Back in the classroom
Several months of planning led to the first day of classes Aug. 17 which is part of a fall semester that is an academic experience like no other. Fall in-person class breakdown:
- 44% in-person component
- 28% fully in-person
- 16% hybrid format (in-person and virtual)
It was just one week of the fall semester, but it was an important one.
Last week represented the first in-person classes on campus in 150 days since their suspension as a result of the pandemic. Plenty of precautions still are in place -- highlighted by the Cyclones Care program -- but in-person instruction joined online and hybrid teaching this fall.
Inside caught up with a few faculty to see what it was like to be back in the classroom.
Pleased to be back
"It was wonderful."
It is a sentiment shared by numerous faculty who rushed to get courses online last spring but are more than happy to be able to look their students in the eyes again.
It didn't take long for sociology professor Susan Stewart to see the impact of being together in the same room.
"I think we are all just starving for social interaction and intellectual engagement with each other," she said. "I think professors and students did a fantastic job last spring, but it is just not the same as being in the classroom."
Stewart is teaching in a new room in the Student Innovation Center that seats more than 100 and provides plenty of opportunities to physically distance. Stewart is more than 8 feet away from students -- allowing her to use a face shield, which she believes is key.
Other adjustments will help make the safety measures less obtrusive. For instance, students have a harder time being able to hear instruction, and face masks could impact class participation.
"Students can be shy and don't speak up, so just being able to only see their eyes makes it tough to anticipate a question," Stewart said. "I worry it will hamper class discussion, so I am working on a way to have students feel more comfortable asking questions with the mask on."
Matt Rouse, a teaching professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering, is instructing a pair of in-person classes. He was pleased to be back in a classroom and glad to see students following all of the safety guidelines.
"They were plugged right in and easy to work with," he said. "They seem more focused and engaged."
Rouse used a checklist his first day to follow the safety protocols. He wears a mask until all students are seated before going to a face shield so his whole face is visible. After just a week, things feel more normal with the exception of students wearing face masks slowing his ability to remember names, Rouse said.
Online instruction helped him prepare for the fall semester.
"Being organized to the nth degree is key," Rouse said. "Having students there gives you a little more flexibility, but I do take some of that organization from an online course into the classroom, which helps everybody."
In this together
Mechanical engineering associate teaching professor Jackie Baughman wanted students to have a say when setting up her three in-person classes.
"I sent out a survey to give them options and receive any other options they felt were available to us," she said. "I wanted to optimize that space and work in class as much as possible."
Baughman has four students taking the class online and is limited by the number of students who can be in the room to satisfy social distancing needs. Students are broken into teams with one online student in each. Interaction is a must, which requires the groups to formulate a communication strategy.
"It is actually really good practice for the students to interact with other people online because in their industries they will have to do that," she said.
Students were enthusiastic to be back in class, and preparation is key to keeping the classroom running smoothly, Baughman said.
World languages and cultures associate professor Sebastian Braun had some apprehension about going back into the classroom. The unknown of what campus would look like on the first day or how his students would act led to some extra stress.
"It is still there to some degree, but it has been pretty positive for me and I am able to teach like it is a non-COVID class," he said. "All the students have been really good about physical distancing and wearing masks."
In addition to his in-person class, Braun also is teaching a hybrid course which demands more of his time to create online content. He has broken the class into thirds with each meeting in-person once a week.
"I planned the course differently because of the virtual experience," he said. "I really paid attention to how I planned it and am focusing on the main points."
Even with the return to classrooms, it is important for instructors to remember there is a higher level of stress on faculty and students, and to manage expectations accordingly.
The return of in-person learning this fall isn't limited to the classroom. Activities such as joining or leading one of Iowa State's hundreds of student organizations are essential opportunities.
Adviser with questions?
If you're a student organization adviser with questions about how to help your students navigate the fall, student activities center staff are happy to help. For general inquiries, contact Kevin Merrill at email@example.com or 294-4055. For questions about events, contact Tim Reuter at 294-0404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The student experience is important, and part of that is student organizations. We definitely want to encourage it as part of the in-person experience," said Kevin Merrill, assistant director for student organizations, leadership and service for the student activities center. "But we need to accomplish that in different ways now."
COVID-19 guidelines for student organizations call for promoting health and safety while still accomplishing group goals. They mirror the university's approach to academics and events, with 50% capacity limits in rooms, requirements to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance, and a preference for virtual interactions when feasible. Rules on food handling prohibit self-service meals (no table of pizzas at the club meeting). Overnight travel and visiting speakers are discouraged. Contact points such as handouts, giveaways and shared supplies should be limited as much as possible. ISU departments or national organizations that sponsor student groups may have more stringent protocols.
Faculty and staff who advise student groups should consider meeting with their student leaders to talk through the guidelines. The goal should be to balance an organization's priorities and COVID-19 exposure risks, emphasizing activities that are safe and those most important to the group's purpose.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It's more of a step-by-step thought process," Merrill said.
That could mean minor adjustments such as reducing meeting frequencies, replacing an awareness event with an email campaign, or shifting events online or outside. The pandemic also presents an opportunity to zero in on the essential aspects of an organization and design an innovative solution for achieving what's most critical.
"I think we can slow down a little bit and think about the most impactful version of a student organization instead of the busiest. Quality is the most important thing right now," Merrill said.
For events still being held, advisers should talk with students about how their plans will adapt to new realities on campus, Merrill said. Organizations may miss out on reaching many students if they don't offer virtual accessibility, and longer events make sense because there are fewer students on campus on any given day. That's the tack the student activities center will take with ClubFest this year, extending from one day to three and adding a weeklong virtual version.
The role of the faculty or staff adviser required for student organizations can be hands-on depending on the nature of the group, and advisers sign off on purchases and uses of university resources. But the organizations are run by students. If an adviser has concerns about the choices a group's leaders are making, referring to the guidelines and asking about how they apply may help nudge students to change course, Merrill said.
"I'd ask that question of those student leaders: Is this going to be a decision that's best for the health and safety of the members?" he said.
While health and safety precautions will limit some of what student organizations usually do, plotting a response and figuring out how to connect virtually is a chance for student leaders to tackle a timely piece of problem-solving, Merrill said.
"That's the way the workforce is looking now anyway. It's good practice," he said.
A long-standing and coveted campus resource, the 3-pound budget book, has been replaced. Iowa State's new e-Budget website debuts for the fiscal year that began July 1 (FY 2021). It's available on the operations and finance division website, under the "financial planning and budgeting" dropdown menu, and anyone with a university Net-ID can access the dozens of PDF documents stored in CyBox.
All of the reports may be viewed online, but they can't be downloaded or printed.
Ellen Rasmussen, who serves as senior adviser to senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain and has been preparing the e-Budget site, said e-Budget is an easy way for more people to access what, in many ways, is more information. The change is another outcome of Iowa State's Workday adoption a year ago.
"The [Workday] system itself allows us to budget in additional categories, which create the reports. So, we have summaries we couldn't easily retrieve in the old budget system," she said.
The amount your unit spends on allocated expenses? It's in a report. The total budget for tenured faculty or graduate assistant salaries and wages? It's in a report. Department breakouts for items like travel, IT, equipment, supplies? They're not all lumped together in a single "supplies" line item in e-Budget.
The reporting possibilities in Workday
While conversations are just beginning and are outside the e-Budget scope, Rasmussen said Iowa State's change to the Workday system opens the door to creating management reports that merge information once included in the budget book with HR- or finance-related information to support decision-making at all levels of the university. A group is being formed to identify reporting needs, and more information will be shared with the campus community as solutions become available.
Budget summaries in e-Budget are divided into two groups by funding source: Legislative funds and restricted funds. Most reports belong in the half of the budget formerly called the general fund (now legislative funds), whose key revenue sources are state and federal appropriations, tuition and indirect cost recovery on sponsored research. Fiscal year budget summaries are sorted at various levels, including institutional, division, college or business unit and department.
Several reports break out general university spending by eight uniform accounting classifications: Instruction, academic support, operations and maintenance, scholarships and fellowships, student services, public services/nonsponsored programs, sponsored programs and institutional support.
A smaller set of reports cover the restricted half of the university budget, which includes sponsored research, endowment income, building projects and auxiliary units. Included will be the budgets for the largest auxiliary units: athletics (pending state Board of Regents' approval next month), Memorial Union, parking system, recreation services, residence and dining, Thielen Student Health Center and the utility system.
The e-Budget website also contains links to:
- Annual rates (percentages) for employee fringe benefits
- Current pay matrices for P&S and merit staff
- A spreadsheet that assists researchers with completing salary allocations for their team members, needed for sponsored program administration's GoldSheet proposal form
- The state's employee salary website (which is a year behind), including ISU employees
Employee lists are gone
While e-Budget contains a broader set of budget documents than its predecessor and provides a comprehensive look into the university's operating budget, readers will quickly note what's not there: names, titles and salaries of university employees.
"Workday changed all our business processes for HR and finance and makes a clearer distinction between the two." Rasmussen said. "Individual names and titles -- or who you are -- really isn't a budget question."
Past budget books are available in the general collection at Parks Library, with older years moved to university archives. The last 13 budget books (FY08-20) also are archived as large, searchable PDF documents in CyBox.
Changes to Title IX regulations the U.S. Department of Education approved in May required schools to update their own policies to remain in compliance with federal law. As of Aug. 14, Iowa State has a new Title IX Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence and Stalking policy in its online policy library. University employees are encouraged to read it.
Title IX prohibits gender-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.
Key changes to the federal Title IX regulations:
- Narrow the definition of sexual harassment by placing time and place restrictions on alleged incidents and "current" status on would-be complainants.
- Require live, face-to-face hearings (complainant and respondent may be in separate rooms) during the adjudication process and the opportunity to cross-examine all materials and witnesses presented as evidence.
While the changes are significant, Adrienne Lyles, associate director of the office of equal opportunity (OEO) said the regulations also left the door open for institutions to continue to address behaviors and incidents no longer covered under Title IX in other policies, handbooks or codes of conduct. And that is what Iowa State has done, she said.
A university committee tasked with developing other educational materials this fall that address the changes is seeking feedback through an online survey. Participants can share their questions or uncertainties about the policy changes and the impact on university procedures. Input is requested by Sept. 18.
"Regardless of the changes in the federal guidance or to university policy, our commitment to responding, resolving and offering support and resources to allegations of sexual harassment remains the same," said Lyles, who is a member of the university's Title IX coordinating team. "We have chosen to maintain our broad commitment to responding.
"No matter when it happened or where it occurred, the university is ready to respond."
To accomplish this, Lyles said Iowa State leaders revised, for example, the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy in the policy library and the student code of conduct. In anticipation of the federal changes, she said OEO staff already had started to identify other university policies, handbooks or conduct codes that might be used to address prohibited behavior.
Lyles said another outcome of the federal changes is that adjudication processes will be separate for students, faculty, professional and scientific staff and merit staff. Those processes are outlined in a revised "Procedures, Applications and Guidance" document linked on the Title IX policy website.
Additionally, a formal complaint now must be filed even if a complainant wants an informal resolution to his or her case. Lyles said this can be discouraging to individuals who don't intend to pursue a formal resolution, but simply want to be heard or want to resolve a situation outside of a formal hearing.
Lyles said the OEO staff will continue to encourage potential complainants to contact their office as a first step. OEO staff will provide support, share resources and outline the process options. As before, contacting the EO office does not trigger a formal complaint or start an investigation.
Food science students Baily Hauge (right) and Gwow Thiratrakoolchai scoop ice cream during ISU Creamery's grand opening celebration Aug. 21 in 2953 Food Sciences. Before them are the shop's six traditional flavors: Two Swans, Legacy, 1858, Campanile Kiss, Cardinal Tracks and Wintersgreen. Debuting this fall will be signature flavors representing each of Iowa State's eight colleges.
ISU Creamery is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Cones (single to triple scoops) are $3-$5; a quart container is $12.
One of the ways the coronavirus has impacted daily life is how people eat. Instead of sitting down at a favorite restaurant, some have taken to ordering food online and picking it up. It supports local establishments while still respecting the need for social distancing and safety.
Faculty, staff and students can apply the same ideas while on campus by ordering food from ISU Dining's GET app. The mobile app, free in Apple and Google Play stores, allows anyone to order from select ISU Dining locations, use contactless payment and skip the line. For those working on campus, there is a desktop version of the app available.
"Between July 30 and Aug. 14, we had almost 2,100 new GET accounts created," assistant director of engagement in ISU Dining Karen Rodekamp said. "We take great care to make sure the user experience is good so they keep coming back."
There are more than 5,000 active users of the app in August.
ISU Dining has been using the app for about four years, expanding its reach across campus as it renovated facilities.
"Initially, there were just one or two locations, so as we renovated we planned ahead so we could use GET," Rodekamp said. "It doesn't make sense to have an app you can only use at a couple of locations."
ISU Dining worked over the summer to expand the app’s reach, which now includes:
- West Side Market, University Drive Community Center
- East Side Market, Maple-Willow-Larch commons
- Memorial Union Market, Memorial Union
- Hawthorn Market, Frederiksen Court Community Center
- Clyde's, University Drive Community Center
- Heaping Plato, The Hub
- The Roasterie, The Hub
- Lance & Ellie's, Memorial Union
- MU Food Court, Memorial Union
- Get & Go, Union Drive Marketplace and Conversations
"The Get and Go locations that we made available this year are really taking off," Rodekamp said. "It gives the students an alternate way to use a dining center swipe in a portable fashion."
An additional feature coming soon will make grocery shopping easier.
"Hawthorn, MU Market and West Side Market also will have items that are considered grocery items," ISU Dining assistant director of information systems Mary Schott said. "We will have a store set up so you can order groceries from those locations."
How GET works
After downloading the GET app, users set up an account.
"It is not linked to your Net-ID and password, so you have to create an account using your university credentials," Schott said. "That is your ISU ID number, your last name, your university email address and a phone number."
That information is validated with ISU Dining's system, and an account is created and verified. Faculty and staff will see their charge plan if they are signed up for one, or a credit card can be added. Students will see their meal plan, Dining Dollars and Cy Cash accounts. Then it is time to determine where and what to eat.
The app allows contactless entry into dining centers and payment by displaying a barcode, which eliminates the need to remember or handle an ISUCard. Users also can check balances and past orders.
Staff charge plan
The staff charge plan, which can be used through GET or by itself, is valid at any ISU Dining location and includes a flat $11 entry at any dining center, less than the $13.65 walk-in rate. Dining centers are all-you-care-to-dine with no taxes or tipping.
To sign up for the plan, which comes with no obligation to use, log in to AccessPlus, select the "Employee" tab, choose "Dining Charge Plan" from the menu on the left and follow the instructions.
As shared in an Aug. 21 memo to professional and scientific (P&S) employees and their managers, implementing the final piece in the new P&S classification and compensation system has been pushed back about three weeks. The go-live date, when final title assignments, compensation grades and ranges and other details of the structure become available in Workday, is now Sunday, Sept. 20.
That change means P&S employees should continue to use their current classification until then, and those who will have non-exempt positions in the new system don't need to begin tracking their work time until Sept. 20.
Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation in university human resources, said the early start to fall semester, compounded by the need to implement COVID-19 safety protocols as more employees returned to their campus workplaces, commanded P&S staff -- and their managers' -- time as the top priorities this month. This also caused delays in conversations with employees and managers related to P&S job title review requests, a critical last implementation piece for the new classification and compensation structure. More than 90% of the title review requests have been completed, she said.
Feedback she received from deans, department chairs and supervisors convinced her to work with senior leaders to reset the date.
In addition to finishing title reviews, Mallarino Houghton said her team will begin sharing training materials about the compensation side of the new structure. That includes how to use pay grades that are competitive in a local market and compensation that reflects the relative market value of each job. Inside will share details as these materials become available.
- An assist on understanding the new P&S job titles, June 18, 2020
- Implementation resumes for new P&S class/comp system, June 11, 2020
- Q&A: The new P&S classification and compensation structure, March 12, 2020
Adventure2 has provided opportunities for employees to remain connected and support one another since 2017. With the pandemic changing how people live their daily lives, the fourth year of the program -- which kicks off Sept. 1 -- is taking on a new role while still providing some of the same incentives that promote a healthy work-life balance.
"It is not just this exercise-tracking tool," ISU WellBeing coordinator Stephanie Downs said. "It is really meant to be holistic and support employees and their managers."
About 40% of the more than 7,000 benefits-eligible Iowa State employees are registered for Adventure2, and Downs hopes the new offerings will encourage even more to try it.
In response to the pandemic, a greater focus has been put on the mental and emotional well-being of employees. Managers will receive tips on supporting employees through inclusion and belonging, Downs said.
Limeade, which offers the libraries of wellness information Adventure2 uses, updated its product over the summer. It now includes a communication tool called "My Updates" to push information out to users. The upgraded app, Limeade ONE -- available in Apple and Google Play stores -- will be the primary landing spot for Adventure2. Access within the app begins Sept. 1.
Five channels were created:
- Adventure2 -- Helps users find information about the offerings of the program.
- We Care -- ISU WellBeing will push out messages like the Cyclones Care campaign, well-being services and other important information.
- WorkLife at ISU -- Focuses on ways employees can balance work and life, and how managers can be supportive.
- Cheers -- Participants can recognize the efforts of others taking part in Adventure2.
- Campus Connections -- A channel for participants to share general messages about achievements, needs or ideas.
"This gives us the opportunity to connect with really important university messages from ISU WellBeing to We Care to Adventure2," Downs said. "We know it won't get in front of everybody, but we do know the audience that is in there is getting the message."
Pivoting for a pandemic
Downs began to enhance offerings in March and April, focusing on maintaining connections when most employees left campus to work from home. Well-being Wednesdays provided a way to virtually connect and gain helpful information and insight.
"The pandemic has certainly elevated the need for the support that Adventure2 can provide," Downs said. "It is one tool and not the catch-all for everybody, but we really started to focus on the mental and emotional."
June and July saw an increased desire by users to find ways to be physically active and improve eating habits while remaining physically distant. Walk and Talks offer activity while making a virtual connection with a friend or through a Webex event set up by ISU WellBeing.
Along with changes, programming familiar to Adventure2 participants awards points and prizes for activities -- for example, gift cards -- as they progress. Team projects and goals also will remain.
"We will still have those exercise and fitness goals, and preventative exams are really important to the overall health of the employee," Downs said. "People really like those team challenges, and it is a way to meet others and connect."
Team events will include opportunities to pursue professional development through webinars and other virtual offerings, Downs said.
Junior Stephanie Warnstadt (right) distributed bottles of hand sanitizer to her fellow students along Osborn Drive Monday morning. Students, including college ambassadors, joined faculty and staff volunteers in the past week to share handouts and promote the Cyclones Care behavior campaign in the student body. The effort was organized by this fall's university response team.