Exterior walls are next at Gerdin

Gerdin Building addition under construction

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Installation of structural steel for the expansion of the Gerdin Business Building is nearly complete, and crews have poured most of the concrete foundations and floors on the ground and first floors. While concrete work continues, installation of exterior wall panels will begin next week. 

This project, which will expand the home of the Ivy College of Business by roughly one-third, is approximately 25% complete, and construction activities are on schedule to wrap up about one year from now. The building addition will include instructional and student collaboration spaces, faculty and graduate student offices, and common spaces for course-related and special events.

Admissions, financial aid and registrar will move to academic division

Iowa State's primary enrollment management units -- the offices of admissions, student financial aid and registrar -- will move from the division of student affairs to the division of academic affairs, effective Nov. 1.

The moves align Iowa State's organizational structure with best practices at other institutions, where enrollment management reports to academic leaders. This model is used at a majority of the university's peer institutions, as well as the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa. The change is intended to strengthen enrollment management in response to higher education's changing landscape.

"Because faculty determine the curricula and college budgets are primarily determined by their respective student numbers, it is wise to place enrollment management within the academic division," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "With this change, colleges will have more capacity to proactively influence their enrollment numbers."

Wintersteen expressed her thanks to senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon for his leadership and engagement across campus.

"I sincerely appreciate the work of Dr. Harmon and the student enrollment team. They have created a solid foundation for Iowa State's continued growth and success in recruiting talented, diverse students," she said.

Most reporting lines won't change

Employees in the units were notified of the change in a meeting Oct. 15. Laura Doering, who oversees those units, will report to senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. Doering's slightly modified title will be associate vice president for enrollment management. Reporting lines within the three units will remain the same, as will office locations.

More than 100 employees work in the three affected units. The office of admissions is led by Katharine Johnson Suski, Roberta Johnson leads the office of student financial aid and Jennifer Suchan is serving as interim university registrar. New student programs, led by Sarah Merrill, is part of the admissions office and also will move to academic affairs.

Some units will remain in student affairs

Several units that are part of Doering's current portfolio will remain in the division of student affairs. Those include Educational Talent Search, student support services, Upward Bound, student success, learning communities and University Innovation Alliance (UIA). Student success, learning communities and UIA remain collaborative efforts between student affairs and academic affairs.

Registrar search, enrollment project to be paused

The search for a new university registrar will be paused while the unit moves to the academic division. Suchan will continue to serve in the interim role through the transition.

A strategic enrollment management initiative that began in 2018 also will be paused during the transition.

Nusser shares new research priorities with Faculty Senate

Meeting coverage

Vice president for research Sarah Nusser presented new research priorities and looked back on a successful year during the Faculty Senate's Oct. 15 meeting.

The Research Leadership Council -- a group that includes associate deans, members of ISU Extension and Outreach, Ames Laboratory, government relations and others that represent different parts of the research mission -- is focusing on collaborative projects this year with three main areas of interest:

  • More prioritization and support of initiatives
  • Rethink campus funding proposal support
  • Build on the ability to secure relationship-based funding

Nusser also addressed some of the significant ways the research landscape is changing locally and around the world. International collaborations, safe and inclusive research environments and research integrity are receiving more scrutiny.

"Filling out the conflict of interest forms is important because it helps faculty protect themselves," she said. "A lot of the narrative around international collaboration deals with China, and it is imperative that we are conscious that it can lead to bias with how you work with people or lead to profiling."

Nusser said an increased emphasis is being placed on treating researchers equally and focusing on professionalism in research and labs. Transparent research practices and public access to publications and data are linked to research integrity.

Fiscal year 2019 had record external research funding and led to four priorities for the office of the vice president for research:

  • Develop and grow external support for large research initiatives
  • Attract, develop and retain strong faculty
  • Expand areas to secure externally sponsored funding for research
  • Support and modernize mid- and large-scale research infrastructure    

ISD update

Dwaine Heppler, associate vice president for human resources and strategy, and Kyle Briese, finance manager in operations and finance, addressed some of the most common faculty concerns about improved service delivery (ISD).

Since ISD launched in July, persistent issues among faculty are: spending too much time in Workday, loss of a key contact person, uncertainty about work remaining at the local level and an inability to see all relevant information to complete tasks.

"We have started outreach, and the key is for us to come to you to understand the issues you are seeing, in both finance and HR," Heppler said.

ISD staff continue to receive training to learn about the units they are serving. Face-to-face meetings are taking place to help with this, and local department personnel are receiving assistance to learn the system.


In an Oct. 15 memo to campus leaders, President Wendy Wintersteen announced enrollment management units are moving from the division of student affairs to the division of academic affairs, effective Nov. 1. That includes the offices of admissions, student financial aid and registrar. 

"President Wintersteen knows that the future of enrollment at Iowa State and our success depends on a very tight integration between academic programs and the recruiting, admission and care of students," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "The structure that we will be moving to is the common structure at our peer universities."

A resolution

Senators -- after voting to forgo the need for two readings -- unanimously passed a resolution in support of the University Library's principles for advancing openness through journal negotiations. The resolution's three main points are:

  • Prioritize openness through open access sources
  • Reject nondisclosure language in agreements with publishers
  • Pursue financially sustainable journal agreements

"I think libraries finally realize that one of the ways that they can effect change is to utilize our collections budgets to incentivize publishers to advance open access," said Curtis Brundy, associate university librarian for scholarly communication and collections. "Libraries can take what they were spending on subscriptions, and through open access agreements, can cover not only the read access but publishing charges."

Other senate business

  • The academic affairs council proposed a business and technology consulting minor in the Ivy College of Business. The 15-credit minor, which can be added to any major in the college, focuses on consultative problem solving -- a high-demand area for graduates entering the workforce. No other Iowa regent university offers it.
  • A proposed revision to the Faculty Handbook would grant term faculty the same process as tenured faculty to earn emeritus or emerita status. Faculty who are at the professor rank and have worked 10 or more consecutive years at ISU before retiring automatically are granted the status. Those with less than 10 years of service are eligible through a nomination process.
  • The marketing department in the Ivy College of Business proposed a 21-credit professional sales certificate to aid undergraduates by enhancing their knowledge of selling and customer relations. Sixty percent of business graduates have some sales duties during their careers.
  • The department of mechanical engineering requested discontinuation of its minor in nuclear engineering. The coordinator and only instructor for all but one of the courses is retiring, and the number of students seeking the minor is low.

Voluntary supplement to long-term disability insurance now available

Iowa State employees can now take advantage of a group discount to purchase voluntary individual disability income insurance to supplement their ISU-provided long-term disability coverage. The university benefits committee reviewed the program, which is underwritten by Principal Financial Group, and recommended its introduction for this academic year.

Disability income policies are designed to boost the monthly payments an employee receives if disabled, increasing the amount closer to the recipient's prior salary. The long-term disability insurance that covers all Iowa State employees after a year of employment pays 63% of the budgeted salary of a disabled employee, and those payments are taxable income.

Because standard long-term disability policies only cover a portion of pre-disability salary and taxes reduce take-home pay even further, many employers offer supplementary income protection coverage, said Ed Holland, benefits director for university human resources.

The voluntary coverage isn't subsidized by Iowa State, and the premiums can't be paid with automatic ISU payroll deductions used to cover optional benefit offerings. Personalized premiums -- which vary based on salary, coverage amount and other factors -- reflect a negotiated discount offered to ISU employees but are paid directly to Principal, the company offering the plans. Principal also carries Iowa State's base long-term disability plan and its employee life insurance policies.

Because the disability income insurance plans are offered directly through Principal, the policy can continue even if an employee no longer works at Iowa State. Employees can elect at any time to add, drop or change the coverage, but evidence of insurability may be required.

Employees interested in disability income insurance should contact Rick Cordaro (800-210-5529, ext. 1, or Cordaro.Rick@principal.com). Principal representatives also plan to hold informational sessions on campus soon. Human resources service delivery teams will share building-specific schedules for those meetings.

Student reporting of sexual assault remains low

Sexual assault and misconduct continue to be significant issues on college campuses across the nation, but awareness and bystander intervention are improving, according to Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct results released Oct. 15 by the Association of American Universities (AAU).

Last March, the web-based effort surveyed more than 180,000 students at 33 participating U.S. institutions, including 4,800 from Iowa State. The group included one of the largest sample sizes of respondents who self-identified transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer or questioning.

Learn more

An estimated 13% of respondents nationally experienced an assault (defined as nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation) during their college careers. At Iowa State, the comparable figure is 11.3% and, while lower than the survey average, it is an increase of 1.6% from the AAU's 2015 survey.

  • Among female undergraduate students at the 33 institutions, the incidence rate was 26.4%. Iowa State female undergraduates reported incidence rates of 11.3% for nonconsensual penetration and 17.3% for events involving sexual touching. 
  • The national incidence rate for female graduate and professional students was 10.8%. The rates for ISU female graduate and professional students were 4.7% and 6%, respectively.
  • Incidence rates were higher for students who identify as LGBQ+ compared to students who identify as heterosexual, and higher for students who reported a disability than those with no disability.
  • 57% of incidents occurred on campus or affiliated property, including residence halls, residential housing and fraternity houses.
  • 80% of offenders were students. At the time of the event, a third were currently or previously had been intimately involved with the victim.

Iowa State leaders say the incidence rates remain too high and addressing these problems will continue to be a high priority.

"Even one incident is too much," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "These results provide valuable information that will help us refine our training programs and move us closer to our goal of preventing sexual assault and misconduct on our campus.

"It's critically important that we come together, not only as a campus community, but as an entire state, to look at the causes of sexual assault and misconduct, to encourage victims to come forward, and to intervene when individuals are at risk."

Five other forms of sexual misconduct -- coercion, harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual activity without active, voluntary and ongoing consent -- also were included in the survey. Overall, 5.5% of students reported they had been victims of incidents that occurred without active, ongoing and voluntary consent.

Too few victims seek resources, despite increasing awareness

Among ISU respondents, 16.5% of female victims and virtually no male victims contacted a university or community resource regarding their experience. The most common reasons for not reporting included feeling embarrassed or ashamed, thinking the incident wasn't serious enough to report, not feeling injured or hurt, the event happening in a context that began consensually, and feeling (s)he could handle the situation themselves.

While reporting remains low, awareness of university resources has increased since the 2015 survey, with 36.1% of students reporting they were very or extremely knowledgeable about university definitions of sexual assault and misconduct, and 35.9% knowing where to seek help in such cases. More than three quarters of students perceived it was very or extremely likely the university would take a report of sexual assault or other misconduct seriously, also an improvement from 2015.

Bystander behavior is key component of prevention

Friends and bystanders play an important role in preventing sexual assault and misconduct. Among the 12.6% of ISU students who have witnessed a situation they believed could lead to sexual assault or misconduct, 73% took some type of action, and 43.7% directly intervened by interrupting the situation, or confronting the person(s) engaging in inappropriate behavior.

"Students are taking action when they see situations they believe could lead to sexual assault or misconduct," said dean of students Vernon Hurte. "These actions may seem small at the time, but they can make a profound difference in the lives of potential victims."

Iowa State implemented the Green Dot program in 2017 to improve bystander awareness and intervention. To date, more than 5,200 students, faculty and staff have received Green Dot training.

Alcohol use is a common thread among victims

More than 70% of ISU female respondents who reported being a victim of assault were drinking alcohol prior to their assault. Additionally, 89% of women and 85% of men who experienced sexual touching due to their inability to consent reported drinking prior to their assault.

"Let me be clear, no victim is responsible for their own sexual assault, including if they have been consuming alcohol," said Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and Title IX coordinator. "However, because alcohol is such a prevalent risk factor, it is critical that we focus some of our educational efforts, including bystander intervention training, on bars and nightclubs, parties and other environments where alcohol consumption is common."

Iowa State has an amnesty policy for students who report incidents of sexual assault in which alcohol is involved. First-year students entering Iowa State from high school also are required to complete AlcoholEdu, an online training program focused on responsible alcohol use.

Taking action

ISU efforts to prevent sexual assaults and encourage reporting and bystander intervention since the first AAU survey results (2015) include:

  • 2015: Introduced Title IX training for students, faculty and staff; established a Sexual Misconduct Leadership committee to engage with 2015 AAU survey results; added deputy Title IX coordinators in athletics, student conduct and provost offices
  • 2016: Hired a sexual assault prevention coordinator; introduced responsible employee training
  • 2017: Added a senior deputy Title IX coordinator to the office of equal opportunity, and deputy coordinators to the Graduate and Veterinary Medicine colleges; hired an additional equal opportunity investigator; launched Green Dot program for sexual assault prevention bystander training
  • 2018: Hired two additional equal opportunity investigators; launched evidence-based online Title IX training course; launched BAE (Before Anything Else) campaign focused on active, ongoing and voluntary consent; held first campus summit addressing sexual misconduct
  • 2019: Added a student Title IX liaison, Professional and Scientific Council Title IX coordinator and Extension and Outreach equal opportunity specialist/investigator; held second summit addressing sexual misconduct; expanded the BAE 2 campaign

A history lesson from George Washington

Four cast members in costume for the 'Chasing George Washington'

From left, Keith Norman, Abbigail Markus, Nicolas Ronkar and E'mma Camara star in ISU Theatre's musical production of "Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure." Photo courtesy of LAS communications.

When ISU Theatre's zany, family-friendly musical "Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure" opens Friday, Oct. 25, in Fisher Theater, expect a madcap trip through American history.

Panel discussion

ISU Theatre will host a panel discussion, "All Created Equal: Teaching Equity, Diversity and Inclusion," on Sunday, Oct. 27 (2:30 p.m., 004 Scheman Building). Community members are invited to engage with scholars and educators on issues of youth and diversity.

"Think of it as a mash-up of 'Hamilton,' 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' and 'Night at the Museum,'" said Brad Dell, director of ISU Theatre and the production. "This musical shares an inspiring message with a side of utter silliness."

Based on the children's book "Chasing George Washington," the musical opens with a group of diverse students on a White House field trip. When they bump into George Washington's portrait, America's most famous founding father falls out of his frame. He then takes the students on a wild trip through time to discover who belongs in the real portrait of America.

"The musical is about finding out if you belong here," Dell said. "It's about discovering, celebrating and embracing the beautiful diversity of America in places it hasn't always been recognized. It puts a spotlight on the power of the individual, and particularly young people, to make a difference."

With contemporary music styles -- including a 'Hamilton'-esque hip-hop number -- a deconstructed White House and bright, eye-catching costumes, Dell said the production will provide fun intergenerational entertainment.

"In this show, you can expect to meet figures such as President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis," Dell said. "This will be great entertainment for your whole family, especially those with students in elementary school, middle school or high school."

Evening performances are Oct. 25, 26 and 31 and Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances for youth groups will be held Oct. 27 (1 p.m.) and Oct. 31 (10 a.m.). Tickets ($20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $10 for students and $5 for youth) are available through the Stephens Auditorium ticket office, Ticketmaster or the Fisher Theater box office prior to performances.

One pumpkin at a time

Three male students stencil pumpkins

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

(l-r) ISU sophomore Seth Gardner of Urbandale, and junior Zach Schwake and senior David Rios, both of Aurora, Illinois, were part of the small army of volunteers this week who stenciled or carved pumpkins at Reiman Gardens. Spirits in the Gardens, which concludes with participants touring the garden grounds illuminated by a thousand jack-o'-lanterns, runs Saturday (4-10:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4-9:30 p.m.) evenings, Oct. 19-20. Advance ticket sales, with a $1 per person discount, conclude today.