Leading the way

Red maple tree contrasts with greenery behind it along campus st

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Campus trees perhaps reflect campus employees this time of year, with some more ardent than others about transitioning to the autumn season . . . University photographer Christopher Gannon captured this image of contrasts Monday morning just south of Lagomarcino Hall along Osborn Drive.

Visits scheduled for LAS dean finalists

Four finalists have been identified in the search for the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and they will interview on campus in October. The successful candidate will succeed Beate Schmittmann, who in March announced she'll retire at the end of this academic year.

The names of the candidates will be made public one business day before their visit. Their visits are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Candidate 1, Oct. 2-3
  • Candidate 2, Oct. 4-5
  • Candidate 3, Oct. 9-10
  • Candidate 4, Oct. 11-12

Each finalist will meet with students, faculty and staff, university leaders and external stakeholders, and also hold an open forum on the first day of their visit. The forums will be held 3:30-4:30 p.m. in 101 Carver.

The open forums will be recorded and made available after all the finalist visits are completed.

Check the LAS search page for more details as they come available.

Discretionary salary increases are possible Jan. 1

University employees whose most recent performance review is at least satisfactory will be eligible for a discretionary salary increase of up to 3% on Jan. 1, 2024.

This follows an across-the-board 1% increase eligible employees received July 1 as part of a planned transition in 2023 to implement annual salary increases in January. The new timing coordinates better with annual appropriation decisions at the Legislature (May-June), the state Board of Regents' subsequent decision on tuition and fees (June-July) and the university's annual budget-setting process.

Salary increases on Jan. 1 will be discretionary, and differentiation is expected, said Emma Mallarino Houghton, director of classification and compensation and talent acquisition in university human resources.

"At a time when the university is facing financial pressures, salary increase parameters that allow for up to 3% -- in addition to what was rewarded on July 1 -- demonstrates a continued commitment to rewarding employee performance at Iowa State," she said.

How do the parameters apply?

These salary adjustment parameters apply to faculty, professional and scientific (P&S) staff, postdoc scholars and contract staff whose contracts don't specify performance-based adjustments.

A few process guidelines include:

  • The salary parameters apply to all eligible employees in the identified groups, regardless of a unit's funding source(s).
  • Employees who weren't eligible for the July 1 increase because they hadn't been in their positions for 90 days yet (start dates of April 2-July 1), have satisfactory performance and are otherwise eligible will receive a 1% increase on Jan. 1.
  • P&S employees can't receive increases that would raise their new salary above the maximum of their pay grade. So, any portion of a proposed Jan. 1 adjustment that's beyond the maximum of their pay grade would have to come in a one-time payment, not as an adjustment to their base salary.
  • For Ames National Laboratory employees, the Jan. 1 salary parameters can be modified and should align with U.S. Department of Energy salary adjustment guidelines.

New timeline doesn't impact Merit employees

The timing of salary increases for Merit employees is not changing. Merit staff received a 3% across-the-board increase on July 1, consistent with the state's 2023-25 collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Iowa Council (AFSCME) and Regents Merit System rules. Merit employees may be eligible for an additional 1% performance-based increase on their annual review date.

A reminder about performance reviews

In this transition year, all faculty annual reviews will take place this fall semester (any time from July 1 to Nov. 30). If a faculty member's last review was conducted during spring semester 2022, for this cycle only the review covers 18 months (not the usual 12): Jan. 1, 2022, through May 15/June 30, 2023.

UHR is asking supervisors of P&S and contract staff and postdocs who completed annual employee reviews in the March-May window to do a less formal "check-in" this fall with their employees. By Nov. 30, supervisors should confirm in Workday that the follow-ups occurred. Beginning in 2024, most annual reviews will occur in the fall, so the check-in helps bridge the time difference between the two annual evaluations. A knowledge-base article in the UHR service portal about regular check-ins with employees is suitable for this fall's task.


Related story:

Timing of salary increases will move to Jan. 1, Nov. 17, 2022

New series aims to demystify digital accessibility

Reaching faculty and staff can be a challenge during busy days with so much vying for their time. That is why information technology services' (ITS) digital accessibility team created the A11y Bytes: Bite-Sized Tips for Enhaning Digital Accessibilty series. It is designed to help employees understand digital accessibility and its importance with ISU committed to the digital accessibilty policy.

Naming the series

A11y is a short for accessibility, with the number 11 representing the number of letters omitted between the "A" and "y." Bytes conveys the idea of delivering information succinctly, reminiscent of the way computer data is measured in bytes.

"We wanted to come up with a memorable resource that provided easy-to-manage pieces of information related to digital accessibility for people across campus," said digital accessibility specialist for ITS Brittni Wendling. "We don’t want to overwhelm people. We want people to take this information and incorporate it into their daily workflows to improve their digital accessibility knowledge and skills."

Iowa State's digital accessibility policy ensures individuals with disabilities can independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities and with substantially equivalent ease of use. All new digital content produced and purchased at the university must comply with the policy beginning July 1, 2026.

Employees can receive A11y Bytes by going to the digital accessibility website and joining the Digital Accessibility at ISU Microsoft 365 group. The digital accessibility team has developed and curated other resources, including digital accessibility courses in LinkedIn Learning and knowledge base articles in the ISU Service Portal. Questions can be directed to digitalaccess@iastate.edu.

The series

A11y Bytes has two components:

  • Weekly information and tips on digital accessibility posted to the A11y Bytes Teams channel 
  • Monthly education and training to complement the weekly information

The series began in September with one of the university's contracted captioning vendors, 3Play Media, providing a virtual demonstration. Future sessions will be led by digital accessibility staff, vendors and accessibility adopters across campus. The channel also provides a space for members to talk to each other, share best practices and build community.

"To work up to the policy official date, we have milestones and we thought this would be a good way to offer weekly, attainable tips," said digital accessibility lead for ITS Cyndi Wiley. "The tips come from resources within the digital accessibility toolkit, some directly related to the policy and relevant dates, and just building awareness about what digital accessibility is."

The digital accessibility toolkit provides information and links on how to make everything from images to PowerPoints and websites accessible.

Wiley said faculty tips may center around course development by pointing to resources from the Center for Excellence in Lerning and Teaching and producing accessible digital content in Canvas. Staff information will focus on ensuring content posted to websites is accessible and using appropriate tools to ensure it is done correctly.

Building remodels, FY25 funding requests go to regents next week

Appropriations requests to the state for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2024, proposed changes to employee health and dental insurance rates for Jan. 1 and several building remodel requests are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets Sept. 27-28 at the University of Iowa. The board's standing committees will conduct their business Wednesday (11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.), and the full board will meet Thursday morning (9:15 a.m.). The agenda is online, and all public portions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website.

State operating support

Around Oct. 1 each year, the regents submit annual funding requests to the Iowa Legislature on behalf of the universities.

Iowa State will ask for a $4.5 million (2.5%) increase to its current $174.1 million operating appropriation from the state for fiscal year 2025. It also will seek an additional $10 million (total of $12.8 million) for year two of STEM workforce programming that focuses strengthening degree programs to meet Iowa's "Hot 50" job demands, supporting manufacturing and boosting the vitality of rural communities to attract and retain workforce talent.

Building projects

University leaders will present budgets and schematic designs for four projects to:

  • Demolish LeBaron Hall and replace it with a new building. This project also renovates the corridor connecting LeBaron and MacKay halls and the Human Nutritional Sciences Building and about 10% of MacKay Hall. The $39 million project budget would be funded by private gifts and university funds.
  • Remodel the athletics department's Bruce McKee Indoor Tennis Complex on South Dakota Avenue to be the training facility for the Cyclone volleyball program. The $4.2 million project budget would be funded by department funds.
  • Renovate part of the Scheman Building, including the east end of ground floor main entrances, entry lobbies and restrooms; and first floor event and circulation areas and restrooms. The $12 million project budget would be funded by ISU Facilities Corporation Bonds.
  • Remodel the food service and back-of-house areas and restrooms at Seasons Marketplace in the Maple Willow Larch residence complex commons. The $2.45 million project budget would be funded by ISU Dormitory Bonds.

Iowa State also will ask for board permission to begin planning for a second remodeling project in the Human Nutritional Science Building to create new homes for the student-operated Joan Bice Underwood Tea Room (first floor) and the textiles science teaching laboratory (second floor). In April, the board approved plans to relocate other textiles science labs from LeBaron Hall.

Student data dashboard

Jason Pontius, associate chief academic officer on the board's staff, will update board members on a new data dashboard on the regents' website, as required by the 2023 Legislature. House File 135 requires the regent universities to share data on those who have completed undergraduate degrees that includes median incomes at specified intervals, student loan debt and student loan payment size, and percentages who went on to complete master's or doctoral degrees.

In other Iowa State business, the board will:

  • Receive an update on participation in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' special retirement incentive program.
  • Vote on a request to discontinue the B.A. in speech communications program due to declining interest from students. Those in the program will have a three-year route to completing their degrees.

Find your opportunity at Fulbright Day

Iowa State will host its first Fulbright Day on Sept. 27 (10 a.m.-4 p.m., central campus tent). Faculty, staff and students are invited to stop by to learn more about which Fulbright program might be the right one for them. Throughout the day, there will be opportunities to meet visiting Fulbright scholars working on our campus and Iowa Staters who are past Fulbright travelers.

Fulbright dividends

One 2019 Fulbright experience developed into additional opportunities for faculty, students.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar program offers more than 400 opportunities in about 135 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects. Fulbright Scholar Awards comprise the bulk of awards offered and include opportunities for professionals, artists and scholars at all career levels. Locations and eligibility vary across the awards. Some awards may be restricted to certain career levels or types of scholars.

The provost's office provides this guidance for faculty and staff as they begin to investigate a Fulbright opportunity. Kirsten Abel, faculty recognition director, and John Milstead, coordinator of nationally competitive awards, answered a few other questions:


Who should stop by the tent?

We want to encourage both faculty and students to learn more about the opportunities available. Faculty and staff can help generate interest among qualified students.


Are there Fulbright programs for P&S staff, too?

Yes. There are so many different programs, and some are appropriate for P&S employees in relevant roles.


What's the next application deadline?

The deadlines for the 2024-25 academic year for scholar and student awards were earlier this month. The next application cycle opens in April, and we recommend planning early for it!


Do I need to coordinate my Fulbright application with the provost's office?

Individuals send in their own applications, but we do offer support to help complete them. Interested employees should contact Sandra Norvell or Kirsten Abel, and interested students should reach out to John Milstead. We also recommend talking with your supervisor early in the process to help plan for time away from campus.

Getting good miles from a Fulbright experience

Four people pose with a wood baton

(l-r) Associate provost Ann Marie VanDerZanden; associate professors Ken Tsai and Joan Su, apparel, events and hospitality management; and University Honors administrative director Laurie Law received the baton Aug. 1 in Wernigerode, Germany, as the host university for the 2024 Transatlantic Summer School on Sustainability. Submitted photo.

On Ken Tsai and Ching-Hui (Joan) Su's "cool things I gotta do this year" list is to develop the content for a second annual international and interdisciplinary summer school next May. The two associate professors are leaders in the apparel, events and hospitality management department's event management program: He's the director and she's director of graduate education. With research interests in the broad umbrella of sustainability, they were Iowa State faculty representatives at the first Transatlantic Summer School on Sustainability completed in early August at Harz University of Applied Sciences, Wernigerode, Germany.

Find your opportunity

Fulbright Day is Sept. 27 on central campus.

The three-credit course considered "the future of energy" and was guided by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. It involved faculty (7) and students (36) in numerous academic disciplines from four universities: Harz, Iowa State, Wayne State University, Detroit; and Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences, Mülheim, Germany. Preceding those two weeks at Harz was a four-week virtual school, where faculty shared the dozen or so curriculum modules and the students warmed up to each other and observed another's world perspective ahead of their in-person session.

Persistence, lots of it

If it sounds cookie-cutter neat and easy, it wasn't. The seed was planted in the fall of 2019 when associate provost for academic programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden participated in a two-week Fulbright program for higher education administrators on leveraging technology to expand opportunities in college education. By the end of their program, VanDerZanden and three other participants recognized their schools shared an interest in getting students involved in international study or travel abroad experiences that differed from the more traditional semester or summer abroad.

Honors connection

The University Honors program also has capitalized on Iowa State's relationships in the transatlantic foursome. Last fall, administrative director Laurie Law developed an honors seminar on Blue Science, which promotes socially and ecologically responsible science, and included virtual sessions and team projects with a similar class at Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences. When the seminar is offered again next fall, it will include a back-to-back weeklong travel option. Each school would send students to the other's campus to work on class projects.

When the COVID-19 pandemic removed international travel from the playbook, they pivoted to identify faculty duos across the Atlantic who taught similar courses (in any discipline) and could jointly teach a portion of them, including synchronous class sessions and student team assignments.

Faculty planning trips in fall 2021 (Ames and Detroit) and spring 2022 (Mulheim) focused on building relationships and laying out a structure that could support longer-term objectives for both the student experience and faculty growth. The rotating-location summer school with a sustainability focus across the disciplines bubbled up from those conversations, said VanDerZanden.

Valuable on many fronts

Tsai said the benefits of the summer school to students are many: cultural exposure, an interdisciplinary approach to an important and evolving topic, opportunities to learn from other faculty and another country's teaching methods, and a short, lower-commitment study abroad experience. The five Iowa State students received a $1,500 scholarship from Iowa State's Carl and Ruth Hamilton Endowment for Educational Excellence to help with the additional travel and living expenses.

VanDerZanden agreed that students will reap different rewards.

"For some, the interdisciplinary piece may be most valuable. For others who haven't traveled as much, that international exposure might be the most important," she said.

A short trip abroad sometimes leads to a decision to study abroad for a semester or a year, she added.

Su said an attractive aspect of the summer school for her is the opportunity to collaborate with faculty across the globe, not only on the curriculum at hand, but to talk about their research and find common interests. The transatlantic partnership also presents opportunities to recruit graduate students to the event management program -- or other master's programs Iowa State offers. And, after three years she said she thinks they've developed a program that could be replicated.

"The summer school project now is a model we can adapt for other universities in other countries," she said. "I have no doubt we will get benefits from this summer school."

Looking ahead

As for their summer school assignment, Tsai and Su said they're considering food sustainability, including production and distribution, as a possible theme for the 2024 edition. Iowa State will host the in-person portion for two weeks in early August; four weeks of online modules are scheduled to begin around the third week in May. Summer school locations are set through 2027.

VanDerZanden said a consortium agreement is in place among the four universities to make it as easy as possible for their faculty to create more inter-institutional projects and programs. And Fulbright administrators are aware of what evolved out of the two-week workshop in fall 2019.

"That's very much the spirit of Fulbright," she said. "They provide the platform, faculty and students make those connections at institutions and can pursue the opportunities that emerge. You never know where they might lead -- whether it's ongoing research collaborations or student internships."