Dec. 16, 2010

Regents approve faculty development proposals, agree to revisit the concept

by Anne Krapfl

Professional development assignments (PDA) for 22 ISU faculty for FY12 received state Board of Regents approval Dec. 9, though not without some discussion and an agreement by the board to discuss the practice in depth at a later date. The vote to approve was 6-0, with regent Michael Gartner abstaining. Regents Ruth Harkin and Bonnie Campbell were absent.

The 22 PDAs at Iowa State represent just 1.4 percent of faculty eligible to apply for one. ISU faculty employed half-time or more are eligible, with no length of service minimum. Priority may be given to tenured faculty and to faculty who haven't had a PDA in the previous five years. Among faculty approved for PDAs next year, the average length of service to the university is 15.2 years. Sixteen of next year's PDAs are for a semester; the others range in length from six months to the full 2011-12 academic year. Summaries of the faculty members' PDA plans are online in the meeting agenda (PDF) (see pp. 21-25).

In requesting approval of the PDA list, president Gregory Geoffroy recalled his own faculty development experience in Europe, where he learned new laboratory techniques, developed long-term relationships for research and grant writing, and opened a pipeline for graduate students and post docs to his university.

"It's a very worthwhile investment, and the benefits will be tremendous," he said.

Regent Robert Downer said he supports professional development opportunities for faculty but said the public may not, and "in the next few months, we have to do a better job of explaining this to the public."

Gartner proposed that board members discuss "the entire issue of PDAs at a summer meeting so we're not left with this up-or-down vote every December."

Board president David Miles agreed to schedule such a discussion. He also spoke in support of PDAs, saying they're critical to the regent universities' education mission.

"To create new knowledge, faculty need time to sharpen the saw and engage in new activities," he said.

Regent Rose Vasquez said she believes PDAs -- and the possibility for them -- improve recruitment and retention.

"If this is off the plate, we might find ourselves not getting the sought-after candidates," she said.

Summer flood update

In his regular flood recovery report to the board, vice president for business and finance Warren Madden said the university is making "great progress." He said ISU has paid about $20 million for repairs so far and is receiving insurance reimbursements at the expected rates.

He said the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) representatives expect to prepare about 60 project worksheets for building repair and flood mitigation projects on campus by the end of January; about a dozen have been completed so far.

Madden reported that FEMA officials have said they believe all major university structures in the flood plain can be flood-proofed, for example, with devices that can be inserted in doorways with an hour or two's notice of likely flooding; or by replacing glass wall panels with steel or concrete alternatives. The Lied recreation facility will require special attention from engineers, he said, because it's the only building in which the floodwater seeped up from the ground, through the floor and the indoor track surface.

Madden said mitigation strategies likely would use the 500-year flood measurement as a starting point, add two feet and protect to that level.

In other business related to Iowa State, the regents approved requests:

  • To appoint Lisa Nolan as the Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, effective Jan. 15, 2011. She succeeds John Thomson, who is retiring as dean but remaining as a faculty member. Citing the physical expansion of the Vet Med campus, the college's cooperative agreement with the University of Nebraska and its general service to the state of Iowa, Geoffroy said the transformation in the college under Thomson's leadership has been "just phenomenal."
  • For a Swine Medicine Education Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Beginning in the 2011-12 academic year, it will offer a comprehensive series of courses in swine production medicine and hands-on experiences in all segments of the pork production chain. Locke Karriker, associate professor of production animal medicine, will serve as the center's director.
    Thomson compared the center to its beef cattle counterpart, the Great Plains Veterinary Education Center at Clay Center, Neb., operated by the University of Nebraska. Thomson told the regents that most of the country's 28 veterinary colleges don't have swine medicine programs, and the need is great to train veterinarians to work in that area. The center also will have the capacity to train practicing veterinarians, vet technicians and employees working in related industries. Iowa State is a recognized expert in this area and is a logical provider of this educational service, he said. Thomson said the swine center will not require the college to decrease support for any components of its production animal programs (such as dairy, poultry or beef science).
  • For a new degree program, the master of industrial design in the College of Design. Students in the two-year, studio-based graduate program will pick from three different tracks: a research track (with a thesis), a business track (with a final project) and a condensed track for mid-career professionals (with a final project that builds on their professional experience).