After-work workout

Glenn Wiedenhoeft ascends the State Gym climbing wall

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Glenn Wiedenhoeft, instructional design coordinator in the agronomy department, navigates his pathalong the holds on the climbing wall at State Gym Tuesday evening. Wiedenhoeft said he unwinds after work by climbing the wall two to three times a week.

For those looking to work healthier habits into their routine, recreation services offers membership to faculty and staff, too. A membership can be purchased online with a credit card. Or, stop by the administrative office, up a few steps from the northwest entrance to State Gym (weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) to add a membership to your ISU Card; pay by cash, check, credit card or payroll deduct.

An annual membership costs $350 when paid in full or 12 $30 payments. Monthly memberships (without the annual commitment) cost $40. And, a free, one-week trial is possible if you want to try out the faciltities and programming first.

Instructors find winter session success through organization, preparation

Susan Fleming doesn't need to pour over assignments to determine instructors and students have hit their stride in the third winter session, which ends Friday. The marketing assistant teaching professor knows it because of the number of students seeking her help.

"The first time we had virtual learning, I had students in my virtual office all the time, and this semester I have met with two students in a class of 50," she said. "Students now know how to manage it better and instructors know how to organize it better."

Susan Fleming

Susan Fleming

Fleming has taught during each winter session and the experience has helped make her a stronger instructor, especially as online education expands, she said.

"Teaching winter session has accelerated my ability to update and keep content fresh," she said. "It has helped me see the online experience better from the students' perspective because it is so fast."

Fleming is the dozens of instructors who spent winter break helping the 1,600 undergraduate students who enrolled get one step closer to graduation. The intensive four-week effort requires instructors and students to be focused and prepared during a time of the year that includes two major holidays.

To accommodate students, who can be scattered across time zones, Fleming said she forgoes set office hours in favor of flexible online drop-ins or an email to schedule a time to talk.

Fleming teaches the 300-level Principles of Marketing, a course every business student must complete. She said the key is organization and having all course material available to the students on the first day. That allows students to work ahead and plan their time -- Fleming estimates students should spend three hours a day on course work -- so they can enjoy events during break.

Olga Mesropova

Olga Mesropova

World languages and cultures associate professor Olga Mesropova teaches From Gorbachev to Putin: Contemporary Russian Culture, a 300-level course. Connecting with students is important even in an asynchronous course. She said she regularly communicates with them through discussion boards to advance conversation and uses engaging material to talk about a topic that can change regularly.

"I have a segment where I translated several stand-up comedy monologues from the late 1980s to the early 2000s," she said. "One of the assignments is to analyze how the tonalities change over the years, given the leader and issues the country is facing. They see from a popular culture context the social, political and economic impact to the country."

Mesropova has taught the course since 2015. It recently earned the Quality Matters distinction, which requires a national peer review covering 42 rubrics in eight categories to ensure strong student learning outcomes. It is the 14th course at ISU to receive the recognition.


Christian Wise in the Windows dining center

Christian Wise joined the campus life team Jan. 4 as director of ISU Dining. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Christian Wise began as director of ISU Dining on Jan. 4. With the residence department and Memorial Union, ISU Dining is a campus life unit within the student affairs division. He oversees the operations of a campus dining system that includes three residential dining centers; multiple cafés, convenience stores, restaurants and get-and-go locations; food court; a catering service and a central production bakery.

Wise has more than 30 years of experience in the dining industry in various settings, including universities, hotels, a hospital and his own catering business, in roles as varied as cook, bartender, retail manager, executive chef, director of catering, general manager and district manager. From 2002 to 2019, he worked for Sodexo's higher education division, with leadership roles at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire (2008-19), Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois (2005-08), University of Idaho, Moscow (2004-05) and Missouri State University, Springfield (2002-04). He was an affiliated faculty member at Eau Claire, lecturing on food systems, sustainability, improving the environment and food ethics.

Most recently, he spent two years (2020-22) with Aramark, leading numerous local teams to transition their universities to the company's Harvest Table standards and approach to campus dining.

Previously, he was the owner and chef of a high-end catering business in Springfield, Missouri (1999-2004), and worked as a private practice attorney for a decade in Springfield (1991-2001).

Wise earned bachelor's degrees in political science and philosophy (1984) from University of Missouri, Columbia; a law degree (1989) from Syracuse University, New York; several culinary certificates in the U.S. and France, and a graduate diploma in gastronomy (2012) from the University of Reims-Champagne/Ardenne, Reims, France. His thesis was titled "The Cascade Effect: The Metaethical Impact of Our Relationship to Food."

Wise's office is in 1215 Friley. He can be reached by email at, by phone at 294-3856. He succeeds Mohamed Ali, who left the university in March.

Symposium brings health, wellness to forefront

Health and well-being are important issues for employees, and Iowa State's inaugural Health and Wellness Symposium on Feb. 3 will give them an opportunity to learn from and connect with others across campus.

The free symposium will highlight resources available to faculty, staff and students, initiatives and programs at the university, allow employees to take part in skill training, and share best practices. University public health coordinator Kristen Clark and associate director of the Thielen Student Health Center Ashley Pick are co-chairs of the symposium and hope attendees can forge connections across campus.

Health and Wellness Symposium breakout sessions

Session I (2-2:50 p.m.)

Employee well-being and engagement

  • Mindfulness at work
  • Having fun and being creative at work
  • Through surviving to thriving
  • Caregiving relationships: Conversations on aging

Student well-being and engagement

  • We need to talk: Promoting sexual health and relationship communication strategies
  • Depression? Anxiety? Loneliness? Procrastination? How to access confidential, evidence-based and free mental health resources
  • Body respect: How to develop a better relationship with food and your body

Session II (3-3:50 p.m.)

Supporting well-being and engagement

  • Creating health-promoting spaces on campus
  • Addiction: Stigmas, norms and tough talk tools
  • Reimagining well-being: A platform for the employee experience
  • Supporting colleagues: Through surviving to thriving

Personal well-being and engagement

  • Enhance time management and motivation
  • Mindful movement and engaging in sustainable physical activity
  • Self-care isn't selfish: Strategies for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) mental well-being (BIPOC attendees only)

"It is a great opportunity to spend time with people who have shared interests that you may not have other opportunities to engage with," Clark said.

Pick said some of the best learning comes from seeing and hearing what others are doing to enhance health and wellness at Iowa State. Students have nominated faculty who have "gone above and beyond for [students'] health and wellness," Pick said.

"We will be honoring some faculty for the things they have done for students," she said.

Preregister for the symposium online to ensure a soup and sandwich or salad lunch. Same-day registration will be available but won't include lunch. Supervisors are asked to be flexible with employees to allow them to attend, and faculty and staff are encouraged to go to as many sessions as possible.

The idea for the symposium took shape in 2018, led by the student health and wellness unit, but the pandemic interrupted progress several times, including the cancellation of last year's event.

"From the beginning, the vision was to have a conference and professional development opportunity focused on health and well-being every year," said director of student wellness Brian Vanderheyden. "It allows us to discuss the issues that impact employees and students."

A day to focus on health

Speakers, breakout sessions, lunch and optional training make up the day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in the Memorial Union. Senior vice president of student affairs Toyia Younger will welcome attendees in the Great Hall.

The afternoon starts with two 50-minute breakout sessions (see box). The first session offers topics specific to employee or student audiences, and the second focuses on supporting well-being and promoting personal well-being. The sessions are discussions led by university leaders, faculty and students.

"People are going to come to the symposium at different places, and some may want to focus on themselves while others will focus on supporting others," Vanderheyden said.

At 4 p.m., keynote speaker Raphael Florestal-Kevelier, assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness and executive director of the University of Illinois Chicago Counseling Center, will discuss the importance of building organizational capacity around health and wellness and prioritizing well-being on a college campus.

Two optional trainings will be offered at 10:30 a.m., also in the Memorial Union: a Green Dot introduction to the basic elements of the program, and Question, Persuade and Refer, the suicide prevention training that teaches the warning signs of suicide crisis and how to respond.

Council reviews compensation and benefits draft report

The Professional and Scientific (P&S) Council completed a first read Jan. 5 on a motion to send its annual compensation and benefits recommendations to senior leaders. Erin Gibson, chair of the council's compensation and benefits committee, asked council members to review the draft report and provide input prior to the second reading and vote at the council's Feb. 2 meeting. Once the council approves it, the intent is to share the report and recommendations with senior leaders in time to influence decisions regarding fiscal year 2024 budget plans and revenue requests.

Committee members tied the draft's content to two "to be" statements in the university's new strategic plan of particular relevance to P&S employees:

  • To be the university that cultivates a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where students, faculty and staff flourish.
  • To be the university that fosters lifelong learning.

Slipping backward

Campus climate, employee retention and meaningful and consistent salary increases are indicators, for staff, of the first statement, wrote the draft authors. While salaries may be the most important factor in helping employees flourish, inflation and higher employee health insurance premiums have eroded recent salary increases. And the aspirational "managing pay by thirds" outlined when the P&S compensation plan was adopted in April 2020 isn't occurring broadly. "Many experienced P&S employees with years of outstanding performance are still within the first third of their salary range," notes the draft report. Recommendations for the next budget year include:

  • Earmark a cost-of-living adjustment for P&S employees in the annual budget.
  • Create workshops or training modules for specific audiences (for example, deans, supervisors, HR recruiting staff, general P&S staff) that correct common misperceptions about the compensation plan.
  • Continue to provide (and promote) the university's great employee benefits, which are market-competitive and improve employee well-being.

Career development

For P&S employees, the second statement means not just professional development, but career development and advancement, said drafters of the report. Career development opportunities are small and fragmented, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Supervisor training tends to focus on managing low performers rather than on growing a team and its top performers. The council has long advocated for additional training and communication for supervisors to help them grow in their roles and "provide an improved culture for their employees," notes the draft report. Additional recommendations include:

  • Increase the number of learning and development staff in university human resources to have capacity for offerings beyond wellbeing.
  • Develop a performance appraisal system and training available to all P&S staff.
  • Offer live workshops or coaching sessions that explain and guide employees through the P&S classification structure and career progression guidelines.
  • To assist staff in managing their own careers, create learning opportunities (emphasizing key skills) specific to job profiles and job levels.

The wins

The draft report concludes with a series of "wins" -- programming in place that enhances the P&S experience. In the area of professional development, these include the annual P&S professional development conference (see below), Emerging Leaders Academy, Cardinal Women* program and even the council itself. In the area of benefits and compensation, the wins include vacation and sick leave that supports work-life balance, employee health insurance premiums "well below" the national average, the year-old WorkFlex program, generous employer contribution to retirement plans, and regular updates to the P&S classification and compensation system to respond to market changes.

Register for professional development day

Early registration ($120) runs through Jan. 31 for the Feb. 22 professional development conference for P&S employees. After that, the cost is $140. The conference will be held at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center (8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and features a keynote presentation by communications coach Erik Dominguez, three breakout sessions, lunch, refreshments and networking opportunities. Descriptions and learning outcomes for 16 breakout options organized by four tracks (leadership, human interaction, professional resources, and health and wellness) are on the conference website.

Election window opens next month

The council's representation committee will open nominations for council members and officers at the February meeting and close nominations at the March meeting, with council elections to be scheduled after spring break. About 40% of the 51 council terms expire in June. Some incumbents are eligible to seek another three-year term.

Federal relations team expands to three

Brendan Beeter head shot

Brendan Beeter

Brendan Beeter joined Iowa State's federal relations team Jan. 3 as an assistant director. He and assistant director Haley Moon will share the university's federal relations portfolio, allowing each to focus on specific policy areas.

Sophia Magill will continue to oversee federal relations, while also steering implementation of the Iowa State 2022-31 strategic plan in her new role as senior advisor to the president.

Beeter comes to Iowa State from the Legislative Services Agency, Des Moines, where he served as a fiscal legislative analyst assigned to appropriations committees of the Iowa Legislature. He has professional experience in communications and policy with Future Ready Iowa (2021) and After School Matters, Chicago (2019-20).

Beeter earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and religious studies from the University of Iowa (2018), and a master of public policy degree from DePaul University, Chicago (2021).

New employee benefit assists parents and their children

The newest offering in the Adventure2 program launched Jan. 10 and centers around parenting support resources. The free Parenting Success Solution gives employee families 24/7 access to tools and resources that help parents understand, teach and better communicate with their children. 

WorkLife and WellBeing coordinator Stephanie Downs said the program gives Iowa State another way to assist employees. The service also can be beneficial for parents as they adjust to new work routines that may include working from home more often with family members around, Downs said.

"Parenting and child care continue to be challenging. Adding work to parenting creates another layer to the challenge," she said. "As ISU WellBeing continues to focus on work-life and whole person well-being, including families, we know our employees are seeking additional skills and resources to adapt to the increasing demands of an ever changing world. This solution was a chance for ISU to offer something we don't have anywhere else to support and build resiliency skills for our employees and their families."

What is offered?

The program has courses on parenting skills, tips and practices to help parents support children from formative years through teenage years and beyond. It can help children better manage emotions and improve social skills. Employees may use up to 14 hours of free consultations with board certified behavior analysts each year. The analysts are trained to deal with many common developmental issues children encounter.

"Knowing that the ramifications of the past two to three years have put a huge strain on mental health providers, I think this will be a great alternative if someone is on a really long waitlist with their child," said WorkLife and family services coordinator Cris Broshar. "It allows them to get live, virtual support with someone trained to deal with whatever issues they may be experiencing."

Broshar said in-person appointments with behavior analysts can be difficult to get in a timely manner, making this service especially beneficial.

How to use

All employees have access to Parenting Success Solution but must sign up for Adventure2 to use it.

"Putting the program in Adventure2 allows us to communicate more effectively because we have those tools built in without having to put them elsewhere," Downs said. "Employees do have to register but they do not have to take part in any other programs or try to earn points if they don't want to." 

There are four ways to sign up using your email address:

  • Click on the direct link:
  • Download the LimeadeONE app on your mobile device and enter Iowa State University as your employer before following prompts.
  • Go to the ISU Wellbeing Adventure2 webpage to sign in
  • Add Adventure2 to your Okta apps and join from there

Once logged in, employees click on the link for the program and can use the content as needed at their own pace. Videos -- some can be watched with your child -- articles, webinars and other information are available. Content is broken into three categories: foundational lessons for parents and caregivers, social and emotional learning, and well-being lessons for the whole family.

University, city events will celebrate modern civil rights advocates

Iowa State and the Ames community will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with lectures, a musical tribute from the campanile's carillon and other events in the coming weeks. Here's a breakout of what's planned.

Jan. 16: City hall

Anita Rollins head shot

Anita Rollins

The city of Ames will join the Ames-Story County MLK Celebration Committee to host a hybrid celebration with in-person and online options on Monday, Jan. 16 (6:30 p.m., Ames City Auditorium). Anita Rollins, Ames City Council member and retired university employee, will deliver a keynote address that will be available virtually via Facebook Live or YouTube. Rollins managed the ISU Science Bound program at Iowa State for more than 20 years, helping to ensure the academic success of thousands of students of color. She also has been a science communications specialist, health educator and program director.

During the city program, winners of an essay contest for Story County high school students inspired by King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" will be announced and the Ames Human Relations Commission will present its annual Humanitarian Award in honor of King's birthday. Birthday cake will be available in the Ames City Hall gymnasium at 6 p.m. prior to the keynote address. Parks Library and the office of diversity, equity and inclusion are among the sponsors of the event.

Jan. 16: Campus

There are no classes and most university offices are closed Jan. 16 to mark the holiday.

The Workspace at the Memorial Union (MU) invites all ages to honor King with creative activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day. These free activities include freedom quilt squares and MLK coloring pages. Free parking for this event is available in the MU ramp.

Jan. 18: Campus

During her concert tradition, "Let Freedom Ring" on Wednesday, Jan. 18 (11:50 a.m.), carillonneur and professor of music Tin-Shi Tam will play hymns, spirituals and music inspired by King.

Jan. 30: Campus

Bree Newsome head shot

Bree Newsome

Iowa State’s annual MLK Jr. Legacy Series lecture, "Tearing Hate from the Sky," takes place on Jan. 30 (6 p.m., MU Great Hall). Contemporary civil rights leader Bree Newsome first garnered national attention for her daring act of peaceful disobedience in June 2015. Following the brutal murder of nine Black parishioners at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Newsome climbed the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse and pulled down the Confederate battle flag as a protest against racist symbolism. Her arrest galvanized public opinion and led to the permanent removal of the flag.

As a recognized voice on the topics of injustice and racial discrimination, Newsome brings to light the importance of developing leaders in building and sustaining social movements.

Recipients of the university's 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community Awards will be announced at the lecture. The awards recognize ISU students, employees and campus organizations for improving the campus climate for underrepresented groups through volunteerism, engagement, scholarship, research, teaching and program development.