After last summer's 100% online summer orientation, it's an especially welcome sight to see Cyclones-to-be touring the campus this month. Orientation this year features a required online component and an optional campus visit that will continue through at least July 2.
Iowa State's salary policy for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was approved this week by the state Board of Regents' executive director. Faculty, professional and scientific staff, postdocs and contract employees with satisfactory performance reviews will receive a 2.1% pay increase beginning with the July pay period.
Merit staff (excluding ISU police) also will receive a 2.1% pay increase, effective July 1. Of this increase, 1.1% is consistent with the AFSCME collective bargaining agreement and an additional 1% is for satisfactory performance. ISU police will receive pay increases in accordance with the AFSCME police bargaining agreement.
The FY22 salary policy for faculty, professional and scientific staff, postdocs and contract employees also includes the option for units to consider additional performance-based discretionary increases. These increases will be implemented later this summer (but will be retroactive to July 1) to allow units more time for budget planning. Supervisors will receive additional information on how to implement the salary policy.
As previously announced, Iowa State will restore its portion of the TIAA/VALIC retirement contribution to 10% on July 1. Also, as a result of federal and state stimulus funding and the university's prudent actions over the past year, there won't be a university-wide budget reduction for FY22.
The university’s general operating budget for FY22 will be finalized after the regents' decision on tuition rates for the upcoming academic year. The Legislature approved no increase to the FY22 general university appropriation for the regent universities.
"Iowa State University continues to address financial challenges," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "As I’ve shared with the Board of Regents and legislative leaders, performance salary increases are critically important to retain our dedicated, hard-working faculty and staff."
Employees who have worked from home during the pandemic may need to reacclimate to some of the basics of daily life on campus when they return by July 1. Here's a primer on a few things to remember:
Get a permit
Faculty and staff who kept a parking permit during the 2020-21 academic year received email reminders to renew their permits online via AccessPlus. Employees who don't have a current parking permit need to visit the parking office in person to purchase one. The office at 27 Armory Building is open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Park in lot 21 west of the Armory. No meter fee is required while purchasing a permit.
The parking permit rate increases of about 3% approved last spring for the 2020-21 school year were suspended for one year and will go into effect for 2021-22. General staff permits are $186, an increase of $6/ Reserved permits are $565 (up $17), 24-hour reserve permits are $1,005 (up $30) and motorcycle permits are $62 (up $2). The annual fee can be paid in its entirety or by payroll deductions.
Faculty and staff who let a reserved permit lapse in 2020-21 won't automatically be able to repurchase it, depending on lot-specific demand. Email parking director Mark Miller to inquire about availability and to be placed on a waiting list, if necessary.
Don't forget to pay attention to parking signs. Rules and regulations are enforced at all times, including during summer sessions.
Check office tech
Employees who will be returning to their campus workspaces for the first time in month may hit a few bumps in the road as they reconnect their office devices. Information technology services recommends employees visit campus sometime before their first day back to replace or charge batteries for items such as a keyboard and mouse, apply software updates and confirm they're connected Wi-Fi via the Eduroam network.
Employees who encounter issues should check out the ISU Portal to search for relevant self-help articles. If additional assistance is required, select "Get Help" from the IT portal and submit an incident request, email the IT Solution Center or call 515-294-4000.
A clean workspace
Building hours have returned to normal (pre-pandemic) summer schedules and vary widely according to summer activity in a building. Building hours are updated on a facilities planning and management website.
Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, custodial teams last month ended the more rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols they followed for the 2020-21 academic year, assisted by as many as 70 temporary workers. Classrooms, Parks Library and high-use restrooms remain top priorities this summer and receive daily cleanings, said custodial services senior manager Michelle Lenkaitis. Most other spaces -- for example, department study rooms, employee offices, conference rooms, entryways, atriums and corridors -- are being cleaned at least monthly this summer, more frequently when time allows, she said.
Less traffic on campus during summer session, however, often means custodians need less time for scheduled cleaning and can pursue other cleaning tasks. Since May 10, she said custodial teams have been dusting, vacuuming, mopping and cleaning carpet as they can in personal offices.
Lenkaitis currently oversees a staff of 120 custodians, about 15 fewer than a year ago due to budget cuts scheduled for this fiscal year but neutralized by the dozens of temporary custodians. During that time, the Student Innovation Center and Gerdin Building addition came online, increasing the custodial load.
"We know expectations are high as more faculty and staff return to campus in July and August. I hope they understand their custodians are frustrated they aren't able to clean as often as they'd like."
Lenkaitis noted common trash and recycling areas were established on many floors during the academic year, when employees were tasked with cleaning their own spaces. While partially a response to the pandemic, those stations mostly are part of the university's zero waste campus initiative. She encourages employees to continue to empty office trash, including food waste, at those common trash areas. Contact your building supervisor or custodian to learn where the station nearest your office is.
Senior leaders reviewed several building cleaning proposals for the academic year and selected an option that focuses time and resources on spaces heavily used by students. Details of the fall cleaning protocols will be shared in Inside in August.
Vaccines and tests
University employees are strongly encouraged, though not required, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees should contact their primary care physician or county public health office to schedule an appointment. The first opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at an on-campus clinic will be Aug. 17-20.
Faculty and staff showing symptoms of COVID-19 who want to be tested also should contact their primary care physician. Test results (positive or negative) still should be submitted to the university's public health team through ISU's self-reporting form. There is not an on-campus testing option for employees this summer.
Since May 20, when the state Board of Regents rescinded its March 2020 state of emergency, face coverings have not been required on campus, indoors or outdoors. Exceptions are while using CyRide buses, veterinary medicine facilities, research laboratories and health care operations. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to wear a face covering while on campus.
Story City-based Jason Haglund, mental health counselor and leader in the behavioral health field, will lead several webinars on behalf of ISU WorkLife that focus on a post-pandemic fresh start:
June 17 (2 p.m. via Zoom), "Moving from Confusion to Thriving: Life in an (Almost) Post-Pandemic World," letting go of the emotions caused by disruptions to work and home life in order to move forward and thrive, register
June 23 (10 a.m. via Zoom), "Welcome Back, Kind Of: The Age of Starting Over," shifting from a mindset of transition to starting over and exploring the ways you can adapt and thrive, register
Lunch, coffee and treats
Employees looking for a spot to grab lunch, coffee or a snack should have no trouble.
ISU Dining is operating under a typical summer schedule. So while most cafes in academic buildings are closed until fall, and the Memorial Union food court will close for the summer after orientation visits wrap up in early July, there are plenty of options still available.
At the MU, the Market and Café is open all day (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.), and Lance and Ellie’s and Panda Express for lunch (10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.). At The Hub, The Roasterie is open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and Heaping Plato's lunch hours are 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. In the Union Drive area, Clyde's is open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and the Friley Windows dining center is open at meal times throughout the day. Gentle Doctor Café on the Veterinary Medicine campus is open 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For updated hours and menus, consult ISU Dining's online listings.
Food trucks near Kildee and Beardshear halls also are open for lunch, and the student-run SPARKS café on the fourth floor of the Student Innovation Center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Craving a cold treat? In addition to the ISU Dining gelato at The Roasterie, check out the ISU Creamery retail store at 2953 Food Sciences Building. It is open every weekday afternoon except Wednesday from noon to 4:30 and Saturday, 2-6 p.m. Keep an eye out this fall for a standalone gelato shop opening on the food court level of the MU.
More employees are returning to campus work spaces starting July 1, some of whom may not have seen or experienced much on campus for more than a year. Inside asked several who worked all or much of their time on campus over that period to share a few insights and advice with the returnees.
Bill Diesslin, associate director, environmental health and safety
The most challenging part about working from campus last year. "Locked doors. You really had to plan your time to make sure you had access. Felt a little like a thief or a spy sneaking around campus."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "It may be worthwhile stopping in before your first day of work, just to re-familiarize yourself with where everything is."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "The pandemic has taught me that anything I worry about is probably a shared feeling. So just talk to people."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "The flowers, trees and animals. I never pass up an opportunity to visit the horse barns."
Mary Clancy, student services specialist, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
What was most challenging about working from campus last year. "The health and safety of students and staff. The uncertainty and anxiety weighed heavy at times. Trying to stay positive for those who came through the door was a challenge."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "Those of us who were here on campus for a majority of the time are glad to see you coming back. Ask a lot of questions and have the conversations needed with other staff and supervisors to get familiar with any changes so teams can move forward together."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "The vaccine and mitigation practices have proven to be effective in dealing with the virus. They provided an opportunity to slowly return to normal."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "Taking lunch during the campanile concerts at noon and simply observing the beauty of campus."
Michael Dorneich, associate professor, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering
The most challenging part about working from campus last year. "Zoom fatigue. I did leave my office to teach class face-to-face and socially distanced, but I used Zoom for many meetings with students, faculty and external partners."
What I'm most looking forward to July 1 and beyond. "Having my colleagues back in the hallways. Also, a return to normal means the extra work of developing solutions for COVID-related issues will abate. The extra work was substantial. It impacted all aspects of research, teaching and service."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "Open your office door. Like many others, I got into the habit of keeping my door closed. Getting back into the habit of keeping your office door open will invite those impromptu conversations with students and colleagues that are vital to rebuilding our sense of community."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "Find some measure of control over your own space. There are ways to help organize your workspace so you feel comfortable. These might include rearranging a desk, having cleaning supplies or hanging a sign that says 'Come on in' or 'Please stand at the door.'"
Kelly Frizzell, registered nurse, Thielen Student Health Center
What was most challenging about working from campus last year. "It was hard to support and reach out to those with questions and fears working mostly remotely. We needed to communicate that we were still here for our students even if we weren't in person. Every day we would bring ourselves up to speed with what had changed overnight, and we would pivot again. It was a challenging time, but also an opportunity to be a part of something so big when our campus needed us. One silver lining of the pandemic has been the opportunity to partner with other departments to support our university in ways we never have before. I think it made us stronger."
"Also, it was lonely. I remember the empty sidewalks and streets, and the outdoor basketball courts with the hoops removed. Just eerie sights like that. I'm sure people felt isolated at home, but we felt a different kind of it working on campus."
What I'm most looking forward to July 1 and beyond. "Students experiencing everything they're supposed to be able to experience. Being at Iowa State isn't just about what happens in the classroom. Also, though we learned a lot about what could be done using Zoom and other apps, I'll be happy not to hear 'You're still on mute, Kelly' again."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "It's not going to be a magic switch. Everyone is going to handle this differently, so we all just need to continue to support each other. Remember that we don't know everyone else's story about how this past year affected them. Take the time to talk to your coworkers and peers, and communicate to your supervisors about concerns. We all may be a bit rusty in some aspects, so communication and grace will be important."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "As a former student, summer is a very sentimental time for me. It's a time for both endings and new beginnings. It's like the campus is celebrating the successes of the last semester and gearing up for the start of a new one. Last summer, campus seemed extra still as you walked across it. But I knew the work going on from all those campus and home offices showed teamwork, pride and ownership in our university. I'm so proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of it."
Jim Fields, custodian, facilities planning and management
What was most challenging about working from campus last year. "Going from a building full of students, professors, graduate students and staff, and having daily conversations with them, to an empty or near-empty building. Being alone was wearing, day after day."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "Things are good here, come on back. We're excited to see you again. We're ready to open the doors and welcome you back like a long-lost friend. For those in my buildings [LeBaron, MacKay], if you need something, come to Jim."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "We've been here and done our jobs. Our buildings are clean, top to bottom. I believe the majority has had their shots. We're safe, you'll be safe and it'll be good."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "The time to regroup, get extra projects done and get my building ready ahead for the start of fall semester. And the ISU Creamery in the Food Sciences Building is open."
Chris Gannon, university photographer
What I'm most looking forward to July 1 and beyond. "Getting back to more of the in-person collaborative nature of my work. I really look forward to a campus full of people again, with all the hard work and smiling faces."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "Take a long walk about campus. Visit your favorite spots, and maybe someplace you've rarely or never been. That can provide a good sense of re-connection to our beautiful, diverse work environment."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "Return with your well-being as a priority. Take time to assess what feels best and is most productive for you. Communicate that to your supervisor and coworkers."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "I capture campus scenic photographs year-round, and in the summertime, campus has a serene calmness to it, bright summer colors and more noticeable wildlife."
Allison Bell, police officer, ISU police department
What was most challenging about working from campus last year. "We simply couldn't meet face-to-face with many people. It's much easier to build rapport and establish trust with our community when you can meet face-to-face."
What I'm most looking forward to July 1 and beyond. "Attending all the events we missed last year. I'm excited for ISU fans to be able to attend athletics games, concerts and other large events. I am excited, too, for students to once again participate in clubs and activities."
My advice for those returning to campus workplaces. "Those of us who have been on campus are excited to see you come back. Many people have been vaccinated. Custodial staff have done a fantastic job keeping the university clean."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "This change shows the progress we are making and the fact that things are getting better. Know that you're not alone. Check in with the people you love and trust. Therapy and mental health services can be very helpful."
Denise Wolf, assistant circulation coordinator, university library
The most challenging part about working from campus last year. "It was often difficult to get answers from people working from home by phone or email. It was frustrating knowing that some could work from vacation destinations without taking vacation time, while I didn't have the same option."
What I'm most looking forward to July 1 and beyond. "More equity among faculty and staff since everyone will be working under the same conditions. I am looking forward to interacting with the whole of campus, students, staff and faculty, not just those who've been here the whole time."
What I tell people who may feel anxious or uncertain about returning. "For those who have any fear regarding COVID-19, I would say the university made every effort to make us as safe as possible. Even at the height of the pandemic, I felt comfortable working on campus with all the safety protocols in place. UHR has provided many resources for employees, and for those who might need additional help with the transition, we always have access to Employee Assistance Program services."
The best part of being on campus during the summer. "I love seeing the tours of new students and their parents as they start their journey at Iowa State. I enjoy walking around our beautiful campus and seeing students on blankets or in hammocks, studying and relaxing. It's a slower pace, but you can feel the excitement building for the fall term. My favorite part is when the band starts practicing in anticipation of the upcoming football season."
The state Board of Regents will publicly discuss 2021-22 tuition rates for the first time during a June 24 special meeting.
Setting tuition for the upcoming academic year has been a hallmark of the board's June meeting. But due to the late adjournment (May 19) of the Iowa Legislature, including approval of a state budget for the year that begins July 1, board president Michael Richards announced at the group's June 3 meeting the board would hold a special meeting later in the month. Final approval would come at the board's July 28 telephonic meeting, he said.
"Our universities need an appropriate amount of resources to continue to provide high-quality education, but we also want to keep our universities as accessible and affordable as possible for Iowans. There are many factors to consider, and we will be thoughtful as we move forward in this process," Richards said.
The board's newest standing committee, free speech, received campus updates on several recommendations the full board approved in February. These included:
- Mandatory syllabus statements on free speech (which Iowa State has used since winter session without significant issues or implementation problems, according to senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert)
- Designated free speech websites, which went live June 1. Similar to sites at the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa, Iowa State's free speech site features sections on policy and reporting, resources and services, and an FAQ. Iowa State's also includes a link to the campus climate website.
- Review of national and regent university campus surveys as background information for a planning process to regularly survey the campus communities.
- A 15- to 20-minute digital course all three universities could use, beginning this fall, for annual campus training for employees and students on the First Amendment and free speech.
Board counsel Aimee Claeys, who with university counsels researched training options, said they couldn't find an existing training piece, but identified several companies that could develop a custom module on the regents' timeline. The next step will be to solicit proposals.
The intent, she said, would be to provide high-level training on the fundamentals of the First Amendment, with a focus on freedom of expression. This first year, it would be required training, Claeys said, but there wouldn't be consequences for failure to complete it. To complement the basic training, the universities would commit to providing other training to targeted groups, as needed.
"Each person's voice matters," said new regent and committee chair Greta Rouse. "We must be strong enough to hear opposing viewpoints without stifling speech. Institutions of higher education must be places where the exploration of ideas is embraced as a core value."
The board directed the universities to submit salary policies for employees not represented by a union "that best meet the needs of the institution" to board executive director Mark Braun, and granted Braun authority to approve them.
According to the terms of a new two-year contract between the state and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61, merit employees will receive a 1.1% salary increase on July 1. The board also approved a merit system pay matrix that increases pay grade minimums and maximums by 1.1% and adds four pay grades (20-23) on July 1.
Following its performance evaluation of President Wendy Wintersteen, the board approved an annual salary for her of $600,000 for the new fiscal year, about 1.7% higher than her previous approved salary of $590,000, However, at her request, Wintersteen's salary in FY20 actually was 10% less than that, or $531,000. The board also approved an additional two-year deferred compensation plan (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023) of $100,000 annually. Her current deferred compensation is $200,000 per year, from November 2020 through June 2023.
Two of the board's nine regents attended their first meeting June 3, following their confirmation last month by the Iowa Senate. Rouse, Emmetsburg, served as an Iowa State student regent (as Greta Johnson, 2008-12). She succeeds regent Patty Cownie, whose term ended in April. Student regent Abby Crow, University of Iowa sophomore in human physiology, succeeds ISU student Zack Leist, who graduated in May.
Regent Sherry Bates was elected to fill the board's president pro-tem vacancy created by Cownie's departure from the board. The officer term expires in April 2022.
More ISU agenda items
In other Iowa State business, the regents approved:
- A proposal to merge the departments of entomology and of plant pathology and microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences into a single department, the department of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology. The change takes effect in fall 2022 and is intended to create opportunities for new undergraduate curricula, research ventures and strategic faculty positions, while conserving administrative costs.
- A six-acre Story County farm gift from Howard and Nancy Hill, Nevada, that's located six miles northeast of central campus. The university's intent is to relocate the existing swine teaching farm to that location on a to-be-determined timeline. The current farm on south State Avenue needs significant repairs and building replacements, and residential growth on the south side of Ames is getting closer to it. The Hill property's 10 buildings include two farrowing barns, gestation barn, two nursery facilities and small finishing pig barn.
- Proposals for six new degree programs beginning this fall: bachelor of business administration and bachelor of science in human resource management, both in the Ivy College of Business; bachelor of science in education as a second major only, master of arts in teaching (secondary education) and master of arts in teaching (math education), all in the College of Human Sciences; and a master of science in artificial intelligence in the College of Liberals Arts and Sciences.
- ISU officer appointments for fiscal year 2022: associate vice president for institutional financial strategy Bonnie Whalen as secretary, senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain, formerly the university secretary, as treasurer, effective July 1.
- A fourth 10-year CyRide agreement (through June 2031) among the university, ISU student government and the city of Ames. There are no content changes to the agreement.
Interim Iowa president
John Keller, associate provost and Graduate College dean, participated in the meeting as interim president of the University of Iowa, a position he will fill for about two months. Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois system, is scheduled to become the university's 22nd president on July 15. Bruce Harreld's last day as president was May 16.
Edited June 21, 2021
For the first time, Iowa State has negotiated a single fountain and bottled beverage contract for ISU Dining and the athletics department -- essentially a university contract. Pepsi Cola outbid Coca Cola for the five-year contract that takes effect July 1. It includes a two-year renewal option.
The contract covers every facility on campus, including the Iowa State Center, Veenker golf course, Memorial Union, athletics venues and every ISU Dining café, convenience store, dining center, vending machine and catered event. As with most beverage contracts, it allows a limited lineup of competing brand beverages in campus convenience stores.
Athletics' most recent contract was with Pepsi, but ISU Dining has had a single contract with Coca Cola since 2012 and, at procurement services' request, extended it two years to align with the expiration of athletics' beverage contract. That put the university in a position to seek bids for a single contract.
ISU Dining assistant director Karen Rodekamp said the switchover will begin this week, with Coca Cola removing vending machines from campus buildings to make room for the Pepsi vending machines. Employees should be able to use their ISU Card at more vending machines once it's complete. She estimated the transition, including fountain machines and bottled products in coolers, would take about three weeks.
Acknowledging that brand loyalty is strong among beverage shoppers, Rodekamp also noted that students and employees will have many choices on campus.
"What we have learned is that every beverage vendor offers plenty of product variety. We will use nearly all of Pepsi's lineup and add new products as they introduce them," she said.
High volume is the key
Procurement agent Dustin Mohr said it's efficient and financially smart to seek a single beverage contract for the whole campus. It's also a directive from the state Board of Regents to streamline contracts and save money. The higher volume of one contract gives the university added leverage in negotiating funds and merchandise the vendor provides to campus, he said. The key to negotiating this first beverage contract was to make sure both athletics and ISU Dining were being served and would emerge as strong -- or stronger -- financially. Both are self-funded units that receive no state funding support.
He estimates the new contract will save the two units $1.1 million over five years from what they pay now for their beverage contracts. Additionally, the volume-based fees Pepsi returns to each are more generous -- up to $500,000 annually for ISU Dining, up to $225,000 annually for athletics. Those funds are folded into each program's operating budget. A normal part of beverage contracts, Pepsi also will provide marketing funds for product promotions, discounts and giveaways and a free product allowance. Rodekamp said ISU Dining uses that allowance to provide beverages to several dozen student organizations each year for their events or fundraisers.
The Pepsi lineup
In addition to Pepsi's well-known soda pop beverages -- Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist and Mug root beer -- and its Aquafina bottled water, the company offers brands such as Starbucks ice coffee, Lipton teas, Gatorade, Dole lemonade, Life Wtr, Tropicana and Naked juices, Bubly and Kevita sparkling waters, Bang and Rockstar energy drinks, and Muscle milk.
A place for Coca Cola
Rodekamp said bottled Coca Cola products still will be sold in campus convenience stores, but not in vending or fountain machines. The contract allows for five options of competitors' 20-ounce bottled carbonated beverages. Coke and Diet Coke are two that will remain on campus, she said, and Dr. Pepper products also will be part of that mix. In addition to the five, Red Bull beverages and Coke's Peace teas will remain in convenience store coolers.
Faculty and staff who volunteer as blood donors have a new option to take paid time off to accomplish their good deed during regularly scheduled work hours.
The incentive to encourage blood donation was approved by the Iowa Legislature earlier this year and is an extension of existing provisions for bone marrow and living organ donors. The new blood donor portion of the law allows state workers up to two consecutive hours as many as four times per year to donate blood voluntarily.
An addition to Iowa State's policy on organ and bone marrow donation effective July 1 will reflect the changes to the law and extend paid time off to blood donors, said Andrea Little, associate director of employee and labor relations for university human resources (UHR). Blood donation will be available in Workday as a new time-off type.
The existing policy -- which allows five days of paid time off for bone marrow donation and 30 days for organ donation -- requires medical documentation and, when foreseeable, a minimum 30-day notice before the donation. Those requirements also will apply to blood donors.
The policy also will be updated to incorporate revised terminology in the state law, Little said.
Contact UHR at email@example.com with any questions about the policy change.
The June 30 retirement of longtime university treasurer Joan Piscitello created another opportunity for senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain to assess the division's functional structure and build on changes that began several years ago and later included finance service delivery.
Piscitello, who as associate vice president for central finance also oversaw disparate functions such as the controller's office, financial accounting and reporting, procurement services, sponsored programs accounting and Workday Finance -- in addition to all the treasury services, was uniquely qualified to take on multiple roles, Cain said.
After considering workload distribution and synergies, Cain reassigned Piscitello's many duties among other finance leaders and shared the changes in a May 20 memo to division staff. The position won't be filled, and four other finance-side leaders will assume new responsibilities on July 1:
- Heather Paris, with a new title of associate vice president for central finance and finance delivery. Paris will take on the central finance operations duties, which includes controller's office, procurement and accounts receivable. The intent is to provide more coordinated financial functions, including finance delivery.
- Bonnie Whalen, associate vice president for institutional financial strategy. Whalen will oversee the treasury functions (investments, debt financing, cash flow) along with her current responsibilities for budget development and institutional financial analysis.
- Tim Ashley, interim assistant vice president for payroll, tax and benefits. Ashley will be responsible for tax-related items currently in accounts receivable and the controller's office, in addition to his current tax oversight. These duties align with his other duties in payroll operations, fringe benefits accounting and compliance, and health insurance administration.
- Jake Wilson, director of divisional business operations. Wilson will oversee the Workday business analysts who focus on specific functions within Workday. Aligning these responsibilities with the division's fiscal and strategic business planning will help apply a consistent perspective to Workday finance, payroll and planning functions.
Cain also announced the four will make up a new team, the Finance Leaders Alliance Group, or FLAG, which will coordinate financial policies, procedures, functions and strategies for the division.
Cain said the changes are intended to bring "even more effective and efficient fiscal responsibility, a heightened sense of stewardship for all our resources and strengthened accountability necessary to achieve our university priorities."
As approved by the state Board of Regents June 3, Cain, who formerly served as university secretary, will begin serving as university treasurer July 1. Whalen will serve as university secretary.
The emergency operations center Iowa State mobilized to manage its COVID-19 response ran full-time for 454 days before closing June 1.
"At this point, we're getting reacquainted with our own desks after 15 months away from them," emergency manager Clayton Oliver told the Professional and Scientific Council at its June 3 meeting.
So what does the emergency management team do now? Study the past to prepare for the future. Oliver said the university's emergency plans will undergo a "comprehensive overhaul" over the next year to incorporate lessons learned from the pandemic and the derecho last August.
Planning to reduce vulnerability to disasters -- and the simulations and exercises to validate those plans -- can help define responsibilities in advance of an emergency and identify training needs, he said. The goal isn't to anticipate every possibility in detail.
"No emergency plan survives contact with a disaster. In our world, the plan is not a guaranteed solution. It's a framework for response and improvisation. It gives us a start," he said.
Oliver encouraged interested unit and department leaders to contact emergency management to line up training. ISU emergency management offers a 90-minute presentation on personal disaster preparedness and 30- to 60-minute sessions on specific hazards, such as fire safety, travel and severe weather, he said.
Emergency managers also can help devise or review local emergency plans for units or buildings by holding a table-top exercise or facilitating a "what would you do" discussion, which Oliver said is "like Dungeons and Dragons for disaster."
Council changes hands
New council members and officers officially begin their duties at the start of the fiscal year July 1 but are seated at the June meeting. Sixteen members were either newly elected or appointed to the council for 2021-22, joining 28 returning members.
President Sara Parris, whose position will be filled by president-elect Chris Johnsen, recognized the 14 outgoing council members. Jamie Sass will start her term as president-elect July 1.
The council will begin the year without any vacancies, but P&S staff who would like to serve as a substitute or be considered for eligible council positions that open up during the next year are encouraged to email the representation committee.
Bethmari Márquez Barreto is preparing for a new role on stage and in the classroom.
The Puerto Rico native and first-generation student graduated from Iowa State this spring with a degree in performing arts, and is moving soon to Minnesota to begin her career with CLIMB Theatre, St. Paul. In her new role, Márquez Barreto will use theater and art to teach students about resiliency, accountability and empathy, and also travel the state performing in a variety of productions.
Reaching this stage is a testament to Márquez Barreto's hard work and determination, but heading into her final semester she questioned if it would even be possible. With just 17 credits needed to complete her degree, Márquez Barreto realized she couldn't pay her full tuition bill.
"There was one time, a moment, when I thought of quitting school and working to save money, pay my loans and then go back to school," Márquez Barreto said. "If I had done that, I don't think I would have finished college."
In search of help, Márquez Barreto contacted the office of student financial aid. She explained her situation with the hope of getting enough assistance to cover a portion of what she owed and then work to pay for the rest. She got more than she had hoped for -- a Troxel Award completion grant to cover the balance on her tuition bill.
"I was like, 'oh my god.' I started crying."
Completion grants make a difference
As a founding member of the University Innovation Alliance, a national consortium of innovative public research universities working to improve student success, Iowa State implemented the UIA Completion Grant program in 2017. The program provides assistance to students who are approaching graduation, but face financial hurdles to complete their education. Since 2017, Iowa State has issued over $386,000 in UIA Completion Grants to 661 students.
Sebastian Speer, Iowa State's UIA Fellow, says the average grant is $585 -- a relatively small amount that can make the difference between students, like Márquez Barreto, completing their degree or not. The grants are one of several UIA initiatives created to reach a goal, set during former President Barack Obama's College Opportunity Summit, to graduate an additional 68,000 students over the course of 10 years.
Six years in, the UIA schools have exceeded that goal by graduating an additional 73,573 students, increasing the number of graduates from low-income backgrounds by 36% and graduates of color by 73%. The institutions are now projected to graduate a total of 136,000 by 2023 -- double the original goal launched at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action in 2014.
Since the launch, Iowa State graduated an additional 9,014 students -- a 37% increase overall and a 169% increase in underrepresented students. As part of the UIA's next phase of work, Iowa State will focus on eliminating disparities in educational outcomes based on race and ethnicity, income, generational status, gender and geography.
"Developing innovative solutions to help our students overcome academic and financial obstacles ensures they stay on a path toward graduation," said President Wendy Wintersteen. "Preparing students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to enter the workforce and be successful also improves our country's economic potential."
About the alliance
The University Innovation Alliance is a national consortium of public research universities working to regain America's economic competitive edge by helping more students graduate with a high-quality and affordable education. Member institutions accomplish this by broadening participation in higher education and implementing proven programs that significantly improve graduation rates for all students regardless of socioeconomic background.
In addition to Iowa State, the alliance's founding members are: Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, Ohio State University, University of California, Riverside, University of Central Florida, University of Kansas and University of Texas, Austin.