Making progress on a summer project

Worker adds insulation tape to glass window grid

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Workers installed insulating foam between the panels of new glass on the southeast exterior of Parks Library Tuesday. More than 300 of the 350-plus panels of glass in the window replacement project have been put into place. The university is able to keep the grid for the four-level, 40-year-old glass curtain system, replacing just the glass, spacers and gaskets. Parks Library's south entrance remains accessible.


Foreman will serve as interim VP for diversity, equity and inclusion

Margo Foreman head shot

Margo Foreman

Assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity Margo Foreman will serve as interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, beginning July 17 and pending approval by the state Board of Regents.

Vice president Reginald Stewart, who has accepted a similar position at Chapman University in Orange, California, completes five-plus years of service at Iowa State July 16.

Sharing the appointment in a July 8 memo to her cabinet members, President Wendy Wintersteen also announced a national search for Stewart's permanent successor. Senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger will lead a 10-member search committee, and the university will contract with a national search firm to help develop the candidate pool.

"I am pleased that Margo has agreed to serve as interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion," Wintersteen wrote. "I am confident Margo will excel in this critically important role as we continue to advance our university priority of having an inclusive campus environment where everyone feels welcome, supported, and valued."

Foreman arrived at Iowa State in April 2016 to serve as director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator and oversee the office of equal opportunity. She has held her current title since November 2017.

For five years, Wintersteen noted, Foreman has worked with students, faculty and staff across campus to enhance Iowa State's campus culture. She leads the team that ensures the university's compliance with federal, state and local laws on antidiscrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title IX, and investigates complaints of discrimination and sexual misconduct.

Before coming to Iowa State, Foreman served for 17 years in the equal opportunity office at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, including as associate director.

National search

Joining Younger on the search committee are:

  • Pete Englin, associate vice president for campus life and director of residence
  • Carmen Flagge, director of multicultural student success, College of Human Sciences student services 
  • Alejandra Flores Renteria, director of diversity and inclusion, Student Government
  • Carmen Gomes, associate professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the Faculty Senate equity, diversity and inclusion committee
  • Michael Newton, associate vice president for public safety and chief of police
  • Mike Norton, university counsel
  • Charles Small, senior associate athletics director
  • David Spalding, dean of the Ivy College of Business and interim vice president for economic development and industry relations
  • Zhengyuan Zhu, professor of statistics and director of the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology

Rose Wilbanks, executive assistant to Younger, will provide administrative support to the committee.


WorkCyte phase II will benefit from lessons learned

While the four-year process of implementing Workday Student and Receivables will be complex, the second phase of the WorkCyte initiative has many advantages over the first phase, vice president and chief information officer Kristen Constant told the Professional and Scientific Council at its July 1 meeting.

Constant outlined some of those advantages:

  • Additional staff will be hired to backfill some of the usual duties of ISU employees working on phase II.
  • University staff -- instead of consultants -- will oversee the project's communications and change management.
  • Project leaders are seeking employee input and establishing reporting needs earlier in the implementation process. Co-lead Steve Mickelson said 180 people have participated in faculty and staff focus groups, which will continue this fall.
  • Phase II benefits from ground covered during ISU's first adoption of an enterprise software product, when Workday for human resources, payroll and finance launched in 2019. That project gave information technology services (ITS) staff experience working with an enterprise program and informed the decision to use Workday's recommended timeline -- including staggered go-live dates for five different stages.
  • Unlike the first Workday project, implementing Workday Student and Receivables won't require a concurrent transition to a new accounting system and service delivery model.
  • Because of the pandemic, faculty and staff now have much more experience working in a "distributed workforce" environment than they did in 2019.

"The big difference between the two is this is our second rodeo. We know a lot more than we did the first time around. We're putting those lessons learned into practice," Constant said.

As the implementation of Workday Student and Receivables begins, improvements continue on the Workday software already in use on campus. Constant said based on service evaluations and focus group feedback, ITS plans to hire two additional staff for training and communications.

"What we found is that in many cases the challenges of using Workday and service delivery teams to the best effect were related to knowing what to do and how to accomplish certain tasks," she said.

Flex work plan on track

The council's meeting was held on the first day that ISU employees who had been working remotely during the pandemic were required to be back in their on-site workspaces. About one-third of faculty and staff worked remotely throughout the pandemic, one-third worked on campus and one-third worked on campus intermittently, said Andrea Little, university human resources (UHR) associate director for employee and labor relations.

A new program that would allow ongoing flexible work arrangements for staff in some cases is still on track to be finalized in October, Little said. Until then, supervisors should not create new ongoing flexible work arrangements. However, supervisors still can provide staff the same short-term flexibility they would have before the pandemic, including incidental work from home, as long as employees still fulfill their job responsibilities.

Constant said ITS is currently running a pilot project that allows staff to continue to work from the office or remotely. Evaluating the ITS pilot will help guide campuswide consideration of flexible work guidelines.

Impact of new law

An FAQ on Iowa's new law relating to racism and sexism training provides guidance from university counsel and the provost's office on how ISU training and teaching may be affected, provost and senior vice president Jonathan Wickert told the council. Workshops on the topic will be held with deans, department chairs, faculty and staff in the coming weeks, he said. 

Passed by the state Legislature in March, House File 802 prohibits public universities such as Iowa State from conducting mandatory employee or student trainings that teach, advocate, act upon, or promote 10 specific concepts defined in the law. The FAQ includes guidance on how to evaluate trainings, programs, events and course material to ensure compliance. Iowa State remains committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, Wickert said.  

"We believe the law will affect only a small number of programs, but it's very important for decision-makers to be aware of the law so we can make good choices and reduce our risk of violating the letter or intent of the law," he said. 

Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler told the council a senate committee will begin work this fall on revising the new learning outcomes for U.S. diversity courses approved by the senate in May to ensure they follow state law and have a clear plan for implementation. 

Ransomware protection growing

As ransomware attacks grow more common, ITS is bolstering its defenses against the threat, in consultation with vendor partners and relevant agencies, Constant said.

"We have had to ratchet up our response, both in preventative measures and in how rapidly we respond to things," she said.


Welcome

Joseph Ballard II

Joseph Ballard II, on the job since November, is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for a campus life unit that includes residence, dining and the Memorial Union. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Joseph Ballard II is the inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the campus life unit in the student affairs division. Ballard began in the position last November, working from his Twin Cities home during the pandemic, and arrived on campus July 1.

Campus life integrates the work of approximately 450 full-time staff and several thousand student employees in the residence department, ISU Dining and the Memorial Union. Former senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon established the unit before he left the university last summer.

Associate vice president for campus life and director of residence Pete Englin, who created the position, said Ballard is a uniter and a connector.

"Providing a welcoming, caring and supportive experience for every student is critical to building a great Cyclone community," Englin, said. But students' personal stories, combined with analysis of student surveys, have made it plain there's work to do, he added.

"Joseph needs to prepare 450 staff members to deliver a better experience to students. His job is to help all of us be better equipped and more aware to better serve our students who arrive at Iowa State with so many different life experiences," Englin said.

Ballard said the big-picture goal is create an environment "where all staff and students, regardless of their identities, feel safe, valued, appreciated, heard and respected and that they have a voice within campus life.

"It's going to take time. In order to make the difference and impact that's desired, we have to be fully committed, invested, intentional, thoughtful, persistent, resilient and also patient. I'm committed to it, and I know I have the support I need here to do it. One of the exciting parts for me is to know the support and commitment is there," Ballard said.

Relying on conversations with more than 200 faculty and staff since last fall and a short spring survey of about 200 campus life staff, students and student employees "to learn where we're at," Ballard identified five areas he'll focus on:

  • Access, holistic success, retention and graduation for students, no matter their life journey to Iowa State or their identities.
  • A staff experience that fosters community and minimizes barriers to satisfaction and advancement.
  • A comprehensive training and education program that propels campus life as an innovator in DEI and helps achieve the campus culture we aspire to have.
  • Deep evaluation of campus life's procedures, policies and practices for better inclusivity
  • A campus climate that advances recruitment and retention of both students and employees.

When the academic year begins, Ballard said he'll collect more data through more conversations with constituents in campus life, and partners and collaborators throughout the university and Ames communities. The intent, he said, is to create sustainable partnerships and collaborations with others in student affairs, academic affairs, the office of the vice president for DEI and the greater Ames community. When it's named, a campus life DEI advisory council will help guide the vision and direction of the work.

Ballard comes to Iowa State from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he served for three years as program director for student diversity in one of its eight undergraduate colleges. Previously, he led DEI initiatives in multiple roles at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He had an inaugural role in many of them, so the challenge of building direction for a role is familiar but exciting, he said.

Ballard earned a bachelor’s degree (2010) in marketing and management from Oklahoma State and a master's degree (2012) in adult and higher education administration, with a dual emphasis in student affairs and social justice, from the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Ballard's primary office is in 3522 Friley, and he also will have an office in the Memorial Union. He can be reached at 294-1627; email: jfball2@iastate.edu.


What we gained from 15 years of ADVANCE

Notions about faculty work-life integration or a tenure clock extension after a child's birth rarely made it into conversations 15 years ago, much less policy guidelines. But following an initial five-year National Science Foundation grant (2006-11) for a transformational program called ADVANCE, Iowa State -- like other universities -- found university funds to keep the program in house. In effect, it was a long-term commitment to changing the faculty culture, developing programs that establish flexibility -- instead of making it an exception -- and promoting transparency and clear expectations helpful to faculty as they progress through their careers. Ultimately, it's about retaining excellent faculty.

Dawn Bratsch-Prince head shot

Dawn Bratsch-Prince

The original ADVANCE period targeted female faculty in the STEM fields. Initially, the rebranded ISU ADVANCE focused on women and underrepresented faculty in STEM. Today, there really aren't any boundaries, said associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince who, shortly after joining the provost's staff, was part of the team in 2011 that developed the plan for institutionalizing ADVANCE.

"What we've learned in those 15 years is that what's good for women in STEM is good for everyone," she said. "It's really about bringing your best self to the workplace and the impact that has on our primary mission of giving students an outstanding education."

The longevity of ISU ADVANCE has relied primarily on two things:

  • Affirmation from successive provosts that supporting all faculty -- in aspects aside from their scholarship -- is a priority.
  • Funding for a leadership team that drives the work: Equity advisors, tenured faculty appointed by each academic college, and until recently a dedicated part-time faculty fellow in the provost's office (Elisabeth Lonergan and Lisa Larson). With Tera Jordan's appointment in January 2020 as assistant provost for faculty development, that post was elevated -- and expanded to responsibilities beyond ISU ADVANCE.
Tera Jordan head shot

Tera Jordan

The team also includes three faculty facilitators for the department enhancement program (DEP), a hallmark of ISU ADVANCE that launched in 2006 designed to cultivate collegiality. Jordan calls DEP "a process for the faculty, by the faculty, to discern how to ensure a healthier environment and a more satisfying experience for everyone in their department." It's a voluntary, semester-long process initiated by a department's leader but guided by a faculty facilitator. About 30 ISU departments have completed DEP, some more than once, she said. The process produces a set of action items, for example transparent guidelines about departmental promotion and tenure expectations, better balance of service assignments or documented criteria for allocating lab spaces. And because they're homegrown, the action items have a solid implementation rate -- on average, nearly 77% over the 15-year history of DEP.

Jordan said DEP will pause for a year. Two facilitators are returning full-time to their faculty positions, and Jordan will collaborate with the third, professor of psychology Meifen Wei, to reflect on recent lessons learned in the program and build resources for faculty and university leaders.

Making strides through programs and training

Most of Iowa State's flexible faculty policies and programs owe their existence to the work of the initial ADVANCE team, said Bratsch Prince. That includes concepts as important as tenure clock extension, modified duties for the arrival of children and partner opportunity hires, but also understandings as basic as not starting department meetings at 5 p.m.

"The academy is made up of many kinds of people, not just one demographic," Bratsch-Prince said. "If we're going to have an environment that's supportive of everyone, we need to consider the bigger picture: different life paths, different lived experiences. That wasn't the model prior to ADVANCE."

In recent years, ISU ADVANCE has become a mechanism for providing faculty training when a need emerges. A year ago, when senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert required implicit bias training for all faculty search committee members and for college-level promotion and tenure committee members, the ISU ADVANCE team developed the two trainings, and college equity advisors delivered it.

"Hiring and promotion and tenure are where it's at for faculty," Jordan said. "Those processes are really central to faculty satisfaction and the university’s ability to attract and retain faculty."

The training gets committee members "to the same starting point" before they review any materials from a search or tenure application, she said.

Health and safety concerns surrounding new faculty orientation last summer compelled Jordan, in collaboration with faculty success coordinator Katharine Hensley, to develop a virtual onboarding package for all faculty that features a repository of materials in the Canvas learning management system, available to faculty all year. While COVID-19 inspired the change, Jordan said they're keeping much of the virtual content and its July 1 availability.

"It's a great way to build community long before their official August start dates. We learned people really want information about their new university and new faculty appointments," Jordan said.

This spring, ISU ADVANCE organized a five-workshop series for term faculty, building on a single session Bratsch-Prince has led the last few years. Jordan said she selected topics around term faculty needs, including a desire for more mentoring and better clarity on leadership opportunities at Iowa State.

Because one of the workshops was college-hosted, the planning process "inspired conversations in college and department administrations about how to build community among term faculty and how to illuminate the pathways for their advancement -- just like we do for their tenure-eligible colleagues," Jordan said.

Easing out of the pandemic year, Jordan noted the ISU ADVANCE team remains mindful of COVID-19's ripple effects, particularly on women, parents of young children, faculty with health conditions or those caring for parents with health restrictions.

"The last year has reminded us of our responsibility as Cyclones to care, to lead with empathy and not judge everyone by one metric. We all have different constraints," she said. "That's certainly in the spirit of ISU ADVANCE: Serving where there are gaps and addressing issues of inequity."


Proposed policy on digital accessibility is open for comments

Comments are being accepted through Aug. 31 on a draft policy on digital accessibility that calls for regular reviewing and repairing existing materials, widespread training and -- by 2026 -- a requirement that all new digital content meet digital accessibility standards.

The policy would be effective Oct. 1 and require all the university's digital resources to be accessible and inclusive, including websites, software, learning management systems, course content, training materials and communications.

The draft policy outlines a timeline for compliance:

  • By Oct. 1, units would be required to begin taking inventory of their digital resources.
  • Units would be required to create a plan by July 1, 2022, for using existing resources to provide faculty and staff digital accessibility education and professional development.
  • By July 1, 2023, units would need to be working to make all new digital content compliant.
  • All new digital content produced or purchased after July 1, 2026, would be required to meet the university's digital accessibility standards, which currently are the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (level AA) but are subject to revision by the university's digital accessibility task force.  

Under the policy, every unit that manages web resources would need to create a plan for fixing or replacing content that doesn't meet accessibility standards. The highest priority in those plans would be changes required by reasonable accommodation requests under disability laws. Beyond that, units should annually plan to remediate or replace the top 20% of their most-used noncompliant web resources. Pages needed for coursework or essential job functions also should receive special focus, even if they aren't in the top 20% of a unit's most-used resources.

The office of the chief information officer would be able to grant exceptions to the guidelines if they would cause undue hardship or fundamentally alter a program, in cases where accessible versions of material don't exist, and when alternative means of access are equally effective.

For more information about digital access, contact digital accessibility lead Cyndi Wiley at digitalaccess@iastate.edu or see the digital access website. Submit comments about the policy to policy@iastate.edu.

For some quick tips on the sorts of changes required by digital accessibility standards, see an overview from Wiley in the ISU Service Portal or review the portal's other digital accessibility content. At May's Professional and Scientific Council meeting, Wiley outlined some of the growing ISU resources for learning about digital accessibility and putting the standards into practice.