Early arrival

Snow covers the north lawn of the Memorial Union

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

We wish this photo of the Memorial Union front lawn was an archive image from last January, but it's not. Winter -- complete with snow, windchills and ice-packed roads -- made an early appearance in central Iowa this week. Many central campus trees haven't surrendered their leaves yet for the year. Here's to warmer temperatures, sunshine and melting.

From different angles, library and bookstore seek student savings

Available for affordability

To schedule a presentation for faculty on the options for open and affordable course content, contact ISU Book Store's Heather Dean at hdean@iastate.edu or the University Library's Abbey Elder at aelder@iastate.edu.

Libraries and bookstores have different approaches to purveying information that suggest a natural competition. One lends freely what the other sells. But the ISU Book Store and the University Library are on the same page concerning affordable course content.

Along with other campus stakeholders, the library and bookstore are partners in the open and affordable education committee formed in summer 2017, a collaboration that isn't typical on campuses, though that's changing as concerns about college affordability grow nationwide. Committee co-chair Heather Dean, ISU Book Store assistant director, said colleagues at conferences frequently ask her about the level of cooperation here. While some have talked to their library counterparts, often the conversations are just beginning.

"I feel like we've pioneered this a bit," Dean said.

Committee co-chair Abbey Elder, open access and scholarly communication librarian, said the library and bookstore benefit from each other's strengths. The bookstore has more experience dealing directly with textbook publishers and navigating the university registration system that holds course content data. The library has expertise on copyright, pedagogy and campus outreach.

"Getting to work together has been really useful for understanding how these systems operate," Elder said.

Collectively tackling affordability makes it easier to present a cohesive message to different audiences, whether it’s functional advice for instructors or big-picture points for policymakers, Dean said.

"Intuitively, people think we're in competition with each other, but we're not," she said. "We all serve the faculty and the students, just from a variety of angles."

The committee's most important audience is faculty, since they're making the decisions on course materials. Dean and Elder jointly presented to the Faculty Senate this week about their coordinated efforts, which include the bookstore's immediate access offerings and open educational resources (OER) initiatives the library supports. They're seeking department-level meetings this year to encourage instructors to consider more affordable and potentially more effective alternatives to traditional textbooks.

"Our big push right now is awareness about what we're working on and that there are options," Elder said. "A lot of the time, faculty will think there's one or two things I can do for my class, and there's nothing else."

A student's story

Watch former Student Government vice president Juan Bibiloni talk about his experience with textbook costs in a video produced by the open and affordable education committee and Student Government.

The message has been spreading. OER -- instructional material free to access and customize -- are being used in at least 20 courses this fall, saving students about $113,000. That's more in just one semester than the $110,000 in OER savings during the 2018-19 school year. An even larger financial impact comes from the bookstore's immediate access offerings -- digital versions of commercial textbooks that typically sell for much less than print texts. Immediate access materials, which unlike typical textbooks are automatically purchased by all students unless they opt out, saved $2.7 million in 2018-19.

The intent of the faculty meetings is to personalize the push to keep content costs down, putting a face to a name. Faculty thinking about exploring immediate access should contact Dean -- before talking to a publisher -- to discuss possible options and negotiations. Those looking at OER are encouraged to consult with Elder.

"We can help them through this process. We're not just saying, 'Go out and do this,'" Elder said.

The committee also wants to remind faculty there are numerous resources and programs to tamp down textbook costs, Dean said. A one-page primer the committee created includes the more established ways to fight the rising prices for course content, including library reserves and used books.

"You need to figure out where you fit in this to be part of the affordability equation," she said. "There's no excuse not to be involved."

ISU delivers $3.4 billion to state economy

"The Economic Value of Iowa State University of Science and Technology" full report, executive summary and fact sheet are available on the president's website.

"The Economic Value of Iowa's Public Universities" comprehensive report is available on the state Board of Regents website.

Iowa State's $3.4 billion impact on the state of Iowa reflects service to families, communities and businesses and benefits to society from an expanded economy and improved quality of life, according to an economic impact and investment analysis conducted for the state Board of Regents.

Iowa State's $3.4 billion impact supports 42,640 jobs, or one of every 49 jobs in Iowa. Its economic impact in 2017-18 represented 1.8% of the state's gross state product -- an impact nearly as large as the entire utilities industry in the state, according to the study.

"The study demonstrates that Iowa State University provides an exceptional value and return on investment for our students and all Iowans," President Wendy Wintersteen said. "We help students achieve their potential and earn the degrees that translate into higher lifetime earnings. We benefit all Iowans by creating a more prosperous economy and improving quality of life, making our state a better place to live and work."

The overall study provided a comprehensive look at the regent universities' economic impact and rate of return to Iowa, as well as a specific analysis of each university. The study, conducted by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm, reflected financial data during fiscal year 2017-18.

Contributing factors

Alumni. Iowa State's greatest economic impact on the state comes as the result of the education and training it provides. Tens of thousands of alumni live and work in Iowa. Their impact was $1.8 billion in added income for the state economy, equivalent to supporting nearly 19,000 jobs.

Research. The study credited Iowa State with creating a total of $310.2 million in added income for the state economy through faculty research -- the equivalent of supporting 4,139 jobs in Iowa. The direct economic impact in 2017-18 was more than $361 million, with 63% of the total earned from competitive grants and contracts earned by Iowa State scientists. In 2018-19, ISU set a new record for external funding -- nearly $261 million.

"Our research is highly integrated with undergraduate and graduate education and the Extension and Outreach delivery of science-based education and information," Wintersteen said. "That's our land-grant university mission in a nutshell -- mission-oriented science, practical education and shared knowledge with Iowans."

The study highlighted Iowa State's strength in moving research results closer to the marketplace. The regents study stated that, over the past four years, Iowa State received 549 invention disclosures and filed 247 new U.S. patent applications -- representing 54% of the overall regents' total. Iowa State produced 328 licenses from these research developments, representing 62% of the overall regents total.

Economic development. Iowa State supports a culture of innovation, developing a mindset of entrepreneurship in its students and faculty scientists. During 2017-18, ISU startup and spinoff companies added $422.2 million to Iowa's economy, supporting 8,011 jobs. Iowa companies benefit from the expertise of ISU's Small Business Development Center and the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS). In a single year, CIRAS alone assisted 1,705 businesses in 95 counties.

Extension and outreach. With a presence in each of Iowa's 99 counties, ISU Extension and Outreach helped over 10,300 companies and organizations and nearly 16,000 farmers across the state in 2017-18. Besides payroll, the full value of extension and outreach to Iowa stakeholders isn't reflected in the study's $3.4 billion impact.

"The true value of extension and outreach can't be adequately captured in an economic impact study like this," said John Lawrence, vice president for extension and outreach. "Every day we connect Iowans of all ages with university expertise and science-based information, education and resources. Our impact on Iowa families, communities, farms, businesses and the environment can't be measured solely by dollars."

The study did note the importance of thousands of extension and outreach volunteers who, in 2017-18, gave more than 398,000 hours to deliver 4-H programs and who, as Master Gardeners, contributed more than 114,000 hours in service to their communities.

Worthwhile investment

Besides the economic impacts, the study included an investment analysis that weighed costs and benefits in considering Iowa State as a worthwhile investment from the perspectives of students, taxpayers and society.

Students. Students see a high rate of return for their investment in education at Iowa State. Over their working lives, Iowa State graduates will receive a present value of $2.9 billion in increased earnings. That's a return of $3.80 in lifetime earnings for every dollar students invest in an Iowa State education. Students' average annual rate of return is 14.2%. That outperforms the stock market's 30-year average annual return of 9.9%.

The analysis confirmed the benefits of earning a bachelor's degree -- higher future earnings that grow throughout graduates' careers. The average Iowa State graduate with a bachelor's degree in FY2017-18 will see an increase in earnings of more than $23,000 annually compared to someone with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Iowa. Over a lifetime, the benefits of an ISU bachelor's degree over a high school diploma amount to $1 million in higher earnings per graduate.

Taxpayers. Taxpayers benefit from the higher income and lower social cost of ISU graduates. For every dollar of public money invested in Iowa State in 2017-18, Iowa taxpayers will receive $2.60 in return over the course of students' working lives.

Society. From a social perspective, Iowa benefits in many ways from ISU education, research and extension and outreach. The primary benefit is an increased economic base, attributed to higher student earning and increased business output. Taken together, the social benefits of ISU equal $7.9 billion -- $7.6 billion in added income through students' lifetime earnings and increased business output, and $280.6 million in social savings -- for example, improved health and lifestyles attributed to education. For every dollar invested in ISU, Iowans will receive $4.50 in return for as long as ISU's 2017-18 students remain employed in the state workforce.

The study also included several social benefits made possible by extension and outreach. The study stated that "all Iowans benefit when local people join together to make their communities better places to live and work. All Iowans benefit from efforts to improve water quality, produce crops and livestock sustainably and strengthen rural economies. All Iowans benefit when individuals, families and communities become more resilient and are better able to handle any challenges they may face."

Senators debate change to position responsibility statement

Meeting coverage

The Faculty Senate will vote next month on a resolution to remove words from the position responsibility statement (PRS), an issue that prompted debate during this week's meeting.

The proposed changes, introduced at the Nov. 12 meeting, remove the words "citizenship," "collegiality," "civility" and similar terms from all faculty PRSs. The Faculty Handbook limits a PRS to considerations in evaluating performance of position responsibilities, such as teaching, research and outreach. Words such as citizenship, collegiality and civility are not defined in the Faculty Handbook.

The resolution directs colleges and departments to remove "any statement about citizenship, collegiality, civility or other associated terms from every faculty PRS, including PRSs signed prior to the adoption of this resolution."

Some senators said things such as collegiality, while not put in a separate category for evaluation, should be considered in the whole context of faculty responsibilities. Others argue that including those words in a PRS makes it easier to get rid of faculty superiors disagree with, or can lead to suppressing academic freedom.

"We are not saying as a Faculty Senate we reject civility or citizenship or collegiality," said Annemarie Butler, associate professor in philosophy and religious studies. "We are saying these are inappropriate to be included on the PRS because the PRS has an expressed purpose as a tool of evaluation."

The executive committee introduced the resolution to remind college and department administrators that the Faculty Handbook governs what a PRS can include.

Standing against racism

Senators voted to suspend the rule requiring two readings and unanimously passed a resolution opposing racist incidents that have occurred at the university and supporting the students affected by them. The resolution also supported the constitutional rights of students to protest and called on the entire campus community to support diversity and inclusion at ISU.

Multiple senators spoke about how faculty have the power to put action behind words.

"I think it is a powerful statement to come from our faculty to say we are supporting our students who are experiencing this," said Jordan Brooks, director of equity, inclusion and multicultural student success in the College of Design. "I think when you are in your department meetings, your curriculum meetings making decisions about the experiences we want our students to have, let's be conscious of our ability to stand up for them then. Make decisions and enact policies that will support diversity, equity and inclusion for all our students."

Other business

Senators will vote next month on two academic proposals:

  • The academic affairs council proposed a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering to begin fall 2020. The degree, which would be in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering, would focus on challenges linked to land, air and water. The program projects an enrollment of 25 students in the first year and 200 in five years.
  • A name change is proposed for the 15-credit emerging global diseases minor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to global health. The change allows the university to join the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, and is expected to draw more students to the minor each year by covering more topics.

Senators approved:

  • A business and technology consulting minor and a professional sales certificate in the Ivy College of Business. 
  • Discontinuing the nuclear engineering minor in the department of mechanical engineering. The coordinator is retiring.
  • A revision to the Faculty Handbook granting term faculty the same process as tenured faculty to earn emeritus or emerita status.



Daniel Hartwig standing in the library archives vault

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Daniel Hartwig stepped into his role as the library's head of special collections and university archives on Oct. 1. Hartwig oversees the acquisition and preservation of printed materials, digital files and artifacts. University archives holds the history of Iowa State and the people connected to it, while the materials in special collections may be from individuals or organizations without a university tie.

Hartwig comes to campus after serving since 2010 as university archivist at Stanford University, Stanford, California. He also served in positions at the Wisconsin Historical Society (2002-04), Madison; Ball State University (2004-06), Muncie, Indiana; and Yale University (2006-10), New Haven, Connecticut.

The Marshalltown native earned master's degrees in library information studies (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and history and philosophy of science (Indiana University, Bloomington), and a bachelor's degree from University of Iowa in history and philosophy. Hartwig's office is in 403 Parks Library and he can be reached by phone (294-8270) and email (dhartwig@iastate.edu).

Report shows how a faculty work week is spent

Teaching, including preparing for class and grading, remains the most prevalent duty in the average week of an Iowa State faculty member, according to a new report submitted to the state Board of Regents this week.

That's how tenured and tenure-track faculty spend 13.3 hours per week on average, not including another 8.8 hours per week of other student instruction, such as mentoring student research, advising and developing courses. The average work week of 54.8 hours also includes 21.6 hours of scholarship, research and creative work along with the 22.1 hours of instruction. A term faculty member's average 36.9 hours of student instruction is three-quarters of their 49.1-hour week.

Across all faculty types, the average weekly hours worked fell to 53.9 in 2018, from 54.9 in 2016, 55.69 in 2014 and 58 in 2012.

The data in the faculty activities report comes from a self-reported survey conducted at regent institutions once every two years. It was collected throughout fall 2018, with faculty tracking their hours during different weeks throughout the semester to account for the ebb and flow of the academic year. Eighty-two percent of ISU faculty responded to the survey.

The report breaks down faculty activity by type of work and faculty role, providing regents a broad look at what faculty work on.

How ISU faculty spend their work week


54.8 hrs/wk

49.1 hrs/wk

51.3 hrs/wk

57.7 hrs/wk

Student instruction/advising





Scholarship, research, creative work





Community outreach, extension





Clinical work





Professional development










In a presentation to the regents' academic affairs committee Nov. 13, associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince personalized the statistics by briefly touching on a diverse variety of work by several faculty members: Elizabeth Stegemöller in kinesiology, Michael Young in mathematics, Michael Goebel in women’s and gender studies and sociology, Dr. Joyce Carnevale in veterinary clinical sciences, Guowen Song in apparel, events and hospitality management, Alison Robertson in plant pathology and microbiology, and Amy Andreotti and Dipali Sashital in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology.

"We know that faculty are the distinguishing strength of any university," she said.  

Teaching load balance

The report also tracks how the universities' teaching loads are shared by tenured and tenure-track faculty, term faculty and graduate assistants. The portion of Iowa State's 450,314 credit hours taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty in fall 2018 fell slightly from the 2016 survey, from 50.3% to 49.2%. That reflects the changing nature of faculty appointments across the U.S. and ISU undergraduate enrollment growth between 2014 and 2016, which required additional hiring of term faculty focused on instruction.

Who teaches Iowa State students





All students






Term faculty





Graduate assistant






Meet student regent Zack Leist

Regents Jim Lindenmayer (left) and Zack Leist

Iowa State junior and newest state Board of Regents member Zack Leist (right) visits with regent Jim Lindenmayer during a recent board meeting. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

"It's a huge honor to serve."

Iowa State junior Zack Leist ("leest"), who had plenty on his college plate prior to Gov. Kim Reynold's invitation last spring to fill the student vacancy on the nine-member state Board of Regents, said he's grateful for opportunities like this one.

"I like helping people, and this is that -- on a large, large scale," he said.

While one could argue he represents the 75,128 students at Iowa's three public universities, he sees it as serving 3.1 million Iowans.

"I know I come with a student perspective, but I have to look at what's good for the state, for the people of Iowa -- and that conflicts with what students expect sometimes," he noted.

Case in point: At Leist's first meeting in June, the regents approved tuition increases that were higher than hoped for but adhered to the board's guidelines based on state appropriations for the year. He actually was absent the day of the vote, but his Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity brothers gave him a hard time about the price hike.

Every generation deals with its own challenges and problems, he explained. He believes his experiences and perspective on issues such as technology, diversity and mental health will be useful to board discussions. Leist serves as vice chair of the board's campus and student affairs committee.

The Clarion native also sees board membership as "an opportunity to show that kids from small towns can do amazing things."

North central Iowan

His penchant for pushing himself didn't start when he became a Cyclone two falls ago. Leist was student government vice president and valedictorian of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School's class of 2017. He competed in football, basketball, track and baseball all four years; the not-so-common "four by four" that keeps a student-athlete in season from roughly Aug. 15 to July 15. For two of those years, he had officer duties in the school's FFA chapter and, with classmates from the industrial tech club, twice raised funds to cover summer trips to Europe and Australia.

He helped organize events for his church's youth ministry team. He also helped at the family farm. His dad, Kelly, raises Angus beef cattle and grows row crops with his own father. His mom, Shannon (Cramer), is an Iowa State alumna and teaches family and consumer sciences at his high school. His sister, Hannah, completed an early childhood education degree last spring at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).

Road to the regents

Leist's plan is to triple major in agricultural business, economics and international agriculture and try to pick up a minor in agronomy, as well. MBA and law degrees are possibilities when he finishes at Iowa State in May 2021, about the same time his regent term expires. He's completing the six-year term of former UNI student and regent Rachael Johnson.

His campus activities have included Agricultural Business Club, Iowa Corn Growers Club, Collegiate Cattlemen's Club and CALS Ambassadors. He's the finance officer for his fraternity and has completed several study-abroad trips.

In fact, they were in Brazil last spring when associate teaching professor in economics Kevin Kimle first raised the student regent vacancy with him.

"Our travel course is project-based, so I had the opportunity to observe Zack interact with U.S. and Brazilian agribusiness professionals and farmers as well as other students on the project team," Kimle said. "He demonstrated curiosity, an ability to formulate penetrating questions, and a capacity to listen effectively and connect to people. These traits all provide a foundation for leadership."

When they returned to Ames, Leist interviewed with President Wendy Wintersteen, then board executive director Mark Braun and finally the governor's chief of staff. Reynolds phoned to ask him to fill the vacancy on the board, which has requirements for gender and political balance. Leist is independent. The student seat also rotates among the three regent universities.

With three meetings and a fall retreat in the rear view, Leist said he's meeting great people and learning a lot about how the universities run. His dad's advice to him, "Don’t be a one-hit wonder," reminds him to use his opportunities to improve himself.

"My goals and dreams probably change every day," he said. "But I can be kind and genuine and work hard every day. And that gets you where you want to go."