A cardinal and gold day

Information tables fill the rotunda at the Iowa Capitol.

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Iowa State researchers, faculty, students, alumni and partners shared information about university innovations during the 2019 ISU Day at the Capitol March 6. Legislators and other visitors to the rotunda were treated to Iowa State's spirit of entrepreneurship, including business startups, inventions, precision farming and problem-solving research applications.

Service delivery update includes local vs. specialist duties

An email update on improved service delivery (ISD) progress landed in employee inboxes today. Leaders still are assembling 10 ISD teams of human resources and finance specialists assigned to serve colleges, departments and offices. About 67 percent of the estimated 130 finance and 56 HR positions have been filled.

ISD leaders also drafted an overview of high-volume HR and finance work done by ISD teams versus local staff. Links to the informational charts are included in the email and on WorkCyte's ISD website.

Examples of finance and HR work that will remain local include:

  • Determining position vacancies, needs and responsibilities
  • Coordinating logistics for faculty and staff searches
  • Managing employee performance and leave requests
  • Processing undergraduate and graduate student hires
  • Preparing unit budgets and identifying funding sources
  • Approving and denying financial/accounting transactions
  • Providing necessary data from local (non-Workday) systems

Work done by service teams include:

  • Assisting with staff recruitment and hiring, including job posting, screening and negotiating
  • Processing job changes, such as hires, transfers and promotions
  • Facilitating post-doc hiring
  • Preparing financial reports and providing recommendations
  • Reviewing and reconciling financial/accounting transactions, including worktags, billing and purchases
  • Booking travel (including advances) and preparing/reviewing travel expense reports
  • Managing and reviewing post-award grant finances, including budget amendments, corrections, effort certification and changes

Some responsibilities will be shared and can be done by local staff or service team specialists. Examples include:

  • Collaborating on staff career development, performance review processes and improvement plans
  • Determining appropriate compensation/pay for new hires and promotions
  • Purchasing (cyBUY, central stores, chemistry stores and non-catalog orders)
  • Receiving and returning goods
  • Using a purchasing card (P-Card)

More details are being developed to distinguish between the two roles.

College-level pitch contest draws startup ideas from all corners


Alex Irlbeck pitches his startup idea to a panel of judges during a pitch-off for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on Feb. 26 in Curtiss Hall. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

For Alex Irlbeck and his partner, figuring out how to explain their startup in 90 seconds didn't just benefit the audience for their pitch. Distilling the description also helped sharpen the plan.

"When you get it so boiled down, it's easier to take a direction," said Irlbeck, a graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE).

Winning a little extra cash helps, too. Launching CattleTech -- a system for automatically tracking the weight and body types of herds -- got a boost after Irlbeck and his co-founder, fellow ABE graduate student Taylor Tuel, won $500 in a pitch-off competition for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

But pitching startups has value beyond potential prizes or improved business strategies. It teaches students how to solve problems and tout their ideas in front of a crowd, even if the proposal is never more than an idea. That's partially why Iowa State's Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship expanded the opportunities for students to pitch, offering for the second year a competition in each college.

"It's public speaking, which a lot of students are scared of. It gets them out of their comfort zone to try something knowing they can fail. It's definitely an experience just in itself," said Diana Wright, Pappajohn Center program coordinator.

Ideas stirring

The College-by-College Pitch-Off was held throughout February, giving up to 25 students in each college 90 seconds -- plus follow-up questions afterward -- to win over a panel of judges. Two runners-up in each college received $250 prizes. Winners got $500 and a secured spot in tonight's ISU Innovation Pitch Competition (5-8:30 p.m., Memorial Union Maintenance Shop). They'll join up to 30 additional students to face off for a top prize of $1,000 and three additional $500 awards.

In the college-by-college contest, some pitches have their roots in coursework. Irlbeck and Tuel's idea was born in Engineering 434X, an experimental course titled Entrepreneurial Product Engineering Design Project.

Other inspirations are more personal and at varying stages of development. One runner-up in the Agriculture and Life Sciences pitch-off was a plan for a bar-specials app. Proposals included a cricket farming venture and a furniture upcycling firm that aimed to hire workers with criminal records.

Participation averages about 15 to 20 students per college, with Business and Engineering often filling up, Wright said. Hosting a competition in each college is a way to solicit ideas from students across campus systematically, even in fields where business-building aspirations are less common.

"It's fascinating to find out what students are working on, the ideas stirring around in their heads," Wright said.

More opportunities

The college-level pitch-off is one of several competitions the Pappajohn Center offers students interested in entrepreneurship. The Startup Pitch Event in the fall picks a winner to compete in a national competition. In the spring, the center participates in a statewide business-plan competition and hosts the team-based ISU Innovation Prize.

Interest among students is on the rise, in part because of President Wendy Wintersteen's focus on expanding entrepreneurship opportunities, Wright said. Competitions help identify students who might, for instance, be good candidates for the CYstarters summer accelerator program.

"It's a great recruiting tool," Wright said of the college contests. "It allows us to offer them support and guidance if they're looking to take the next step from there."

The assistance and encouragement Iowa State offers startup-inclined students is essential, Irlbeck said. It's difficult to carve out time to work on a business while also going to school. Competitions and mentorship help him commit to putting in the needed time.  

"I think it's one of the biggest reasons I'm doing what I'm doing now," he said.


Related stories

CELT program to benefit new faculty

Helping new faculty connect with students and engage their students in the material can be a daunting task. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) hopes its newest program will help in that process, allowing both to be successful.

Monica Lamm and Ann Gansemer-Topf were named CELT's first faculty fellows in December. They will use their part-time, two-year appointments to provide guidance to multiple CELT programs that promote faculty development and research.

Teaching and Learning Academy

Lamm, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, is helping build and direct CELT's new Teaching and Learning Academy.

The yearlong program will provide a foundation in teaching practices for new faculty -- both tenure-track and term -- who have one to five years of experience. The academy is divided into nine three-hour sessions, one each month from August through April.

"We want the participants to have a better understanding of how to use evidence-based teaching practices to improve student learning in their courses," Lamm said. "We want to help faculty really engage with the concept of developing an inclusive classroom environment and a learning-centered syllabus."

The commitment is significant, but Lamm said CELT wants to be able to investigate important topics and stretch beyond what is typically available in a one- or two-hour workshop.

Each meeting will have a focused topic or theme with a campus expert to lead discussion. The sessions will be interactive and get participants thinking about how it could impact their teaching and classrooms.

Applications will be available March 25-April 15, with the goal of 15 to 20 participants. Those accepted into the program will be notified by April 30.

"We always want to see our faculty succeed, so to provide them with foundations of teaching approaches is a great way to help those new faculty who serve in very diverse roles," Lamm said.

Teaching partners

Lamm also will direct the Teaching Partners Program, which pairs junior faculty members in their second or third year with senior members from different disciplines.

"It can help a new faculty member trying to do something cutting edge who may not be getting positive feedback from students," Lamm said. "It helps to have a senior partner validate what they are doing."

Applications for the yearlong program also are available March 25, with participants notified of their partner in May.

Scholarship of teaching and learning

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) Scholars Program helps faculty frame and investigate questions related to student learning with a goal of improving teaching and learning. SoTL provides faculty and teaching staff the opportunity to conduct guided research on a topic important to their teaching or classroom. Often teaching and research are viewed as two distinct activities, but the Scholars Program offers an opportunity to bridge the two.

Gansemer-Topf's appointment is meant to enhance resources available to faculty and staff.

"I will support faculty in developing their research project, from conceptualization through data collection and dissemination of results. I want to help faculty improve teaching and student learning while contributing to their scholarship," she said.

Gansemer-Topf will also assist faculty in exploring and implementing new methodological approaches to research.

"The experimental method, traditionally used in sciences, has limitations when applied in educational contexts and focused on student learning," she said.

Gansemer-Topf, associate professor in the School of Education, also will collect assessment resources to aid program participants and post them on the CELT website.

Signing up

Applications to the Scholars Program are being accepted through March 29. Those chosen will meet by the end of April or early May, allowing for work to begin over the summer.

"We would like projects to be completed in a year, but some may run longer," Gansemer-Topf said. "This SoTL program may provide a springboard to other research projects."


Proposed 10-year sustainability plan shared with faculty senators

Meeting coverage

Iowa State has made strides in sustainability across campus over the past decade, but more is needed. Merry Rankin, director of sustainability, shared a proposed 10-year plan to improve energy use and consumption during a presentation to the Faculty Senate March 5.

The 2018-19 academic year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Live Green initiative, during which Iowa State earned two consecutive Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System -- STARS for short -- gold certifications, the universal standard for tracking sustainability in higher education. Rankin proposed one goal is to maintain the gold standard while pushing for platinum, the highest rating.

Rankin highlighted three areas where energy use could improve sustainability and address the senate’s climate change resolution:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lessen building energy consumption 
  • Increase use of renewable energy

The strategy to reduce greenhouse gases calls for all coal boilers at the power plant to be replaced with natural gas boilers by 2028. This would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent.

There are two strategies for improving building energy consumption. The first calls for a 10 percent reduction with no capital costs by setting building temperatures based on the season and monitoring after-hours use.

The second possibility establishes a fund for conservation projects, replacing the current Live Green Revolving Loan Fund. The initial phase calls for a 2.7 percent increase in utility rates across campus to generate $1 million per year and 3 percent annual energy savings through 2026. That would be followed by an additional 5.4 percent increase to generate $3 million per year and 6 percent energy savings by 2030. 

Senators raised concerns about how rate increases would impact departments with limited funds. Others questioned savings opportunities in buildings that have significant improvement needs and newer buildings already outfitted with energy-saving measures. Rankin said conservation projects would be funded based on the highest return on investment.

She recommends buying renewable energy credits to offset all purchased non-renewable electricity sources. It would triple renewable energy use with an annual cost of $78,000.  

In combination, the efforts would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, lead to at least a 10 percent reduction in building energy consumption and triple the use of renewable energy, all with neutral cost impact over time to the university.

Input will continue to be gathered from campus stakeholders through April, with implementation projected by July.

Office of equal opportunity

Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity, made a presentation on what the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) does and the process of investigating a complaint. Foreman said OEO investigated approximately 130 cases in 2018 with about 10 percent of those involving faculty.

Senators questioned the process and timeline for investigations that involve faculty, including when information becomes part of a faculty member's record. Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty, said she and Foreman will return to a future Faculty Senate meeting to discuss the process.

Other business

  • The academic affairs council proposed a business analytics major and minor in the Ivy College of Business. The Bachelor of Science will provide undergraduates more training in analytical techniques within a business major. The new program would complement the data science major but focus on locating and interpreting information instead of the design, development and use of algorithms. The minor would be available only to business college majors. 
  • Senators are considering a request from the academic affairs council for a name change for the Master of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in the College of Engineering's information assurance program, to cybersecurity. The change would make the programs consistent with the undergraduate degree of the same name. The Master of Science is interdisciplinary and involves research work while the Master of Engineering has coursework done primarily online.

As of Monday, nearly 140 faculty have registered for a forum designed to show how Workday and improved service delivery will impact their teaching, research and extension work. Five sessions of the same forum are scheduled. Dates and time are:

  • Thursday, March 14 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, March 26 (10 a.m.-noon, MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, March 26 (1-3 p.m., MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, April 2 (10 a.m.-noon, MU Sun Room)
  • Wednesday, April 3 (9:30-11:30 a.m., MU Great Hall) 


Hilton concourse, campus cellphone coverage proposals clear regent committee

Architect's sketch of renovated Hilton Coliseum

An architect's rendering of what a renovated Hilton Coliseum might look like following a concourse and entry expansion the athletics department hopes to pursue. The built-out area (center) depicts a new concessions area. Image courtesy of athletics communications.

A request to begin planning $25 million of improvements at Hilton Coliseum cleared a state Board of Regents committee Feb. 27 and will go before the full board in April.

The athletics department's concept for Hilton would move concessions on the north and south concourses from interior to exterior walls, in effect widening the concourses by 50 percent to improve circulation for fans. The new concessions areas would be equipped to serve a greater variety of food, reducing the reliance on food carts. The north and south entrances to Hilton also would receive upgrades, including accessibility features and, possibly, an outer glass curtain wall that would create dramatic two-story foyers. The building's original (1970) mechanical systems and two elevators would be upgraded. Athletics department operating funds and private gifts would cover the estimated $25 million price tag.

The board's property and facilities committee will send two other ISU requests to the full board next month:

  • A schematic design and budget for expanding the Veterinary Medicine Field Services facility, which simulates an agriculture animal veterinary practice. The College of Veterinary Medicine proposes to renovate 1,500 square feet of the existing 9,000 square-foot field services building and add 6,000 square feet. The building is on the east edge of the Vet Med campus. Caseloads there have more than doubled, and the number of veterinary students on mixed or food animal tracks is rising, as is the volume of faculty field-based research. If approved in April, construction could begin later this spring and last about 15 months. Field services, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine department, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the college would cover the $3.7 million cost.
  • A proposed five-year lease with Verizon to improve cellphone coverage on campus. Verizon would install, at its expense, small cell structures on campus light poles -- eight on the main campus, five to service football stadium lots and one at the Vet Med campus. As proposed, Verizon would pay a signing bonus at installation and a monthly fee for energy use and data connections. Iowa State already has service contracts with Verizon and U.S. Cellular.

First look: Parking rates

The full board received ISU parking proposals for the year beginning July 1. Employee permits would go up 2.6-2.9 percent ($5-$25), departmental and vendor permits would go up 5 percent ($10 and $15, respectively).

Permits for the Memorial Union ramp, which is not managed by ISU's parking division, would go up 2.2-2.5 percent ($5-$12). The MU proposes no increases to its hourly rates next year.

Final approval is expected in April.

July 1 parking permit increases




24-hour reserved






General staff*












MU ramp






   Fall, spring









*Includes Ames Lab and residence department staff
**Includes MU employees

Student financial aid

Board staff member Jason Pontius summarized the most recent student financial aid data (2017-18) for the board's campus and student affairs committee. He said regent universities are providing increasing amounts of aid as part of their mission to keep higher education affordable, with much of the additional aid reserved for undergraduates with financial need.

2017-18 academic year: Iowa State undergraduate financial aid



Increase over 2016-17

Total financial aid

$291.6 million

4 percent

Total aid provided by ISU

$134 million

8 percent

      Average per student*


9 percent

Total grants and scholarships awarded by ISU

$109 million

5 percent

Total need-based scholarships and grants awarded by ISU

$75.8 million

13 percent

      Average per student*


14 percent

*Average across all undergraduates: 30,406 in 2017-18; 30,671 in 2016-17 (record high)

Other 2017-18 notes:

  • Among undergraduates with need, Iowa State met the need of 77 percent of resident students and 81 percent of nonresident students.
  • Average debt for resident students graduating with debt continues to drop, to $26,295 in 2017-18.

U of Iowa utility manager proposal

During his scheduled comments, regents president Mike Richards said he "strongly supports" the University of Iowa announcement in early February that leaders were exploring a service agreement with a private third party to operate campus utilities as a new revenue source. He commended president Bruce Harreld for being thoughtful, deliberative and transparent about the process. Harreld emphasized the university isn't selling its utility enterprise; simply asking a private party to operate it. Proceeds from this arrangement would go into an endowment, and the university would invest the earnings in teaching and research priorities. Following campus forums this spring, a request for proposals could be prepared in June, with a signed contract possible by the end of the calendar year.

"We will need additional resources in the future, and exploring ways to find new sources of revenue to add to our existing ones is helpful to all parties," Richards said. He also noted that new revenue shouldn't replace existing sources, "but it does help grow the overall pool."

Other business

In other Iowa State business, the full board:

  • Gave final approval to a new National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education, with Iowa State serving as host institution as designated by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges during a competitive bid process. As an interdisciplinary institute, it will report to the office of the vice president for research. It will be housed in the ISU Research Park.
  • Completed a first read of proposed student housing and dining rates for next year. Residence hall and campus apartment rates would go up about 2 percent (mostly in the $80-$150 range, depending on the building and room capacity). Flex meal packages and academic year meal plans would increase by a similar range, 1.7-1.9 percent. The door rate for guests at campus dining centers would go up 50 cents next year, to $10.50 for breakfast and $13.50 for lunch or dinner. Assistant vice president for student affairs and residence director Pete Englin told the board Iowa State will stop leasing off-campus apartments on July 1, ending a six-year practice to supplement its on-campus housing inventory. University-owned furniture from off-campus apartments will replace older furniture in campus units. Englin said the residence department will invest about $15 million a year through 2024 in residence and dining renovation projects.

The board's academic affairs committee approved these ISU name change requests, which will go to the full board in April:

  • Changing the agricultural biochemistry undergraduate major to biochemistry. It's a basic science major in the biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology department with no agricultural requirement.
  • Changing the M.A. in graphic design to experiential graphic design. The change reflects the evolving and broadening work expected of designers and sets the program apart from all others in the country (no other school uses this title yet).


Campus sexual assault and misconduct is focus of national student survey

Iowa State is one of 33 institutions participating in a national survey led by the Association of American Universities (AAU). All students are being asked to complete the survey on campus sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

The survey is being conducted through March 31 and should take about 20 minutes to complete. Students received a March 1 email from "2019 Campus Climate Survey" with a unique link to the online survey. More information, including a resource guide (PDF) and FAQ, are available on the campus climate website.

Survey responses are confidential. Results will gauge the campus climate at ISU, including personal experiences and available programs and services. A report, expected next fall, will be used to improve prevention and response procedures related to sexual assault and misconduct.

"My hope is that faculty and staff become informed about the AAU survey. We anticipate they may encounter students who have questions," said Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity. "Faculty and staff can help by encouraging students to participate."

Results lead to change

Iowa State was one of 27 AAU institutions that participated in the 2015 national survey. More than 5,200 ISU students completed the voluntary survey. Overall and school-specific results were compiled by the Westat research firm and shared in public reports.

In 2017, the AAU released an activities report that outlined institutional policies and programs developed to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault and misconduct. At Iowa State, that included annual Title IX training for students, faculty and staff, and the launch of the Green Dot violence prevention program -- both largely in response to the 2015 survey results. ISU also implemented changes to the sexual misconduct policy in 2018 and additional resources for sexual assault response.

"We will gain comparative data that will reveal how students' perceptions have changed over time and show where we need to concentrate our efforts and resources in the future," Foreman said. "This also will allow us to compare our results to those of other universities."


Related story

April 1 is the deadline to request summer remodeling projects

Departments wishing to have interior remodeling or new furniture installations completed by fall semester must submit their service requests by April 1 to facilities planning and management (FPM). This deadline allows time for project consultation, estimating and design, material purchases, equipment fabrication and construction. The more complex or large a project is, the earlier the process needs to start to meet the desired completion date. Fall classes begin Aug. 26.

Product ordering deadlines

Departments should proceed with design and approval for casework (office and laboratory cabinets) and furniture they want installed before fall semester begins. Installation is scheduled once the manufacturer confirms shipping dates. FPM recommends these ordering deadlines:

  • Casework and fume hood orders should be to procurement services by May 1 (12- to 16-week fabrication timelines)
  • Furniture orders should be to procurement services by May 24 (8- to 10-week fabrication timelines)

Summer is the busiest time of year for contractors in Iowa and the university's suppliers for casework, fume hoods, fixtures and furniture. Iowa State projects compete with projects in the K-12 education market and other markets.

Questions may be directed to FPM's facilities design and construction team, 294-8811.