision last fall to split them again to provide a better, more meaningful experience for students and their families. Both commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed.  

The six undergraduate colleges will honor their own graduating students during events on Friday and Saturday.