With innovative effort, beat goes on for marching band


Christian Carichner got a call in April from a company asking if the Cyclone Marching Band might be interested in a face covering musicians could wear while playing an instrument.

That call would begin a monthslong effort of planning and developing mitigation strategies for fall rehearsals on campus and the possibility of performing at Jack Trice Stadium. Carichner started the work with no guarantee either would become a reality, but Saturday the band made its debut at the football game against Louisiana.

"We've made plans, changed plans and then made new plans in preparation for this fall," said Carichner, associate director of bands and director of the Cyclone Marching Band. "Our safety protocols continue to evolve as we find better information. We try to be as nimble and responsive as possible."

In addition to custom-designed face coverings, the band purchased bell covers to reduce the spread of aerosols through the bell of an instrument. Carichner also recruited some of the band parents to design an instrument bag to limit aerosols released through key holes.

While there was never a doubt about the necessity of such safety measures, Carichner did question how the band would cover the added expenses. The answer came within 48 hours of Carichner reaching out to marching band alumni and asking for help. In that short time, the band raised more than $20,000.

"The band alumni really stepped up. I put out a plea on Facebook and the band took care of their own," Carichner said. "They were not only interested in keeping the band safe, but they wanted to make sure everyone could appreciate what they do."  

Unlike years past, the band did not take the field Saturday. Instead, the band took over the stands on the east side of the stadium to allow for 7.5 feet -- or 4 steps in marching band terms -- between each band member. Pregame and halftime performances were from the bleachers.

Carichner worked closely with the athletics department and several campus units in preparation for the game. The collaboration has been tremendous, he said, and the nearly 400 students in the band embraced the changes without a single complaint. Carichner regularly checks in with band members for feedback, and they always have the option to not attend rehearsal or a performance if they feel uncomfortable.

"This is an awesome group of students, and I knew they were going to ace this," Carichner said prior to Saturday's performance. "They want this experience so badly, and they're willing to do whatever it takes."


Cyclone Marching Band members wore special face coverings with openings for their mouthpieces when they performed at the first game of the football season Sept. 12. Photos by Grant Barton Photography.


The Cyclone Marching Band plays in Jack Trice Stadium Sept. 12 with social distancing and protective measures in place. 


A physically distanced Cyclone Marching Band spread across the east side of Jack Trice Stadium for the home opener Sept. 12. 


Parents of Cyclone Marching Band members helped make instrument covers to make performing safer. 


Spring semester will start two weeks later, with no break week

Iowa State will push back the start of the 2021 spring semester by two weeks and eliminate spring break to help make up for the delay, President Wendy Wintersteen announced in a Sept. 14 campus message.

Rescheduling the first day of the spring classes to Jan. 25 will allow more time to pass after the holiday season, when gatherings with friends and family pose a risk of transmitting coronavirus, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the Professional and Scientific Council at its Sept. 10 meeting. It also lowers population density on campus for two months during the seasonal flu season, when the simultaneous spread of influenza and COVID-19 will heighten health concerns.

Senior leaders formed the plan in consultation with college deans, department chairs and representatives of the P&S Council, Faculty Senate, Graduate and Professional Student Senate and Student Government, Wickert said. The semester will end at the usual time in May, providing the normal transition time before the summer semester sessions.

The adjustment shortens total instruction time by about a week, about the same slight reduction as the fall 2020 semester, which began a week early and ends the day before Thanksgiving. The calendar complies with all institutional accreditation requirements, Wickert said.

Wintersteen said in her campus message that spring classes, as they are this fall, will be delivered in four modes: in-person, hybrid, online and by arrangement. Classrooms and lectures halls will have similar capacity limits this spring, and health protocols and mitigation measures -- including required face coverings, targeted testing, self-reporting, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation -- will continue.

"Our objective is to provide in-person learning, particularly for experiential courses, labs and studios, while also providing flexibility for students and instructors who are more comfortable with virtual classes," she said.

The two-month break from the end of the fall semester to the start of the spring semester creates an opportunity for an optional five-week winter term of instruction, and plans are being developed to offer a selection of online classes. Details about the winter term, planned for Dec. 14-Jan. 21, will be released in the coming weeks, Wintersteen said.

New system set to launch

Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation in university human resources, presented to the council and answered questions concerning the new classification and compensation system for P&S staff.

The overhauled job classifications and new market-based pay ranges go live Sept. 20. Classifications were shared with staff this summer. Supervisors of staff with a salary within their new range were notified in emails this week. Supervisors were notified last week if an employee they manage is among the 9% of P&S staff paid more than the maximum or less than the minimum under the new system. No salaries will change immediately due to the revamped classification and compensation structure, but the 6% of staff who make less than the low end of their pay grade must receive a raise to at least the minimum by Oct. 1, 2021.

Just shy of 300 of about 3,200 P&S staff will be newly classified as nonexempt under federal labor law, meaning they will need to begin tracking their work hours in Workday Sept. 20. A total of 390 P&S staff are nonexempt, Mallarino Houghton said.

Responding to a council member concerned about staff who have experience and education far beyond the minimum requirement for their newly classified positions, Mallarino Houghton said minimum qualifications for some positions were lowered with an eye toward inclusivity. The intent was to remove artificial barriers to university jobs, she said. The lower qualification requirements do not reflect negatively on employees who hold those jobs, and education and experience beyond the minimum requirements should contribute to an employee being paid higher within the salary range for their position, she said.

Busiest day ever

Vice president and chief information officer Kristen Constant, in an update about information technology services, said the first day of the fall semester marked the busiest day on record for the Solution Center, even more than when Workday launched in summer 2019.

Heavy volume from students accounted for the spike in service requests, with students submitting about two-thirds of the 7,111 tickets in August. That likely was driven in part by students being less able to learn about new systems from their peers, Constant said.

Priorities set

After a first reading at August's meeting, council members approved their strategic initiatives for 2020-21. The priorities include:

  • Representing P&S interests as university leaders consider additional temporary cost-reduction measures
  • Advocating for solutions to COVID-19 concerns that impact P&S staff, such as flexible work arrangements, mental health support, flexible parking agreements and accessible resources
  • Advocating for meaningful supervisor training that covers basic ISU fundamentals, such as Workday processes and human resources policies managers need to know
  • Recommending communication to help P&S staff understand the new classification and compensation system, with a focus on employee rights, working titles, compensation structure, market equity and career progression

Wintersteen answers questions at first senate meeting

President Wendy Wintersteen helped the Faculty Senate usher in the new academic year, opening with a few remarks at its Sept. 15 meeting before answering senators' questions.

Wintersteen addressed faculty concern over transmission of COVID-19 in classrooms during in-person instruction. She pointed to the results reported on the university COVID-19 testing data site, now updated three times a week.

"We are cautiously optimistic as the number of cases and the positivity percentage at Iowa State has declined for a second week," she said. "We are trying to get more information out as quickly as we can."

Wintersteen highlighted the low percentage of quarantine cases that turn into positive cases requiring isolation, and the relatively few positive tests among faculty, staff and graduate assistants as signs that classroom transmission is low.

Wintersteen and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said many parents and students  have told them they want as much in-person experience as possible. However, some faculty expressed concern about teaching in-person classes among an undergraduate population that has a higher rate of COVID-19 positivity.

"As a faculty member, I am feeling in the dark right now," said senator and Virtual Reality Applications Center director Eliot Winer. "A lot of what we have done is reactionary, and I am asking for transparency in the decision-making process so we can be more proactive. It is hard to feel safe."

Wintersteen also addressed comments made by athletics director Jamie Pollard in a Sept. 4 memo about pandemic-induced financial challenges, including the lack of fans at home football games. One of Pollard's recommendations was closing Stephens Auditorium.

"Budget issues are real and they impact us all, but I am hopeful we can all get back on the same page," she said. "I think that is happening, and (on Sept. 14) Jamie Pollard directed the ISU Foundation to begin a campaign in support of Stephens Auditorium."

Allowing fans to attend athletic events -- particularly football -- is a fluid situation as university leaders continue to monitor the positivity rate in Story County and discuss options, Wintersteen said.

Bylaws changes

The senate will vote next month on three changes to its bylaws to comply with the Faculty Senate constitution:

  • To be eligible to serve as an officer or council chair, nominees must be elected senators at the time of nomination.
  • Senate officers cannot represent a caucus on any senate council or committee. They can attend meetings, but are not allowed to vote.
  • Senators can serve no more than two consecutive senate terms, including the department or college at-large level or combination of the two.

Graduate certificate

Senators approved a proposed graduate certificate in breeding for organic crops. The four-course, 12-credit certificate will be delivered online by the agronomy department, which already offers an online master of science program in plant breeding.


Wintersteen began her comments by remembering faculty member Pat Thiel, who died Sept. 7. Thiel, Distinguished Professor in chemistry and in materials science and engineering, was elected a fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences in 2019. A celebration of her life will be held on campus Sept. 18. 

ISU honors 36 faculty for their teaching innovation during spring semester

In the midst of an unprecedented spring semester, and with only 10 days notice, Iowa State's faculty transitioned more than 6,000 courses to virtual instruction, ensuring students would maintain progress on their Cyclone degrees.

In celebration of these efforts, the office of the senior vice president and provost recognized 36 faculty with spring 2020 Teaching Innovation Awards, which includes a one-time $1,000 award. Funding for the program was provided by a generous (and anonymous) donor to support faculty excellence.

"We are proud to celebrate the unsung heroes among our faculty who made the spring semester a success," said Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty. "These individuals went above and beyond to serve our students, modifying their courses and pedagogy in novel ways and achieving strong course learning outcomes."

Read more

Additional information about each faculty member's accomplishments is on the provost's office website.

Here's a summary of a few outstanding faculty efforts.

  • Joanna Schroeder, assistant teaching professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, developed an online internship course to help more than 60 students fulfill their required internship experience.
  • Nancy Boury, assistant professor in plant pathology and microbiology, translated the real-time epidemiology of COVID-19 into evidence-based lessons for students.
  • Aliye Karabulut-Ilgu, assistant teaching professor, helped her department -- civil, construction and environmental engineering -- quickly transition 10 courses serving 600 students. This included redeveloping instructional materials and training instructors.
  • Michael Lyons, associate teaching professor in biomedical sciences, worked with the BMS 448 instructional team to help students virtually dissect human anatomy.

36 awardees

The faculty Teaching Innovation Award recipients, by college, are:

Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Nancy Boury, assistant professor, plant pathology and microbiology
  • Kathrine Gilbert, associate teaching professor, food science and human nutrition
  • Cynthia Haynes, associate professor, horticulture
  • Jelena Kraft, assistant teaching professor, genetics, development and cell biology
  • Saxon Ryan, assistant teaching professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering


  • John Burnley, professor of practice, information systems and business analytics
  • Christine Denison, associate professor accounting
  • Bruce Kraft, professor of practice, finance
  • Tingting Liu, assistant professor, finance
  • Abhay Mishra, associate professor, information systems and business analytics
  • Beatriz Pereira, assistant professor, marketing
  • Kayla Sander, teaching professor, accounting


  • Raluca Iancu, assistant professor, art and visual culture


  • Jen Heinen, teaching professor, chemical and biological engineering
  • Phillip Jones, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering
  • Aliye Karabulut-Ilgu, assistant teaching professor, civil, construction and environmental engineering
  • Joshua Peschel, assistant professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering
  • Diane Rover, University Professor, electrical and computer engineering

Human Sciences

  • Christina Campbell, associate professor, food science and human nutrition
  • Bria Jenkins, assistant teaching professor, apparel, events and hospitality management
  • E. Andrew Pitchford, assistant professor, kinesiology
  • Amy Popillion, teaching professor, human development and family studies
  • Ken Prusa, professor, food science and human nutrition
  • Noreen Rodriguez, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Kira Werstein, associate teaching professor, kinesiology

Liberal Arts and Sciences

  • Abram Anders, associate professor, English
  • Lori Biederman, adjunct associate professor, ecology, evolution and organismal biology
  • Fabiana DePaula, assistant teaching professor, world languages and cultures
  • Katie Fulton, associate teaching professor, English
  • Carly Manz, assistant teaching professor, genetics, development and cell biology
  • Megan Myers, associate professor, world languages and cultures
  • Sara Pistolesi, associate teaching professor, chemistry
  • Joanna Schroeder, assistant teaching professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
  • Michael Wigton, associate teaching professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

Veterinary Medicine

  • Michael Lyons, associate teaching professor, biomedical sciences
  • Eric Rowe, associate professor, biomedical sciences

Regents will review state funding requests, ISU building proposals

The state Board of Regents could ask for $18 million in new state funding for the fiscal year that begins next July 1 -- Iowa State's portion would be $7 million -- and also seek to restore the $8 million cut from this year's operating appropriation to the three public universities. Iowa State's portion of the cut was $3.2 million. As proposed, the funds would be used for student financial aid and to support online and hybrid teaching. Fiscal year 2022 funding requests are due to the state Oct. 1, and the board will finalize its plan when it meets next week.

The regents will hold their September meeting in two parts, with four board committees completing their discussions Sept. 17 and the remaining committees and full board convening Sept. 23. Events both days will be conducted online, with all public portions livestreamed on the board's website.

As proposed, the board's FY22 state funding request also includes $2.9 million in additional economic development funding for state biosciences initiatives, 75% of which would further support the three platforms from a 2017 economic development report assigned to Iowa State: biobased chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, and vaccines and immunotherapy. The University of Iowa is pursuing a medical devices initiative. Since 2019, the two universities have asked for $1 million per year to develop each of the four ($4 million total); in the current year, total funding is just under $1.1 million.

Athletics department budgets, which were pulled from the July meeting agenda due to uncertainty about fall competitions, will be presented to the full board Sept. 23.

Building projects

During the property and facilities committee meeting Sept. 17 (12:30 p.m.), Iowa State leaders will request a 2.3% increase ($1.94 million) to the Student Innovation Center's construction budget for audio-visual equipment not in the original design the board approved in December 2016. They'll also request a 13.2% increase ($2.8 million) to the budget for the feed mill and grain science complex under construction at the Curtiss Farm along State Avenue and U.S. Highway 30. This increase is due to higher-than-expected proposals for designing and building the facility. University funds would cover both project increases.

Additionally, the athletics department will present design plans to replace the heating/cooling system in the 49-year-old Hilton Coliseum and bump out glass curtain walls on the south and north sides to widen the concourses. There isn't a budget attached to the request, but private gifts and the department's operation funds would pay for the project.

Finally, the residence department will seek board permission to begin planning an estimated $27 million renovation of all the bathrooms in Friley and Helser halls, home to 1,220 and 710 students, respectively. The intent is to improve accessibility and privacy for students in the shower and toilet areas. The work will involve updating mechanical, plumbing, lighting and electrical systems. The department's improvement funds would cover the cost.

Funding requests for new buildings

The committee also will review a six-year, regent systemwide capital plan for state funds that would go to the full board next week. The list includes two Iowa State projects, replacing LeBaron Hall and an addition to the not-yet-constructed Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL).

The 2018 Iowa Legislature approved $63.5 million in state support spread over five years (FY19-FY24) for a new $75 million VDL, and construction is scheduled to begin in the spring. The six-year plan includes $58.9 million for a $62.4 million building addition, with state support spread across FY23-FY27. The proposal includes $1 million in private gifts and $2.5 million in university funds.

The volume of diagnostic services, research and teaching continues to grow, with the VDL's caseload more than doubling in just five years. The lab currently is spread across insufficient and, in some cases, obsolete space at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medicine Research Institute.

The university again will seek state support to replace LeBaron Hall with a building that's 70% larger and offers a modern learning environment for several College of Human Sciences' programs. The plan calls for $32.4 million in state funding (over three years, FY23-FY25), $15 million in private gifts and $10 million in university funds. The 2020 Legislature didn't fund Iowa State's first request.

As proposed, the board's sole capital request to the state for FY22 is $30 million for deferred maintenance, shared by the three universities, Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Public Radio.

Other business

The board's campus and student affairs committee, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 17, will hear two presentations:

  • Changes to Title IX regulations implemented by the U.S. Department of Education, presented by assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity Margo Foreman and her colleagues at the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa.
  • Campus updates on testing, test results and protocols in place to keep students safe during the pandemic, presented by senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger and her colleagues at Iowa and Northern Iowa.

Meeting at 2 p.m. Sept. 17, the academic affairs committee will receive an annual update on program accreditations. These Iowa State academic programs were accredited in the last year:

  • Accounting
  • Engineering undergraduate programs
  • Art and design
  • Interior design
  • Graphic design
  • Apparel, merchandising and design
  • Integrated visual arts
  • Intensive English and orientation program (initial accreditation)

Course asks students to rethink leadership

Monic Behnken

Director of the leadership studies program Monic Behnken teaches a leadership course for first-year female students in STEM fields. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Monic Behnken's interdisciplinary course, Equitable Leadership, seems straightforward, but its goal is bigger than its title. Behnken, director of the leadership studies program, collaborated with the Program for Women in Space and Engineering (WiSE) to provide students a foundation to recognize groups that may be marginalized and to take an active role in their leadership.

"We are trying to change the face of leadership and when we think of it, what it looks like," Behnken said.

Having been active in leadership at Iowa State and in the Ames community, Behnken wants students to understand the way to equity is by being intentional in leadership practice. She is able to bring examples from her life to give lessons authenticity.

"The fact that this is happening in the midst of one of the most high-profile sociopolitical uprisings we have seen in our time is interesting," Behnken said. "I think it is an entry way to students who may otherwise have been resistant to the information."

The course

Designated a U.S. diversity course, it is offered to first-year female students majoring in a STEM field. Behnken worked with a graduate student Katie Friesen, a program coordinator with WiSE, last year to design the course.

"Many students are unfamiliar with the spectrum of identities that exist outside of small-town Iowa," said Behnken, who is teaching the course this fall. "The students are adjusting to people who use they/them pronouns or the variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds that exist on campus."

The class meets twice a week, first as a group for guest speakers or discussion. The second class period sees the 60 students divided into groups where peer facilitators -- often members of last year's class --  lead  discussion topics to foster growth.

Speakers include the Rev. Eileen Gebbie of the United Church of Christ, Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity director Sandra Looft, Iowa State artist-in-residence Tiffany Johnson and Ames Community School District superintendent Jenny Risner. Behnken selected the speakers not only for their expertise, but because they represent a different side of leadership than the traditional perception: white males.

Leadership is about how to interact with people, inspire a team and work with individuals who have different values, Behnken said.

Important discussion

Creating a safe and welcoming environment is key and a major reason the class is conducted in-person with a synchronous Webex feed.

"It is not about confrontations or forcing people to hold beliefs, but having conversations about the identities that I am less familiar with or open to learning about," Behnken said.

There are topics covered that are not easy for everyone to talk about or accept.

"Students may be excited to learn about race and ethnicity, but part of that learning has to come with understanding the related LGBTQ identities that come along with that," Behnken said. "Society is very much focused on race and ethnicity, but there is still resistance to people who hold LGBTQ identities."

The course helps students determine how to work effectively with people who have different identities than their own.

Behnken surveyed the students on the course's content and received positive feedback. They like addressing issues and appreciate being able to have difficult conversations, she said.

"Iowa State and the provost's office are putting students in a position to be successful in the modern world," Behnken said. "Every person who holds a leadership position is having these conversations right now around equity, access, race and ethnicity. What they are finding is that their staffs lack competency because they just don't know."

Why virtual ombuds-ing could be a great fit

When the university's first-ever full-time ombuds officer retired last month, Iowa State's priority was to avoid a gap in the service for the campus community. There wasn't time -- inside a pandemic -- for an in-person job search, so Iowa State elected to contract with two professionals at the Boston-based MWI firm for ombuds services for faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate and professional students. Between them, Chuck Doran and Dina Eisenberg have nearly 60 years of experience in ombuds and mediation work. Iowa Staters may contact either one.

Chuck Doran head shot

Chuck Doran

"The people at Iowa State have a choice. It could be based on gender, ethnicity or our bios," Doran said. Eisenberg is an attorney, Doran's history is in dispute resolution and both adhere to the ethical guidelines of the International Ombuds Association.

"I think we can successfully argue we are truly neutral. We aren't university employees," Doran said. "When we were brought on, we were pleased that our independence, our neutrality was questioned. We give Iowa State a lot of credit for expecting a lot from their ombuds. But it's the only way we practice."

The ombuds service is an informal process for resolving workplace issues such as miscommunication, department politics or conflicts among employees. Associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince said the lack of daily contact when colleagues are working remotely due to the pandemic can compound such issues.

Dina Eisenberg head shot

Dina Eisenberg

Ombuds officers are not advocates for employees. They don't conduct investigations or decide an outcome. They help employees understand their options and how to advocate for themselves. Their goal always is a fair outcome, Eisenberg said. Because the conversations are confidential and notes aren't kept, talking to an ombuds doesn't put the university on notice about an issue or a problem. Eisenberg and Doran will share with the provost's office any trends or patterns that emerge -- but don't reveal anyone's identity.

If there's a question about whether your issue rises to the level of involving an ombuds officer, Eisenberg said "there's no downside to contacting us."

"If we're not the right place, we're going to help you get to the right university resource that can help you solve the issue or investigate it further. If we're the right place, we're going to help you look at all the options you have at the university," she said. "All with a confidential perspective. You're in charge of the conversation. You give us permission to go into the university system and get information, and you can take that permission away."

Virtual ombuds

It's a geographic necessity to hold conversations in Zoom rooms, but Doran also argued that it adds a level of privacy for employees seeking assistance. There's no need to call from your car or try to arrive at a campus ombuds office without being sighted, he said.

Bratsch-Prince noted the likelihood of an on-campus ombuds officer working 100% virtually right now is quite high. The response from employees who have used Doran or Eisenberg's services has been very positive, she said.

Learning Iowa State

Doran and Eisenberg's onboarding to Iowa State included about 20 sessions with key offices, leaders and representative groups and weekly sessions with Bratsch-Prince to answer their questions. They have access to CyBox and the university email system.

"They can't be successful unless they have access to leaders and others on campus they might need to talk to," Bratsch-Prince said.

How to get started

Employees may email Doran (chuck-ombuds@mwi.org) or Eisenberg (dina-ombuds@mwi.org) directly. If you don't have a preference for who assists you, email ombuds@iastate.edu (which goes to both of them). They talk daily about new inquiries and choose the appropriate responder for the situation. You also may call them at 617-895-4026. You will receive, within 24 hours via email, an invitation to select a time on one of their calendars for an initial conversation. For those who want to share a concern or start a conversation anonymously, there's a confidential web form on Iowa State's MWI page.

Because ombuds officers don't investigate issues and need to maintain neutrality, Eisenberg said there's no need to send documents employees may perceive as evidence but which could give the appearance of bias.

"We, as ombuds, really want to speak directly to you and hear your story," she said.

ISU Theatre's 'Perform the Protest' shares the power of art to amplify voices, issues and understanding

Promotional graphic for ISU Theatre production

In a world where so much has happened in a short period of time, how do people give voice to issues they care about? ISU Theatre's "Perform the Protest: A Theatre Action for Our Time" will explore how the universal language of art can help people better hear and understand one another. The production will be presented daily Sept. 23-26 in a multidimensional series of live outdoor and virtual performances. 

ISU Theatre's ensemble will share protests created through an intensive workshopping process and performed through public speaking, acting, singing, performance and design. "Perform the Protest" is facilitated by Tiffany Johnson, Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Artist-in-Residence and artistic director of the Des Moines-based Pyramid Theatre Company, Iowa's only Black theater organization. 

"Sometimes it becomes difficult to give voice to issues in real time and space because of the impact one faces in the sharing of that voice," Johnson said. "We become paralyzed at times because we don't know what to do, or we may feel that if we do utilize that voice then the penalty may be greater than the effect. This theater action is designed to give life to a person's voice and utilize art as the vehicle to deliver it. This is an opportunity to exemplify how art becomes a universal language, allowing us to better hear and understand each other." 

The cast began workshopping their protests via Zoom collaborations in early September, looking at topics ranging from voting rights to immigration. The protests will be performed as solos or physically distanced small groups. Part of their process and challenge, Johnson said, is figuring out how to convey human emotion in virtual space.

"One meaning of protest is that it's a way for people to speak out about an established norm that has set itself in society," said Scyler Torrey, performing arts senior. "I really like using my voice, performative experience and storytelling to uplift voices that either get drowned out or don't have the support systematically to be heard."

'Perform the Protest' performances

All performances are "pay what you will" admission. Each performance will last 30-40 minutes. Attendees should practice the Cyclones Care behaviors. 

  • Wednesday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 25 (6:30 p.m., Campanile south lawn)
  • Thursday, Sept. 24 (6:30 p.m., Fisher Theater lawn)
  • Saturday, Sept. 26 (4:30 p.m., Fisher Theater lawn)
  • Sept. 26-Oct. 2, via video on demand (links will be posted online)

The innovative 2020-21 season

"Perform the Protest" is part of ISU Theatre's 2020-21 "Season of Invitation" designed to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though productions will not be performed live inside Fisher Theater, ISU Theatre sees opportunities for new innovation, imagination and invention.

 "The pandemic presents a challenge for live theater, and yet while Fisher Theater goes dark, the show goes on," said Brad Dell, director of ISU Theatre. "We are planning to light up new pathways for performance this fall. This is a time to imagine new ways of being -- as artists, as audiences and as humanity."

ISU Theatre also is emphasizing an antiracism curriculum and production season this year. 

"We are thrilled Tiffany Johnson is joining us for this exciting season and contributing to these critical and urgent conversations," Dell said. "Our program is committed to fostering greater representation, equity and justice in our program at all levels. Tiffany is a dynamic and inspiring artist, educator and advocate who has dedicated her life to making central Iowa a more safe, just and welcoming place for all. We are excited for our students to be mentored by an award-winning artist who is deeply respected in the Iowa arts community." 

Along with "Perform the Protest," Johnson will lead a multidisciplinary lecture series throughout the academic year, focusing on the history of Black theater in the U.S. and her experiences as a Black leader in Iowa.