Harbinger of spring

Female and male students cut ribbon for bike repair station

It's not every third-week-of-February we're in a position to regularly use a bike repair station. Members of Student Government's Sustainability Committee, led by ribbon-cutters Olivia Miller and Nick Michel, on Monday celebrated the installation of two replacement bike repair stations on campus, one of which is visible behind Miller and Michel. Joining the students was campus planner Chris Strawhacker (third from right). Photos by Christopher Gannon.

Two bike repair stations have been installed on campus for free use by the university community, courtesy of Student Government. The new bike stations replace 10-year-old stations in the same locations, west side of the Memorial Union and north of the Hub. Both were installed by campus services team last week.

Student Government's Sustainability Committee worked with facilities planning and management to coordinate purchasing and installation. An award from Student Government's Green Initiatives Fund covered the cost of the stations. Each repair station includes an air pump, two tire levers, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, Allen wrench set (2.5-8 mm), box wrench set (8-32 mm) and a size T25 Torx (6-pointed star) wrench.

Wintersteen delivers funding request to legislators

Iowa State is asking the 2024 Iowa Legislature for $14.5 million in new funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The request includes:

  • $10 million above this year's $2.8 million in state support for efforts in STEM innovation and workforce development.
  • $4.5 million in new general operating support for priorities such as student financial aid, student support services, and faculty and staff retention, as well as to address inflation. That's about a 2.6% increase to this year's $174.1 million general university appropriation.

President Wendy Wintersteen joined her regent university peers to present their FY 2025 funding requests and respond to questions from the joint Education Appropriations Subcommittee Feb. 12 at the Capitol.

Noting that Iowa State's general university appropriation has been the same since FY 2023, she said the additional funds would help the university with high inflation and rising technology costs.

"We believe this is an investment that would be a good return to Iowa taxpayers," she said.

How ISU would use $10 million more for STEM development

Wintersteen outlined three priorities for additional state support in STEM workforce and innovation:

  • Hire additional faculty to grow high-demand degree programs in STEM disciplines. Some of these align with Iowa's "Hot 50" jobs. Examples Wintersteen provided are: architecture, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, computer science, digital agriculture, engineering, finance, marketing, healthcare management, veterinary medicine, K-12 STEM teachers.
  • Strengthen manufacturing in the state through three initiatives. The first would prepare a future workforce by expanding student internships with manufacturers in rural areas and creating CyTech Labs in which student teams work via CIRAS to assist Iowa manufacturers with their specific challenges. The second would capture the technology at CIRAS' successful Digital Technology Lab in the ISU Research Park in a trailer that could travel to locations across the state to help manufacturers increase efficiency and profitability. The third is further investment in digital agriculture (plant and livestock) research and programming.
  • Support rural vitality to attract and retain a rural workforce. The first strategy would expand Extension and Outreach's Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program (collaborating with the state's Economic Development Authority), which helps communities with populations under 20,000 assess their housing needs and identify solutions. A second would expand access to Extension and Outreach's Mental Health First Aid program among rural businesses and farm families. The program trains people to identify early signs of mental health issues; it's not a counseling service.

Wintersteen highlighted several university centers that exist to strengthen economic development across the state, including the ISU Research Park, the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), Iowa's Small Business Development Centers, ISU Extension and Outreach teams in all 99 counties, Digital Ag Innovation Laboratory, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the BioCentury Research Farm.

"We are focused on workforce and economic growth for Iowa," she said.


Call for new strategic initiative ideas is delayed

A future call for proposals for new strategic initiatives will be delayed until the budget picture for the coming year becomes clearer.

"We are making good progress toward the aspirational statements in our strategic plan," said Sophia Magill, senior advisor to the president. "As the architecture of the plan indicates, we must be agile in our approach. Our plan was developed to be as nimble and flexible as possible, and that includes being in alignment with our budget."

This is the first university strategic plan that has made funds available to invest in strategic initiatives. Over the first two years of the 2022-2031 strategic plan, the president's office has invested $14.4 million to strategic initiatives -- $10.5 million to nine initial investments in FY23 and $3.9 million to 19 projects in the current fiscal year.

Before any decisions are made on new investments in strategic initiatives, Magill said the university must weigh the impact of key budget planning factors. Those include potential opportunities for faculty and staff salary increases next year and the years to come; current and expected future health care costs paid by the university; and being prepared to respond to upcoming budget decisions in the current legislative session.

Funding extensions are possible

Magill said that instead of a new call for proposals, the leaders of currently funded strategic initiatives will have an opportunity to request funding extensions past the end date of their projects, or to request a second year of funding if they submitted second-year budgets in their original proposals.

Last week, Magill contacted project leaders to share the process for requesting an extension or a second year of support. Applications are due March 15, and decisions on the requests received will be made before the end of the spring semester.

"We will continue to engage with faculty, staff and administrators across campus and encourage connections with our strategic plan," Magill said. "Progress toward our aspirational goals is a collective effort.

"We will continue to collaborate across campus and with stakeholders to align efforts with the university's plan. We'll work to track campuswide progress toward our goals and measure the impact of our work across teaching, research and extension and outreach programs," she said.

Changes to federal aid processing will impact students

Merging functions from several legacy computer systems, coupled with Workday's capacity to automate some processes, will mean better service to students and less staff time spent monitoring records when the third Workday Student rollout goes live on March 4. Several changes to federal financial aid processing help illustrate this.

More accurate tracking of academic progress for aid eligibility

The U.S. Department of Education sets minimum enrolled credit requirements for federal financial aid eligibility: Starting fall semester, those rise a half-credit each, to 12 credits for a full-time student, six credits for a half-time student, all in coursework that applies to their degree program (based on the curriculum set by that program's faculty). Full-time status is required to receive the maximum federal Pell grant ($7,395); half-time status is required to qualify for the federal Direct Loan or Parent PLUS Loan. State aid programs have similar criteria set by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.

At class registration time this spring, academic advisors and faculty with advising roles will remind students about the new minimums to ensure students who rely on federal or state financial aid are properly enrolled. From there, Workday can monitor students' aid eligibility status as they drop or swap classes through the 10th day of the semester, when financial aid is locked in for the rest of the term. Students who drop below the required minimum before then will receive a notification in their Workday portal, with a request to contact the office of student financial aid.

Having student financial aid data and the degree audit process in two legacy systems previously made it difficult to routinely monitor student progress and aid eligibility.

Director of student financial aid Chad Olson said the change helps everyone.

"Our hope is that we'll gain more efficiencies across the board and be able to focus our attention on customer service for our students," he said. "This also allows us to more easily maintain compliance with federal regulations."

Financial aid staff will work with students and their academic advisors to tweak academic plans that maintain students' eligibility for federal aid when that's the top priority.

Olson said beginning around June 1 for fall semester and Nov. 1 for spring semester, Workday will conduct a nightly evaluation of students' registration status for updates in real time.

He clarified the minimum enrollment requirements apply only to federal and state aid programs, not university or private aid.

Undeclared option for first-year graduate students

The automated financial aid notification is built to serve large groups of students, but Workday software also can serve much smaller subsets, too -- such as a cohort within first-year graduate students.

Workday Student offers the capability to distinguish between nondegree status and undeclared status among graduate students. While it's useful to faculty to see the distinction on a class list, the difference also is monetary.

Previously, nondegree and undeclared graduate students shared the "undeclared" category. The first covers students who take courses for their own interest or development with no intent of completing a degree; the latter indicates those who intend to complete a degree but aren't yet admitted to a specific graduate program. Perhaps they need to complete prerequisites or want to take courses to bolster their application to a degree program. Students can remain in the undeclared graduate status for one academic year.

Nondeclared graduate students are eligible to earn federal financial aid during that year -- primarily unsubsidized loans. Students in nondegree status aren't eligible for federal aid and, according to ISU's Graduate Handbook, neither may they receive assistantships.

"In looking for ways to strengthen the student experience, this was an obvious win we learned we could do," said Natalie Robinson, assistant director for student services in the Graduate College. "There are a lot more nuances available in Workday Student."

Graduate students enrolling for fall will see the two options among their program choices. Robinson said by summer, Graduate College staff will review the 100 or so spring and summer term graduate students in undeclared status to determine -- by their intent -- which program of study is accurate for them.

Proposed term faculty changes in handbook draw discussion

At their Feb. 13 meeting, faculty senators heard the first reading of proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook that would clarify and streamline processes for term faculty in position reviews, term renewals and advancement. Each proposed change drew significant discussion.

Credit for previous employment

Lecturer or assistant-rank term faculty may advance to the associate rank after five years of employment at ISU. The five years can be reduced through credit for prior faculty service at other colleges and universities or with relevant professional expertise. Currently, the Faculty Handbook allows previous credit to be discussed at the time of hiring and before a first multiyear contract is negotiated. The proposed change, intended to ensure consistency, would only allow the discussion to take place before the first multiyear contract.

Originally, the proposed change was to limit discussion about previous experience to the time of hire, but an amendment passed that changed the sole opportunity to the first offering of a multiyear contract. Senators argued it gave term faculty more security and sped up the clock for advancement or raises.

Administrative opportunities

Another proposed change would allow colleges and departments to determine if their term faculty may hold administrative roles. Currently, the Faculty Handbook doesn't list administative posts as roles term faculty can fill. While there was discussion for and against term faculty holding these positions, senators ultimately asked that "administrative role" first be defined in the Faculty Handbook so they can make an informed decision. 

Performance evaluations

To ease the review numbers for departments with numerous term faculty, another proposed change to the Faculty Handbook would require that assistant professors be reviewed every three years, term faculty at the associate level or above, every six years. Currently, all term faculty are reviewed after their third year and then every three years. The change would more closely align with the evaluation timeline of five to seven years for tenure-eligible faculty after they receive tenure.

Proposed changes also would clarify that only term research faculty or adjunct faculty with at least 50% research in their position responsibility statement must supply external letters during advancement review. A maximum of three letters can be included. Confusion about this requirement has led some departments to require letters in the advancement reviews for all their term faculty.

Graduate Council added to senate

Senators approved including the Graduate Council in the Faculty Senate's academic affairs council to make it part of the senate. It gives the full senate decision-making authority for all graduate faculty, graduate and professional students ,and postdocs. The Graduate Council is renamed the Graduate Faculty Cabinet to avoid placing a council within a council. New language will be added to the senate bylaws to include the Graduate Faculty Cabinet.

Other business

  • Senators will vote at the next meeting on a resolution that encourages students to take part in the 2024 general election and encourages faculty to not schedule exams or major assignments on Election Day. A proposed amendment, to remove language in the resolution encouraging faculty to hold classes asynchronously when feasible and excuse student absences or tardiness on Election Day, failed.

  • The senate approved University Professor Elisabeth Lonergan (animal science) as chair of the committee that will conduct an administrative review of the office of the president. The committee will complete its work over the next year. Other members are:

    • Dave Cantor, supply chain management

    • Carol Chapelle, English

    • Amanda Fales-Williams, veterinary pathology

    • Meghan Gillette, human development and family studies

    • Patience Lueth, architecture

    • Rick Sanders, ISU Research Park

    • Omar Smadi, civil construction and environmental engineering

Course dates announced for leadership certificate series for managers

Course dates are set for Year 2 of a leadership skills certificate program introduced last spring by university human resources (UHR). The professional development opportunity offers management-level employees (as defined in Workday) a no-cost way to build their skills, both practical skills for everyday use and leadership behaviors for challenging issues.

The series includes eight virtual courses offered by LinkedIn Learning and six instructor-led courses (in-person and virtual) offered quarterly by Employee and Family Resources (EFR), Iowa State's Employee Assistance Program provider. There isn't a specific order or timeframe in which courses must be completed to receive the certificate. EFR courses begin this week.

How it works

rectangular certificate with cardinal and gold accents

All 14 courses are listed in the Learning app in Workday, where supervisors can register for their selections. Under "topics" in the course catalog, select "managers at ISU" and then "UHR Leadership Skills Certificate." LinkedIn Learning course progress is updated automatically, and EFR instructors receive a roster of registered employees and confirm attendance with UHR. After completing all courses, the employee will receive a printed certificate and an electronic badge of completion for use in their email signatures.

If you're not sure where to begin, UHR recommends attending one instructor-led course and completing one or two LinkedIn Learning courses each month to earn a certificate in approximately six months.


Employee Family Resources instructor-led courses


First offering

2nd offering

3rd offering

4th offering

Communicating in Challenging Situations

Feb. 16
(1-2 p.m.)

June 6
(10-11 a.m.)

Dec. 5
(1-2 p.m.)

Sept. 12
(1-2 p.m.)

Effective Leadership and Communication

Feb. 22
(1-3 p.m.)
3512 MU

May 16
(1-3 pm.)
MU Cardinal Room

Aug. 8
(1-3 p.m.)
location TBA

Oct. 17
(1-3 p.m.)
location TBA

Know How to Use Your EAP as a Supervisor

Feb. 27
(1-2 p.m.)

June 11
(1-2 p.m.)

Sept. 18
(1-2 p.m.)

Oct. 23
(1-2 p.m.)

Building an Effective Team

March 6
(10 a.m.-noon)
MU Campanile Room

April 9
(1-3 pm.)
MU Oak Room

July 11
(1-3 p.m.)
location TBA

Oct. 8
(1-3 p.m.)
location TBA

Managing Conflict

March 28
(10 a.m.-noon)
MU Oak Room

April 18
(10 a.m.-noon)
MU Oak Room

July 17
(10 a.m.-noon)
location TBA

Nov. 13
(10 a.m.-noon)
location TBA

Leading with Your Best Self

May 8
(10-11 a.m.)

Aug. 1
(10-11 a.m.)

Nov. 7
(10-11 a.m.)


*Microsoft Teams


The eight LinkedIn Learning courses are:

  • Coaching and Developing Employees
  • Managing Teams
  • Boosting Your Team's Productivity
  • Delegating Tasks
  • Managing Employee Performance Problems
  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Developing Credibility as a Leader
  • Body Language for Leaders

Questions about the certificate program may be directed to Lisa Goodman, wellness program specialist in UHR.

Receiving professional development emails? There's a reason

A longtime resource for Iowa State faculty development also is available to staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. NCFDD is an independent faculty development center dedicated to supporting higher education professionals make successful transitions throughout their careers.

Iowa State has an institutional membership with the center, and all Iowa State faculty, staff, graduate students and post docs automatically are enrolled in the program and receive weekly emails and notices of seminars and other programming.

Tera Jordan, associate professor of human development and family studies and assistant provost for faculty success, said the program is designed to enhance critical areas such as writing productivity and work-life balance, while providing access to a national community of peers.

"We're often so focused on individual work that we forget the importance of professional networks, mentoring and other resources to support our success. I have used NCFDD resources over the years to remind me of the importance of setting a Sunday meeting to plan each week, charting steps to meet a long-term goal, understanding the time commitment expected given the balance of my position responsibilities, and cultivating a network of mentors" Jordan said.

NCFDD offers numerous benefits at no charge, including monthly webinars, productivity tips and reminders, web-based resources and workshops, and a discussion forum that allows students and employees to network with peers across the nation. Other learning opportunities have a registration fee.

ISU Day at the Capitol will highlight 18 programs

"Innovation with Impact" is the theme for ISU Day at the Capitol, the annual university showcase that packs the Capitol rotunda with cardinal and gold.

President Wendy Wintersteen will lead a delegation of more than 40 faculty, staff and students at the half-day event on Tuesday, Feb. 20. They will share their stories with legislators, statehouse staff and visitors on how the university is meeting state priorities, preparing students for the workforce and contributing to the state's economy and quality of life.

Eighteen programs will be highlighted at ISU Day at the Capitol:

  • Alliant Energy Solar Farm at ISU
  • America's Small Business Development Center, with its partners in ShopIowa.com.
  • Ames National Laboratory, featuring its plastics upcycling program
  • Center for Industrial Research and Service and its student capstone projects
  • Center for Wireless, Communities and Innovation and its focus on rural broadband
  • Hixson Opportunity Awards Program, with current Hixson scholars
  • Iowa State Online, the hub for university online learning and delivery
  • ISU Creamery, with tasty ice cream and cheese samples
  • ISU Extension and Outreach: 4-H STEM programs, and NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium
  • ISU Extension and Outreach: Mental Health First Aid Program
  • ISU Extension and Outreach: Rural Housing Readiness Assessment
  • ISU Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex
  • ISU Research Park, featuring Alliant Energy Agriculture Innovation Lab, the soon-to-be home of the ISU Digital Agriculture Innovation team
  • ISU ROTC programs
  • Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, including CYStarter student entrepreneurs
  • STEM Workforce, promoting placement of ISU grads in STEM careers
  • Student Innovation Center
  • Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory


No snow! Take advantage of it


A recent sunrise colors the sky at Reiman Gardens. Photo by Andrew Gogerty.

The calendar may say winter but Mother Nature has been telling a different story. With a significant lack of snow and plenty of sunshine, there are ways to get outside and enjoy the weather while getting some exercise. Inside offers a few ways to take advantage of the warm February days or get moving indoors while learning more about campus.

  • Recreation services' Adventure Program has a range of outdoor equipment rental possibilities. Everything from camping gear to pickle ball sets and ultimate frisbee is available. Rental prices vary depending on membership status with rec services. If the nice weather has inspired you to get on your bicycle but it needs a little maintenance, rec services has that covered through appointment.

  • Take a stroll around Reiman Gardens. The gardens has accessible walking paths and no worry right now about snow or ice. Some cardinals and robins set up residence as do cabbage butterflies and the morning cloaks. If you are looking to soak up some sun, the benches by Lake Helen are a nice spot. Indoors, the conservatory has a new spring cottage display, and remember to enjoy the butterfly wing. ISU employees receive a 20% discount off any membership level.

  • Take the time to learn about and enjoy some of the amazing art across campus. The Anderson Sculpture Garden south of Morrill Hall features some impressive works including Ghost Trees. If an indoor self-guided tour is more your speed, George Washington Carver, The Student and Visionary is currently the Art on Campus Collection. University Museums staff also hosts Art Walks the last Wednesday of each month (noon-1 p.m.). Groups of employees can book -- with two weeks' notice -- a custom Art on Campus tour.

  • ISU WellBeing has numerous strolls for well-being categorized by season. Take a walk at your own pace and time. For Adventure2 participants, several activities can get you outside and moving, including a 7,500 daily steps challenge. Friday noon walks on campus resume after spring break, but Adventure2 participants can post their own walks in Campus Connections on the "Home" page to form groups for camaraderie and exercise.