Upstairs at the MU

construction manager explains progress on renovation

Construction manager Mark Graeve, facilities planning and management, explains progress on the MU's fourth floor, where drywall work is nearing completion. The two extra-wide doors cover access to the building's elevators. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

The renovation of the top three floors of the Memorial Union is about 70% complete, narrow hallways replaced with open reception areas adjacent to the two elevators and staff offices along the north and south walls. Pandemic-related waits for materials and work crews and the need to add insulation to the exposed peak roof on the sixth floor added about eight weeks to the 15-month timeline, but facilities planning and management, which is coordinating the project, will start releasing floors for information technology and furniture installation at the end of January. FPM construction manager Mark Graeve expects the final floor (6) to be ready for furnishings by late February.

MU associate director Brad Hill said he's hopeful that by late April office teams that are ready can move in to their new offices.

Since the demolition phase ended, the project hasn't presented any significant hurdles, Graeve said. Craftsmen find solutions to all the usual challenges of modernizing a century-old structure -- for example, fitting heating/cooling piping into ceiling structures designed for floor radiators.

In addition to providing modern, comfortable spaces for staff and the students they serve in a convenient location, the renovation will eliminate several million dollars of deferred maintenance and replace the heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, communications and security systems for floors four, five and six -- approximately 23,000 gross square feet.

These seven student services teams will set up shop in suites on the renovated floors:

  • 4: The Center (LGBTQIA+ Student Success), International Students and Scholars
  • 5: Study Abroad Center, Veterans Center
  • 6: Student Legal Services, ISCORE/NCORE, Lectures Program


Drywaller on stilts works in the renovation site

A drywall specialist on stilts works in a fifth floor office of the Memorial Union.

construction manager explains progress on renovation

Construction manager Mark Graeve points out the insulated peaked roof on the sixth floor of the Memorial Union. Renovation work on the sixth floor will be completed last, likely in late February.

Related story

Senate reaches a decision on U.S. diversity outcomes requirement

Discussion on how many learning outcomes classes must fulfill to meet the U.S. diversity requirement -- which began in May -- came to a conclusion at the Nov. 10 Faculty Senate meeting.

Senators voted 33-20 to reject a motion to rescind the executive board's amendment that reduced the number of learning outcomes students must achieve from four to three. Senators on both sides of the issue spoke, with nearly all agreeing that the four learning outcomes the senate approved were an improvement over the original standard of two of five, established in the 1990s. If the motion had passed, the requirement would have reverted back to its original form.

Some senators objected to the process and noted the executive board disregarded senate bylaws in making the change over the summer. They felt the issue should have been debated in the full senate.

Last spring, the Faculty Senate twice voted down the three-of-four learning outcomes option.

Before the vote, Wickert outlined three reasons why he would not sign a proposal that required courses to meet all four learning outcomes. 

  • Choice when students select classes to fulfill the requirement 

  • Concern about having enough capacity in classes

  • Faculty choice to be able to teach courses that did not meet all four outcomes

"We are working through a complex issue, and the way to do that is through dialogue, through respect and through compromise," he said. "It may not be the most elegant path to where we are now, but I believe where we have landed is a win."

Meghan Gillette, chair of the ad hoc committee on the U.S. diversity classes, shared findings from a survey sent to 137 instructors who taught a diversity course during spring 2020 or fall 2021 semesters.

Pending a decision on how much of a course's content needs to meet three of the four outcomes, the number of qualifying courses varies, Gillette said. If 30% of course content is the standard, 85 courses (93% of existing U.S. diversity courses) would meet at least three of four outcomes. If 50% of the content is needed, 65 courses (74%) would qualify, and if 100% is needed, 28 courses (31%) would meet the three-of-four requirement.

"The number of classes available does not take into account any new courses that could be developed, any update of current courses or the potential expansion of enrollment caps," Gillette said.

VP for DEI

Interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion Charles Small spoke to the senate about his role and the search for a permanent vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Small said he focuses on stewardship, strategy and success.

Specifically, he said he'll focus on keeping the momentum of the office going and onboarding the next vice president for DEI when the time comes. He noted a Gallup survey found employees with an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace.

Small said the search committee is working with the Spelman Johnson Executive Search Firm, based in Massachusetts, which has approximately 3,350 individuals in its network of DEI professionals.

Other business

Senators will vote at the December meeting on:

  • A change to the undergraduate certificate policy that allows students with an associate's degree to earn a certificate without completing a bachelor's degree. Students with an associate's degree apply as a non-degree seeking student. It remains the program's or department's decision whether an associate or bachelor's degree is needed for the certificate. Certificates can be earned in 11 areas from computing applications to soil science.

  • Approving Faculty Senate's October meeting minutes. A quorum was lost after it was introduced as new business.

  • Amending Chapter 8 of the Faculty Handbook "University Community Policies" to note the policies are in the ISU policy library -- which governs all employees -- including faculty. Policies are often added or changed and may be outdated if faculty use the Faculty Handbook version. Changes would include:

    • Adding a description of what the policy library is

    • Explaining how the Faculty Handbook is different from the policy library

    • Stating when the Faculty Handbook disagrees with the policy library the latter takes precedence

    • Moving the section regarding policy and educational material and intellectual property from Chapter 8 to 10.

A proposed name change for the agriculture and society program to agriculture and rural policy studies was sent back to the academic affairs council for more discussion.

The senate approved:

  • A new undergraduate major in health care management in the Ivy College of Business. Administered by the management and entrepreneurship department, it focuses on economics, financial and quality management, and law related to health care services. 

  • A master's degree in community development that converts an online interdisciplinary program with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA) to a College of Design program. It is administered by the department of community and regional planning. Eight ISU students currently enrolled can remain in the program, transfer to another GPIDEA institution or enroll in the new program. 

  • The management and entrepreneurship department's master of entrepreneurship. The program focuses on understanding the entrepreneurship process and practices.

  • The minutes from the September Faculty Senate meeting, after they were amended to note when a quorum was lost.

How to prepare your WorkFlex request

Through Nov. 26, the Friday after Thanksgiving, staff can submit a request for a flexible work arrangement through WorkFlex, the university's new program that provides options for where, when and how staff work.  

WorkFlex will allow employees to request to work remotely up to three days a week, at their preferred time of day, in a compressed work week of fewer but longer days, or part time. The options are only available if they make sense for an employee's job duties, and flexible work proposals must support the goals of the employee's unit and mission of Iowa State.

The request form, submitted via Workday, asks staff to describe how their flexible work proposal will impact their work, colleagues, clientele and the university. Here's a step-by-step look at what staff should consider as they make the case for their WorkFlex request.

First, a conversation

Don't jump right into submitting a request without preparing. Check out the employee guidance on the WorkFlex website, one of the many resources university human resources (UHR) has provided for staff and supervisors. Discuss the alternative work plans you'd like to request with your supervisor. Managers may have work teams talk about flexible work options as a group to collaboratively review what's possible and how the team could adapt.  

Getting started

To find the request form in Workday, enter "create request" in the Workday search bar and select "WorkFlex Request Type." Detailed instructions are posted in the ISU Service Portal.

Supplying the basics

Every field in the form is required. The start date listed must be on or after Jan. 18, 2022, the first day of the spring semester and the earliest that the first round of WorkFlex arrangements will be effective. The end date can be any time between three and 12 months later, as arrangements will need to be renewed at least once a year. Choose the WorkFlex option you're seeking and your current and proposed work schedules.

What's the plan?

The section about job duties is where staff should describe how they will continue to meet their work responsibilities under the proposed flexible work arrangement. In situations that are a good fit for WorkFlex, it often will be straightforward to explain, said Ed Holland, UHR benefits director. "In most cases, it probably won't be much of a difference in job duties," he said. 

How does it help?

In describing how a WorkFlex plan will help Iowa State fulfill its mission and their unit to meet customer commitments and goals, staff are making the "business case" for their proposal. An outline of flexible work benefits on the WorkFlex website provides some possible suggestions. Benefits to the institution could include increased engagement and retention, extended service hours, office space savings and productivity gains. Personal benefits that align with university goals also are worth noting, such as reduced stress and improvements to health, well-being and work-life balance. Colleges and units may have their own guidance on making a business case, as well.

What's the impact?

Two sections ask staff to identify the impact of their proposal, for co-workers and the customers they serve on and off campus. That will differ depending on the job and the department but may include how to meet customer service expectations, strategies for handling busier times and back-up plans for reduced staffing. Ideally, figuring out the effects of flexible work options is a collaborative effort. "I would think these things would come up in the conversations you have before filling out a request," Holland said.

Some impacts may be positive. Don't forget to point out how co-workers and clients may benefit from a proposed flexible work arrangement. 

How you'll communicate

The ease of remote collaboration and communication is a big reason why options such as hybrid work are feasible now. But it's important to set a plan for how teams will work together and how employees and supervisors will connect. That may include determining the digital tools that teams will use, plans for core in-person hours when all employees are in the office, and schedules for team meetings and individual check-ins.

Need help?

If you're looking for some help in developing or communicating out your plan, contact your human resources service delivery team for a discussion. 


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Campus vaccine clinic scheduled for Nov. 17-18

Iowa State is partnering with Hy-Vee to offer a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for employees and students who want to get a booster shot or their first dose. The clinic will be held Wednesday-Thursday, Nov. 17-18, in the south court of State Gymnasium. Clinic hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 17 and 1-5 p.m. Nov. 18.

Hy-Vee will have all three vaccine brands available, as well as flu shots. Participants will select a preference when they make an appointment online. The online form also asks which dose they are scheduling. The options include a third dose, different than a booster dose, recommended for those who are immunocompromised. The deadline to schedule an appointment is 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15.

While there is no cost for the vaccine, participants will need to upload their insurance information when they schedule an appointment to cover administrative fees. A copay may be required for the flu shot.

The following links are for vaccine-specific appointments:

The clinic is open to employees and students. Thielen Student Health Center will continue to offer vaccines for undergraduate and graduate students through the end of November. For more information, visit the university's COVID-19 vaccinations website and the related vaccination FAQ.

Regents approve launch of free speech survey

Nine months after it was established, the state Board of Regents' free speech committee has approved a survey to be administered to all employees and students at Iowa's three public universities (Iowa State and the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa) every other year. A link to the survey -- slightly different versions for students and employees -- was distributed across campus Tuesday. The deadline to submit it is Dec. 1. It takes about five minutes to complete, and asks questions about the individual's experiences with and perceptions about their university's environment for free speech.

A team, led by board office staff with representatives from the three universities, developed the survey this fall. The biennial survey was one of 10 recommendations an ad hoc regents team proposed last February. A standing free speech committee on the board and annual free speech training on the regent campuses were two others. A training module, being developed by Boston-based Six Red Marbles for the regent universities and Iowa's 15 community colleges, will be rolled out in the spring semester.

Responding to federal COVID-19 requirements

Also at its Nov. 4 meeting, the board granted authority to president Mike Richards to provide direction to the regent schools for complying with the requirements of President Joe Biden's executive order 14042 -- or other state or federal requirements -- related to COVID-19-mitigating face masks, vaccination and physical distancing in the workplace. With several legal challenges to federal order 14042 in play, it's not clear yet what that direction will be. Any guidance Richards provides would be subject to full board ratification at the next scheduled meeting.

On the same topic, the board approved a provision for its policy manual that provides employees several possibilities for exemption from the executive order, including religious, moral or ethical beliefs that "are sincerely held." Included in a new Oct. 29 state law and referenced in the policy manual provision, an employee's belief that receiving the vaccine would harm their health and well-being, or that of a person living with them, also is grounds for exemption.

Annual enrollment report: Fifth year of a decline

In his annual enrollment highlights report, the board's associate chief academic officer Jason Pontius said the 2021-22 academic year marks the fifth straight year of declining enrollment across all three regent universities, a combined drop of 2.5% from last fall to this fall. Nationally, the average decline for four-year public universities this fall is 2.3%, he said. Iowa State's decline from fall 2020 is 3.5%. However, he noted the freshman classes grew at all three universities this fall over fall 2020, including an Iowa State uptick of 316 freshmen (6.2%) over last fall.

The reason for the smaller enrollments, he said, is that regent universities have been graduating the large classes that entered 2013-16 and replacing them with smaller classes. Sophomore and junior classes are smaller right now, Pontius said.

"If we can keep that [first year] growth up, enrollment numbers will start rising again," he said.

International student numbers also are a factor, he added, seen most keenly in falling enrollment from China (1,796 at Iowa State in fall 2015 to 638 this fall). Iowa State's total international enrollment peaked at 4,199 students in fall 2017, and was 2,533 this fall, a 40% decline.

He addressed several theories for the enrollment decline, but indicated why most aren't contributing factors. They include:

  • Iowa high school graduates aren't leaving the state more frequently. Iowa consistently keeps about 87% of its high school graduates in state, he said. An increase since 2016 in Iowa students going to college in South Dakota actually started reversing itself in fall 2019.
  • Carleton College economics professor Nathan Grawe in 2018 predicted an "enrollment cliff" by 2026. Grawe's Higher Education Demand Index uses demographic factors to project demand for higher education and attendance probability. Applying Grawe's methodology to Iowa's K-12 data, Pontius thinks the impact in Iowa -- roughly 6% losses in high school graduates from 2025 to 2030 -- won't be as game-changing as in other parts of the country.
  • Male students are forgoing hiring education, but it's not a new trend. Women passed men in 1979 as the student majority in higher education and have outpaced men every year since then, Pontius said.
  • Community college (CC) transfer numbers are declining. Iowa's community colleges experienced a 12.6% drop in enrollment from 2013 to 2020, and community college transfers to Iowa's public universities declined 28% during that window. Pontius said somewhere between 30% and 50% of CC students each year are high school students taking college courses -- and not transfer candidates for a few years.
  • The regent universities aren't losing market share to other options in higher ed. Iowa high school graduates increasingly are choosing to not go to college after graduation (see table below). Pontius said submitting a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application is one of the strongest indicators of intent to go to college, and the filing rate has been 4-5% lower among Iowa public high school seniors since 2018.


Market shares: What Iowa high school graduates chose, 2013-19


Regent U

In-state private college

Iowa CC

Out of state options

No college











































Source: National Student Clearinghouse


Faculty senator comments

For the second consecutive board meeting, Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler, architecture, and president-elect Jon Perkins, accounting, spoke during the public comment period, asking for a collaborative role for faculty in the board's decision-making process.

"I ask the board for more regular opportunities to collaborate, to speak, to present to you and to sustain our communication, working together in atmospheres of mutual trust and respect," Wheeler said.

Acknowledging faculty representation on some regent task forces, Perkins noted the public comment period at board meetings wasn't "a particularly effective venue for the type of communication we seek. We're speaking to you, not with you."

He said faculty would welcome time to "regularly discuss faculty challenges and successes with the board in a more formal setting, such as the academic affairs committee, and a more informal setting, such as lunch."

The guidelines for the public comment period is that board members listen but don't respond to comments.

Other ISU items

In other business, the board approved:

  • Professional development requests for the 2022-23 academic year for 38 faculty. It includes 12 full 2022-23 academic year plans and 26 for either fall or spring semester.
  • A 20-year partnership between Iowa State and Alliant Energy for a 900-kilowatt solar farm on university land near teaching and research farms south of Ames. At full capacity, 900 kilowatts could power 230 homes for a year. Alliant Energy will construct, operate, maintain and own all equipment. Construction could begin in late 2022. Instead of rent from Alliant, the university will earn federal Clean Air Act renewable energy credits, which it will use for electricity at nearby farms. The university's five-year plan for sustainability in operations calls for tripling the use of renewable energy.
  • An athletics department plan to connect and enlarge the parking lots north of Scheman and west of Fisher Theatre into an L-shaped lot that adds 380 stalls to this corner and includes a designated drop-off area between Fisher and Stephens Auditorium. The estimated cost, $5.5 million, will be covered by athletics department funds. The timeline to complete the new lot is next summer.
  • A second athletics department plan to convert the grass field between the southeast recreation fields and Coldwater Golf Links to a lighted, gravel lot with a capacity for 330 RVs on football game days. Each stall will have a concrete pad and electrical hookup. The estimated $8.1 million cost includes a pedestrian bridge over Worle Creek and pathway for football fans parking off S. 16th Street. This project and the under-construction gateway pedestrian bridge over University Boulevard should be ready for the 2022 football season.

In and out testing site

Masked staff administer tests to clients in vehicles

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Hy-Vee pharmacy employees Robin Deaton (left) and Kory Wilkinson (partially visible, right), administered COVID-19 tests at the drive-through clinic west of Stephens Auditorium Monday morning. Iowa State is partnering with Hy-Vee to offer the clinic, which offers both lab and rapid PCR testing for anyone experiencing symptoms, exposed to someone with COVID-19 or needing a test for upcoming holiday travel. It's staffed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays except Wednesday, and appointments are required; register at

Faculty workweek report reflects pandemic shifts

The pandemic didn't change how many hours Iowa State faculty work in a week, but it did tweak how they spent that time. In the biennial faculty activities survey conducted last spring for the state Board of Regents, tenured and tenure-track faculty members reported working 54.1 hours per week, term faculty 50.1 hours, clinical faculty 50.5 hours and department chairs or executive officers 55.8 hours. All are similar to 2019 survey numbers. Associate provosts from Iowa's three regent universities presented the results to the board's academic affairs committee at its Nov. 3 meeting.

The survey asked participants to assign their time worked during one week among six categories: instruction, scholarship/research, clinical work, community outreach/engagement, administration/service and professional development.

The most notable changes were in instruction. Faculty time spent on classroom teaching and preparation dropped by half to two-thirds, to be replaced by time spent in online teaching and preparation -- a subcategory that existed previously -- and hybrid teaching and preparation, a subcategory that did not.

The board's chief academic officer, Rachel Boon, said that changes made to the survey that acknowledge the pandemic will remain in place. In some cases, that was a detail as small as changing a verb: "Participating" at a conference or workshop rather than "attending."

On average, Iowa State's tenured and tenure-track faculty reported spending about an hour more in the week on instruction-related activities than two years ago, and a little less time in professional development and administrative or service activities. ISU term faculty reported, on average, nearly an hour more per week in research or creative work last spring than spring 2019 and nearly the same amount of time on all other areas, including nearly 37 hours on instruction-related activities.

What the faculty activities report makes clear, said associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince, is the breadth of the work faculty do, but also how that work varies widely, depending on university mission, appointment and academic field, among other factors.

"The diversity of our faculty -- their disciplines, appointment types, work responsibilities and the expectations we have for them -- really enriches the campus learning environment for students and, we believe, benefits the communities across our state," she said.


Iowa State faculty: Average weekly hours worked, Spring 2021


Tenured and tenure-track (884)

Term (230)

Clinical (20)

Chair/DEO (44)

Student instruction





Scholarship, research, creative work





Clinical work





Community outreach, extension





Administration, service





Professional development





Total average hours/week





Numeral in parentheses=Number of respondents


The faculty activity survey is administered in odd-numbered years to all fulltime faculty. Iowa State's data is based on responses from 1,178 faculty members. Of the 1,452 full-time faculty who received a survey, 87% returned it, but 86 responses had to be pulled because they were incomplete in some way.

Opera production is a collaborative effort

Street Scene

The American opera "Street Scene" is an intimate depiction of a 1940s New York City tenement community during two days of an unbearable heat wave. To bring it to life for audiences, ISU Theatre, in collaboration with Opera Studio and ISU Symphony Orchestra, is mounting one of its biggest operas in years. It includes a cast of 40 students and a three-story apartment set that will rise above the Fisher Theater stage.

"Street Scene" tells a story of youthful desire, forbidden love and brutal vengeance simmering in a largely immigrant community. As the heat of the day builds, a family eruption changes the community forever.

Performances are Nov. 12-13 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. All seating is general admission, and tickets are $25 for adults and free for Iowa State students and youth. They can be purchased at the door, the Iowa State Center ticket office or any Ticketmaster. The show contains adult content and language.

"We always choose our operas based on the educational value for the students," said Chad Sonka, music and theatre assistant teaching professor and co-director of the production. "When we looked at our current students, we said this is the time to do 'Street Scene.' It's pandemic-friendly because it has small ensembles on stage, and many of the topics are current as it relates to social issues. 

"Not only will it be engaging intellectually and emotionally for the audience, it's a fine educational tool for our students. Watching them navigate such interesting, real characters has just been a joy."

Blending jazz, blues, Broadway and opera

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Elmer Rice, the "Street Scene" score is written by famed composer Kurt Weill, who fled Nazi Germany for the United States in the 1930s. For Weill, this was the first American show in which he was able to speak to the social and political values that were important to him, said Jodi Goble, music and theatre associate teaching professor and the show’s musical director.

"Weill immediately brought on board the poet Langston Hughes as his librettist, and Hughes took him into every corner of New York City for research at the height of the Harlem Renaissance," Goble said. "This show could have only been written when it was written and by the people who wrote it. It's an important part of American history."

The music, an ambitious amalgamation of jazz, blues, Broadway and traditional opera, helps narrate the story, with each character having their own musical motif on stage. ISU Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Jonathan Govias, will play the music, which won Best Original Score in the inaugural year of the Tony Awards in 1947.

Ordinary lives touched by tragedy and joy

Inspired by a true New York City heat wave, the stifling heat is a catalyst in the show, heightening tensions until they explode into tragedy. But as the human drama escalates, there also is room for everyday joy in the neighborhood.

"There is a celebrated scene where in the middle of this heat wave the neighbors enjoy an ice cream cone together," Goble said. "It's the most incredible, complicated operatic singing, but it's also so accessible. This piece is so recognizably human."

David Bone, senior in software engineering and music, plays the role of charming and cerebral teenage student Sam Kaplan, in love with Rose Maurrant. Bone said he has been inspired by how approachable the story is.

"It is a very realist opera, centering around normal people living normal lives," Bone said. "Nearly every character is flawed in some way, which leads to a much more compelling story. This helps the audience grow more attached to the story and its characters. I think the themes of community are especially important today, when support from those around you has never been more important."

An all-hands undertaking 

Opera Studio and ISU Theatre collaborate on a full-scale opera once every three years, and it takes many hands to create a New York City block onstage. The cast and creative team began preparing in August and have collectively put thousands of hours into the production.

Most of the action is set in the windows and on the front stoop of the brownstone building, designed by scenic designer Jay Jagim and technical director Natalie Hining. Kelly Schaefer, music and theatre associate teaching professor, is designing period costumes for 40 people, which will be created by the ISU costume shop, led by supervisor Doris Nash. The team, which chose to set the show in the 1930s, has done extensive research into historical details, right down to the style of trash can used on the city sidewalk. ­­

Understanding community, then and now

As the cast prepares, it has been discussing how the show’s themes relate to current social issues and recent movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.

Robert Wise, senior in software engineering and music, plays antagonist Frank Maurrant and said the show has made him consider how communities communicate, whether on a neighborhood street or online.

"While some of the more obvious societal issues depicted in the play seem resolved in the modern day, I'd encourage audiences to think about how they persist," Wise said. "I've personally been thinking about how our new digital communities have arguably created a large-scale version of the 'Street Scene' community, with some of the problems being exacerbated by our new ways of communicating."

Ranch rodeo designed to introduce sport to broader audience

Members of the ISU Rodeo Club have traveled across the Midwest to compete against other college cowboys and cowgirls in traditional rodeo competitions. A different kind of rodeo comes to Ames on Saturday to introduce the sport to a wider audience.

The club is hosting the first Ranch Rodeo Championship at the Hansen Agriculture Learning Center with competitors as young as 14 welcome to participate.

Ranch Rodeo

The Iowa Ranch Rodeo Championship starts at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Hansen Agriculture Learning Center. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $15 ($5 for those 12 and younger and $10 for ISU students).

"Ranch rodeo connects the audience to western culture," said Leah Mosher, a junior majoring in agriculture and society. "The events are tailored around things that cowboys do every day. It is very different from what people traditionally think of when they hear 'rodeo.'"

It is an event for the Ames community whether this is a first rodeo experience or someone is steeped in western culture, Mosher said.

The ranch rodeo will consist of four events:

  • Sorting: Teams of four will sort out steers from a pen set up in the arena
  • Mugging: Team members rope a steer tying three legs together for six seconds before undoing the head and heeling rope
  • Mock branding: A calf is tied down and mock branded in a specific location
  • Trailering: Steers are sorted out of a pen and put in a trailer in the arena

Winners are determined by time. There is a tiebreaker rescue race where one team member rides a horse from one end of the arena to the other picking up a teammate before racing back. The fastest time wins.

"Ranch rodeo is the showcase of a practical skill," said Connor Pickhine, a sophomore majoring in animal science. "It is centered around teamwork and shows off what real ranch work is like."

The club promoted the event on its Facebook page and received responses from across the state. Competitors can be any age and teams of four can sign up to compete until the rodeo begins.

Why a ranch rodeo?

The ISU Rodeo Club has hosted the Cyclone Stampede for more than 50 years, bringing in college competitors from around the region. The stampede continues but has moved to the spring, so the club hopes to start another tradition with the Ranch Rodeo Championship.

"The stampede is all collegiate athletes, so the club wanted a way to connect wider audiences to western culture," Mosher said. "It gives us a way to reach beyond a collegiate audience and connect with people across the state."

Pickhinke said many alumni of the ISU Rodeo Club continue to help the club in a variety of ways.

"Our alumni are very supportive of this event, and one of them is actually our stock contractor," said Skie Campbell, a fifth-year senior double major in animal science and agriculture education. "We make a lot of connections with our alumni, and that allows us to continue as a club with their support."

Kids events

The club is making the event family friendly with a free Buck-a-Roo Roundup from 9 a.m. to noon and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cultivating Hope Farms, an Ames program that focuses on inclusion and acceptance for those with autism and other disabilities , is partnering with the club to host the roundup and has a team that will compete in the ranch rodeo. It also is bringing baby goats and mini donkeys for children to see.

Children can take part in stick-horse races, roping dummies and tie the tail on the goat. Ranch coloring sheets will be available for younger children.

Lunch is a hamburger, served by ISU's Collegiate Cattlemen, chips, candy bar and a drink for $6. The Dairy Science Club also will sell ice cream.