Hundreds step up to staff vaccination clinic

Justin Brown practices with a vaccination needle

Justin Brown, assistant teaching professor in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, was among the Veterinary Medicine faculty and fourth-year professional students who trained this week on giving vaccines to humans. They join other medical staff who will administer vaccines at the university's mass vaccination clinic. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

COVID-19 vaccine quantities may ebb and flow with national circumstances, but university employees' commitment to distributing the supply Iowa State receives is solid. Within 24 hours of last Thursday's appeal to faculty and staff to volunteer for a planned mass vaccination clinic across three basketball courts in State Gym, 90% -- 679 of 749 nonclinical shifts -- were filled. About 355 employees responded by then, 260 of whom grabbed two or more shifts, according to Shaun Jamieson, office of risk management, who coordinated the signup process. By Monday morning, just seven shifts were unclaimed.

"I extend a huge thanks to all who offered their time. It was amazing how quickly people signed up for shifts," said associate vice president for student health and wellness Erin Baldwin, also director of the Thielen Student Health Center. "It's so gratifying to see people come together in an outstanding show of support for what we're trying to accomplish in a few weeks' time."

A thousand worker shifts

Helpers in these nonmedical roles make up about 75% of the personnel needed to operate the large-scale vaccination clinic, said ISU emergency manager Clayton Oliver, environmental health and safety (EH&S). When the vaccine supply warrants a full-capacity clinic, about 45 of them each day will support 24 medical personnel approved to administer vaccines. He said the scale of ISU's vaccine clinic is designed to serve up to 2,250 people per day -- if the vaccines are there.

Clinic launches

The mass vaccination clinic in State Gym is open April 15-16 as planned, and workers whose duties require it received training Wednesday afternoon. Following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's April 13 recommendation that clinics with Johnson & Johnson vaccine hold off using it, Iowa State students scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine from Iowa State's first shipment instead will receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Baldwin is coordinating with the governor's office and Story County Public Health on supplies for next week. She said clinic dates could change, depending on vaccine supplies, but helpers should report for their shifts unless they receive notice of a change.

Oliver said Thielen medical staff will fill 40% of the vaccinator roles, with assistance coming from ISU occupational medicine, Mary Greeley Medical Center, Story County Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine. As allowed by the federal emergency legislation, a group of 40 Vet Med faculty and fourth-year professional students completed training this week on giving vaccines to humans.

The clinic supervisory team works in campus units familiar with the incident command process in a disaster. (Yes, Oliver said, the pandemic is a slow-motion disaster.) So the leadership team includes employees from the Thielen center, EH&S, risk management and Ames Laboratory.

"At the end of the day, this is Thielen's operation -- a public health effort to get needles in arms," Oliver said. "We [emergency management] support the people who are in charge, and we coordinate a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Mass vaccination is a prime example of that. We're working with a  diverse group of units and solving a variety of unexpected problems."

Employees who help will support the vaccinators in four ways: registering clients, transferring records to the state's COVID-19 vaccination database, observing clients in the 15 minutes following their vaccination and general hospitality and wayfinding at the clinic. Thielen staff are coordinating training for all of them and will contact clinic workers to get started.

Scaling up

Oliver helped organize the back-to-school COVID-19 testing operation for on-campus students last August, and said that event was the starting point for scaling up to a vaccination clinic that could do twice the volume of the testing clinic. Lessons learned back then will improve the vaccination clinic. For example, he said they learned the importance of hospitality and a few helpful directions.

"We set up the clinic and we know the floor plan and the operation. Our clients may not," he said. "So it's important that a friendly face is there to say, 'Here's what I need to you to do next,' and that we step people through the clinic, one station at a time. Those helpers are really important."

A big part of emergency management is drafting contingency plans for possibilities that never occur. Oliver is hopeful the mass vaccination clinic reaches its potential before the semester winds down.

"We've spent the last year asking people to not do things. Don't gather, don’t remove your mask, don't come to class," he observed. "But now we're asking people to take a positive step, to do something meaningful to help get us all out of this."


Command leaders in a clinic walkthrough

Emergency manager Clayton Oliver and assistant emergency manager Amy Helgerson (left of center) lead an operational walkthrough for the supervisory team in the vaccination clinic at State Gym Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Christopher Gannon.


COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged but optional

Iowa State strongly encourages all students and employees to opt to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they're able, but vaccination won't be a condition of employment or enrollment.

State Board of Regents president Michael Richards announced during the board's April 14 meeting that Iowa's public universities will not mandate students, faculty and staff be vaccinated for the 2020-21 academic year.

New entries added April 14 to ISU's vaccination FAQ further clarify that a COVID-19 vaccination can't be required for participation in courses, workplaces, research sites, workshops, seminars or other university activities.

The residence department won't ask students living in campus housing about their vaccination status, and while the university has the authority to ask faculty and staff about whether they've been vaccinated, supervisors should only do so at the direction of senior leaders, according to the FAQ.

It is possible that a COVID-19 vaccination could be needed in the future to participate in certain university programs. A host country on an international trip might require it, for example.

Iowa State follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations and recommends getting vaccinated, as immunization reduces the spread and severity of COVID-19. Widespread vaccination is crucial for returning to pre-pandemic conditions on and beyond campus.

Go to the university's vaccination webpage for the latest information on vaccines. Also see Inside Iowa State's April 15 update on the large-scale vaccination clinic planned on campus.


Regents approve faculty promotions

Meeting virtually April 14, the state Board of Regents approved Iowa State's request for promotion or tenure for 69 faculty members. The changes officially take effect in August.

While 69 faculty requests is about 30% fewer than last spring's 98 requests, that large number was a record and reflected the significant number of faculty hires in 2015 during record student enrollment. Associate vice provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince said promotions and tenure follow faculty hiring patterns. For example, at the other end of the spectrum, the recession of 2008-09 crimped hiring for a time and P&T requests in the springs of 2015 and 2016 dropped into the 50s. A spring presentation to the board of around 70 promotion and tenure requests is typical, she said.

ISU faculty promotions, 2021-22





Promotion with tenure




Promotion (already tenured)




Tenure only









ISU faculty counts: three academic years













Non tenure-track








No mandate on vaccines

In his report, board president Michael Richards affirmed that the three regent universities will make COVID-19 vaccines available on their campuses, but not require anyone to be vaccinated.

"While we strongly encourage members of our campus communities to get vaccinated, the regent universities will not be mandating vaccinations for students and employees, now or for the 2021-22 academic year," he said.

Salary increase comments

Preceding the board's fiscal year 2022 salary policy discussion at its June meeting, it received written comments this month from leaders of all university employee groups who aren't represented by a labor union. Faculty Senate president Carol Faber and Professional and Scientific Council president Sara Parris were included in this group.

Faber said she reviewed comments submitted by her 12 predecessors and noted time hadn't altered the message very much. ISU faculty salaries remain at or near the bottom of its peer universities, and the lack of movement in their salaries is demoralizing for hard-working faculty. In the last year, she wrote, as faculty adapted to the complexities of working through a pandemic, "tension in politics and the debate over tenure compounded the climate, bringing a whole new meaning to the term demoralization."

Perhaps it's time to think differently about everything we do -- including adjusting salaries, she wrote.

"Doing more with less over a long period of time is not healthy or wise," Faber wrote. "Nor does it support a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment we all strive for at Iowa State University."

Parris encouraged leaders to adopt a performance-based salary increase plan that rewards high performers, noting it's "beyond time" to fairly compensate the hard work of P&S staff.

She said she also reviewed the comments of five previous council presidents and was disheartened by their similarity.

Praise from university leaders and supervisors, she said, while generous and sincere "doesn't pay our bills, nor our increased health insurance costs, nor make up for lost retirement contributions.

"As infections wane, vaccines are distributed and we near the finish line, we are greeted with more budget cuts, no revision to HR policy that allows for performance-based increases, no plans for meaningful raises, inadequate student [tuition] increases that fall short of departmental needs and requests, and open hostility from the state legislature," Parris wrote.

So long to coal boilers

The board gave a final green light to Iowa State's plans to replace the last two coal-fired boilers on campus with natural gas boilers at a cost of $16 million. It will bring the end for two coal fields on campus and reduce greenhouse gas and other regulated air emissions. The cost will be covered by $7 million in utility funds and $9 million in internal university financing. The financing is generated by a $3.9 million annual power plant cost savings due to the lower cost of operating and maintaining natural gas versus coal boilers. The switch will occur during the window of January 2022-June 2023.

Ross Hall restoration

The board approved Iowa State contracts with Johnson Controls (new fire alarm system) and Story Construction (building repairs) approved in March on an emergency basis by board executive director Mark Braun. Total fire restoration costs have risen to $3.75 million, including $2.4 million in cleaning costs to ServiceMaster, $500,000 for repair projects and $177,000 for the fire alarm system.

Parking permits hold steady

Employee and student parking permit rates will hold at current levels for the fiscal year that begins July 1, following board final approval. The only change is to parking meters and metered lots, where the rate will go from $1/hour to $1.25/hour.

Annual and seasonal permits for the Memorial Union ramp also won't change next year. Hourly ramp rates will go up 25-50 cents per hour, with the maximum daily rate rising $2, to $17. The illegal exit fee and lost ticket fee each will jump $10, to $150 and $40, respectively. MU staff manage the ramp.

Plans for parking lots

The athletics department received permission to begin planning a new parking lot (lot G7) for football fans' recreational vehicles east of the new southeast recreation complex on University Boulevard. The project, estimated at $4.5 million to $5.2 million would include concrete pads, electrical outlets and lighting for 330 RVs and a new north-south sidewalk to connect South 16th Street football parking lots to the future gateway bridge.

The department also wants to resurface, extend and connect the parking lot north of the Scheman Building (lot B1) and the lot west of Stephens Auditorium (lot F) to create an L-shaped lot of up to 350 parking stalls in a convenient location for Stephens and Fisher event patrons. The estimated cost of this project, $4.5 million to $5.2 million, includes utilities, paving, sidewalks, lighting and an accessible drop-off area to both theaters. Athletics department funds would pay for both parking lot projects.

Residence system rates

A 2% inflationary increase to meal plans, including flex meals, will be offset by reductions to most residence hall room rates next year. The few room increases are in single rooms and former triple or quad rooms offered as doubles. The paired cost of a standard double non-cooled room and the common Cardinal meal plan will go down $193 (1.1%) next year.

The residence department will temporarily close Wallace, Wilson, Oak-Elm and Linden halls for 2021-22 to reduce operating costs. Apartments built in Ames during the 2013-16 window as ISU enrollment climbed now are competing for tenants, which has impacted the demand for on-campus housing. Both Frederiksen Court and Schilletter-University Village student apartments will offer a pet option next year.

The pay-at-the-door rate in dining centers for guests also will go up 2%, to $10.81 for breakfast and $13.92 for lunch and dinner. The new rates take effect July 1.

Other ISU agenda items

In other ISU business, the board approved a gift of 389 acres of farmland in Worth County from the Lavonne Gregory revocable trust agreement. Gregory died in August. The university will operate the farmland, with net income to be shared between the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences for teaching and research related to companion animal care and health.

The board approved these name changes:

  • College of Human Sciences program/major: from child, adult and family services to human development and family studies.
  • Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences department: from sociology to sociology and criminal justice to better reflect the curriculum and the current and future research of its faculty.
  • College of Engineering center: from the Information Assurance Center to the Center for Cybersecurity Innovation and Outreach.

The board also approved Iowa State's request to end the biorenewables resources and technology interdepartmental graduate program due to declining enrollment. No students have started the program in three years, and students pursuing degrees will complete them.

Central campus tent is available for free use

As Iowa State takes steps to return campus to an in-person experience this fall, the latest sign will become visible Friday.

A 40-by-60 tent will be erected on central campus just north of the campanile for faculty, staff and students to use. The tent can be reserved free of charge online through the Memorial Union for internal events, ranging from retirement celebrations to departmental lunches.

"People were talking about having get-togethers at the end of the semester with quite a few retirements happening, connecting with students before they go or having poster competitions," said Frank Peters, chair of the university response team. "The tent provides an option for departments or student organizations to meet in an outdoor environment."

Peters said some people may not be comfortable gathering indoors, but hopes this provides a way to hold events that more individuals feel safe attending. All Cyclones Care safety measures apply.

It also reintroduces people who may have been working remotely for the past year back to campus and sets the tone for the fall semester, Peters said.

The tent is available through May 13 and is not for nonuniversity rental. Those wanting to use the tent must reserve it through the MU.

Groups may bring their own tables and chairs and are asked to clean up after themselves. For events that need assistance from other departments or involve third parties, the university event authorization system helps coordinate planning.

Event authorization

Iowa State began asking departments, students and third parties to register some events online through the university event authorization system a year ago. Guidelines help determine if an event needs to be entered into the system. It's a process student organizations have used for years -- transitioning from paper to electronic forms -- and allows ISU to have a better idea of what events are happening and who is on campus on a daily basis, said senior risk and systems analyst Kurt Beyer, office of risk management.

"We had planned to release it slowly, but when COVID happened, there was a desire to know more about what was happening across campus," Beyer said.

Internal events and programs, such as trainings and staff meetings, do not need to use the authorization system. Those using the tent to host current faculty, staff or students must reserve it through the Memorial Union, but do not need to complete the authorization form.

"If a department wants to get together and have lunch, they do not have to use the authorization system," Beyer said.

If the event is open to more than current ISU faculty, staff or students, or requires services like electricity, garbage or restrooms, the form must be completed.

"It's not a system to keep events from happening, but we want to use it to be able to coordinate all of the events," Beyer said.

When they fill out the form, individuals are asked what activities will take place, and if services from other departments are needed, the system alerts them to get requests filed.

The system can assist with a wide range of needs when events involve food, animals, gambling/raffles, participants younger than 18 years or external vendors.

Questions about safely holding events on campus can be sent to


Extension partnering to alert Iowans to vaccination webinars

ISU Extension and Outreach is dedicated to helping Iowans, and its latest effort centers on COVID-19 vaccination education.

Extension is partnering with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science to alert Iowans to three educational webinars in April.

Vaccine education webinars

"We have come together to leverage the strengths of these three partners," said Deb Sellers, College of Human Sciences associate dean and director of Human Sciences extension and outreach. "U of I has the medical expertise and the information about the safety of the vaccines, IDPH has been on the forefront of the COVID-19 response in the state and our role is to lift up the message of the partners."

Sellers said using extension's connections in 99 counties allows it to mobilize and encourage individuals to attend.

"We know that personal invitations from a trusted organization can make a difference for people," extension assistant vice president for county services Andrea Nelson said.

Extension will lean on previous relationships to spread information through a variety of channels, including phone calls, text messages, social media and emails.


The three hourlong webinars are April 17 (10 a.m.), April 19 (6 p.m.) and April 24 (10 a.m.). The April 24 session will be in Spanish, and close captioning will be available for each webinar.

Subject-matter experts will provide research-based information about the vaccines to help people in their decision-making process.

"We are not advocating for vaccinations; we are supporting vaccination education," Sellers said. "We want to offer Iowans the opportunity to come and listen to the best experts the state has to offer from the University of Iowa and IDPH about the science behind the COVID-19 vaccinations and the distribution of it in the state."

Sellers said participants also will have a chance to ask questions of the experts to better inform their decisions.

The pandemic exposed internet limitations for some Iowans, especially in rural areas. Extension plans to combat that by opening some of its county offices for people to gather -- physically distanced with face coverings -- and watch the webinars.

"We can host our own watch parties in the office," Nelson said. "We will provide the screen, and they can watch it there."

In addition to promoting the webinars, extension is helping coordinate the logistics. Audio visual support specialist Spencer Braly of information technology services is providing technical support, and extension specialists are assisting with the development of fliers and other marketing materials.


Extension had a one-hour vaccine information session for its staff April 1 about the webinars and to gather feedback.

"It was not a miniature session, but a chance to tell them what their role would be in communicating the message," Nelson said. "They had incredible questions and suggestions about how to reduce some barriers and make it available to more Iowans."

They reach Iowans all the time, so they know what needs to be done, Nelson said. Extension staff also will report back concerns from communities to make the dissemination of information circular rather than one-way.

This is not the first time extension has worked to aid Iowans with information about COVID-19. Extension partners with the 211 hotline -- a nationwide three-digit hotline for finding local health care, mental health resources, food, employment, government help and other needs -- to answer calls, and has seen a significant increase in call volume since the pandemic began.

Eight-day showcase will celebrate explosion of student innovation


Natalie Vaessen, left, a junior in event management, receives a flower Tuesday from Jackie Underhill, a sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design. Underhill was giving away flowers outside Parks Library to promote the Fashion Show, one of the numerous events in the Ignite Innovation Showcase. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Student innovation has spread like wildfire this year, kindled by the launch of Innovate at Iowa State programming and the Student Innovation Center's opening. The breadth of that growth -- and the creativity and inventiveness long present in every corner of campus -- will be on display in a first-ever celebration of innovators making their mark at Iowa State. 

Fittingly called the Ignite Innovation Showcase, the eight-day event that begins April 16 will exhibit a wide variety of student accomplishments and ideas -- scientific research, business startups, artistic creations, civic change-making and more. The showcase is designed to recognize and support the impact of student innovators and the faculty and staff collaborating with them, said entrepreneur in residence Karen Kerns, who is organizing the event.

"As we feature their work, their passion, their own unique brand of innovating meaningful contribution, we experience the pride and joy that comes from knowing we are part of something bigger than ourselves, something that will grow and create value beyond us. This is what it means to Innovate at Iowa State," she said.

Kerns said getting a peek at the explosion of student energy, imagination and productivity also serves as an invitation for more students, faculty, staff and potential industry partners to participate in Innovate at Iowa State, a campuswide initiative that launched last fall.

"Hopefully, people will be inspired to engage and connect," she said.

Ignite will feature more than 110 sessions, delivered virtually due to COVID-19 precautions. About half will be livestreams and half were prerecorded, but many of the sessions recorded in advance will include moderated live chats to encourage discussion. To see a full schedule and access event links, participants must register online. All sessions, including livestreams, will be archived on the site and available to view shortly after the session is complete. The showcase is free and open to the public.

Here are some highlights from each day's lineup:

Friday, April 16

Ignite begins with a welcome from President Wendy Wintersteen at 4:30 p.m., followed by an overview by Kerns and a Student Innovation Center tour from center director Jim Oliver. At 6 p.m., College of Design Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez will discuss the college's effort to seek student solutions for creating equitable, accessible and inclusive places of learning. The first night of the annual student-led Fashion Show will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. College of Engineering innovator in residence and former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg delivers a keynote at 9 p.m.

Saturday, April 17

Many of the sessions center around a theme park ride design contest, which challenges teams of student engineers to build a functional model of the attraction. The national competition was founded by an Iowa State student. An overview is at 8 a.m., with numerous panels and demonstrations throughout the day. Winners of the contest will be announced at 7 p.m. The second night of the Fashion Show also begins at 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 18

In the afternoon and evening, enjoy a watch party of ISU Theatre's five virtual productions from 2020-21, kicking off with a 1 p.m. welcome from director Brad Dell and a panel discussion with students at 4 p.m.

Monday, April 19

A day celebrating entrepreneurship includes morning chats with students who founded successful businesses, the live announcement at noon of the 2021 CYstarters cohort and a 1:30 p.m. panel with CYstarters alumni. Throughout the day, students will compete in improv pitch competitions, suggesting impromptu innovations or business ideas based on a surprise topic. The pitch contests will be held by college, and each session will detail entrepreneurship opportunities and efforts in that college.

Tuesday, April 20

The intersection of art and environment is the emphasis. Find a creative spark in three interactive writing prompt sessions or take a tour of the Casey Nature Reserve, 76 acres of wilderness in Boone County stewarded by the master in fine arts (MFA) program in creative writing and environment. Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, an ISU-based student-run national journal, will present readings of eco-plays at 12:30, 3:30 and 8 p.m. Hear about ISU's contribution to the Climate Change Theatre Action project at 11 a.m., or catch a live reading from MFA students at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 21

Presentations will be devoted to the 15th annual Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression, with 25 program-specific sessions organized in five 90-minute time blocks throughout the day.

Thursday, April 22

The focus is on civic innovation and engagement, with students talking about their community-changing projects and leadership in sessions at 3 and 4 p.m. A roundtable of senior leaders at 9 a.m. will discuss community initiatives that connect to Iowa State's land-grant mission. The College of Design will unveil a new student magazine about civic innovation at 10 a.m., then hold a workshop on wearable art at 10:30 and a panel on its Wearables Design Show at noon. The University Library will outline a pair of civic-minded initiatives at 3:30 and 3:45 p.m.

Friday, April 23

Throughout the morning, leaders in every college will highlight their college's innovation programming, opportunities and projects. At 2:30 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach will demonstrate how it extends innovation beyond campus, and a 3:30 p.m. session features a novel recruiting initiative. The showcase closes with a 4 p.m. awards ceremony honoring Student Innovation Fellows and winners of the Student Innovation Fund Challenge, followed by a performance by the ISU Marching Band of a student-composed theme song for Innovate at Iowa State.