A glitter break

Two international female students decorate 2D tree ornaments at

Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Ahead of their first college exams week, first-year students Israa Dardeer (left), a software engineering major from Aswan, Egypt, and Shagun Patel, a computer science major from Kalyan, India, decorate ornaments together Tuesday during the Holiday Memory Maker in the Student Innovation Center atrium. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the free study break offered students the time to set their backpacks aside and paint ornaments, sip hot cocoa, decorate cookies and enjoy holiday-themed movies.

Paris appointed to interim role in operations and finance

President Wendy Wintersteen has appointed Heather Paris to serve as interim senior vice president for operations and finance, effective Dec. 1 and pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents.

Paris replaces Shawn Norman, who no longer is with the university as of Dec. 1.

Heather Paris head shot

Heather Paris

Since 2020, Paris has served as associate vice president for finance services, overseeing benefits accounting and compliance, controller's department, finance delivery, payroll and procurement. In her interim role, she will lead the operations and finance division, which includes finance, financial planning and analysis, auxiliary enterprise, facilities management, real estate and capital planning, and operations and strategy.

"Heather previously served in this role and provided strong leadership and stability for the division during a time of transition," Wintersteen said. "I appreciate Heather's willingness to once again take on this role for the university."  

Paris previously served as interim senior vice president for the division from September 2022 to January 2023.

Amy Tetmeyer head shot

Amy Tetmeyer

"Over the next few months, the operations and finance cabinet will work together to develop clear priorities for the division," Paris said. "I am thankful for the leadership of the expanded cabinet, and we will move forward in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

"We must continue building what we started this year -- creating a culture that emphasizes customer service, excels at relationship building and partners with our campus colleagues to meet their needs," she added.

As part of the leadership transition, Amy Tetmeyer, university controller, is serving as interim associate vice president for finance. 

Bookstore offers work clothing for employees


The ISU Book Store has ISU-themed clothing options that include polos, sweaters, fleece vests and more. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

For the first time, colleges and departments have an on-campus option for providing Iowa State-themed clothing to employees. The ISU Book Store launched a line of licensed workwear on Dec. 1. The collection includes polos, plaid shirts, cardigans, fleece jackets and vests, bomber jackets and soft-shell jackets for men and women in preapproved university colors. 


For additional information on the employee workwear program, contact Chloe Bohl at 294-5668 or cbohl@iastate.edu.

"This program makes the process simplified, more efficient, offers bulk ordering to lower the price and is more inclusive," said ISU Book Store director Rita Phillips.

Currently, the seven colleges are preapproved to use either the Iowa State University wordmark or the I-State logo with the name of their college underneath on all garment options. Departments wanting their name on the garment will have to go through the approval process, but once approved it remains valid.

Phillips said the bookstore invested more than $2,500 in a sample set -- each item in sizes extra small to 4X -- so employees can try on different sizes before they buy. Employees should select their correct size before ordering because sales are final.

"Once the product is ordered, it is final because we can't return it and we can't sell shirts from specific departments on the sales floor," she said.

Phillips said the bookstore will monitor which items are popular and which sell less frequently and adjust with new options. The intent is to provide a simple option for logoed clothing for employees, but departments still have the option of using a licensed vendor outside of the university for workwear.

Discounts start at seven pieces

To order, go to the bookstore website and view the workwear catalog, confirm sizing in the bookstore and place the order. Each department can decide how often it will place an order, but Phillips said most have settled between quarterly and twice a year. The bookstore will place a monthly order with the vendor, and garments should be received the following month.

Phillips recommends departments place orders of at least seven garments to take advantage of pricing discounts. Bigger discounts are available at 32, 48 and 100 units. Orders do not need to be the same item to qualify for the discount. Mixing and matching is allowed and the reduced price will be honored as long as there is a minimum of seven items with the same logo.

"Employees can order individual workwear items, but it may be better to wait if your department has a bulk order coming up in the next month or two, or go in with a few other employees to get the bulk pricing," Phillips said.

Departments making the order will apply a worktag in the Google document, while employees pay through their U-bill. To help the program run smoothly, each department has a designated workwear coordinator who attended a Zoom training on the new process. Phillips said the bookstore will deliver bulk orders to departments. Employees with an individual order will be notified to pick it up in the store.


Departments -- and employees -- can order workwear through the ISU Book Store website. The bookstore stocked samples ranging from extra small to 4X for each clothing item so employees can determine the correct size before they place an order.


Strategic plan funds help advance a long-term STEM project


Nineteen faculty- and staff-led projects were selected earlier this year for their commitment to advance one or more of the five aspirational statements in Iowa State's 2022-31 strategic plan. Those 19 are in addition to nine initial investments announced in June 2022 by President Wendy Wintersteen when the strategic plan received approval from the state Board of Regents.

In collaboration with the strategic initiatives team in the president's office, Inside will provide periodic stories on the progress of funded projects.

Two male faculty members in front of a large classroom chalkboar

Associate professor of education Ben Van Dusen (left) will collaborate with associate teaching professor of physics Lekha Adhikari to pilot a cutting-edge student assessment in the spring. Adhikari serves as course coordinator for a gateway physics course, PHYS 231. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Passing introductory science courses poses a significant barrier to students completing degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. It's an obstacle associate professor of education Ben Van Dusen has been researching for more than a decade. This year, he's using an $80,000 ISU strategic plan award to continue work supported by nearly $6 million in National Science Foundation (NSF) grants over that time. With faculty from two other colleges, he'll pilot a new kind of student assessment in an important physics class.

He said his interest in strategic plan support was to move the pilot forward and begin to build a team of collaborators for the long term.

"The National Science Foundation is increasingly interested in using technology to improve STEM student learning," he said. "I want to position Iowa State as the place nationally to do formative assessment with your students. I can't do that on my own."

Van Dusen's end goal is to build a larger STEM workforce by identifying students struggling to master course content and then targeting resources and strategies to increase success rates in introductory courses with high D or F grades or withdrawals (DFWs).

During FY 2024, Van Dusen's focus is on introductory physics courses, with the goal of reducing DFW rates by 20% overall; 40% among students in underrepresented populations.

Two pieces: A platform and a cutting-edge assessment

Spring '24 collaborating instructors: Physics 231

  • Course coordinator and physics associate teaching professor Lekha Adhikari
  • Physics Distinguished Professor Paul Canfield
  • Physics associate professor Matthew Wetstein
  • Agricultural and biosystems engineering associate teaching professor Jon Fleming
  • Mechanical engineering associate professor Cary Pint

In 2015 at the University of Colorado, Van Dusen and colleague Valerie Otero's team launched the LASSO (Learning About STEM Student Outcomes) platform, a free online service offering nearly 100 assessments for STEM disciplines that give instructors feedback about their students' learning. About 400 instructors teaching 2,000 courses at 130 colleges and universities have used it for their physics, biology, chemistry and math courses, amassing a large database of instruction and student learning.

When Van Dusen joined the Iowa State faculty in 2020, he brought LASSO with him. An update, LASSO 2.0, will be launched by the College of Human Sciences this month.

But what this former high school physics teacher is most excited about is road testing a new assessment on LASSO 2.0. During spring semester, five faculty members will pilot the assessment in Introduction to Classical Physics I (PHYS 231), involving an estimated 1,250 students. It's a next-generation, artificial intelligence-powered assessment that's both:

  • Computer adaptive (selects questions -- less or more difficult -- based on the student's prior answers)
  • Cognitive diagnostic (identifies the skills a student has mastered -- for example, algebra or vectors -- to be able to answer the question)

Such an assessment shows instructors which students need additional help with specific skills, and multiple snapshots throughout the semester could continually inform and modify their instruction to meet those needs.

The new assessment will generate reports for instructors on their students' abilities and skills, basic initially but growing in complexity and usefulness as their collaboration deepens.

Van Dusen said other physics instructors around the country are waiting to use the assessment spring semester. The resulting database will help researchers identify useful connections between student skills and instructional strategies.

His intent is to attract collaborators on campus to make LASSO 2.0 a robust service hosted at Iowa State but available nationally.

"I would like this to be sustainable here, for Iowa State to offer this footprint that serves institutions of all sizes in this country. It's a one-stop shop that's free for instructors and more useful than anything out there," he said. "It will position Iowa State as the leader in online STEM formative assessment for instruction and research."

What's ahead

Integrated efforts

Physics 231 and 232, gateway courses for all engineering and many science majors, also are the focus of a three-year, cross-college provost office initiative that began this fall. Physics and engineering faculty are teaching sections of the courses while they redesign the content, implementing best practices in STEM education and identifying topics for additional tutoring and supplemental instruction.

Van Dusen's strategic plan funds support a piece of his summer work and a graduate student in human computer interaction for spring semester and cover contracts (2) with programming and education research companies to launch LASSO 2.0 and to monitor and tweak the assessment tool so the reports it generates are helpful to instructors.

Van Dusen's most recent NSF award arrived this fall, a two-year, $500,000 NSF "incubator" grant to develop a plan to scale up LASSO 2.0 and the assessment tool to add K-12 STEM teachers and other STEM disciplines. If subsequently approved for implementation funding, it would serve as a research infrastructure for STEM education researchers nationally.

He is working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a proposal to leverage his current work and expand the new assessment tool into math and chemistry courses.

Van Dusen noted that a faculty member's ability to provide instruction that meets the needs of students with widely varying proficiency and skills mastery begins with a better assessment of what each student knows -- not an easy task in a class of 100. His work is an innovative approach to advancing Iowa State as a student-centric leading research university.

Transportation services adds Des Moines airport shuttle service for students

Just in time for the end of the semester, transportation services (TS) has launched a Des Moines airport shuttle for Iowa State students. The primary service offers a one-way shuttle to or from the airport at scheduled times on key dates in the university's academic year, including the start and end of semesters and fall and spring breaks. But students -- individually or in groups -- may request a shuttle to the airport for their personal travel any time of the year.

The idea really started with parents, said TS director Jeremy Paul.

"We take quite a few phone calls from parents who, for example, want to fly their child home for a family event, and either want our recommendations for how to get them to the airport or ask if we provide that service," he said. "They're very comfortable with the idea that their child's university is involved in that, and the safe transport of ISU students is part of our core mission to the university."

Students need to request an airport shuttle online at least 72 hours in advance, and riders must be at least 18 years old. In an emergency inside of 72 hours, students may call TS, 515-294-1828. Paul said his staff will make every effort to deliver the student to the airport, if they're able. All shuttles depart campus from the south side of the Memorial Union and the airport from the "commercial shuttles" lane outside the baggage claim area.

The three service options for students to (or from) the Des Moines airport are:

  • Scheduled group service, follows ISU's academic calendar, $50/person
  • Group shuttle (requires five or more students), available year-round, $50/person
  • Individual shuttle, available year-round, $100/person

Paul noted that this shuttle service is for students' personal travel. It's not an option for students traveling for university purposes, such as to a conference or with a student organization. Other university travel policies still apply to university travel.

Executive Express also offers a van shuttle to the Des Moines airport around university break times. It leaves from the Ames Intermodal Facility in campustown and costs $49/person. Its departure times supplement the ISU shuttle schedule and combined, the two services give students six daily options on key dates.

Faculty and staff

TS' shuttle service to the Des Moines airport for faculty and staff currently is limited to travel for university business. The two-step process requires both a vehicle reservation and a request for a driver. Employees on university business also can rent a car from Enterprise for a one-way drive to or from the Des Moines airport, though pick-up or drop-off is at the Enterprise office on East Lincoln Way. Paul said his team is working to revise its policies to extend the simpler shuttle options to employees. More information will be shared in the new year.

Questions about shuttle service can be directed to fleet manager Justina Sheets, shuttleservice@iastate.edu.

Iowa State launches reaccreditation process

Iowa State has begun its once-a-decade institutional reaccreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Iowa State has been continuously accredited by the commission since 1916; the university was last reaccredited in 2016 and underwent a mid-cycle review in 2020. Feedback from the 2016 review contributed to several campus initiatives, including new academic and student success programs, improvements to online courses, and more consistent standards for graduate student theses and dissertations.

More than 50 faculty and staff will be directly involved in the reaccreditation process, including executive and steering committees, working groups aligned with HLC's five accreditation criteria and a document finalization committee. Those memberships are listed below.

Much of the committees' work will occur during the 2025-26 academic year. Work on the assurance document begins this spring, targeting an August 2025 submission. Other components of the comprehensive review include federal compliance documents, a student survey, public feedback and a site visit, scheduled for March 2026.


Executive committee

  • Ann Marie VanDerZanden (chair), associate provost for academic programs
  • Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost
  • Wendy Wintersteen, president
  • Toyia Younger, senior vice president for student affairs

Steering committee

  • Kelsey Gillen (chair), director, academic quality and undergraduate education, office of the senior vice president and provost
  • Paul Hengesteg (vice chair), program and assessment specialist, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Erin Baldwin, associate vice president, student health and wellness, and director, Thielen Student Health Center
  • Sarah Bennett-George, teaching professor, apparel, events and hospitality management, and 2023-24 Faculty Senate president
  • Laura Doering, associate vice president, enrollment management
  • Sam Easterling, James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering
  • Jason Follett, academic advisor, College of Engineering, and 2023-24 Professional and Scientific Council president-elect
  • Heather Paris, interim senior vice president for operations and finance

Working group, Criterion 1: Mission

  • Jason Henderson (co-lead), vice president, Extension and Outreach
  • Surya Mallapragada (co-lead), associate vice president for research
  • Sharron Evans, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students
  • Bill Graves, dean, Graduate College
  • Sophia Magill, senior advisor to the president and director of federal relations, office of the president
  • Amy Slagell, associate dean for academic programs, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Working group, Criterion 2: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

  • Brett Lohoefener (co-lead), associate general counsel, office of university counsel
  • Jim Reecy (co-lead), associate vice president for research
  • Tim Day, University Professor, biomedical sciences
  • Heimir Geirsson, professor and chair, philosophy and religious studies
  • Heather Greenlee, associate dean, Graduate College
  • Jennifer Owens, director of student services, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Kipp Van Dyke, associate dean of students, office of student assistance

Working group, Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support

  • Steven Lonergan (co-lead), Morrill Professor, animal science
  • Sara Marcketti (co-lead), assistant provost and executive director, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Meghan Gillette, associate teaching professor, human development and family studies
  • Adriana Gonzalez-Elliott, director, Academic Success Center
  • Jennifer Holliday, Student Government president
  • Cris Schwartz, assistant dean for student success, College of Engineering
  • Hilary Seo, dean, Library
  • Rob Whitehead, associate dean for student success, College of Design

Working group, Criterion 4: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement

  • Michael Bootsma (co-lead), teaching professor, accounting
  • Amanda DeGraff (co-lead), associate director, office of institutional research
  • Christine Cain, Graduate and Professional Student Senate president
  • Monica Lamm, associate professor, chemical and biological engineering
  • Sekar Raju, Gary and Margaret Pint Faculty Fellow and Chair, marketing
  • Michael Retallick, professor and chair, agricultural education and studies
  • Rob Wallace, associate professor, ecology, evolution and organismal biology

Working group, Criterion 5: Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning

  • Siti Sabtu-Schaper (co-lead), budget and planning analyst, office of the senior vice president and provost
  • Karen Zunkel (co-lead), executive director, office of institutional research
  • Michael Harwood, associate vice president for campus life, and director, residence
  • Dwaine Heppler, associate vice president, university human resources
  • Tera Jordan, assistant provost for faculty success, and associate professor, human development and family studies
  • Brandi Latterell, assistant vice president for real estate and capital planning, facilities planning and management
  • Mike Lohrbach, chief technology officer, IT services
  • Chad Olson, director, office of student financial aid

Document finalization committee

  • Jacy Johnson, associate vice president, strategic relations and communications
  • Megan Landolt, strategic communications advisor, office of the president
  • Rob Schweers, communications director, office of the senior vice president and provost

Questions regarding HLC accreditation may be directed to Gillen, kmgillen@iastate.edu.