It's tradition

Masked freshmen purchase ice cream cups at the Creamery

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

A study buddy quintet stops in for its "Monday ice cream" at the Creamery inside the Food Sciences Building. Engineering freshmen (l-r) Peter Wissman, Eli Pickit, Kate Groe, Dakota Rawley and Amy Hartjen have made a practice of rewarding themselves with Iowa State ice cream following their weekly study sessions.

The Creamery announced last week that in November it will start featuring the eight college flavors selected this summer in a contest. 

Partial closing planned for Dec. 24-Jan. 3

As it has in previous years, Iowa State will reduce most services from Thursday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, to promote time off for employees and reduce energy costs, senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain and vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr shared in an Oct. 16 memo with university administrative officers. That 11-day window includes three university holidays (Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1) and four weekend days on which services normally would be reduced anyway.

Cain and Darr said units may reduce services on the four remaining work days, Dec. 28-31, allow employees to use accrued leave or unpaid leave and develop schedules that reflect the guidelines in the university breaks staffing guidance. Winter session courses will meet those four days, and units need to be staffed adequately to support a successful winter session and all enrolled students, they noted.

Thus, the partial closing isn't mandatory, and Cain and Darr said critical services, building and grounds maintenance, and research programs that must operate during this period should continue. Senior leaders may approve physically closing offices as long as staff have procedures in place to handle incoming messages and emergencies.

Eight weeks between semesters

The partial closing falls within Iowa State's 25-day online winter session, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 21. Classes won't meet on the three university holidays identified during the partial closing but, as noted, will be held Dec. 28-31.

Cain and Darr wrote (with the exception of the 11-day partial closing) the university will be fully operational for the eight weeks between fall and spring semesters, Nov. 26-Jan. 24. As long as a successful winter session remains the priority, these tweaks to business as normal may be considered:

  • Offices may implement break hours (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.) from Nov. 30 to Jan. 18.
  • Supervisors are encouraged to accommodate employee requests to use additional accrued vacation during the eight-week window in support of work-life balance.
  • With no spring break on the academic calendar due to COVID-19 transmission concerns, this period also is an appropriate time to adjust non-employment dates for eligible merit and professional and scientific staff.
  • Units should work with their building supervisor to set office and building access during the eight weeks and share any closures on their websites, voice messages and building exterior doors.
  • For units that will employ students between fall and spring semesters, the Nov. 26-Jan. 24 period is considered nonacademic, so students may work more than 20 hours per week.

Earlier this month, in a memo to academic leaders, associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince outlined expectations for faculty in light of the adjusted academic calendar. In effect, the conditions outlined in faculty appointments haven't changed, and faculty should continue to meet their department and college responsibilities through Dec. 16 and again beginning Monday, Jan. 11. Spring semester classes begin Jan. 25.

Courses are set, registration opens Oct. 28 for winter session

When registration opens next week, Iowa State undergraduates can choose from 55 courses in an accelerated 25-day winter session that opens Dec. 14 and concludes Jan. 21 with final exams. The eight weeks that separate the end of fall semester and the start of spring semester in a pandemic-altered academic calendar prompted university leaders to pilot a short but intense -- and optional -- winter session. Students will be limited to one course or four credits, and all instruction will be online.

"The idea is to provide coursework so students can continue to make progress toward their degrees," said Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost for academic programs who co-chaired the winter session planning committee with Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) dean Beate Schmittmann. "This is a pilot. We've never done a winter session at Iowa State, so we'll find out what kind of interest there is."

She noted students may enroll up to Dec. 16. Once they're home and have a chance to recharge from fall semester, a one-course session might appeal to some.

As with so many academic "firsts" during this pandemic, VanDerZanden said the planning committee tackled a lot of questions in a short time span.

"The five subcommittees have done an incredible amount of work. Standing up an entirely new winter session in a compressed timeline is a real testament to their skills and commitment to this project," she said.

Course inventory

When planning began in September, the six undergraduate colleges -- all of which are represented in winter session -- received a few guidelines about the kinds of courses that would be good candidates for the short session. Considerations included:

  • High enrollment
  • Meets a university requirement (general education, diversity) and is useful to students in a variety of majors
  • Offered previously in an accelerated summer format
  • Popular spring course (offering it during the winter could alleviate some of the pressure on spring sections)

LAS associate dean for academic programs Amy Slagell coordinated the selection process in her college, which is offering 40% of the winter courses. She said department chairs were "the big heroes" who prepared lists of eligible courses and talked with instructors with the most experience teaching them during the summer, both tenure-track and term, to assess who was on board for winter session.

"We really appreciate those faculty who are teaching as part of this new university initiative," Slagell said. "We knew early in the planning that LAS offers a lot of the kinds of courses they'd be looking for, so we were glad faculty were open to the idea."

She said LAS winter session instructors either will receive a stipend, similar to summer session, or are lightening their spring semester teaching load by teaching this winter.

VanDerZanden said graduate teaching assistants (TA) also will receive compensation or a change in their spring TA responsibilities.

Slagell said LAS' recent partnership with ELO (Engineering LAS Online) to develop an LAS curated summer course bundle -- rather than inconsistent selections from year to year -- also prepared the college for winter session. Last summer, all courses were taught online due to the pandemic, and that helped, too.

LAS is offering the only four-credit options, all calculus courses. Slagell said this will be the first time they're taught in a session shorter than eight weeks. To meet accreditation standards, that should translate to seven-hour days for students, including synchronous class activities, discussion, prerecorded lectures, exams, study time and individual homework.

"That's really like having a full-time job," Slagell noted. "At the same time, for some students this intensive focus on one course is a great fit. It's an opportunity to complete a prerequisite that allows them to continue in the series spring semester."

Fifty of the winter session courses provide three credits, and, condensed to five weeks, even that equates to about 5.5 hours per day of course-related activities and study.


Winter session registration will run concurrently with spring registration, starting Oct. 28 for seniors, continuing to Nov. 12-13 for continuing freshmen. Day 3 of class, Dec. 16, is the final date to make a change.

Per credit tuition

Winter session tuition is based on the number of credits a student enrolls in and according to standard tuition rates set by the state Board of Regents for each residency status --resident, nonresident or international. Iowa State will not assess differential tuition, normally charged to upper division students in programs that are more expensive to deliver, or mandatory student fees. The latter is a software limitation in a system not set up with a winter term. So, a three-credit course will cost $1,008 for an Iowa resident, $2,904 for an out-of-state student and $3,108 for an international student.


Related story

Plans for winter session take shape, Oct. 1, 2020

First year of inclusive classroom training is complete

Neither a pandemic nor a derecho could keep the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) from completing the first year of inclusive classroom training.

The annual training, a one or one-and-a-half hour session conducted for all 56 departments on campus, began in January. Even when training moved online this fall for the 18 remaining departments, CELT completed its final session on Oct. 15, before the conclusion of the semester.

"The last session we did in-person was March 13 in agronomy and then COVID-19 hit," CELT director Sara Marcketti said. "The first session we did this fall was with animal science, and we did it during the derecho. The power went out, the lights went out and we just kept going."

The year one training helps participants recognize why teaching inclusively is important and identify course-specific improvements to foster inclusiveness. Marcketti and CELT program coordinator Laura Bestler conducted a majority of the training with faculty fellows helping in their home departments.

Moving training online presented many of the challenges faculty across campus faced with the transition to virtual learning, Marcketti said.

"We had to figure out the best way to have people interact, how best to use discussion rooms and what was the right number of people in each," she said. "We wanted to create an environment where everyone feels welcome."

Lessons learned

The biggest takeaway for faculty after taking part in a session is the importance of collecting and applying feedback from their students, Marcketti said.

"They can get such a wealth of information on their class and students that can transform an experience," she said. "If faculty wait until course evaluations, then it is too late to impact the course they are teaching."

The training also helped conversations begin within departments around strategies of teaching inclusively. Trainers made these suggestions how department chairs and leaders can promote inclusivity:

  • Connect inclusive teaching to the value and mission of Iowa State.
  • Develop departmentwide equity strategic plans.
  • Devote time at faculty meetings to discuss different teaching strategies.
  • Create value for teaching inclusively with teaching awards or accountability plans.
  • Allow faculty to observe each other's classrooms, and create teaching partnerships to spark conversations to support inclusive teaching practices.

When training concluded, participants completed a four-question self-reflection. Among 1,303 responses, 98% strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, "I recognize why teaching inclusively is important." Ninety-three percent strongly or somewhat agreed with, "I have identified course-specific improvements to foster inclusive excellence in the classroom."


Biomedical sciences department chair Michael Kimber said he was impressed with the ability of the content to engage faculty and make them active participants. The realization that small changes can have a big impact in a classroom's climate was important, Kimber said.

"Diversity is critically important to the veterinary medicine profession right now, and we are committed to diversity in our college," he said. "It fostered a comfortable environment for our faculty where they could explore an issue they recognize as important, but can be a difficult conversation to have."

Interior design assistant professor Julie Irish was a department facilitator during the online training. She praised the training but said focusing on inclusion in the virtual environment going forward would be helpful.

Kimber said after the training "hallway conversations" between faculty became more common.

"The training was not abstract," he said. "The issues of inclusivity are every day and something that is happening to us."

New faculty fellow

Amy Popillion

Amy Popillion

Amy Popillion, a teaching professor in the human development and family studies department, will begin a half-time appointment as CELT's inclusive classroom faculty fellow in January. Popillion is the first term faculty member to become a CELT faculty fellow.

"She will co-develop and lead the upcoming inclusive classroom sessions," Marcketti said. "She will do more pre- and post-outreach with the departmental facilitators and chairs to ensure it is a continued conversation."

Popillion also will lead CELT's Academic Equity and Inclusive Classroom Board, a 19-person group that provides guidance to the center on inclusion training.

What's next?

CELT will host inclusive classroom training sessions for faculty who missed the training or joined the university after their department's training, staff with teaching responsibilities and graduate teaching assistants. Sessions are set for Nov. 9 (noon-1 p.m.) and Nov. 17 (3-4 p.m.).

The next round of inclusive classroom training for all departments begins next fall. A suite of options could be offered and departments would pick one.

"We are going to spend the spring semester doing a deep dive in all the data on the program and really prepare robust sessions," Marcketti said. "Inclusive teaching is a mindset, and it is important to how you design your course."

CELT also is expanding its regular programming on the topic of inclusivity for faculty who want more training. The next program is Nov. 2 when Noreen Rodriguez, an assistant professor in the School of Education, will talk about diversifying a syllabus.

Expanded support for students in recovery is 'a need, not a want'

Successfully navigating sobriety and school is challenging for college students in recovery, a group that often feels isolated and invisible. They're getting more support this fall with the expansion of Iowa State's collegiate recovery community.

How to donate

The collegiate recovery community is conducting a fundraising campaign through Nov. 15 on the ISU Foundation's FundISU platform.

The recovery community program run by student wellness launched in 2018 and has grown in the years since. This fall, it began offering one-on-one wellness coaching and SMART Recovery, a peer support group for students who have battled issues with alcohol or drugs, gambling, gaming or other addictions. The program also includes RootLess, a student organization formed in fall 2019 that organizes substance-free social activities and provides a community for recovering students.

"What a lot of students tell me is that these services are a necessity. It's a need, not a want," said student wellness director Brain Vanderheyden.

Becoming common

The first college-based recovery community formed about 40 years ago, but they've become more common in the past decade, Vanderheyden said. About 150 institutions have recognized recovery community programs.

"In the past 10 years they've really taken off on campuses because of the strong research showing that the college environment can be really hostile toward students in recovery," he said.

Nationally, about 20% of college students meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, and the prevalence among ISU students has historically been similar to the national average, Vanderheyden said. Those rates are even higher in many underrepresented or marginalized populations, such as students of color, LGBT students and those from low-income families. 

"I think sometimes we don't think of students in recovery as a diverse community, but they are," he said. "This is about creating an environment that supports all of our students. Sometimes, students in recovery just aren't part of the conversation."

What's offered

Iowa State's collegiate recovery community doesn't provide treatment and is not a crisis service or a 12-step program, though it can refer students to those resources. The aim is to provide peer connection and substance-free space. When that's available, recovering students thrive. Graduation, retention and GPAs of students in a collegiate recovery community are higher than an average student, Vanderheyden said.

RootLess has the highest participation of the recovery community programs, especially for its social activities. Following Cyclones Care protocols, the student-run group has continued to hold some in-person events this fall, including a bonfire, a disc golf outing and a painting night, Vanderheyden said.

SMART Recovery, the university's first recovery support group for students, convenes virtually every week to give members an avenue for self-encouragement and discussion. It will continue to meet during winter break to help students during what is a difficult time for many people in recovery.  

The free wellness coaching is meant to help students identify their strengths and set their own goals for school, overall wellness and sobriety. Follow-up meetings check in on progress and how to manage any barriers.

"The coaching is really about trying to elicit some internal motivation by helping a person discover what's best for them and how they can go about it," Vanderheyden said.

A graduate assistant who serves as the recovery community coordinator, Carlos Vidales, joined the program this fall and conducts the wellness coach sessions and facilitates the support group.

Future goals

To help the program grow, collegiate recovery community began a fundraising campaign Oct. 21 that runs through Nov. 15. Money raised via the campaign on the ISU Foundation's FundISU platform will help cover increased costs incurred from expanding this fall, with any additional funding going toward the next steps Vanderheyden would like to see the program take.

Those ambitions include establishing an on-campus treatment option, offering scholarships and free tutoring, securing dedicated program space on campus and creating an alumni group.

How to talk about it

Developing training to help faculty and staff be allies of students in recovery also is on the wish list.

"A lot of times it's faculty and staff who connect students with us," Vanderheyden said. "They're the ones having conversations with students."

If a faculty or staff member is concerned a student has a substance abuse issue, student assistance, Thielen Student Health Center and student counseling are the best campus resources to recommend, he said. If a student mentions an interest in sobriety, it's appropriate to refer them to the collegiate recovery community, Vanderheyden said. It's also good practice to thank them for bringing the issue up and acknowledge how challenging it can be to seek help.

"It's highly stigmatized, and there's lots of fear of coming forward. Acknowledging their strength and thanking them for their trust in you can be a powerful, empathetic response that shows students you care about their success and wellbeing,” he said.

Students interested in learning about the collegiate recovery community can contact Vanderheyden by email at

Interesting items abound in special collections and archives

I blanket

University archivist Greg Bailey with the ‘I’ blanket that Wilma Beckman Ohlsen received for helping name Cy the mascot. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

As Brocktober heated up and Breece Hall announced his presence, many Cyclone football fans -- and football fans across the nation -- tuned into ESPN Oct. 3 and saw a feature on Jack Trice.


To learn more about what is in special collections and university archives, visit online archival collections and digitized materials.

It focused on a letter the first Black athlete at the university wrote the night before his 1923 football debut against Minnesota -- a game in which he sustained fatal injuries. The letter is one of many interesting and informative things in the library's special collections and university archives.

Here are five more items selected with help from university archivist Greg Bailey and rare books and manuscripts archivist Amy Bishop that may pique your interest to make an appointment to learn more about history connected to Iowa State.

"I" blanket

Cy, Iowa State's mascot, was introduced during Homecoming in 1954, but getting to that point took some effort. The Collegiate Manufacturing Company distributed blankets, jackets, pennants and

I blanket 2

The inscription on the blanket given to Wilma Beckman Ohlsen.

other memorabilia, but was having trouble coming up with a Cyclone design, the team name since 1895. Owner Chev Adams wanted Iowa State to change its name until the Iowa State Prep Council received and approved the suggestion of a cardinal. A national naming contest ensued, and Wilma Beckman Ohlsen was first to suggest Cy. Her prize was a letterwinner's "I" blanket with an inscription honoring her effort.

Drawings of the ABC computer

There is not a lot of documentation that remains from the work done by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry in the early 1940s to develop the first automatic electronic digital computer. But archives has the original sketches of the exterior of the computer and the report Atanasoff wrote to explain it.

Bonnie and Clyde files

The infamous bank robbers are in three files that are part of Iowa Bankers Association records. The documents detail three robberies in Iowa by the Barrow Gang, of which Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were members. The robberies took place in Knierim, Stuart and Everly in 1934.

The files include the descriptions that were read over the radio after a robbery, pictures of Bonnie and Clyde, and correspondence related to the case. That includes a letter from a bank clerk who was sent photos to help identify any of the individuals responsible for the robbery.


Students in the Archives Investigations class will present their final projects online based on primary source research in Iowa State University Special Collections and University Archives on Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m.

Christian Petersen correspondence

The sculptor completed 12 major campus works of art in 21 years (1934-1955) at Iowa State, including a fountain for the Dairy Industry Building courtyard. Looking for work during the Great Depression, Petersen was recruited to Iowa by Grant Wood through the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and to Iowa State by President Raymond Hughes.

It took Wood two tries through documented correspondence to persuade Petersen to come to Iowa as the only professional sculptor in Iowa's PWAP. Petersen would go on to teach some of the most popular classes at ISU.

Serendipity Club meeting minutes

The group, which had 15 original members, was founded in 1936 by women to promote reading and friendship. They were wives of Iowa State College professors and administrators, including Vera Friley, the wife of President Charles Friley.

Each member bought one book and shared it with the club. At each monthly meeting, the discussion was about the author of the book they were reading, but not the book itself.

Books read by club members include "The Grapes of Wrath," "Seven Years in Tibet," "Doctor Zhivago" and "Gone with the Wind."

Original play moves from stage to screen

ISU Theatre's "Of the Deep: Meditations on the Death of a Blue Whale" invites audiences to dive into deep waters and ponder the consequences and complexities of an environmental crisis through a series of short shadow-puppet films that will stream online Oct. 23–Nov. 1.

The films are loosely based on the true experiences of a coastal town that had to confront enormous challenges when a massive whale carcass washed up on its shores. Originally a play written by associate professor of theatre Amanda Petefish-Schrag, "Of the Deep" was set to debut last spring on the Fisher Theater stage. The show was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISU Theatre is giving the story new life for its 2020-21 season  and teaching students how to go with the flow in the process. This fall, students worked virtually in collaborative teams to adapt and devise new stories based on the source material. Using shadow puppets designed from trash -- like the discarded plastic that might be found in a whale's belly -- they performed and recorded their stories as short films.

"It's been really exciting to see how each of the student teams built a slightly different approach to creating their stories," Petefish-Schrag said. "It's also been a great opportunity to learn alongside them as we all venture into new territory artistically and technically as we combine shadow puppetry and film."

Lena Menefee-Cook, performing arts senior and the project's assistant, helped create puppets the cast could easily manipulate during physically distanced rehearsals.

"Two of my favorite puppets that I worked on are a ship that echoes the sharp and imposing historical whaling ships, and a whale eye with a moveable eyelid that aims to communicate an emotional journey for the whale that humans might recognize and connect with," she said. "Both were designed to be easy to puppeteer while still creating interesting visual dynamics."

Storytelling as a mirror

April Tan, a graduate student in English, was cast as a puppeteer in the original spring play. This fall, she contributed writing for the revised project, submitting a poem that was developed into a shadow puppet script.

"I was initially disappointed that we weren't able to do the original production, but I am truly impressed by ISU Theatre's emphasis on citizen artistry, and how despite the circumstances, we have still come together to make art about, for and as a community," Tan said.

Tan looked to puppeteers on YouTube for storytelling ideas, working to reimagine the material as a smooth visual sequence for the puppeteers and include realistic action that could be achieved by a small team with limited resources. She said reading about whales and humans has made her think more critically about how people respond to environmental crises.

"Whenever a new environmental issue is brought to our attention, we tend to make a big show of doing things that don't require much of us, like buying a T-shirt or using a hashtag," she said. "This story is meant to be a mirror that we hold up to ourselves. We follow a group's response to a beached whale, how they attempt to erase their guilt and how this results in no real change for the environment."

The interplay of light and shadow created by shadow puppetry will help convey the underwater environment, evoking a sense of enormity, wonder and connectedness.

"Whales are enormous, and these stories also focus on the enormity of the crisis we face when humanity begins to lose its connection with the natural world and the environment," Petefish-Schrag said.

"Of the Deep: Meditations on the Death of a Blue Whale," with original music by Ben Schrag, is part of ISU Theatre's 2020-21 "Season of Invitation." The production will stream online Oct. 23-Nov. 1, with "pay what you will" admission. Tickets are available at

The project is partially funded by the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities.