Not all February flowers are red

Students work on floral bouquets in lab

Horticulture assistant professor of practice Daniel Brabec's students worked on monochromatic bridal bouquets in this week's lab for Horticulture 132. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

Emily Saeugling works on flower bouquet

Animal science senior Emily Saeugling applies the finishing touches to her bridal bouquet Wednesday in Horticulture 132: Wedding and Event Floral Design.

Student hands touch up floral bouquet

Animal science senior Gracie Greiner inserts the final elements to her cascading bridal bouquet in this week's lab session in Horticulture Hall.


Study abroad makes a strong return

The pandemic continues, but Iowa State students are not allowing it to keep them from enriching their education through international travel.

There are 310 students taking part in a semester program abroad this spring, about 80% of the number from spring 2020. An additional 200 students will take part in faculty-led trips over spring break.

"I am happy with our numbers," said Study Abroad Center director Frank Peters. "Students are entering a global society, and I think the pandemic showed how interconnected our world is. Having students with a greater awareness is critically important to being a global citizen."

Peters said faculty-led summer trips are shaping up to be close to pre-pandemic numbers, as well.

In a typical year, the study abroad program serves about 1,800 students, 1,100 on faculty-led, short-term programs and 700 on semester programs. Semester and summer programs are typically offered to Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and Central and South America.

Asia (except for South Korea), Australia and New Zealand remain closed to international travelers. Peters said Australia currently is set to open by fall semester and hopefully New Zealand next spring.

About 70 students took part in semester abroad programs this fall to Central and South America, Europe and South Korea. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences had a pair of faculty-led trips over Thanksgiving, and the College of Design had a short-term, faculty-led program. Several students also studied abroad over the winter session.

The trips were the first study abroad programs students took part in since the pandemic forced an abrupt conclusion or cancellation in 2020, Peters said.

"Students said it was a little bit different because they didn't travel as much, on advice not to leave the country they were in because of potential travel restrictions," he said. "One student said it was a great experience because she was in Ireland and got to know the culture much better."

The decision to resume

Study abroad programs were allowed to resume last March with the state Board of Regents giving each university the authority to determine how that return would look. ISU operated under the stance that study abroad was suspended this fall, but individual programs could petition to run.

The study abroad risk management committee made the decision to begin international travel. The committee comprises Peters, associate provost for academic programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden (committee chair), vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger, office of risk management international risk manager Shaun Jamieson, Thielen Student Health Center director Erin Baldwin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences associate dean Arne Hallam and an attorney from the university counsel office.

"It came down to a program being able to demonstrate resilience from a planning, logistical and operational standpoint," Jamieson said. "It relied on what kind of in-country logistical support was available and the medical infrastructure that exists."

All programs go through added steps in the approval process to show they can deal with complications and issues presented by the pandemic.

"Travel is more complicated, and you have to be flexible and resilient to handle the complications," Jamieson said.

Risk assessment

A successful fall adjusted the university's stance on study abroad travel.

"The pandemic constitutes a risk to all programs, but not a special risk above and beyond anything else we would worry about when planning a program," Jamieson said. "We have transitioned to a mode of needing to gather more information in order to manage that normal risk, but not the default of denial with an exception process."

Jamieson said he monitors many factors -- hospital capacity and medical infrastructure, for example -- to determine if travel remains safe for ISU students. 

"We rely on a lot of external sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State department, but also destination intelligence through our insurance company and monitoring what other universities are doing," he said.

Innovation award recognizes heroic advising during the pandemic

Twenty-seven employees with student services or academic advising roles are recipients of Iowa State's Innovation and Exceptional Advising During COVID Award. The recognition, organized in the provost's office, honors employees who "went above and beyond in their academic advising from spring 2020 through fall 2021" in response to the COVID-19 world pandemic.

Last month, associate deans nominated advisors from their colleges for the award. The award distribution reflects each college's ratio among all P&S academic advisors at the university.

"There are many deserving advisors. This award recognizes advisors who may be unsung heroes, who went above and beyond expectations, who found novel ways to engage with their advisees and help them navigate through the uncertainty and changes that COVID brought to campus," wrote associate provost Ann Marie VanDerZanden in the call for nominations. Excellence could include both virtual and in-person advising, she noted.

Each recipient receives a $1,000 award. A generous donor provided the funds to support advisor innovation and excellence.

Below are the recipients of the Innovation and Exceptional Advising During COVID Award, with an excerpt from their nomination:

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Amy Brandau, economics
    "Amy cares about each student's well-being and inspires her advisees to be the best all-around. Her skills and diligence were on full display as she creatively attended to individual student needs and well-being to help them endure the challenges caused by COVID-19."
  • John Burnett, natural resource ecology and management
    "John is a dedicated advisor who is especially well known for his work with learning communities and retaining struggling students."
  • Kelsey Powell, animal science
    "Kelsey's individual attention and dedication to student well-being has made a significant impact on the daily lives of ISU students during the uncertain and difficult time of the pandemic."

Ivy College of Business

  • Stephanie Larson and Michele Tapp, undergraduate student services
    "During the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephanie and Michele were able to balance very demanding advising loads while leading important business functions and staff supervision within the Ivy undergraduate programs office."
  • Kelly Pistilli, undergraduate student services
    "In all facets of her work, but especially in Honors student advising and orientation, Kelly strives to provide all students with outstanding support, while also encouraging them to take on new challenges and opportunities."

College of Design

  • Malinda Cooper, landscape architecture
    "Malinda demonstrates sustained excellence in undergraduate advising."

College of Engineering

  • Matt Brown, chemical and biological engineering
    "Matt has gone above and beyond to build relationships with his advisees during the pandemic and to continue to provide our students with as many opportunities as possible to learn more about the chemical engineering profession."
  • Brad Eilers, aerospace engineering
    "Brad seamlessly led a team advising more than 900 students through a dramatically changing role during the pandemic, while continuing to personally support his own students."
  • Jason Follett, Engineering student services
    "Jason managed to keep us afloat in a very student-centric manner despite significant advisor transitions."
  • Lindsay Frueh, agricultural and biosystems engineering
    "She has a single-minded focus on student needs and the infrastructure required to support those needs."
  • Mindy Heggen, mechanical engineering
    "Mindy found a way to meet students where they were when they needed it most during the pandemic."
  • Andrea Klocke, materials science and engineering
    "Andrea is a foundational stone to MSE undergraduate students."
  • Brandi Moormann, civil, construction and environmental engineering
    "Brandi co-developed and taught a new learning community in a new major during the difficult fall 2020 semester, all while maintaining her outstanding advising."
  • Ashley Morton, Engineering student services
    "Ashley has gone above and beyond to support our engineering students during the challenging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on student success."
  • Jessie Neal, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering
    "Jessie developed and implemented an advising process that enhances students' remote onboarding experiences."

College of Human Sciences

  • Liz Harris, human development and family studies
    "Liz demonstrated admirable leadership in helping her department navigate several changes through the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably a departmental name change."
  • Stacey Wertzberger, apparel, events and hospitality management
    "Despite major departmental staff turnover, Stacey has prioritized the support and success of her students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic."
  • Marsha Wissink, kinesiology
    "Marsha has provided exemplary leadership for her staff within the COVID-19 pandemic -- and long before."

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

  • Whitney Baker, psychology
    "Whitney went above and beyond in structuring ways for students to help their peers successfully navigate their academics during the COVID pandemic."
  • Taylor Anne Barriuso, communications
    Patrick Johnson, English, communication studies
    Christiana Langenberg, women's and gender studies, communications
    "Each made an above-and-beyond effort to continue face-to-face advising to support their students not only during the COVID pandemic, but also when Ross Hall was closed due to the fire."
  • Lauren Henry, computer science
    "Lauren found ways to engage prospective students during a pandemic and increase the incoming class significantly."
  • Sarah Wehner, biology
    "Sarah developed and generously shared new advising tools to facilitate more successful virtual registration appointments."
  • Elizabeth Zimmerman, natural and physical sciences
    "Elizabeth made sure the summer 2020 orientation was a successful experience for new students."

College of Veterinary Medicine

  • Monica Howard, veterinary student success
    "Her knowledge of the college and its students, combined with her unwavering commitment to student success, make her a truly outstanding and effective advisor."

P&S Council recommends 'significant' raises to counter inflation

A "significant" pay increase for Professional and Scientific employees in fiscal year 2023 is warranted in the face of increased inflation, according to the P&S Council report and recommendation on benefits and compensation. 

At its Feb. 3 meeting, the council had its first reading of the report and recommendation, suggestions it annually submits to senior leaders for consideration as they plan for the coming budget year that begins July 1.

In some recent years, the recommendation specified the minimum percentage increase the council believes P&S staff should receive if they have satisfactory performance reviews. This year's version, much like last year's, doesn't quantify a target increase, though it states that a significant raise would "reignite the passion and loyalty" of P&S staff.

The companion report notes that average P&S raises lagged inflation for fiscal years 2018-21, and inflation was 7% in 2021. Small salary increases combined with increases to health insurance premiums have resulted in net pay cuts for some P&S staff, the report said.  

"If a prospective employee asks a current staff member about compensation, their answer could be as simple as, 'This is a great place to work, but we haven't had a significant raise in five years, and our benefits were cut last year,'" the report said.

These trends come as P&S staff are taking on more instructional duties, helping address growing mental health needs and dealing with experience lost when colleagues departed via the retirement incentive option, the report said.

The council will consider approving the report and recommendation at its March 3 meeting.

Another home test option

There are numerous ways ISU employees can obtain an at-home kit to test for COVID-19, but an additional option was mentioned in a presentation to the council by university human resources benefits director Ed Holland and associate vice president for student health and wellness Erin Baldwin. 

Express Scripts, which administers Iowa State's prescription drug plan for employee health insurance, is offering test kits that can be ordered online. The tests are sent by mail and take about a month to arrive. They count toward the eight at home COVID-19 tests per plan member per rolling 30-day period that health insurance plans must cover under temporary federal rules effective Jan. 15.

To order tests directly from Express Scripts, log on to the Express Scripts website. The link to order tests is on the right side of the homepage.

Election nominations open

Nominations are open for P&S staff interested in running for a seat on the 2022-23 council. Staff can self-nominate or nominate someone else. See the council's election information webpage for a link to the nomination form. Nominations are due March 4. The council election will run March 21-27.

Twelve of the 30 seats representing the academic affairs division are on the ballot, along with five of the six seats for the president's division, three of the five seats for operations and finance, and three of four seats for student affairs.

Council members serve terms from one to three years beginning in June.

Conference reminder

Registration remains open for the council's annual professional development conference, to be held Feb. 23 (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. Registration is $140 and is open to all P&S staff. To register or for descriptions of the keynote speaker and sessions, see the conference website.

Allies and role models are crucial for students in recovery

Acknowledging an addiction to alcohol or drugs isn't easy. Even as mental health treatment becomes more normalized, substance use disorder largely carries the same traditional stigma.

"There are very few medical conditions out there that you're blamed for having," said Ryan Doyle, health promotion coordinator for collegiate recovery and substance use initiatives. "Some people still attach a lot of morals to it. But recovery is not about bad people becoming good people. It's about sick people becoming well people."

Two new initiatives by Iowa State's collegiate recovery community, CRC, a support program run by the student health and wellness office, hope to make it easier for students struggling with substance use to seek the help they need. In different ways, both efforts involve faculty and staff, who play a critical role in making the campus welcoming to students in recovery or seeking to be.

"The decision to even consider recovery doesn't depend on reaching some set point, like you've missed five tests and now you know you need to be in recovery. Certain things can push them to that. Having someone in their life they feel open to having a conversation with -- and that person being equipped with tools to have that conversation at that moment -- is really important," Doyle said.  

A group for connections

CRC doesn't provide substance use disorder treatment or run 12-step groups. Its aim is to create a supportive community for students in recovery and refer them to resources. Much of that community-building is peer-based, but participation in some way by faculty and staff in recovery would be valuable, Doyle said.

"We know that having role models has an effect on students," he said.

That's the thought behind a new group CRC is starting for employees, Faculty and Staff Connection. The group is holding its first meeting Feb. 11, a social brunch 10:30 a.m.-noon in 2030 Student Services Building.

Faculty and Staff Connection is not a support group for employees, Doyle said. The goal is to develop a group of employees who could connect with students in CRC programming. What that will look like, and the level of interest among faculty and staff, remains unclear.

"That's a very tough ask: 'Hey, is there anyone out there in recovery who is comfortable raising their hand and talking about it.' This is an informal attempt to connect faculty and staff in recovery and get them in a room to start a conversation," he said. "The long-term idea is that this group will connect with students. But it'll be baby steps to get there."

The group is open to ISU retirees and to employees who aren't in recovery but consider themselves allies. Doyle said expanding the group in that way benefits employees in recovery who are interested in helping students but aren't public about their experiences with substance use or other addictions.

"It gives people who don't necessarily want to be out about it a reason to be there," he said.

Faculty and staff who can't make it to the Feb. 11 meeting but have interest in the group, as well as anyone with questions, can email CRC at

Training allies

A training offered for the first time this spring also will expand the recovery support network among faculty and staff.

The 90-minute sessions, which also are open to students, will educate participants about substance use disorder, including guidance on how to effectively listen to students expressing a need for help and constructive ways to respond using supportive language. Trained allies will be better prepared for conversations with students in or considering recovery and be aware of available resources, Doyle said.

"They need to have a glove when the ball comes at them. We're just passing out gloves, really. That doesn't mean they'll always catch it. But we want them to have that ability," he said.

Borrowing a concept from Green Dot, another student health and wellness training program, those who complete the training will receive a sticker, placard and button to designate they are a recovery ally. That provides students in need of someone to talk to a helpful visual cue.

"Getting that going is really, really important," Doyle said.

Training sessions this semester will be held on the second and fourth Thursdays through April, typically in-person in various rooms in the Memorial Union except for the virtual sessions March 24 and April 21. See the recovery ally webpage for a schedule and sign-up form. Departments and units also may request a group training session.

A growing community

CRC launched in 2019 with a student organization and expanded in 2020, though pandemic precautions prevented it from growing as quickly as hoped, Doyle said.  

Doyle, formerly the coordinator for substance use education and prevention at YSS, began in his position in November, with half of his appointment focused on leading CRC, an expansion of staffing for the program. As of last month, it also has newly dedicated space (2030 Student Services Building) to hold group meetings and offer students a place to study or socialize.

In addition to its original student organization, CRC runs an "all recovery" peer support group for students in any stage of recovery and a support group for friends, family and allies. All three groups meet weekly. CRC staff, which includes a graduate assistant, also offer one-on-one recovery coaching sessions for students. More than 30 students are currently involved in CRC.

Doyle said the hope is to continue to expand what CRC offers, but even having a program like it remains a rare example of support for a population of students who are are isolated and overlooked on campuses. Though they've become more common in the last decade, there still are only about 150 CRC programs in the U.S., among more than 4,000 colleges and universities, he said.

"We are in the minority starting to focus on this," he said.

Use Adobe Sign to create e-signature documents

Iowa State is in the process of replacing DocuSign with Adobe Sign as its designated software for internal electronic contracts and documents or web forms requiring signatures. This includes business and human resources processes in Workday and units such as student financial aid, registrar, residence or information technology services (ITS).

The move to Adobe Sign mostly impacts employees who create documents for e-signatures. Starting immediately, they should use Adobe Sign. This week, ITS software development manager Jim Hurley provided "initiator" status to nearly 230 employees who had similar access in DocuSign. Initiators will receive an email from ITS Feb. 10 confirming their access, and they'll find an Adobe Sign tile on their Okta dashboard.

Employees who didn't receive the tile but want to request initiator status should submit the online form for Adobe Sign in the IT service portal, located in the software category.

Generally, those who only sign documents routed to them will be required to agree to Adobe's use terms and privacy policy the first time they use Adobe Sign to sign a document.

Export signed documents you want to keep

Iowa State's contract with DocuSign expires April 29. After that -- and only through July -- employees will be able to read and export their documents, but they won't be able to modify them or start new ones. After July 31, DocuSign will purge all Iowa State documents in its system.

Hurley encouraged employees to export PDF files of any documents they want to keep for future reference. PDF files of blank templates can be exported and uploaded to Adobe Sign, but signed documents won't transfer to the new software, he said.

Hurley's team was able to export all Iowa State document templates from DocuSign, though owners aren't apparent in the template titles. If you want a copy of a template to import to Adobe Sign, contact ITS at and include the template title(s) in your request.

Why a change?

With the DocuSign contract up for renewal this spring and following a customer survey in 2021, procurement services opted to investigate other options for e-signature software and issued a request for proposals. If Iowa State stayed with DocuSign, the cost was going to more than triple on May 1. The switch to Adobe Sign is expected to save the university about $125,000 annually.

Iowa State's three-year contract for Adobe Sign began Nov. 1. After integrating it with other campus systems, last month ITS invited some 20 employees in a dozen departments to serve as early adopters and help identify any issues.

Questions about the change may be emailed to

Have WorkCyte Phase II questions? Contact your change liaison

As the calendar flipped to 2022, the WorkCyte Phase II implementation of Workday Student and Receivables has shifted to a new stage. The plan and discovery portion of the four-year timeline is wrapping up and the project team is turning to design and configuration.

The Workday Student and Receivables cloud-based software products will replace aging current information systems such as ADIN and AccessPlus, a modernization that will affect nearly all faculty, staff and students. 

The first of five deployments is planned for summer 2023. Training opportunities for affected campus stakeholders will begin in the spring of 2023. Before then, the project will likely prompt questions as the WorkCyte team builds prototypes of anticipated ISU processes and procedures that must be configured for Workday Student and Receivables. 

That’s why employees should keep the change liaison network in mind. The volunteer group of more than 100 faculty and staff formed this fall and meets every other month. Change liaisons receive project updates to share with colleagues, such as new terminology and change impacts, and will be a key source of feedback for the project team as Phase II progresses. They’re who to go to with questions about the project or to weigh in with a comment, suggestion or concern.

Change liaisons also will share information and collect feedback on the ongoing support of WorkCyte Phase I, which implemented Workday for finance, human capital management, payroll and budget planning.

To read an FAQ, see some examples of the sorts of questions change liaisons can answer or search for the liaison representing your unit, see the change liaison page on the WorkCyte website.

Library exhibit recalls founding of Black cultural center

Black History Month

The George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center exhibit is on display at Parks Library. The center celebrated its 50th year in 2020. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Parks Library has an exhibit on the founding of the George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center that will continue through the end of spring semester. Jackson was the first director of what today is the office of multicultural student affairs.

The exhibit is split between the first and fourth floors of the library and accessible in a digital version.

The pandemic disrupted the timeline for the exhibit, which was to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the center in 2020. It covers the struggle to establish the center in the 1960s, the effort to find funding and the formalizing of a relationship between the center and ISU. The center was rededicated in 1997 and 2007.

"All of the material for the exhibit is out of our archival holdings," said university archivist Greg Bailey. "It is a story that is tied to a wider movement across the United States in the 1960s at a lot of universities trying to establish Black culture centers."

February is Black History Month and here are four more items, selected with help from Bailey, that may pique your interest to make an appointment to visit the library's special collections and university archives

MLK Jr. at ISU

Martin Luther King Jr. visited on Friday, Jan. 22, 1960, as part of a "Religion in Life Week" event. The library has the program from the event and a transcript of his speech, "The Moral Challenges of a New Age," which he gave in the Memorial Union's Great Hall.

Jack Trice letter

See the letter the university's first Black athlete wrote the night before his 1923 football debut against Minnesota -- a game in which he sustained fatal injuries. Iowa State is the only major college football program to name its stadium after a Black man. Bailey said the actual letter is rarely put in public view because of its significance. The library's collection of Trice items features several photos, including one from his funeral held on central campus Oct. 9, 1923.

George Washington Carver

The library's digital collection has numerous photos and letters between George Washington Carver and Louis H. Pammel, starting in the late 1890s through the 1920s. Carver was Iowa State's first Black student when he enrolled in 1891. He learned from and worked with Pammel, a botany professor.  As a graduate student, Carver was an assistant botanist working with Pammel in the College Experiment Station.

Speaking at ISU

The university archive also includes recordings from these campus guests who spoke on race relations and civil rights: