Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) For the second week in a row, it’s Big Monday in Ames — and everyone’s talking about tonight’s ISU vs. No. 3 Kansas men’s basketball matchup, though not all the news surrounding the big game is positive. Some students have been lined up outside Hilton Coliseum for more than a week in hopes of securing seats for the game, and while the “tent city” is certainly a good example of the dedication of Cyclone fans, it’s also presenting safety challenges in the freezing weather. A propane heater started a fire in one of the students’ tents early Friday morning, destroying the tent and a laptop computer. There were no injuries, but the alarming incident has put campers and officials on high alert and working to communicate as broadly as possible about safety.

University administrators and local law enforcement officials have emphasized that they do not encourage students to camp out for games, but they’re also not interested in violating students’ individual liberties. There is likely to be further discussion about the matter, but in the meantime ISU-KU tips at 8 p.m. CT tonight on ESPN and the student section will no doubt be there in full force.

5JMR-2082) The CEO and founder of “Girls Who Code” is slated to speak on campus this week as part of the university’s 30-year celebration of WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) at Iowa State University. Reshma Saujani’s keynote address will take place Thursday at 8 p.m. in the MU Great Hall. The presentation is free and open to the public.

3) New Cyclone football coach Matt Campbell seems to be working just about nonstop since his arrival in Ames Nov. 29, and he may finally get a chance to breathe Feb. 3 as the recruiting period ends on National Signing Day — though his fourth child is due to be born any day after that! If you haven’t had a chance to meet the new coach, he and his staff are inviting the public to a Cyning Day Celebration, presented by the Cyclone Gridiron Club Feb. 3 at the Sukup Endzone Club in Jack Trice Stadium. The event is free and open to the public.

4) ISU Dance Marathon, the university’s largest student organization, held its annual fundraiser this weekend at the MU Great Hall. $362,854.19 will be donated to patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital as a result of the students’ efforts. Check out photos in the Iowa State Daily online.

5) ISU has a new Student Health Center director: Welcome, Erin Baldwin.

 

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Class act

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Katie Baumgarn has the responsibility of scheduling all the classroom spaces on Iowa State’s campus. (Photo by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

The university’s fall enrollment is the largest in school history. In the last decade, overall enrollment has grown 40 percent. The impact of this growth has been felt from residence halls to dining centers, but nowhere is the pressure to accommodate the growing student body more intense than the competition for general university classroom space.

Katie White Baumgarn (L)(’83 home ec ed, MS ’95 curriculum & inst) is Iowa State’s coordinator of instructional facilities. Baumgarn has been scheduling rooms on campus for 23 years. She and her two-person staff scheduled 12,784 instructional meeting hours this fall in classrooms as large as 431 seats (in Hoover Hall) and as small as 12 seats (in Sweeney). Most of the work is done through a computer program, but there are still classes each semester that have to be scheduled by hand.

Q: How has the increase in student enrollment affected your job?
A: Before the semester begins, we look at high-demand freshman-level courses – like chemistry, biology, English, physics, and math – and project what space we’ll need. If we’re short a certain number of seats, we look at increasing class sizes or adding sections. We have to ask ourselves how we can help a class that’s always been offered Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 10 a.m. and the class limit is 70 – but now it needs to be 100.

There’s a lot of negotiating and partnering that we need to do with folks to figure out what we can do to make sure we have enough seats. We need to realize we’re here for the students. We need to do what we can to help them be successful and to complete their education here at Iowa State. It’s a four-year goal, and that’s what we should all be striving for.

Back in the day, classes were typically held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. What does the schedule look like now?
Prime time really used to be anything taught between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Now we’ve expanded that to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – that’s when faculty want to teach; that’s when students want to take classes. But because of the enrollment, we have a lot more classes at 8 a.m., and we’re seeing more classes that have to go to that 3:10 and 4:10 time. There are also more night labs. There’s actually been a big push by biology to offer labs from 7:30 in the morning to 10:30 at night.

We also schedule exams, review sessions, tutoring, and supplemental instruction in classrooms at night. Are we getting to the point where we can’t take on any more students? We can. We just all need to be creative in how we move forward in offering courses.

What would people be surprised to learn about your job?
Besides scheduling classes I’m also responsible for the renovation of the general university classrooms, and I’m part of the design team for new classroom spaces and auditoriums. One exciting challenge we have is team-based learning courses. That’s where the instructor has the students break into teams of four to seven students. For example, Troxel Hall was designed with swivel seating, so if an instructor wants to do team-based learning, they can.

I think people would also be surprised to learn that general university classrooms only take up 4 percent of the total space on campus. (Departmental teaching labs take up another 9 percent of the total space.) It’s a lot to squish in to such a small percentage of space.

The Iowa State Way

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By Carole Gieseke

Bill Fennelly saved the box score from the first game he ever coached at Iowa State. The official attendance was (drumroll, please): 310.

“It was pretty quiet,” Mary Pink, associate athletics director for marketing, says of that game. “There were not a lot of fans there, not a lot of atmosphere. I think they included the scorer’s table workers in that box score.”

The year was 1995, and Fennelly had just been hired as the women’s basketball team’s new, young head coach. He’d left a job he loved at the University of Toledo and took a pay cut to come back to the state of Iowa, where he and his wife, Deb, grew up.

“Honestly, we came thinking if it didn’t work out, I could go tend bar for my brother in Davenport,” Fennelly says, laughing. “We really didn’t know what we were getting into.”

This fall, Fennelly began his 21st year with the Iowa State women’s basketball program.

“If I would have told people [in 1995] that this is where we were going to be 21 years from now, no one would have believed it. No one.”

Building a fan base
In the year before Fennelly arrived, the women’s basketball program’s average attendance was 733 fans per game. Last season’s average was nearly 10,000, ranking second nationally behind Tennessee.

Today’s Cyclone fans are a devoted bunch, and the growth in their numbers has been nothing short of remarkable. But it didn’t happen overnight; there was no magic bullet to create Hilton Magic for the women’s program.

“I get asked all the time to speak at marketing conventions, and people want to know how did this happen and how did that happen, but there was no secret to it. It’s not like we came up with this master plan,” Fennelly says.

Fennelly had told then-athletics director Gene Smith in his interview that his number-one goal was to come out and sit on the bench and look up and have at least one person sitting in the balcony.

“I said that not really realizing how big Hilton was,” Fennelly says, chuckling.

The growth of the fan base began as a grassroots effort, with the Fennellys meeting as many people in the community as they could. The coach played golf with Cyclone Club members all over the state.

“I always had tickets in my pocket so that if I went somewhere and someone would say, ‘Hey, Coach, how are you?’ I could say, ‘Here’s two tickets.’ It was one day at a time, one person at a time.”

But it was two groups at opposite ends of the age demographic that made a huge difference in the growth of the women’s basketball fan base: little kids (with their parents) and the retirement community. Both of these groups appreciate the price point of the women’s games and enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum.

It started with Fellows Elementary School, which the Fennelly children attended. Fennelly looked at those students and asked himself, “How do you get the kids to come to the games? They can’t drive themselves.” So he created a program – The Lil’ Clone Club (now called Jr. Cyclone Club) – where the kids got in free, but the parents had to buy a seat to bring them to the games. Fennelly’s goal was always to make a women’s basketball outing less expensive than going to a movie.

And then there was Green Hills Retirement Community in Ames. Longtime women’s basketball fan and Green Hills resident Kathryn Engel was so dedicated to the program that she would buy tickets and give them away to other residents so that they could fill a Green Hills bus and get convenient transportation to the games. Then it became two busloads, and Fennelly and his players grew more and more connected to the residents. Today the team still visits Green Hills annually to sign posters and chat with the residents.

The ABCs
Fennelly’s coaching philosophy focuses on academics, athletics, and character. Those tenets strengthen not only the student-athletes, but also the fan base.

“When we recruit kids, we talk about ABC: You’re going to get a great academic environment, you’re going to get a great basketball environment, and you’re going to get a community environment that’s connected,” Fennelly explains. “I want [to recruit] student-athletes who understand how privileged they are to go to this school, to wear the jersey. I want our fans to feel that they’re proud to say they’re rooting for that young person.”

The tradition of the program is important to Fennelly. Every day, he emphasizes “the Iowa State way” of doing things. Every day, he talks to his players about their academics and about how important it is to be appreciative and interact with fans.

“This is a small town. [I tell the players] if you’re at Coldstone ice cream and a little girl wants to talk to you, you better talk to her. You can’t just be, ‘I don’t have time for that.’ That’s not how we do things.”

Every student-athlete who has completed her eligibility under Fennelly has graduated from Iowa State with a degree. That’s the expectation; that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“I tell the kids when I recruit them: ‘You’re going to hear a lot about all the great things that are going to happen at Hilton, but the greatest thing that’s going to happen at Hilton is to walk across the stage as an Iowa State graduate. That’s where the magic is.’”

A new game
Social media has changed the way Cyclone athletics has communicated with its fans. And Fennelly is a master. His Twitter account has more than 12,000 followers. The Cyclone women’s basketball program has 13,500 Twitter followers and more than 10,000 Facebook likes.

“On Twitter, you see Coach Fennelly’s personality,” Pink says. “You really see who he is as a person and how much he really appreciates our fan base. He’s a marketer’s dream, to be honest.”

Fennelly sees social media as one more way to connect with and thank the
fans.

“I’m on Twitter a lot,” he says. “It’s been a really good thing for us. Even the little stuff, like I’ll tweet out that it’s somebody’s birthday or one of our former players had a baby. People love that.”

But even with all the grassroots fan growth and personal touches and social media, ISU women’s basketball would not be a national leader in attendance if not for one important thing: winning teams.

In 20 seasons, Fennelly has averaged 22 wins per season (434-206). He’s guided the Cyclones to an unprecedented nine-straight NCAA appearances, one of just 10 schools to do so.

“Bottom line, you want that feel-good attitude of a winner,” associate head coach Jodi Steyer says. “I hate to say it, but it’s huge. You can be great people, but if you don’t show results it’s not going to be fun. When those wins come, it’s a great environment.”

The dean
Fred Hoiberg may have been the Mayor, but Bill Fennelly is the Dean of the Big 12 women’s basketball coaches.

“I’m the old guy,” he says. “I think I may be the only coach on the staff that Jamie [Pollard] didn’t hire.” Fennelly has been through six men’s basketball coaches, three athletic directors, and three university presidents. He’s seen the university’s enrollment go from 24,400 students in 1995 to 36,000 in 2015. He’s endured throat cancer that required him to stop speaking – which was really hard on everyone, he said. But the fan support during his treatment, he says, was “incredible.”

Fennelly says the past 20 years have been amazing.

“Iowa State University is like a big, beautiful state-fair-winning pie. We’re a very, very, very little piece of that, but I think we’ve added something.”