A cardinal and gold week

Female student walks by trees bright with gold and red leaves

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Umbrella tucked but at the ready, a student passes a maple tree in full fall color mode and illuminated by the afternoon sun north of Lab of Mechanics earlier this week. Many campus trees adopted gold -- or cardinal -- hues just in time for Iowa State's Homecoming week.

Benefits open enrollment begins Nov. 1, first since Workday's launch

Starting Nov. 1, faculty and staff will have their first chance since the Workday launch to make annual benefit changes. Employees should review their choices, even if they typically make no adjustments, because the new platform isn't the only difference this year.

The open enrollment period Nov. 1-22 is the one time employees can change benefit elections for 2020, barring a qualifying life event.  

After employees make their benefits elections in Workday but before they submit them, a summary screen will show their coverage choices. It's important to review the summary closely to make sure it reflects the decisions intended. Employees may submit changes throughout the open enrollment period. The last changes submitted will be processed when the event closes at 5 p.m. Nov. 22. Due to the flexibility and transparency of this process in Workday, there is no need for a later step in which employees perform a final review, as was done in the past. The last elections submitted in Workday at the end of the open enrollment period will be final. 

Also new this year, employees must proactively confirm participation and contribution levels for health care spending accounts and the dependent care assistance program. Previously, contributions to those pre-tax flex plans would carry over at the same level from year to year if employees made no changes.  

Steady premiums 

There will be no premium increases or plan changes for ISU Plan benefits in 2020. Following federal regulations, the maximum annual contribution to a health care spending account will increase by $50 to $2,700. Changes will be effective Jan. 1, or upon underwriting approval for certain life insurance policies.  

How to access 

Beginning Nov. 1, a link to open enrollment will appear in the announcement section of an employee's Workday landing page that appears after logging in. The open enrollment link also will be available in an employee's Workday inbox. Workday will show an employee's available benefit plans, providing an option to manage benefits in which they've already enrolled and to enroll in plans they've previously waived. 

A job aid with detailed step-by-step instructions for navigating open enrollment in Workday will be available by Nov. 1 on the open enrollment website.  

For more help 

An open enrollment webcast will be livestreamed Nov. 6 (9-10:30 a.m.). The webcast will be recorded and posted to the benefits website a few days later. 

UHR benefits consultants will be available during the open computer lab sessions listed below to answer questions and help employees make changes. Employees enrolling dependents in the HMO medical plan will need the primary care provider, date of birth and Social Security number of all family members to be covered.  

2420A Friley Hall 

  • Nov. 8 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 11 (3-4:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 13 (8-10 a.m.) 

2244 Veterinary Medicine building  

  • Nov. 18 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) 

64 Heady Hall 

  • Nov. 6 (3-4:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 14 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 18 (8:30-10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 20 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) 

Employees with questions are encouraged to contact UHR by phone at 294-4800 or by email at benefits@iastate.edu.  


Second part of salary increase will show in next paycheck

The back half of a two-part salary increase approved this summer kicked in Oct. 1, so faculty, professional and scientific (P&S) staff, postdocs and contract employees who had satisfactory performance in fiscal year 2019 should see a larger paycheck Oct. 31. 

President Wendy Wintersteen and the state Board of Regents approved in June a FY2020 salary increase for faculty and P&S, postdoc and contract staff who had satisfactory performance evaluations. To give unit and department leaders more time to plan for the budget impact, the raise was split in two. The first half was an across-the-board hike of 1% effective July 1, largely paid for by $4.8 million in central funding.  

The second half of the pay increase, effective Oct. 1, is at least 1% of an employee's June 30 salary. The Oct. 1 increase can be larger to reward extraordinary performance, though a total FY2020 increase of more than 10% requires division leader approval. Departments and units are self-funding the Oct. 1 increases.  

Pay issued to faculty and staff on the last business day of the month covers the work for that month, so the Oct. 31 payroll is the first to include the second half of the raises. Because the June 30 salary was used to calculate the Oct. 1 salary increase, the minimum amount of the second raise is slightly less than 1% based on an employee’s Sept. 30 salary. 

Employees should confirm their salary increase is recorded in Workday. View salary changes in Workday by navigating to the employee profile page, which can be accessed from the cloud or photo icon in the upper right of the landing page that appears first when logging on. On the left side of the profile page is a link for compensation, and on the top of the compensation page is a link for pay change history. New compensation rates should be visible to employees in Workday by Oct. 28. 

"With the transition into Workday, which has emphasized the move from a budget process to a performance-based process for annual increases, human resources and finance colleagues worked closely together to ensure a smooth transition," said Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation for university human resources. "In the future, we intend to continue building and strengthening these partnerships as we refine Workday and the processes surrounding it." 

Nine-month employees 

If nine-month annual workers are paid over 12 months -- an option for faculty on academic-year appointment, formerly called B-base faculty -- their paycheck will be slightly more in December than throughout the rest of FY20.  

The raise effective on Oct. 1 will increase monthly pay beginning Oct. 31 for nine-month employees whose salaries are spread over 12 months. But since those employees are prepaid for future earnings in July and August, they've already been paid -- at the previous lower rate of pay -- for a portion of their work after Oct 1. That small shortage will be corrected on their Dec. 31 paycheck. 

P&S staff at maximum 

The maximums for all pay grades in the  P&S salary matrix  went up 1% on July 1. Because of that, eligible P&S staff at the top of their pay grades received the July 1 raise.  

For the Oct. 1 raises, P&S staff with a maximum salary will receive a one-time payment in their October paycheck equal to their Oct. 1 raise, which will not increase their base salary. The appropriate combination of salary increase and one-time payment also will be used for employees near the top of their pay grades since base salaries can't exceed the maximum in any pay grade. 

Merit increases

Merit staff aren’t eligible for an Oct. 1 pay raise. They received an increase of 2.1% on July 1 as part of a two-year collective bargaining agreement between the state of Iowa and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The contract also calls for a 2.1% increase on July 1, 2020. 


Plan ahead for caucus night classes

While Iowa State has never canceled classes for the Iowa presidential caucus -- and will not be canceling classes for the 2020 edition on Feb. 3 -- students with a Monday evening class who want to attend a precinct caucus are encouraged to speak with their instructors to determine if they may be excused to attend.

"Faculty are in the best position to decide how to teach their classes and support students' needs," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "Decisions about whether to excuse class for events like the caucus, athletic contests or other events are best handled locally and on a case-by-case basis between faculty and students."

The 2020 caucus is the second since 2000 to conflict with Iowa State's class schedule. The 2012 and 2008 caucuses both were held during winter break, and the 2004 caucus was held on the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) federal holiday when classes already were canceled.

A policy for that

According to Faculty Senate president Jonathan Sturm, Iowa State has a comprehensive excused absence policy, developed by faculty, to address the wide variety of absences that come up over the course of the semester, including the caucus.

"Students are both welcomed and encouraged to speak with their instructors prior to the caucuses, or any planned absence, to determine if there is flexibility in class times, if their absence may be excused, or if provisions can be extended to make up coursework," he said.

Wickert noted that the situation for a three-hour laboratory that meets only on Monday nights is very different from a one-hour class that meets three times each week.

Impact in 2020

Students began registering for spring classes this week. For the spring 2020 semester, 38 course sections will meet Monday evenings between 7 and 9 p.m. and nearly all of the sections are Monday-only offerings. Students in these classes already have one less session for the semester since Iowa State won't hold classes Jan. 20 on the MLK federal holiday.

"Missing another week of a course represents a significant portion of the total time available for learning," Wickert said. "We need to be careful we're not shortchanging students on course content or compressing too much material into the remaining weeks of the semester."


Related story

Iowa State joins national alliance to develop a more diverse STEM faculty

Iowa State has joined a national network of universities committed to enhancing the recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse faculty at their institutions. The National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty, Aspire, is a three-year program aimed at helping:

  • STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices
  • Participating universities increase the diversity of their STEM faculty

The alliance's end goal is to attract more underrepresented students -- women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds -- into STEM college programs and help them graduate and succeed in a modern workforce.

Aspire is co-led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and funded by the National Science Foundation as part of its INCLUDES initiative.

Iowa State is one of 20 public research universities joining the alliance's second cohort. The group joins 15 universities that helped launch the effort in February. They become part of Aspire's Institutional Change (IChange) network, which provides comprehensive support and resources to members.

Participating universities begin their work with a self-assessment of current recruiting and professional development initiatives. The institutions then develop and implement campus action plans to drive change and scale their efforts across all STEM programs.

"Iowa State has long been interested in creating a welcoming environment for diverse faculty -- an environment that not only attracts them to campus, but helps them thrive through their careers," said Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty. "Through the Aspire network, we will be able to share the best practices at our campus and learn from our partner institutions so that we can do an even better job in the future."

Despite an increased national focus on diversity and its role in learning and student success, efforts to increase underrepresented faculty have not been as successful as intended, particularly in STEM. A 2019 NSF analysis revealed that underrepresented minority faculty occupied 9% of professorships in STEM fields at four-year universities. Research shows that when underrepresented students are taught by diverse faculty they achieve at higher rates; significantly reducing the course achievement gaps between minority and majority students.

Bratsch-Prince said Iowa State has numerous programs to recruit and retain diverse faculty at the department, college and institutional levels. Examples include:

  • Equity advisers in the colleges who work with deans, diversity committees, department chairs and faculty to implement best practices for faculty searches and support faculty success through the advancement pipeline.
  • Diverse faculty/staff associations that help underrepresented faculty acclimate to the university and community.
  • Multicultural liaison officers in each college who serve as a bridge between students, faculty and administrators.
  • Programming on inclusive classrooms and inclusive teaching resources through the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Michael Young, associate professor in the mathematics department, recently was named one of 20 fellows in the inaugural cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy, another IChange Network program that helps faculty from underrepresented groups prepare for academic leadership roles.

The 19 public research universities joining ISU in the second cohort are: Auburn, Ball State, Central Michigan, Florida International, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Tennessee (Knoxville), Texas (Austin), Arkansas, California (Davis), Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska (Lincoln), North Carolina (Charlotte), North Texas, South Florida and Western Michigan.

Celebrating ISU

Color guard leads the marching band in the homecoming parade

Photo by Jim Heemstra.

Homecoming week kicked off Sunday with a parade in downtown Ames. Pictured from left are Cyclone twirlers Maren McGuire and Rachel Lasota leading the color guard and marching band. The "Cy's the Limit" celebration wraps up this weekend with a full slate of events.

Friday, Oct. 25

  • 1:15 p.m., Ceremony, alumni association honors and awards, followed by a dessert reception (Benton Auditorium, Scheman), free
  • 4-9 p.m., Pep rally, giveaways and entertainment, including Yell Like Hell performances (Alumni Center), free
  • 8-10 p.m., ExCYtement in the Streets, lawn displays and skit performances (Greek neighborhood), free
  • 10 p.m.-12:15 a.m, Pancake feed, fireworks and campaniling (central campus), $3 optional food purchase

Saturday, Oct. 26

  • 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Cyclone Central tailgate (Alumni Center), free
  • 2:30 p.m., Football, Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State, limited tickets remain
  • 8 p.m., Volleyball, Iowa State vs. Kansas State (Hilton Coliseum), $5

Sunday, Oct. 27

  • 3 p.m., Concert, "Bells of Iowa State" anniversary gala celebrating milestones for Stephens Auditorium, university carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam and the Stanton Memorial Carillon (Stephens Auditorium), $25-$50