Swinging into spring

Cyclone softball team celebrates a homerun by Kasey Simpson.

The Cyclones celebrate one of two home runs freshman Kasey Simpson hit in a 9-1 win over South Dakota on April 2. Iowa State is 19-15 overall and 1-5 in Big 12 Conference play. Photo courtesy of athletics communications.

The Iowa State softball team hosts a three-game weekend series against Georgia Tech before the Cyclones head to Iowa City April 10 for the final competition in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. The Cyclones and Yellow Jackets face off in a doubleheader Saturday, April 6, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday's game is at noon. Times are subject to change due to weather. Admission is free.

Kids through eighth grade can register online to participate in a free clinic that begins 15 minutes after Sunday's game. The 45-minute clinic led by Cyclone players and coaches will focus on softball fundamentals. Participants should bring their own gloves. 

Hiring system will phase out during June transition

PeopleAdmin, the university's hiring and classification system, is among those functions that will run on the Workday platform after July 1. University human resource leaders, collaborating with the provost's office and HR liaisons around campus, have developed a timeline for transferring Iowa State from one to the other.

"The transition from PeopleAdmin to Workday covers not just job vacancies and postings, but advertisements, position updates, reclassifications and supervisor updates," said interim vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr. "Workday will exclusively support these needs, for all university employees, effective July 1. We want to share some important dates with departments and units so they can prepare for the transition."

She noted that positions can be posted in just one system at a time, but the timeline provides 90 days -- until Sept. 30 -- for job postings left in PeopleAdmin to wrap up.

Key dates in the transition include:

May 1: Last day to submit reclassification requests and position description updates (until July 1)

Late May (date TBD): Employee and position data pulled from PeopleAdmin to populate Workday

May 30: Last day to submit job postings in PeopleAdmin for P&S pay grades 37 and above, regular and adjunct faculty, senior lecturer and senior clinician jobs (30-day postings)

June 14: Last day to submit postings in PeopleAdmin for P&S pay grades 36 and below, clinician and lecturer jobs (15-day postings)

June 21: Last day to submit postings in PeopleAdmin for merit jobs (10-day postings)

June 30: Last day for applicants to apply in PeopleAdmin

July 1: New job postings go live in Workday, job postings in PeopleAdmin with no applicants are closed and reopened in Workday

July 2: All other business formerly done in PeopleAdmin resumes in Workday

Sept. 30: Last day to complete active postings in PeopleAdmin (must be filled or withdrawn)

Darr said that an enormous data pull -- transferring position information from PeopleAdmin to Workday -- will occur sometime in late May. The HR service delivery teams announced in March will have Workday access during June to complete updates such as adding new hires.

She also noted current HR liaisons will play a lead role in helping their units through the transition, particularly the month of June as PeopleAdmin access diminishes. Job vacancies in June deemed not as urgent or that miss the above deadlines will be entered in Workday and ready to advertise on July 1.

Five questions with the sensory services coordinator

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson, sensory services coordinator, has many responsibilities including sign language interpreter for students at Iowa State. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Megan Johnson came to Iowa State as a sign language interpreter, having previously worked in Utah and Washington, D.C. Now she works to ensure deaf or hard of hearing and blind or low-vision students are able to learn and communicate.

The basics

Name: Megan Johnson

Position: Sensory services coordinator, student accessibility services, dean of students office

Years at ISU: 4

Education: Bachelor's degree in special education, University of Utah; associate's degree in sign language interpreting, Salt Lake Community College

Tell me about your job.

I coordinate services for all of our deaf or hard of hearing students as well as blind and low-vision students. We have about 35 deaf or hard of hearing students that run the gamut of hearing loss. They include people who use sign language, use an amplification system in the classroom or get notes from classes. There are a lot of things in between, and I administer all of them. I schedule interpreters and captionists.

I provide interpreting services and consult for three or four blind or low-vision students this year. I might meet with a professor and discuss textbooks because they are not always accessible to our blind or low-vision students. We are going more to e-books now and that can be a challenge with screen readers. Screen readers look a lot of different ways from speech to text or zoom readers and others that are all unique to the individual. I also spread awareness for things such as Braille signage.

How did you become a sign language interpreter?

My high school had language tracks and I chose Spanish, but I was not good because my accent was terrible. My teacher told me I probably didn't want to come back next year because it wasn't working out. I didn't know what to do because what language do you not need an accent for? My high school also offered American Sign Language, and I was pretty good at it. I really just lucked into it. The deaf community doesn't consider itself a disabled community. It considers itself a linguistic minority with a culture and a vibrant community, and I got into that and really loved it.

As the only sign language interpreter on campus, how do you meet the needs of all students?

I am the only full-time interpreter on campus, but we hire a whole cadre of contract interpreters. Sometimes we have upward of six or eight interpreters on campus at one time. Signing is physically demanding, but also, it is mentally demanding. Research says after 15 or 20 minutes, the number of errors in interpretation skyrockets. For a content-heavy class or event longer than a half hour, we usually will send two interpreters. The person who is the support team [not signing at the time] is monitoring for accuracy, so they are still working.

What is a typical day for you?

No day is normal. I am not an 8-to-5 employee. This semester, there is a student taking a night class, so one night a week I am here until 8 p.m. I have gone on trips with students, I have spent weekends at trainings. I also go through the contract process with procurement services and evaluate bids. I have a unique position in that 10 percent of my time is HR-related because I coordinate and interpret for faculty and staff who are deaf or hard of hearing as well.

What do you like best about your job?

As an interpreter, you are kind of the invisible human. I am a conduit for language, which is very important, but I also get to do outreach and education, and counsel with students. It is a great feeling when a student graduates and is successful. And making sure the university is becoming more accessible all the time is important to me.

Hiring to wrap up for HR, finance service teams

For more information

The new service delivery teams for human resources and finance that launch July 1 won't be quite as large as planned, at least at first.

The leaders overseeing the 10 centralized teams told the Professional and Scientific Council April 3 that hiring is nearly complete, though about one out of 10 jobs remain unfilled. Associate vice president for finance and support services Heather Paris and associate vice president for human resources service and strategy Dwaine Heppler both said they will have sufficient staff to handle the reorganized workflow, which will kick off the same day as the new Workday platform for university business processes.     

"We are confident we are going to be able to do all the things we need to do," Heppler said. Of the 53 HR positions, seven remain open -- including five of the coordinators who will handle front-line work.

Paris said 117 of 129 finance positions are filled, with about five job offers still outstanding -- likely the last attempted hires before the launch date. Starting with some open positions will give team leaders an opportunity to assess actual service needs and adjust staffing as needed, she said.

"We'll re-evaluate those open positions that remain after go-live and a period of stabilization," she said.

Hiring for the service teams has been exclusively internal, as the revamped structure created by the improved service delivery initiative is meant to be cost-neutral. Employees who expressed an interest in a service team position in January but weren't selected have been notified, a concern council members raised at their March 7 meeting. Council president Stacy Renfro credited the council with prompting that communication.

"I think this has been a very productive month in terms of being heard," Renfro said.

Staff joining the service teams will need extensive training, a mix of computer sessions and instructor-led classes on Workday and service operations. Most HR staff will need more than 60 hours of training, with roughly 30 hours for finance staff. HR training began Monday. Finance training begins April 29. Training sessions are spread out over several weeks to maximize flexibility, but service team members should discuss the time demands of training with their current supervisors, Heppler said.

"We are asking them to fit this in with their regular duties," Heppler said.

Where service team members will be stationed is still up in the air. While those who will continue to serve the same unit probably won't move, service team leaders are meeting with facilities planning and management staff next week to begin sorting out office moves, he said.  

Next merit contract includes two pay increases

Both parties have ratified the next collective bargaining agreement (2019-21) between the State of Iowa and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 61, which represents the university's approximately 1,300 merit employees. The contract takes effect July 1 and covers two fiscal years.

On both July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, ISU merit employees will receive a 2.1% pay increase.

Salary increase parameters for faculty and professional and scientific staff will be announced later this spring as campus leaders firm up the university budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Listening sessions help extension determine key issues

Vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence held 62 listening sessions across the state last summer and fall with about 1,200 participants.

The main focus of the meetings was to determine the most important issues impacting Iowa communities' ability to thrive over the next five years. Workforce challenges, child care, housing, mental health and the farm economy were issues stakeholders, extension staff and representatives from county extension councils cited most frequently.

The listening sessions are part of the information-gathering process being used to make decisions about program priorities, staffing needs and resource allocation.

The discussions also led to three internal themes extension members want to see addressed: organizational structure, communication and leadership. Responses to all three are in the works.

Extension and outreach's Structured for Success committee is working to develop two to four organizational structures county extensions could use and is scheduled to release its recommendations by September. An internal communication task force recently concluded its look into improving communication within extension and will share its recommendations this spring.

Lawrence is working with community and economic development specialists to offer programming to assist communities in identifying leaders. Extension and outreach will help cover the cost if extension councils also contribute money, and council members and county staff take part in the program.

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Animal Learning Day is April 6

Children interacting with a pen of sheep at Animal Learning Day.

Contributed photo.

Iowa State's Block and Bridle Club will welcome visitors to its annual Animal Learning Day event on Saturday, April 6 (9 a.m.-1 p.m., Hansen Agricultural Learning Center). Demonstrations and displays are planned in partnership with student organizations, commodity groups and businesses. Hands-on activities include cow milking, face painting, petting zoo and a photo booth. Bus tours of ISU's sheep, beef, swine and dairy farms will be offered throughout the day; signup will be available in the morning. "Taste of Iowa" food samples will be available while supplies last and a drawing will be held for a pair of ISU football season tickets. Participants who complete the event bingo card will earn a prize. All events are free and open to the public. Contributed photo.