The residence department is one of many whose staff are putting in extra hours to prepare for the start of fall semester. (Pictured above l-r) Ann Waigand and Madison Mueller, graduate students and community advisers at Frederiksen Court, sort and package about 2,700 keys to the student neighborhood's 640+ apartments. The key packages will be distributed at Lied Recreation Athletic Facility, where all students living in campus housing will be tested for COVID-19 to begin this year's move-in process. Students living on campus this summer will be tested July 31.
With the goal of keeping students, their family members and staff as physically distanced as possible, move-in is by appointment and spread over two weeks, Aug. 3-16. Destination Iowa State for first-time Iowa State students, which began virtually in early July, continues on campus Aug. 13-15.
Iowa State budget leaders have assembled a general fund operating budget for the new fiscal year that's $41.2 million -- or 5.6% -- leaner than last year's $742 million budget. The state Board of Regents approved fiscal year 2021 budgets at its July 29 virtual meeting.
The operating budget of $700.8 million reflects decreases to four revenue sources:
- $33.4 million less in tuition, due to enrollment projections lower than last fall and no rate increases. Because the tuition distribution formula counts enrolled students and student credit hours taught, tuition losses will be felt to different degrees across the colleges.
- $3.2 million less in state operating appropriations, Iowa State's share of an $8 million reduction for the regents system by the 2020 Iowa Legislature.
- $2.5 million less in interest income on university investments and endowments, due to the global economic downturn.
- $2.2 million less in indirect cost reimbursements on research, due to research scaling down during the pandemic.
More regents coverage
In addition to meeting these reductions, units must cover at least $2.1 million in new FY21 expenses for:
- Unavoidable cost increases of $1.4 million for expenses such as insurance premiums, IT licenses, University Innovation Alliance participation and service agreements (fire, transit) with the city.
- Merit employee pay increases totaling $690,011 under the terms of the state's contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Associate vice president for institutional financial strategy Bonnie Whalen, who leads the institutional budget management team tasked with developing the university budget, said the pandemic has injected a lot of uncertainty into FY21. Units are reviewing all expenses and using all funding sources to balance their budgets, and the focus remains on delivering an outstanding student experience and maintaining excellence in teaching, research and outreach, she said.
Budget reduction strategies
The following list outlines strategies and tools ISU units will use to meet FY21 reductions.
1. To right-size the university and match local needs, departments will make personnel adjustments, such as not filling vacant positions or eliminating positions, for an estimated salary/benefits savings of $21.5 million. Through at least December, a faculty or staff vacancy requires senior vice president or president-level approval to fill. President Wendy Wintersteen told board members the impact could be 100 faculty positions, as well as professional and scientific, merit and graduate and undergraduate student employee positions.
2. Changes to employee benefits will create additional savings. These could include:
- As President Wintersteen announced earlier this month, the university portion of TIAA/VALIC retirement contributions will be reduced 2 percentage points for 10 months, beginning Sept. 1, for an estimated savings of $4.8 million.
- The cost-saving impact of a new retirement incentive plan, also approved July 29 by the regents, won't be known until after March 1, 2021, when the application window closes and departments know which of three incentives their approved employees selected. Up to 1,200 employees could be eligible for the plan.
- The university benefits committee is reviewing medical benefits and other benefit programs and will make recommendations to reduce these costs.
- A change to the tuition reimbursement program for professional and scientific and merit staff, effective fall semester, limits reimbursement to Iowa State courses only.
3. Postponing or canceling equipment purchases and replacements and building repairs will save an estimated $10.5 million. In her July 10 memo, President Wintersteen also announced a temporary freeze on renovation and building projects, except those driven by private donations or safety needs.
4. Institutional student financial aid will diminish with enrollment; an early estimate is $5.5 million.
5. Supply and service budgets will be trimmed an estimated $1.4 million. A key piece may be employee travel for university business -- restricted as much by the pandemic as budget constraints. For example, the regents' systemwide rolling 30-day ban on international business travel, announced March 10, remains in effect.
6. And finally, President Wintersteen requested a 10% reduction to her current salary of $590,000.
Iowa State's overall budget is $1.4 billion, a decrease of $128.9 million (8.4%) from last year. About two-thirds of the decline is in restricted budgets. Totaling $700.2 million this year, the restricted side of the budget includes sponsored research, endowment income, building projects and self-funded auxiliary units such as athletics, residence, dining, printing, parking, utilities, recreation services, bookstore, Reiman Gardens, Iowa State Center and the Memorial Union. In sum, those budgets are down about 11% from $787.9 million a year ago. Auxiliaries experienced significant revenue losses, for example in the form of canceled conference and NCAA tournaments, a shuttered bookstore, postponed or canceled conferences and student housing and dining refunds for spring semester.
The restricted side of the budget includes state building appropriations, adjusted by legislators in June, totaling $15.525 million for two projects:
- $8.9 million for a new state Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, year three of a six-year commitment. Construction should begin next spring.
- $6.625 million for the Student Innovation Center, year five of a six-year commitment
Due to some uncertainty about fall sports schedules in the pandemic, the regents postponed reviewing athletics department budgets until their September meeting. The Cyclone athletics department's proposal to expand the north and south concourses at Hilton Coliseum also was postponed to the September agenda.
Federal COVID relief
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided Iowa State with $21.6 million in April. The first $10.8 million will be awarded to eligible students as direct aid and, so far, Iowa State has awarded $9.2 million. The remaining $1.6 million of the student portion is expected to be distributed by the early weeks of fall semester. Whalen said senior leaders are reviewing all COVID-19 related costs to determine the most appropriate use of the second $10.8 million, which is designated for the institution.
Whalen said the university also has begun the process to seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for eligible costs related to COVID-19. She clarified that lost revenue due to the pandemic is not reimbursable by FEMA.
Sharron (Sha-RON) Evans began her work as associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students May 18, safely arriving on campus earlier this month. As dean, she has oversight for 16 programs and centers. She also will oversee campus initiatives such as the Sexual Misconduct Leadership Committee, Undergraduate Student Experience Action Group and Demonstration Safety Team.
Evans served for more than 13 years at two Chicago universities, Northeastern Illinois University (2005-14) and Roosevelt University (2014-18). At the former, she led two offices: student leadership development (2005-12) and student rights and responsibilities (2012-14). At Roosevelt, her roles included assistant vice president for student development (2014-15), assistant VP for inclusion and equity and Title IX coordinator (2015-16), associate VP for student affairs/dean of students (2016-18), and vice president for student affairs/dean of students (2018). Prior to her time in Chicago, Evans worked in student organizations and leadership and new student orientation at Columbia University, New York City (2002-05), and the residence system at Illinois State University, Normal (1996-2002). She also has worked as a private practice attorney and higher education consultant since 2014.
Evans earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice sciences (1993) and master's degree in education (1997) from Illinois State University, Normal; and a juris doctor (2013) from John Marshall Law School, University of Illinois, Chicago.
Her office is in 1010 Student Services Building. She can be reached by phone at 294-1022 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Wendy Wintersteen and other senior leaders will hold the fourth virtual COVID-19 town hall with faculty and staff July 30 from 3-4:30 p.m. Join via Webex Events or call in at 415-655-0001 and enter event number/access code 126 305 1330. Ask questions by typing them in the Q&A box on Webex Events.
Summer's gradual ramp-up is about to give way to fall's fuller return. Most employees who need to work on campus to support a successful resumption of in-person instruction and residential student life will be back in their usual workspaces by Aug. 3, the same date students begin moving into university housing. Returning to prepare for the fall semester ends a long stretch away for some employees. To recap the onslaught of plans made this summer, Inside summarized some of the need-to-know essentials.
Face coverings everywhere
Everyone must wear a face covering or face shield whenever they're within 6 feet of someone else on university property, indoors or outdoors -- laboratories, offices, conference rooms, sidewalks, shared vehicles, green spaces, everywhere. A face covering is always required in classrooms. Keep one handy at all times, and make sure it covers your mouth and nose when you wear it. Employees who requested a cloth face covering will be provided up to two, ordered by departments. Each student also will receive two face coverings. Guidance is available for responding to noncompliance.
Thousands of signs on campus will promote the main tenets of the Cyclones Care campaign: wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often and stay home when sick. Look for Cyclones Care messaging on social media and throughout the community. See the campaign website for digital signage, editable PDFs, logos, social media graphics, videos, email signatures and links to order signs from printing services. Education and awareness are the most important ways to encourage behavior that fights the spread of COVID-19.
All employees are encouraged to complete "Returning to Iowa State University," a 20-minute training available in Learn@ISU that summarizes personal health and safety protocols.
Students, faculty and staff with coronavirus symptoms or exposure to someone infected can be tested at the Thielen Student Health Center by filling out this form. Report positive tests from an off-campus provider within the last 10 days by filling out this form. All students living in on-campus housing will be tested during check-in, which was spread over two weeks, Aug. 3-16, to allow distancing. Employee help is needed to support the check-in process at Lied Rec Center. See the online sign-up for details.
Tracing and isolating
When ISU employees or students test positive, the university's public health team will notify individuals about isolation requirements and identify who has had close contact with them (defined as spending 15 minutes within 6 feet, even with a face covering). Close contacts will need to quarantine. Isolation and quarantine timeframes will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Custodial supervisors will be notified about positive cases so cleaning crews can disinfect impacted facilities.
Less density, more distance
Facilities crews are cordoning off seats and placing other indicators to support physical distancing in classrooms, which are limited to half capacity or less -- a space crunch that will press the Sun Room, South Ballroom and Great Hall of the Memorial Union into service as classrooms. Guidelines for common areas in campus buildings call for one-way traffic in hallways, exterior doors and stairways as well as avoiding elevators when possible. The time between class periods was extended to 15 minutes to account for the distancing precautions. Departments and units designed local risk mitigation plans based on their own staffing needs and facilities.
The fall semester was adjusted to begin Aug. 17 and end the day before Thanksgiving, with classes held (and needed employees working) on Labor Day. Large courses and student support will be mostly but not entirely virtual, while smaller courses such as studios, labs, team-based learning classes and capstones will be taught in-person or as a hybrid that combines online and in-class instruction. An updated class schedule indicating the delivery mode for each course section will be available by Aug. 3. Every class will use Canvas.
Clean your office
By adding dozens of temporary positions for the 2020-21 academic year, facilities planning and management (FPM) custodial teams are intensifying and narrowing their focus in campus buildings. The priority will be the most-used areas. Classrooms, bathrooms and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily -- twice daily in Parks Library. Custodians won't be cleaning office and administrative spaces, including conference rooms. Employees will need to clean and sanitize those spaces themselves, and guidelines are available. Hand sanitizer stations will be ubiquitous.
- Don’t forget to renew your parking permit. Starting July 1, the refund policy is back in effect, allowing faculty and staff to stop payroll deductions or receive a prorated refund if they later decide to return their permit.
- Campus buildings are ready to be occupied, but nearly all were locked when limited operations began in mid-March. They’re gradually reopening. Check out the status of a building with FPM’s building information tool.
- Some breakfast and lunch options are available on campus. See what’s open and when on ISU Dining’s website.
The best place to find information is the central COVID-19 response webpage. It includes campuswide updates, fall planning details and relevant links, such as FAQs by topic and intended audience. Email questions to COVIDemail@example.com.
Policy changes set to go into effect Aug. 1 will allow faculty and staff traveling on university business to be reimbursed for meals and incidental purchases at a set rate without submitting receipts.
Allowing meal reimbursement on a per diem basis instead of actual cost is a standard industry practice and will reduce the complexity of expense reports, a common request from faculty and staff, said Jake Wilson, director of divisional business operations in the division of operations and finances.
Travel within Iowa will pay $7 for breakfast, $10.50 for lunch and $17.50 for dinner. The in-state total of $35 per day is an increase over the previous maximum for meal expenses of $31 per day. Per diems for out-of-state travel will be based on rates set by federal agencies, such as the General Services Administration (GSA).
Per diem rates also set the maximum allowable expense for meals purchased with a travel and hospitality (T&H) card. As of July 1, receipts aren't required for T&H card allowable purchases of $75 or less. Employees are responsible for paying any portion of T&H card purchases that exceeds allowable limits, either by deductions from personally paid reimbursement amounts or U-bill charges. Supervisors may set more restrictive limits on allowable expenses.
The maximum rate for lodging will be $96 per night in Iowa, where many hotels offer special rates to state employees. Out-of-state lodging maximums will be tied to GSA rates. Exceptions are possible in some situations, such as conferences that require attendees to stay on-site. Receipts are required for lodging expenses.
The changes effective Aug. 1, which affect the travel policies pertaining to reimbursement, foreign travel reimbursement, airfare, and travel authorization and funding, also clarify that coach class airfare is the lowest-price ticket available including baggage fees.
With the state Board of Regents' approval Wednesday afternoon, the window for Iowa State's retirement incentive plan will open Monday, Aug. 3. Eligible employees have until March 1, 2021, to express their interest in participating and until June 30 to retire from the university.
The retirement incentive option is a voluntary program and part of a broader university strategy to trim budgets in the face of reduced state appropriations and tuition revenue.
More regents coverage
University leaders estimate that up to 1,200 employees could meet the basic eligibility requirements: a rule of 70 (combination of age and continuous university service), and at least 60 years old on their retirement day. They can't have been previously approved for another ISU retirement program.
Program participants actually would choose from three incentives:
- Two years of monthly employer's retirement contributions, plus health and dental coverage (employer and employee costs) up to the self and spouse/partner level
- Three years of retirement contributions
- Three years of health and dental coverage
At her request, from Aug. 1 to June 30, 2021, President Wendy Wintersteen's salary will be reduced $59,000, or 10% of her annual salary as of Nov. 20, 2019. This, too, is part of budget-cutting measures.
Board president Mike Richards thanked Wintersteen and other leaders in the regents system who willl take salary reductions for their unselfish decisions.
"One key aspect of leadership is to let your organization know 'we're all in this together.' Our leaders, on the academic as well as the athletic side, have shown the willingness to make significant personal sacrifices for the betterment of our staff and students," Richards said. "I want to thank each one of them personally for their sacrifice. Everything we can do in this pandemic makes a difference."
Other ISU items
In other business, the board approved appointments for these ISU leaders:
- Pam Elliott Cain, senior vice president for operations and finance, effective Aug. 1
- Toyia Younger, senior vice president for student affairs, Aug. 17
- Kristen Constant, vice president for information technology services and chief information officer, Aug. 1
- Kristi Darr, vice president for university human resources, Aug. 1
The board also approved an Iowa State bond sale for $22.99 million of academic building revenue refunding bonds to refund the 2021-35 maturities of $28.2 million of bonds sold in 2010 to partially finance two projects: Hach Hall and the College of Veterinary Medicine small animal hospital renovation and addition. Lower interest rates today will save the university an estimated $5.6 million.
University Museums announced this week its three campus locations will reopen to the public, with modified hours and experiences, the first week of fall semester. These include the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building, Christian Petersen Art Museum in Morrill Hall and Farm House Museum on central campus. The focus will be on keeping the museum spaces cleaned and sanitized, keeping visitors and staff healthy and on providing a place for creative interactions in the arts, science and technology. Comprehensive (and consistent) cleaning procedures are in place.
All visitors and staff are required to wear masks, and all locations will reopen at 50% occupancy, as directed by ISU guidelines. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been added at all locations. Museum staff also ask visitors to:
- Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more between yourself, other guests and staff in all museum spaces.
- Thoroughly wash your hands immediately before and after your visit.
- Heed signage that's part of the overall "Cyclones Care" initiative
Museums staff created two virtual programs for visitors planning to see exhibits or attend in-person programs. "COVID-19 Procedures and Protocols" and "Registering for Fall Programs" both will be available Aug. 10 (4 p.m.) on the museums' YouTube page.
Similar to ISU classes, university museums will offer a hybrid schedule of educational programs through December. Many programs will be available virtually through its YouTube page and released on a scheduled day. Other programs will be broadcast via Facebook LIVE on its Facebook page at a specific time. In-person programs will be offered, however they typically will be limited to 10 people with distanced seating. Participants will use an online calendar system to preregister. The attendance cap will be reevaluated throughout the semester to respond to current safety measures.
Know before you go
Following are details for university museums' three locations.
Brunnier Art Museum, 2nd floor Scheman Building
- Hours: Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 1-4 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday by appointment only to groups larger than five persons (request an appointment or tour)
- Fall exhibitions: "Contemplate Japan," "A New World: 600 BCE-600 CE," through fall semester
- Directional signage will indicate traffic flow
Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall
Exhibition artwork is spaced to allow for ample physical distancing and traffic flow.
- Campbell Gallery, 1017 Morrill, exhibition: "Who Am I?" Aug. 17-Nov. 25, hours: Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday by appointment only to groups larger than five persons (request an appointment or tour)
- Reiman Gallery, 0003 Morrill, exhibitions: FOCUS: Critical Conversations with Art (Sept. 14-Oct. 9), reACT series (Oct. 26-Nov. 20), hours during exhibition weeks only: Monday-Friday noon-4 p.m., Monday-Tuesday 8 a.m.-noon for group appointments
- Petersen Gallery, lower level hallway, accessible when Morrill Hall is open, exhibition: "From Time Immemorial: Art as Commemoration"
Farm House Museum, central campus
- Hours: Monday-Friday noon-4 p.m.
- Exhibition: "Farm House 160," through Nov. 25
- Visitors will be limited to the first floor with a maximum of 22 visitors at a time. Restroom will be restricted to staff use.