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Two tour groups congregate south of MacKay Hall

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Admissions office student employees congregate with their prospective family groups south of MacKay Hall on a recent bright afternoon.

Faculty promotions list goes to regents for approval

Iowa State leaders will request promotion and tenure for 70 faculty members when the state Board of Regents meets next week in Iowa City. The April 18 agenda is online, and live audio of all public portions of the board meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website.

ISU faculty promotions for 2019-20





Promotion with tenure




Promotion (already tenured)




Tenure without promotion








The full list of faculty, by college, will be posted to the provost's office website after full board approval.

Also included in the annual report on faculty tenure was a three-year snapshot of the size and makeup of each university's faculty.

ISU faculty






986 (51%)

979 (50%)

997 (51%)


369 (19%)

383 (19%)

376 (19%)

Non-tenure track

578 (30%)

604 (31%)

596 (30%)





Tuition discussion delayed

While the board expects to approve 2019-20 tuition and mandatory fee rates at its June meeting, it postponed a first reading of tuition proposals, pending clarity from the Legislature about state appropriations for next year. As of this week, appropriation discussions remained in the separate legislative chambers. Senior communications director for the board Josh Lehman said it's possible tuition proposals still could be added to the docket in time for the April 18 meeting. If not, he said the board will hold a special meeting for a first reading of tuition at least 30 days prior to June 4.

In anticipation of the board's broader discussion of university budgets at its June 4-6 meeting, faculty and staff representatives of non-union employee groups will give short presentations next week on salary policies for the year that begins July 1. Representatives from Iowa State's Faculty Senate and Professional and Scientific Council are in this group.

Honorary degree

Iowa State will seek board permission to award an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Robert Easter, professor of animal science emeritus and president emeritus at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to recognize his efforts to advance higher education, particularly agricultural education and research at the national and international levels. Easter was an Illinois faculty member and administrator from 1976 to 2015. His expertise is in pig nutrition, and he worked with ISU leaders to elevate as a national priority publicly funded research in food, agriculture and natural resources.

Faculty in the animal science department nominated Easter for the honorary degree.

Free expression

The board will review a draft policy about protecting freedom of expression on the three regent university campuses. Last month, the Iowa Legislature approved a new section, H, to Iowa Code chapter 261, and Gov. Kim Reynolds subsequently signed the bill. The new language directs the regents and Iowa's community colleges to adopt a policy addressing freedom of expression and assembly. It also prohibits designated "free speech" zones.

Consent agenda

On the consent agenda for final board approval are:

  • Parking permit rates for the year that begins 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.
  • 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, to $10.50 for breakfast and $13.50 for lunch or dinner.
  • Permission to begin planning $25 million in improvements to Hilton Coliseum. Key pieces of the plan move concessions on the north and south concourses from interior to exterior walls (widening the concourses), construct new concession areas, renovate the north and south entrances, and upgrade two elevators and the building's mechanical systems.
  • A schematic design and budget ($3.7 million) to expand the Veterinary Medicine Field Services facility at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The plan would renovate 1,500 square feet of the existing 9,000-square-foot building and add 6,000 square feet. 

Online event management degree program

The board's academic affairs committee will receive Iowa State's request to begin an online M.S. degree in event management in the apparel, events and hospitality management department, to complement the undergraduate degree established in 2011. This would be among just a handful of master's programs in the country. If the full board subsequently approves it, the degree program would launch in August.

Senate considers changes to classroom disruption policy

Meeting coverage

Recommended changes for the Faculty Handbook policy regarding classroom disruptions -- an effort first introduced a year ago -- were presented at the April 9 Faculty Senate meeting.

The proposed revisions, the first since 2002, expand the policy to include all learning environments, such as studios, labs and online courses. 

Examples of disruptive conduct include persistent speaking without consent; consistent late arrival or early exit from class; cellphone, computer and other device use without instructor permission; and nonprotected malicious, harassing or bullying speech.

Senators will vote on the proposed policy changes at the April 23 meeting.

A companion document that addresses procedures for dealing with a disruption will not be voted on, but will be linked to the policy. The procedures include clear communication of student conduct expectations in each class and an escalating approach to dealing with disruptions.

Student-athlete report

Tim Day, professor of veterinary biomedical sciences and faculty athletics representative, gave his annual report on the academic performance of ISU student-athletes. The student-athlete grade point average was slightly higher than the general student body once again. Student-athletes had a 3.12-to-3.09 edge during the spring 2018 semester and a 3.08-to-3.05 margin in the fall of 2017.

Last year, the athletics department committed $1 million for Cyclone Success Grants designed to provide financial assistance to students at risk of not completing their degree because of financial difficulty. The grants, available to all students, helped 42 students continue their education.

"Mostly, it is for students who have made very good progress toward a degree, but due to debt are having issues getting their bills paid or getting registered for the next semester," Day said. "It is really about retention and eventually graduation." 

Athletic training

The academic affairs council proposed a Master of Athletic Training degree in the College of Human Sciences. The kinesiology department offers a bachelor's degree in athletic training, but the national accrediting organization mandates athletic training education programs must offer a professional master's program by fall 2022 to sustain accreditation. Iowa State was first accredited in 2001 and has been reaccredited twice.

The two-year, 58-credit master's program would begin in May 2020. Students will conduct evidence-based practice and research and will have clinical experience in multiple areas on and off campus.

Workday update

Five faculty forums on how Workday and improved service delivery will impact faculty teaching, research and extension work wrapped up in early April. A total of 428 faculty members attended the forums, about 21 percent of all faculty.

Workday is set to go live July 1, and 27 faculty are piloting the training to provide feedback on the computer-based modules. There also are 181 faculty members involved in user acceptance testing of the software system.

"Users get into the system and start playing around with the technology," said David Cantor, professor in supply chain management. "They can provide feedback as to whether the system is performing as intended in areas like the recruit-to-hire process, procurement and expenses, and travel and reimbursement."

Other business

  • Senators approved business analytics major and minor degree programs in the Ivy College of Business proposed by the academic affairs council. The additions are expected to help meet the demand for entry-level employees in the field.
  • Senators approved a name change for the Master of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in the College of Engineering's information assurance program, to cybersecurity.
  • Two faculty members were reelected to serve on the university's athletics council. Jenny Aune, senior lecturer in English, and Darren Berger, assistant professor in veterinary clinical sciences, begin three-year terms in the fall.

Workday is a one-stop shop for data reports

The patchwork of systems many are using to compile data-driven reports will be a thing of the past when Workday goes live July 1. The cloud-based platform will have the information in one place and offer powerful reporting options for finance, payroll and human resources data.

"Today, people are processing transactions in the Kuali Financial System (KFS), going to e-Data to get reporting and using ADIN to look at information about accounts or people's data," said Kevin DeRoos, an information systems leader in information technology services. "With Workday, people won't be jumping from system to system. All of that lives in Workday. It's a one-stop shop."

More about reports

A workshop on "The Power of Reporting" is available on the WorkCyte website.

What are reports?

Reports are used to view data. DeRoos said the most common report at ISU is transaction detail, which shows how and where money is being spent.

Nearly 4,000 reports are standard within Workday. Custom reports unique to Iowa State, such as data required by the state Board of Regents, are being developed. But it's the real-time capabilities of Workday that have the WorkCyte team excited.

"Users will always see the most current data in Workday. It shows you live, up-to-date information based on the criteria you've entered into your report," DeRoos said.

Workday reports can be generated with financial, payroll and human resources data. Users can format and filter reports to view information specific to their needs.

"You have a lot of functionality that's built right in that allows you to dynamically change the way the report looks, as well as drill through to see the details behind those numbers," he said.

Just like a leaf on Ancestry.com that hints at more information just a click away, Workday data that appears in blue indicates that you can drill deeper.

"A printed report is very static. A Workday report is dynamic -- you can click on numbers to get to more details. If it's blue, it's a clue," he said.

Where's my spreadsheet?

Reports can be run as needed or scheduled to run at intervals. Some can be saved as PDFs and exported to Excel, but Workday has its own built-in spreadsheet technology. "Worksheets" provide a more secure environment to collaborate and share spreadsheet reports. Workday's worksheets also has the ability to pull in live data for real-time updates.

"If you've used Excel, you'll be very comfortable with Worksheets," DeRoos said. "The benefit of Workday Worksheets is that the information stays within the Workday platform, which provides a more secure repository for that information."

Planning continues for student pilot of grammar assistance tool

The wheels are moving this spring to purchase access to an online grammar assistance tool for Iowa State students. The Computation Advisory Committee (CAC), tasked each year with recommending how to allocate a portion -- about $1 million -- of student technology fees, has committed $50,000 to a pilot of six to 12 months for all ISU students. Procurement services will post a request for proposals later this month and, pending successful negotiation and a green light on technology security, the goal is to have a license for use this fall.

CAC chair Alex Ramirez said that while CAC funds could pay for student licenses, a goal of the bidding process is to add faculty to the contract to help ensure a successful launch of the service. Ramirez, associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, said interest in a grammar assistance tool bubbled up in the last year from multiple fronts, including several student government units, a Miller teaching grant and Techstarter, a website that lets anyone on campus submit technology project ideas to CAC.

A handful of grammar assistance products exist, though Grammarly is the one many on campus prefer, including English assistant professor Jim Ranalli. Automated writing evaluation is one of his research interests and, independent of other requests to CAC, he's the lead investigator on a Grammarly classroom pilot this year funded with a Miller faculty grant from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Over two semesters, 32 instructors from eight departments are using Grammarly in their courses.

Ranalli said the new generation grammar tools are much more powerful and helpful to writers with the "lower-level stuff" -- grammar, spelling and punctuation -- which frees up instructors to focus on things like content, organization or use of rhetorical strategies.

"It allows an efficient distribution of labor," he said. "Our instructors in the pilot told us it makes grading writing easier, so they're more likely to use writing in their assessments, which can really benefit instruction."

Ranalli said one advantage Grammarly has over its competitors is that it operates almost everywhere students do their writing: in web browsers, in word-processing applications such as MS Word and Google Docs, and on mobile devices.

His team's fall semester pilot showed Grammarly to be especially popular among international students, who used the tool more frequently than domestic students. That's no surprise, Ranalli said, because Grammarly initially was designed a decade ago by two Ukrainians for nonnative speakers.

Ranalli said a successful campuswide rollout of Grammarly might involve:

  • Integrating it into courses to give students repeated exposure to the benefits so they become habitual users
  • Helping students understand how to use it (for example, that there's a time lag in its flagging of errors if it's turned on during active writing, which can be distracting)
  • Collaborating with other services on campus that help students with writing

Complement to writing centers

Ranalli and Ramirez agree on several points about a grammar assistance tool. They want to see whether one can be -- and should be -- a sustainable service the university provides and a large number of students use. Both agree it complements, not replaces, the efforts of numerous writing tutorial centers on campus.

"We need to dispel the notion that one's as good as the other. That's just not the case," Ranalli said.

They also agree questions remain about a grammar assistance tool. Ranalli said Grammarly's accuracy is high for academic essays but needs to be tested in more specialized writing such as dissertations or grant proposals. He'd also like to study whether students can learn new things about language from a product like Grammarly or if it just polishes their writing.

Ramirez said CAC members will need to see that the grammar assistance tool is used broadly and routinely among students and adds value to their Iowa State education.

Cyclone Voice final is Thursday

Cyclone Voice contestant Nicholas Yeo

Senior Nicholas Yeo is one of 15 singers to advance from the Cyclone Voice prelims to Thursday night's final competition. Alexander Gray/Iowa State Daily

Fifteen finalists will vie to become the next Cyclone Voice on April 11 in a competition hosted by country musician Mason Ramsey. 

A video of Ramsey yodeling went viral last year, leading the 12-year-old to release his first extended play record. Ramsey will introduce each of the student performers. He also will perform a few songs during the judges' deliberations.

The event will take place in the Memorial Union Great Hall with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Singing starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Thirty students took part in the April 1 preliminary competition and judges selected the 15 finalists.

Cyclone Voice finalists

  • Raia Arbisi, junior, psychology
  • Andersen Coates, sophomore, architecture
  • Dylan Ehlen, senior, finance
  • Sam Fletcher, senior, mechanical engineering
  • Emma Heyen, freshman, speech and language pathology
  • Collin Hillinger, sophomore, mechanical engineering
  • John Hoelzer, senior, mechanical engineering
  • Antonia McGill, sophomore, psychology and women and gender studies
  • Conor Nolan, sophomore, management information systems
  • Kennedy Plowman, senior, speech communications
  • Konrad Powell, graduate, horticulture
  • Krishna Rangarajan, sophomore, aerospace engineering
  • Brandon Thomas, sophomore, design
  • Alli Weaver, senior, journalism and political science
  • Nicholas Yeo, senior, management information systems