Taking the cardinal and gold to the Capitol

woman in red blouse shakes hands with man in blue suit in capito

Tammy Jacobs, the hotlines manager for Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, meets Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg to visit about extension's rural mental health programming in the state during ISU Day at the Capitol. Mental Health First Aid was one of 18 programs shared with administrators and legislators and staff members at the Feb. 20 event. Photos by Christopher Gannon. Video story.


woman in red blouse talks with man in dark suit. Table sign read

Katie Woodard, lead public health veterinarian at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, speaks with Rep. Tom Jeneary, District 3 (Plymouth County), about the lab's services during ISU Day at the Capitol this week.


Free faculty conference focuses on AI

The Spring Faculty Conference returns next month for the first time since 2018. Faculty Senate president-elect Rahul Parsa led a group over the past few months putting the finishing touches on a timely symposium focused on artificial intelligence (AI) in teaching and research.


Register online for as many sessions as your schedule allows. More information about the keynote speakers and breakout sessions is online.

The conference is planned by the Faculty Senate. It addresses major issues of importance to the faculty and university.  The conference is held every other year, but was interrupted by the pandemic.

The free event on March 21 (9:30 a.m-4:15 p.m., Memorial Union) is structured around three guest keynote speakers who interact with AI in different ways. Several campus experts will lead 20-minute breakout sessions around the keynotes to discuss AI's impact across campus.

"AI is in the room, so let's not think about how it got there, let's think about how we are going to deal with it and what we are going to do with it," Parsa said. "Faculty who are already using AI are going to lead breakout sessions. I wanted to draw from the widest pool of faculty possible and hopefully have something for everyone."

Parsa encourages faculty to register for as many sessions their schedules allow. The day will conclude with a social reception and AI poster session.

"I realize faculty are busy and have classes to teach, but this is important, and they can pick which sessions they can attend," he said.

Breakout topics include the development of an AI minor, students thinking critically about AI and AI in graphic design education. Parsa said the conference offers a chance for faculty who haven't given a lot of thought to AI to see the possibilities and perhaps improve on what they are already doing in the classroom.

"We are here to serve the students, and this is an opportunity to talk about something that is at the forefront. We can take it back to our students so they can benefit from it," he said. "It is about incorporating these things into our curriculum and research so our students and state are better off."

Keynote speakers

Gagan Chopra is an Iowa State graduate who joined Microsoft in 1993 and currently works as a group program manager. He spent his early career in software design engineering before transitioning to a role focused on AI, primarily with the Bing search engine. Chopra will talk about AI's ability to enhance Microsoft's search capabilities for consumers and business and how AI can assist individuals.

Karthik Balakrishnan, also an alumnus, is a senior executive at Principal Financial Group with a Ph.D. in AI. His talk will focus on AI's use in the workplace and how to assemble teams to get the most out of it.

Anjana Susarla is the Omura-Saxena Professor of Responsible AI in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. She will talk broadly about AI's impacts on research and teaching. 

How Workday Student can distribute workloads and expand capacity

Many of the student functions and process changes rolling out in Workday arose from the opportunity to remedy limitations in Iowa State's decades-old legacy systems. Staff experiences and their ideas for solutions are behind a few improvements highlighted here: Longer course numbers and improved processes for editing course section details, for example, the course limit, necessary equipment or room assignment.

Expanding course numbers

When the third Workday rollout goes live March 4, students and employees will see four-digit course numbers for fall registration. A "0" will be added to the end of most undergraduate and graduate course numbers. Two exceptions are:

  • Courses for students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional program. The digit "7" precedes the course number to distinguish the series from graduate courses. Veterinary medicine faculty worked with the registrar team to determine which courses became part of the 7000 series.
  • Developmental courses that don't provide credit toward any degree program. The "0" appears as the first digit.


Four-digit courses


Intended student audience


Don't offer credits toward a degree


Primarily freshmen and sophomores


Primarily juniors and seniors


Primarily graduate students, but open to qualified undergraduates


Graduate students (includes Vet Med graduate courses)


Vet Med professional students (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)


Four-digit course numbers:

  • Provide more course numbers for each department as new courses are developed
  • Offer greater flexibility for course number sequences and clustering
  • Expand number availability in multiple departments for cross-listed and dual-listed courses
  • Provide consistency with course numbering standards at Iowa's regent universities and several peer institutions

Assistant registrar Heidi Christensen said the practice of retiring a course number when a course is discontinued creates a number shortage over time.

"In some departments, we've struggled to come up with [course] numbers the department prefers to use. The 1000 series will provide greater flexibility for future use," she said. "The expansion also gives departments the capacity to group course numbers by type -- for example, workshop, creative component or research credits -- for consistency across the university."

For courses completed while they were still listed as a three-digit number (for example, Math 195 this spring), they will appear that way in students' records in Workday. 

Distributing a big task: Edits to course sections

The task of updating course sections in Workday will belong to department representatives with access privileges, eliminating a manual back-and-forth process between departments and registrar staff prior to each registration window that consumed time. In the legacy system, departments didn't have access to course section records to change details such as location, meeting patterns or section seating capacity, so that load fell to the registrar team.

Now, course section edits submitted by department partners in Workday will be routed to both the registrar and room scheduling teams for approval.

The streamlined process also eliminates the former Course Offering Change Form, a Kuali business process in AccessPlus. However, part of that form's function is preserved in a new form. The room scheduling team worked with the Workday implementation team to create a single-purpose tool in Workday, the Course Location Change Request Form. The intent is to expedite the course section editing process (a Workday business process) by separating room assignment requests from it.

New form for requesting a classroom change

While course section locations will be listed in Workday during registration, it's "highly likely" locations among Iowa State's general university 209-room inventory will change by the time classes start in August, said Katie Baumgarn, who leads the room scheduling team. This is an every-semester reality, she said.

Room assignments in department-controlled instructional spaces are more certain, pending departmental decisions to make changes (which they then share with the room scheduling team).

Once registration concludes in April, the room scheduling team goes to work on hundreds of space and room attribute requests from department partners and the team in student accessibility services. As they work through those, course sections may move to other rooms. About a month before the semester starts, departments are notified of changes to their classroom assignments.

Baumgarn encourages department partners to use the Course Location Change Request Form in Workday several ways as a communication tool:

  • Share their preferences for course locations.
  • Receive an answer on a room request, prior to submitting the change in the course section edit process. Avoid declined room requests later -- and save time -- by completing this step first.
  • Investigate 'what-if' scenarios to see what's possible on room assignments.

Baumgarn acknowledged it may be tempting to go into Workday's course section editing task to make all changes at once, including location. Unless it's a room managed by that department, she encouraged department representatives to not change a location without checking first with her team.

"The final decision on location rests with room scheduling, based on what's available," she said. "If you try to schedule a really large class at 9:30 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, there may not be a room for you."

As with course section editing, access to the location request form will be limited to department partners or others with access privileges. Questions may be directed to roomscheduling@iastate.edu.

Parking rates, video/sound purchase requests go to regents next week

Parking permit increases, election of a president and several Iowa State building projects are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets Wednesday, Feb. 28, at its Urbandale office. The agenda is online and all open sessions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board website.

As proposed, employee parking permits will go up 3% ($2-$32 increases) on July 1. The additional revenue would be used to upgrade or maintain existing lots and upgrade equipment to provide better services. No changes are proposed to fines for parking violations.

Permits for the ramp at the Memorial Union, which is managed by the MU, not the parking office, also would go up about 3%, as proposed.



Proposed FY2025


24-hour reserved






General staff*












Memorial Union ramp









     Winter (Nov-Feb)






*also residence, Ames Lab permits

DEI directives

The board will vote on revisions to the Board of Regents Policy Manual as part of the process of implementing several of the 10 board directives that resulted from its eight-month review of diversity, equity and inclusion programs and offices at the three universities. Directives 4a, 4b, 5, 7 and 10 would add language to the manual's chapters on admission requirements and freedom of expression.

Board members also must elect a president to complete the leadership term of board member Michael Richards, who stepped down as president in January. The term expires April 30; president pro-tem Sherry Bates is serving as interim board president.

Building projects

University leaders will ask for permission to begin planning on two construction projects, using the construction manager at risk (CMR) project method, which shifts risk for staying on budget and on time to the CMR per a signed contract:

  • A series of additions, totaling about 17,000 square feet in three phases, to the large animal wing of the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center to expand reproductive services, primarily for horses, and equine sports medicine services, in response to the growing equine industry in Iowa. The estimated $12 million project budget would be covered by private gifts and university funds.
  • Two research facilities for aerospace engineering professor Partha Sarkar's team to study the impact of tornadoes, derechos and other severe downbursts of wind. As proposed, the first facility (phase 1) would be a prototype, approximately 1/20 the size of the second and built inside the west end of Howe Hall. Phase 2 would be a full-scale building, location not yet determined, up to 500 feet long and large enough to test structures bigger than a family home. National Science Foundation grants would cover the estimated $83 million-$94 million costs of the two phases.

The athletics department will seek board permission to replace the sound systems and all video displays at Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum during the time window of fall 2024 to fall 2025. The project also includes replacing the video board at the Lied Recreation Center, site of indoor track and field competitions, and video boards and sound system at the Cyclone Sports Complex, home to Cyclone soccer, softball and outdoor track and field. As proposed, the estimated $16 million cost would be financed through the regents' master lease program (First American Bank) and repaid with athletics department revenue and gifts over 10 years. Video components would be purchased from Daktronics, sound system components from One Diversified.

The board also will review an Iowa State request to issue an estimated $12.8 million in ISU Facilities Corp revenue bonds to pay to renovate the east end of the ground and first floors in the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center for a flexible event space with renovated restrooms and new food and beverage service areas. The project, which the board approved in September, also will upgrade the mechanical and electrical systems. Construction could begin this spring and continue through summer 2025.

Final hurdle for new master's degree

University leaders will seek final permission for a new Master of Applied Statistics in the statistics department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The 30-credit program would be offered as an online program and:

  • Emphasizes practical applications and experiences with current methodologies.
  • Includes a course on statistical consulting, communication skills and ethical issues.
  • Provides two credits for experiential learning.

Annual reports, presentations

Also, during the day, the board will receive these reports (information sharing; board action not required except to receive the report):

Academic affairs committee (10:30 a.m.)

  • Annual distance education report, board staff
  • Presentation: Meeting workforce needs through microcredentials and certificates, associate provosts at the three universities
  • Discussion: Approaches to monitoring and addressing academic integrity, provosts at the three universities

Free speech and student affairs committee (11:30 a.m.)

  • Annual student financial aid report, board staff

Full board (2:35 p.m.)

  • Annual residence system report, residence directors at the three universities
  • Administrative efficiency at the regent universities, board staff
  • Annual graduation and retention report, board staff

Playhouses will highlight Reiman Gardens' annual theme

Open cottage of 2" by 8' planks amidst conservatory plants

"Spring Cottage" is the current exhibition in the conservatory at Reiman Gardens, part of a "Living Landscape" theme for 2024. Submitted photos.

Earlier this month, the Reiman Gardens staff introduced the gardens' 2024 theme, which will drive programs and exhibitions for the year. The theme is "The Living Landscape," and each garden space, outdoors and inside, will reflect an aspect of that theme. Director of education Sara Merritt said she hopes its theme also will inspire people to explore the beauty of Iowa's living landscape along roads less traveled.

Summer exhibit

Sketch of a hobbit-styled playhouse with rounded roof, door and

Hobbit playhouse

As a part of the emphasis on the Living Landscape, 11 life-size, custom-built, fully accessible playhouses will be in the gardens for the summer season, June 1 through Sept. 30. The design inspirations include a Hobbit house, prairie school (inspired by Ames' Hoggatt schoolhouse on the Meeker Elementary property), library-themed "Dear Reader" playhouse, moss garden playhouse, vine house, woodland tent, childhood reflections house, stargazer, a burrow, a polycarbonate cube and a summer house designed in the style of the Sycamore Falls tower in the gardens' southwest corner. Some of the houses are being constructed in-house by staff and volunteers; others will be created by regional craftsmen awarded contracts in a competitive bid process last fall.

The indoor conservatory's spring exhibition features a spring cottage display. Exhibitions there rotate quarterly. The summer exhibition will be a Hawaiian "Life on the Lanai" theme, fall will feature a pioneer theme, and Santa's Workshop will be installed for the winter.

An enchanting spring

The outdoor season at Reiman Gardens officially resumes April 1 for a monthlong celebration known as "Spring Enchantment," featuring an exhibit of fairy doors and creature homes created by local artists and scattered throughout the gardens.

Special events in April include:

  • April 18-20, 25-27: Extended hours (through 8 p.m.) for viewing more than 50,000 bulbs, including hyacinths and tulips
  • Tuesdays in April: Rovers at Reiman, special hours (4:30-7 p.m.) for dog owners to walk the gardens with their dogs

Looking ahead

Dates are set for these annual popular events at Reiman Gardens:

  • Plant sale: May 10-12
  • Garden Art Fair: July 14
  • Spirits in the Gardens: Oct. 11-13
  • Winter Wonderscape: Thursday-Sunday evenings each weekend in December


Symposium celebrates 15 years of greening campus

Man at display table speaks with group of students

Recycling coordinator Steve Kohtz (left) demonstrates the finer points of recycling with visitors to the 2023 Sustainapalooza in the Memorial Union. Submitted photo.

Merry Rankin, working away at her desk last week, was surrounded by a "Clothes Donations Here" box, another box for "Green Promises" postcards, bags of clothing to swap, posters to hang and much more for the 2024 Symposium on Sustainability and its affiliated Sustainapalooza.

This year's symposium -- starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union, all free and open to the public -- carries the theme, "Past, Present and Future Commitment Toward a Sustainable Future: Celebrating 15 Years of Living Cardinal, Gold and Green!"

Rankin, the university's director of sustainability, said the symposium will be chance to reflect on progress made since former President Gregory Geoffroy launched the university's "Live Green!" initiative in 2008.

Looking back, "I think we've accomplished a lot," Rankin said.

Then she started a list:

  • Academic programs such as the climate science major.
  • Research projects including studies at Alliant Energy's new solar farm south of Ames.
  • Strategic plan visions of innovative solutions for environmental sustainability.
  • Eliminating coal-fired boilers at the power plant.
  • A full-time recycling coordinator on campus and solar-powered trash and recycling compactors all over campus.
  • Two electric CyRide buses.
  • 25 LEED-certified, green-designed buildings on campus, including two platinum-rated buildings (the State Gymnasium expansion and renovation and King Pavilion at the College of Design).

Rankin also noted she used to be able to count the number of reusable bottles students carried on their backpacks when she walked across campus. "Now I can't keep track," she said.

Symposium details

The symposium will celebrate all that progress and the work ahead. Highlights include a keynote address by Christine Ervin, who's known as a "proven champion for green markets" and was the first president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy. There will be presentations of Live Green! Awards for Excellence in Sustainability. And there will be art exhibits, poster presentations and table displays.

The next day -- 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the Durham Great Hall -- will be the affiliated Sustainapalooza coordinated by Grayson Adickes and Saumya Balaji, campus and community engagement interns for the office of sustainability.

Under the theme "Our Green Promise, Our Sustainable Future," the event will feature a clothing swap; a repair café to fix clothing, jewelry, accessories and small electronics rather than throwing them away; "green-it-yourself" projects to make and take; local foods; and green-living giveaways.

"This is a campus community celebration of what we have accomplished in the last 15 years," said Rankin, her office lit by the green glow of a tinted lamp. "A campus community made it happen. A campus community backed it. Now a campus community is looking ahead."