Meet your wedding planner!

Stay tuned to the ISUAA blog for some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team.

And for assistance planning your wedding or event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Brooke, Bry, or Angela at (515) 294-4625, email, or visit


Left to right: Angela Horner, Brooke Lents, Bry Cain

Meet the Alumni Center team

Your wedding planner is going to be your right-hand man (or woman!) as your big day approaches. Because of this, it’s extremely important that your planner is someone you know and trust. That’s why, today, we’re kicking off our latest event-planning series by introducing Cyclones everywhere to our three Alumni Center Event Coordinators. They have more than 28 years of experience in the wedding industry!

Brooke Lents

lentsbrookeWhile Brooke was a student at Iowa State University, she started her first job in events, which would lead to many years of rewarding experiences. She was a member of the summer conference staff for the ISU Department of Residence, where she worked with all the summer conferences that stayed in ISU’s residence halls. She switched over to catering events for Hickory Park, and eventually moved to the position of catering director at the Holiday Inn and Suites Des Moines Northwest before she found the perfect job at the Alumni Center.

She loves the different clients and variety of events with which she now gets to work. Learning from this client about what’s most important to him or her is one of Brooke’s favorite parts of the job. The people by whom she is surrounded, both clients and coworkers, are what keep her motivated — as well as the high she gets after coordinating a couple’s perfect wedding day! After the drive home, she loves playing with her little toddler. who helps Brooke relieve any stress from the day.

Get to know Brooke:
  • What was your first car? 1988 Buick Century
  • Most unusual item in your desk/purse/backpack? A cell phone from 2005. I have a 2-year-old, so we have dug out old cell phones for her to play with!
  • What’s on your Bucket List? watching ISU play for a national championship
  • Strange phobias? popping noises, like a balloon popping or opening a tube of biscuits
  • Favorite sound? the Cyclone siren
  • Movie that always makes you cry? Marley & Me. It was one of the first movies my husband and I watched when we were dating. He thought I would like it because I love dogs. I bawled. A lot. Ha!
  • Worst song to have stuck in your head? If I tell you, then I will get it stuck in my head and I will be mad.
  • Is there a song that you know all of the words to? There are many songs, but the first one that came to mind was “Ice Ice Baby.”
  • Favorite children’s book? Hop on Pop
  • Biggest pet peeve? my husband biting his nails
  • Food that you have never liked (and will never like)? mushrooms
  • Favorite place on Iowa State’s campus? It’s really hard to pick! I would probably have to say the Gerdin Business Building. I spent a lot of time in that building and when I walk in there now, the smell of the building takes me back to college. It makes me think of my friends and all our classes in there. It makes me miss college!

Bry Cain

wisecup_bryannaBry graduated from ISU in 2017 with a degree in event management and marketing. Her first job in events was an internship coordinating weddings and events, as well as marketing, for Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Okoboji. After that, she started on the student event staff for the Alumni Center, where she moved up to the intern position and, with a little good timing, was able to apply for and be hired into a full-time position after graduation. She also has experience in coordinating concerts and working with floral arrangements and other décor — all experience she gained before starting at the Alumni Center. Scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram, and email subscriptions are what help her stay on top of all new and upcoming event trends. When asked about her favorite part of events she said: “Satisfied clients!” She loves to watch the client relax more and more throughout the planning process and the event and knowing that she helped them feel confident. When it comes time for her to relax, she loves to walk her Golden Doodle puppy or play volleyball.

Get to know Bry:
  • High school superlative? best smile and second in prettiest eyes
  • What’s on your Bucket List? Travel to all seven continents. I already crossed off skydiving, bungee jumping, and canyon swinging!
  • Strange phobias? Empty pop cans. Yuck!
  • Worst song to have stuck in your head? “Friday,” Rebecca Black
  • Is there a song that you know all of the words to? Anything Britney Spears or Shania Twain!
  • Favorite infomercial product? Or infomercial product you have been suckered into buying? A watermelon slicer with tongs. Just don’t do it.
  • Favorite Olympic sport to watch? All the summer Olympic sports, especially sand volleyball!
  • If you could only shop at one store for the rest of your life which would you choose? Target – no question.
  • Food that you have never liked (and will never like)? PEAS.
  • Favorite YouTube video? “Walk on the Wild Side” animal videos
  • Favorite place on Iowa State’s campus? Lagomarcino courtyard
  • Guilty pleasure music/TV show? all things within the “The Bachelor” franchise
  • Describe the perfect pizza? (crust type & toppings) Ooooh…I would love to combine stuffed crust pizza with Jeff’s Pizza Smotherella Sticks with garlic dipping sauce. Anyone else hungry?
  • Go-to karaoke song “Wannabe,” Spice Girls

Angela Horner

hornerAngela has worked in food and beverage for the majority of her 15-year career, from baking cupcakes and cakes for weddings to a hotel restaurant that led her to first “official” job in events at the Courtyard and Residence Inn Austin (Texas) Downtown. While in Austin, she decided it was time to move home to Iowa. She landed the program coordinator position at the ISU Alumni Center, was promoted to Alumni Center event manager, then stepped down to a part-time event coordinator position after her first child was born. She knew she had to stay in the events world, even after having a child, because she loves seeing people enjoying themselves at an event she helped plan. Loving what she does keeps the motivation flowing and the lists coming. When Angela’s not making lists, she loves to browse Pinterest to stay current with trends. When it’s time for some down time, she loves to read and work in her garden.

Get to know Angela:
  • What was your first car? 1989 Chevy Cavalier Z24
  • Most unusual item in your desk/purse/backpack? toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Favorite smell? warm vanilla sugar
  • Favorite sound? babies
  • Something you have always wanted to learn how to do? Farm.
  • Worst song to have stuck in your head? “Barbie Girl,” Aqua
  • Favorite children’s book? Bunny’s Book Club
  • Favorite Olympic sport to watch? swimming, volleyball, and gymnastics
  • Food that you have never liked (and will never like)? chicken-fried steak
  • Favorite YouTube video? any with baby goats
  • Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving
  • Guilty pleasure music/TV show? “McLeod’s Daughters”
  • Favorite Disney movie and song from that movie? Moana, “We Know the Way”
  • Article of clothing that you are embarrassed to say that you have owned/worn? MC Hammer pants


We’d love to learn more about YOU!

For more information about booking your next event with us, please call (515) 294-4625 or email We look forward to working with you to plan your special day!

Catching the entrepreneurship bug at Iowa State


From VISIONS magazine, summer 2018

By Betsy S. Hickok

For a young man who grew up dairy farming, Geert Boelen has found a novel way to diversify his future farm business.

Boelen may have come a long way from his childhood home, but farming has been a  constant. Eight years ago, he and his family relocated from a dairy farm in the Netherlands to one in Brooklyn, Iowa. With his agricultural focus, he decided Iowa State was the perfect place to pursue a higher education.

Besides his major in agricultural business, Boelen is taking advantage of the university’s  unique minor in entrepreneurship – and participating in Iowa State’s Agriculture  Entrepreneurship Initiative, created in 2005 to inspire students to think outside the box as they envision careers in agriculture. At the initiative’s core is the student incubator
program, which provides resources and mentoring for around 15 students each semester as they develop business plans and concept pitches.

As a participant, Boelen alighted on the tasty idea of cricket-farming after hearing a  podcast titled “Are edible insects the future of food?” He is now in the research and  development stage of a business cleverly called “One Hop Shop,” which raises crickets for human consumption. He and his co-founder, Darian Davis, have a business goal to provide restaurants in Ames and beyond with specialty-flavored whole crickets, and ultimately to become the most efficient and sustainable cricket farming operation in the  United States.

Boelen’s idea is one of many incubating in the multi-pronged Agriculture Entrepreneurship Initiative, in which students network with entrepreneurs; pursue coursework, workshops and internships related to entrepreneurship; and work toward graduating with viable business plans. The program is focused as much on generating new ideas as on teaching entrepreneurial thinking, whether graduates seek to initiate startups or simply bring a fresh perspective to existing businesses. Boelen said, “I have been very fortunate to participate in the Student Incubator program. Being in the same room with like-minded people and getting immediate feedback on new ideas helps me tremendously.”

The potential for the Agriculture Entrepreneurship Initiative to diversify and grow Iowa’s economy is not lost on organizations such as the Iowa Farm Bureau, which is the largest source of private support for the program. Since many of the students are  preparing to return to family farms and agribusinesses, the initiative can help re energize rural Iowa – and the state’s economy – by infusing farming operations and agribusinesses with entrepreneurial energy, knowledge, and leadership.

For the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Agriculture Entrepreneurship  Initiative is among its key priorities for the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, reflecting an entrepreneurial energy that is widespread across campus. For example, the Ivy College of Business not only offers its minor, but the college has also established the first entrepreneurship major in the state and the eighth entrepreneurship doctoral degree in the nation. Initiatives such as the CYstarters Summer Accelerator in the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and CyBIZ in the Ivy College of Business are also winning the university a national reputation for educating future innovators.

Such programs are preparing a whole new generation of professionals ready to hit the ground running – or at least hopping, in the case of Boelen. “The mentors I have through this program have helped me immensely during the semester,” he said. “They’ve  supported me and questioned me to better myself as an entrepreneur and as a person.”

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

‘A True Passion for Iowa State’


From VISIONS magazine, summer 2018

By Carole Gieseke

Julie Larson has tiny feet, but she has very big shoes to fill.

After working for the ISU Alumni Association for 34 years, Larson (L)(MS ’84 higher ed) is retiring in July 2018.

No more Big 12 spirit rallies. No more 50-year class reunions. No more board meetings,  Senior Week, fundraising visits, Honors & Awards ceremonies, or Cyclone Centrals. No more early-morning-workoutsand-grabbing-a-Starbucks before 8 a.m. management team meetings. It’s time for a well-deserved break.

With 34 years of service to the Alumni Association – plus additional years on campus with the YMCA and Financial Aid Office – it would be easy to focus on Larson’s longevity, but her lasting legacy is much more about quality than quantity.

She started out as an adviser to the Student Alumni Association (now Student Alumni  Leadership Council) on March 22, 1984.

“Truly, working with students is why I came to the Alumni Association,” she says. “That was a true joy.”

Under Larson’s leadership, the SAA program quickly became a standout among student alumni programs nationally. And it was during those years that she left an imprint on students’ lives – and created lifelong relationships.

Cyndi (Murray) Bonus (L)(’85 consumer food science, MEd ’92) first met Larson when she interviewed for a position on Senior Class Council. Larson was a new staff member at that time, but she impressed Bonus with her ability to work with each individual student’s personality and work style.

When Bonus decided to return to Iowa State to earn a master’s in education, Larson served as her mentor – and, coming full circle, Bonus became Larson’s graduate assistant.

“Working side by side with her and gleaning all I could about working with the students was priceless to me,” Bonus says. “Iwatched her maintain close and personal contact with countless alumni.

“Julie embodies true passion for Iowa State University.”

Later, Bonus served on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, and her husband, Ken Bonus, is a current Board member.

Larson’s job title has changed many times over her 34 years with the organization. As director of student and career programs, she served as adviser to ISU’s Parents’ Board, worked closely with the Family of the Year program, helped create the Cyclone Alley student section for ISU basketball games, and implemented a strong alumni career resources program. As director of outreach and events, she oversaw all on- and off-campus events for the ISU Alumni Association, including alumni clubs, Young Alumni Council, reunions, special interest societies, Des Moines outreach, career resources, gala and golf fundraising events, spirit rallies and other athletics-related events, the OLLI program, and ISU retirees. She coordinated the Honors & Awards program, oversaw Alumni Days, planned receptions for Iowa community presidential visits, coordinated the Alumni Relations Council, and supervised six staff members. When the Association moved into the Alumni Center 10 years ago, Larson helped create and implement policies for the new facility.

Scott Stanzel (L)(’95 journalism & mass comm) met Julie in 1992 as a student ambassador, and as a senior he served as chair of the newly created Student Foundation Committee of SAA.

“Julie had the unique ability to simultaneously provide sound guidance and insights to  students while also giving them plenty of room to make their own decisions about the
mission of their SAA committees and activities,” he said. “That meant a great deal to student leaders, as it provided a true opportunity to grow and learn.”

Stanzel’s family became ISU Family of the Year in 1994, and he later served on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, ultimately serving as chair of the Board.

In her most recent position as chief of staff and director of development, Larson has had the opportunity to reconnect with former students, Board members, and other alumni as she raised endowment funds for the Association. By the time she retires on July 5, she will have helped raise about $2 million.

“It’s rewarding to think that I’ve contributed in a small way to help sustain the Alumni Association for the future,” she says.

Jeff Johnson (L)(PhD ’14), Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed President & CEO of the Association, has worked with Larson for 18 years.

“She’s like a mini-alumni association,” Johnson says. “She’s an institution. She’s had an amazing journey, from student affairs to alumni relations professional to fundraiser.  Everyone she meets, she makes them feel so special, and Iowa State continues to benefit from that.”

Larson, whose husband, John, recently retired from a position with ISU Facilities Planning and Management, says she’ll miss working with the Alumni Association staff  and alumni, but she’s looking forward to the opportunity to travel and spend more time with her grandchildren.

“This was a dream job,” she says. “I truly can’t imagine doing anything else than what I’ve done. I’ve loved my job for 34 years. How many people can truly say that?”

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.


Cy’s Suitcase May 2018: Travel Tips

travel quote

shellie-newHere are the latest travel tips from Traveling Cyclones director Shellie Andersen ’88 as published in the May 2018 issue of Cy’s Suitcase — the e-newsletter for Traveling Cyclones everywhere. If you’d like to begin receiving this publication in your inbox, contact Shellie at

1. Back Everything Up
Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency. Back up your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online.

2. Take Lots Of Photos
You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist.” Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir.

3. Observe Daily Life
If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, spend a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner just watching day-to-day life happen in front of you.

4. Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language, too. This is a fast way to make new friends.

5. Don’t Be Afraid
The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations, but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be okay. One of the best reasons to travel with the Traveling Cyclones is because we have guides who are with you and can help you in many situations.



Career Question Dropbox: Email Overload


Hooray! It’s time to answer our first-ever question from the ISU Alumni Association’s new Career Question Dropbox. To get YOUR career question answered, simply submit it online.


THE QUESTION: What is the best way to manage an overload of emails?

While there are certainly a variety of methods for managing your inbox, one of the most popular approaches has been coined ‘Inbox Zero.’ Even within this approach there are different recommendations on actually achieving Inbox Zero. Michael McWatters, Director of Experience Design at TED, prefers “a manual approach: read, reply, take action, archive, unsubscribe.” Other experts swear by a set of specific tips.

A few of the most common ones are:

1. Schedule time specifically for responding to emails. Maybe it’s a half hour, maybe it’s an hour. Perhaps you need to schedule time in the morning and again after lunch. Determine the amount of time you need and when it works best in your schedule, then add it to your calendar!

2. React right away. If the email requires action and you can complete that action right now, do it! Chances are you’ll spend more time flagging that email for later or moving it to a ‘to-do’ folder than you would simply completing the task.

3. Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, Do. Delete spam, junk mail, anything you don’t need to do anything else with. If someone else should take action on the item, delegate it by forwarding it on to them. Respond right away if you can. And if you’re waiting on a reply or more information before you can respond, defer the message – but make sure you know when you’ll readdress it. As for Do, see tip #2!

Additional Resources:
4 Tips to Better Manage Your Email Inbox (By: Jacqueline Whitmore)
Improve Your Productivity With Inbox Zero (By: Aytekin Tank)


Until next time…keep those inboxes spick and span! And keep sending your questions to the ISUAA Career Question Dropbox!


A season to believe


From VISIONS magazine, spring 2018

By Kate Bruns

With its ups and downs, twists and turns, there was something powerful about what happened in the Iowa State football program in 2017. In the face of seemingly  insurmountable obstacles, the team overcame. Through leadership, belief, and grit, it overcame. It trusted the process. And the process, as Matt Campbell famously declared Oct. 7 in a jubilant, crowded Norman, Okla., locker room, started loving it back. For the third-year Cyclones head coach, it’s just the beginning.

“The biggest thing we learned [this season] is that belief occurred within our walls,”  Campbell said. “In 2017, we created belief. It was about who wanted to sacrifice and take leadership value into our football program. The next step is creating winning, and I think you saw that start to happen in 2017.”

And now, a quick look at exactly what did happen in 2017 – one game at a time.

Sept 2: Iowa State 42,
Northern Iowa 24
Iowa State debuted its 2017 team before a sellout crowd under the lights at Jack Trice Stadium with QB Jacob Park leading the offense, former QB Joel Lanning leading the defense, and the Cyclones winning handily thanks in large part to two first-quarter TDs on interception returns.

Sept. 9: Iowa 44,
Iowa State 41 (OT)
Cyclones fans weren’t quite sure what to make of the team’s performance in a 44-41  overtime loss to Iowa in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series – a thrilling game, no doubt, but not necessarily a strong defensive performance by either squad. Iowa State took a 38-31 lead with 4:36 to play on Park’s fourth touchdown pass of the game but was unable to hold off the Hawkeyes for the remainder of the quarter; Iowa forced overtime with a 46-yard touchdown pass with just 1:09 left in regulation before sealing the victory in OT.

“That was one of only two games in which we played badly on defense,” senior end J.D. Waggoner would go on to say after the season ended. “I’d like to have that one back.”

Sept. 16: Iowa State 41,
Akron 14
Campbell & Co. took the show on the road for the first time Sept. 16, traveling to familiar territory for the Ohio native and former MAC Coach of the Year: Akron. Fellow Ohio  native David Montgomery, a Cyclone sophomore running back, rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes in the win – signaling great things to come.

Sept 28: Texas 17,
Iowa State 7
In what would end up being Park’s final game as a Cyclone, the Iowa State offense  sputtered on a Thursday night at Jack Trice Stadium. Park would go on to announce Oct. 6 that he was taking a leave of absence from the team to deal with some personal health issues. He remained on the roster all season but was ultimately granted a release from
his scholarship in December. Despite the game’s negatives, the Cyclones did see promise in a new-look defense but were unsure how to move forward with confidence. That’s when the Cyclones head coach stepped in.

“The challenge after the Texas game was that there was an imbalance in our football program,” Campbell said. “I had to fix it.”

Oct. 7: Iowa State 38,
No. 3 Oklahoma 31
Coming off the disappointing home loss to Texas, concerned eyebrows raised across the country at the announcement that third-string signal-caller Kyle Kempt, a fifth-year senior transfer who had never played a down at either of his previous two schools, was going to start at quarterback for the Cyclones. On the road. Against the nation’s third-ranked team.

The rest, of course, is history. In a win that redefined the Cyclones’ season and perhaps even the future of Iowa State football, Iowa State was triumphant in Norman for the first time since 1990. Kempt, who was 18-of-24 for 343 passing yards on the game, connected with senior Allen Lazard for the game-winning touchdown on third and long with 2:19 to play that solidified Lazard’s legacy as the Cyclones’ greatest all-time receiver. It was a come-from-behind victory that Campbell says started well before the first snap in Norman.

“The week leading up to the Oklahoma game was the turning point in our entire football program,” he said. “Those Tuesday and Wednesday practices, I’ll never forget. Tuesday it rained, and that was one of the best practices we’d had all year. On Wednesday, Joel Lanning stepped back into quarterback for a period of practice and you just felt the team come together. We said we’re going to move forward together and not on an individual basis; that was really powerful for us.”

Oct. 14: Iowa State 45,
Kansas 0
The Cyclones were on “letdown watch” Oct. 14 as they returned home to take on Kansas on a rainy afternoon in Jack Trice. After a 37-minute weather delay, the Cyclones took their field and delivered anything but a letdown, pitching a shutout paced by 10 tackles from Lanning.

Oct. 21: Iowa State 31,
Texas Tech 13
For the first time since 1960-1961, Iowa State recorded a fourth-straight road victory when it spoiled Texas Tech’s Homecoming and improved to 3-1 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2002. Lanning and Willie Harvey led the way on defense with 14 tackles apiece as Kempt moved to 3-0 as a starter, connecting on 22-of-32 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

Oct. 26: Iowa State 14,
No. 4 TCU 7
It was Homecoming in Ames as the Cyclones faced another top-5 opponent for the chance to move into a tie for first place in the Big 12 and secure bowl eligibility for the first time in five seasons.

Marcel Spears picked off Kenny Hill’s pass with 1:16 left to play to seal the third-ever Cyclone win over a top-5 opponent – and second that month. “We played harder for longer,” Campbell said postgame. “It was really rewarding to see.” It capped a perfect October that vaulted Iowa State into the national spotlight – a light Campbell says his team took on with grace.

“We’re such an instant gratification society with Twitter and social media. We had started to talk about lessons of handling success in the summer – that it was going to be a huge indication of the future of Iowa State football,” Campbell said. “A lot of my own growth has come from learning how to shut the noise off, because if you don’t know how to do it, how will your kids ever do it?”

Nov. 4: West Virginia 20,
No. 14 Iowa State 16
The Cyclones’ winning streak finally came to an end in Morgantown, W.Va., where an early 20-0 Mountaineer lead proved too difficult for the Cyclones to overcome.

Nov. 11: No. 12 Oklahoma State
49, Iowa State 42
Another sellout crowd was on hand at Jack Trice Stadium, looking to will the Cyclones  back into the win column against the Cowboys. The shootout ended in a controversial loss for the home team, however, when wide receiver Marchie Murdock and OSU’s A.J. Green tumbled to the ground in the end zone after both getting their hands on a pass from Cyclone quarterback Zeb Noland in the final minute of the game – a tie ball that was ruled an interception. Iowa State fans were furious about the call. Little did they know, it wouldn’t be the angriest they’d get in 2017.

Nov. 18: Iowa State 23,
Baylor 13
The Cyclones grabbed their fourth road win in five tries during a trip to Waco.  Montgomery piled up 158 yards of offense, including 144 rushing yards, to lead Iowa State to a grind-it-out victory that kept the Clones in theoretical contention for a berth to the Big 12 title game.

Nov. 25: Kansas State 20,
Iowa State 19
Trips to Manhattan (and occasionally Kansas City) to take on Kansas State haven’t exactly been friendly to Iowa State in recent history, and an almost improbable collapse in their last game at KSU ultimately led to the firing of head coach Paul Rhoads.

This season, the Cyclones came into Manhattan ready to get the purple monkey off their back. They  controlled the tempo of the somewhat ugly contest and were in a favorable position with a 6-point fourth-quarter lead as they tried to milk the clock on a drive. On third-and-6, a pass intended for Lazard was not caught after a KSU defender hugged him tightly as a golden hankie struck his feet. The pass interference call would result in a first down for the Cyclones. Except that it didn’t. In a move that remains unexplained, head official Reggie Smith directed officials to pick up the flag. Kansas State would end up getting another offensive possession and scored, giving them a victory that left Iowa State fans and players both perplexed and irate.

Campbell endured sleepless nights in the wake of the loss.

“One thing we talk about all the time is ‘control the controllables,’” he said. “And in this situation, we didn’t.”

Dec. 30: Iowa State 21,
No. 19 Memphis 20
The Cyclones headed into the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl with several rather large chips on their shoulders. From the pain and frustration of the Kansas State loss to the blatant disrespect displayed by Memphis players when they flipped Iowa State’s helmet upside-down for press photos in the lead-up to the game, the Cyclones had something to prove Dec. 30 in Memphis, Tenn.

Getting the win in the Liberty Bowl would end up taking some toughness and, once again, an ability to rise in the face of questionable calls from the officials.

Driving late with a 21-20 lead, Montgomery appeared to hit pay dirt, but the officials ruled he had fumbled prior to crossing the goal line. Several excruciating minutes of official review later, the Tigers were awarded a touchback.

“We were in the huddle [during the review] and I remember [Campbell] coming up and telling us, ‘I hope we don’t get this call,’” Waggoner remembered. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ But I understood where he was coming from. At Kansas State we were placed in the same situation and it didn’t go our way. He said, ‘I want to know if this team’s learned from our mistakes, if we can finish it.’”

The Cyclone defense stood tall.

“We just kind of anchored down and said, ‘Look, we’re not gonna let this happen again,” Waggoner said. “All they needed was a field goal, but we were able to make a fourth-down stop to get off the field and that was a pretty awesome way to end it. It was.”

“It felt great,” Murdock added. “It was only right for us to send our seniors and our fans out with a W. And that’s what we did.”


171229-libertybowl-245-mattcampbellfileLed Iowa State to an 8-5 season and named Big 12 Coach of the Year after being picked ninth in most league preseason polls. The Cyclones were ranked in the AP Top-25 for the first time since 2005 after it defeated two top-five teams for the first time in ISU history. On the week of his 38th birthday, Campbell agreed to a new six-year contract extension worth $22.5 million.

Known for: Being famously dubbed “good as gone” on Twitter by ESPN pundit Kirk Herbstreit after the Cyclones beat TCU – a prediction that drew an angry reaction from Cyclones everywhere. After Campbell inked a new contract with ISU Nov. 27, Herbstreit
publicly acknowledged he was wrong and called Campbell “rare” and “impressive.”

His 2017 highlight: “Honestly, it was coaching the seniors. They love football and they love Iowa State. A lot of them had been through really hard times. But it was a group that had a spirit about itself, had the ability to overcome adversity consistently. That was really fun to watch. Those were the guys who really led a lot of change in culture within our walls that I thought was really powerful.”

The 2017 game he wants back: “Kansas State. Or Texas. Kansas State. I was probably as mad at myself as I was at anybody after that game, because I felt like I’d taken the mentality that I was going to let someone take the game from us instead of thinking about how I was going to step up and finish it.”


Waggoner_JD17LibertyBowl_6A 2017 second-team all-Big 12 and first-team academic all-Big 12 selection at defensive end from Dallas, Texas, who tasted senior success after a tumultuous Iowa State career that included struggles with injuries and coaching changes

Known for: His signature celebratory highkick after making big plays – including a down linemen-best 42 tackles in 2017.

His 2017 highlight: “After Kyle took that last knee at the Liberty Bowl. I just kind of collapsed to the ground, because finally we had done it.”

The 2017 game he wants back: “Kansas State. That was the most upset I’ve ever been in my life, I think.”


Murdock, Marchie_Iowa_2017_2A graduate transfer from Arlington, Texas, who played at and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois before inking with Matt Campbell in 2016. In 2017 he emerged as one of Iowa State’s top receiving threats, finishing third in receptions (41), receiving yards (513), and touchdowns (5).

Known for: Catching what would have been a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of ISU’s home game vs. No. 14 Oklahoma State – a catch that was also made by OSU cornerback A.J. Green and ruled an interception. “If it’s a tie ball…possession is to the offense… ROBBED,” Murdock famously tweeted Nov. 11.

His 2017 highlight: “I want to say a three-way tie between beating Oklahoma, beating TCU, and beating Memphis. If I had to pick one of the three it’d probably be beating Oklahoma, because of the way we won, but the TCU game is probably a close second because it was at home and we rushed the field.”

The 2017 game he wants back: “Oklahoma State. I think if we would have won that game we would have gone into the Kansas State game thinking a lot differently.”


One of the biggest stories of the 2017 Iowa State season – and, in fact, the 2017 college football season – was Joel Lanning. In what defensive coordinator Jon Heacock described preseason as “one of the most impressive things that a player could do,” the Ankeny native moved from quarterback to middle linebacker for his senior campaign.

What Heacock couldn’t have predicted at the time, however, was just how impressive Lanning would be – not just in terms of his unbelievable success as a defensive player, but also the fact that, of 934 total snaps he would go on to play during ISU’s regular season, 45 of them would come on offense and 124 on special teams. His nomination for the Paul Hornung Award recognizing college football’s “most versatile player” was for obvious reasons. The fact that he didn’t win it was a head-scratcher.

That said, individual recognition has never been that important to Lanning – though he certainly did collect a thick stack of All-America and all-Big 12 awards in 2017. Matt Campbell praised Lanning all season long as the consummate team player, noting “we’re a better football team with Joel Lanning on the field.”


It stands for “Greatest of All Time,” and it’s exactly what Allen Lazard is on Iowa State’s long list of celebrated wide receivers. The only player in school history with four 40+ reception and 500+ receiving yard seasons, he made the catch heard round the world to secure the win at Oklahoma. He broke five school records during his ISU career, which ended in style when he snared a Liberty Bowl-record 10 receptions for 142 yards as bowl MVP Dec. 30 in Memphis, Tenn.


For all the talk of offensive weapons on the Cyclone roster, the breakout performance of the season didn’t come at the wide receiver spot. Or even the much-discussed  quarterback spot. It was sophomore running back David Montgomery, who raced into the record books as a first-team All-American with 1,146 rushing yards.

“We had a lot of great leadership, but there’s probably nobody that’s pumped as much life and blood into our football program than that young man has,” Campbell said. “He’s the one who, in so many ways, captured the heartbeat of this football team. He doesn’t say it; he does it. It’s never an ego situation with David. It’s about what he can do for his team to make the team the best it can be.”


Kyle Kempt was one of the feelgood stories in all of college football in 2017. We all know it by now: The native of Matt Campbell’s hometown was a benchwarmer at Oregon State and then at Hutchinson Community College. He was third on ISU’s depth chart as a walk-on when he was called up to start at Oklahoma Oct. 7 and promptly proceeded to make history.

And in February, Campbell learned that his petition for an extension of eligibility for  Kempt was granted by the NCAA. So Kempt isn’t done yet as a Cyclone; he’ll be back for 2018.

“It is a thrill for me to be able to represent this great university for another year,” Kempt said.

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.


A conversation


Get to know Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State’s 16th president

VISIONS met with President Wintersteen in Beardshear Hall on Dec. 8, 2017. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

VISIONS: You grew up in Kansas and went to school at Kansas State University. How did you end up at Iowa State?
WINTERSTEEN: I was thinking that I would go to grad school, and I thought I’d go to  Oregon State (laughs). But then I applied for two jobs. One was here at Iowa State,  working for Extension in integrated pest management, and one was at New Mexico State University on the rangeland caterpillar. And then I got the job at Iowa State University. So, I was given an opportunity that was, for me, an incredible opportunity. I graduated in 1978, and I started in January 1979 over in the Davenport Extension Office. I worked in
seven counties, from Clinton County down to Lee County, and worked with the most
wonderful farmers and their families.

Why did you stay at the same institution for 38 years? How did you stay motivated and passionate?
It’s really about Iowa State University and [the state of] Iowa and the partnerships that we have, with our stakeholders, with our students and our alums, and how you care about your faculty and staff. I had opportunities to leave over the years … but I looked around and looked at the partnerships and still felt that I had a lot to give here at Iowa
State University and wasn’t interested in leaving. I love Iowa State. I have my “forever
true” button on.

How long have you been seriously thinking, “You know, I’d really like to be president of this university”?
I really didn’t give it a thought until Steve Leath announced his resignation. It had really been special to me when [former ISU president] Greg Geoffroy, way back when, had mentioned my name, and I thought, well, NO! That’s not right! (laughs deeply) I thought, you know, I’m too young … I’m not ready for that.

So, it’s been fairly recent.
And the reason is because, in searches like this, you never know who will be in the pool, and I decided that I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t put my name in the hat.

It was a good pool. You had strong competition.
I think so, too. But, again, I knew I could, if it went either way, I could still be the dean. I just thought it was important to have somebody at this time that knew and understood Iowa State University and understood [the state of] Iowa. So, I just felt compelled and I was excited about the opportunity to do it.

What’s one thing about this job that keeps you awake at night?
You know, we have a number of challenges in front of us. The budget is uncertain for the coming year; I think that is an important issue. And then, where we are in the discussions about the campus climate – have we really helped everybody understand what it means to reach out to somebody that is different than themselves? How do we get our students to that place? To understand that it’s important to value differences.

Talk about university size and managing growth.
I think we’re at a good size. And what has been important about the growth at Iowa State University is that it has increased the diversity of our student body. Twenty-four percent of our students are international or multicultural students from the United States; that  provides for all of our students a better set of opportunities, and so I think that is just a  tremendous value. So, I think this is a good size for us. I think we’ve managed the growth in enrollment pretty well. We would like to be able to reduce the faculty/student ratio. Certainly, our facilities are running at full capacity, but we are taking appropriate steps. You talk to each of the deans, and this is something they work on every day. We have a  great plan to look at how we increase our graduation rates.

How many red jackets are in your closet?
I don’t have enough! (laughs) There just are not enough red jackets!

What’s your favorite insect?
(No hesitation) Right now it’s the monarch butterfly. Iowa State is partnering with other entities to preserve the butterfly through the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium. We have support for research from those groups, support to ask private landowners to  provide land that could be habitat for the monarch butterfly. We’ve had great conversations, and we’re making progress. If Iowa leads the way on this, I think we can save this important insect and save its iconic migration back and forth to Mexico.

What else would you like people to know?
I was being very sincere at President’s Council when I said I care and we should all care.  And I think we do. And how we demonstrate that is important. I think that really is something we need to be known for at Iowa State, that we care about our faculty, staff, and students. That we care about each other, that we work together to accomplish our goals and to serve our students and the state.

James Autry is my favorite author. He wrote The Servant Leader, and one of the things he says in his book is that leadership requires love. I believe that deeply. There will be things we have to face, but we’ll do it together. We can do it all together.

Wintersteen on…

…the budget
“We are having numerous conversations about the budget. Of course, there simply are a lot of unknowns at this point. The Board of Regents is working through its process to determine the tuition increase. We know that the Board of Regents’ proposal to the Legislature is about new dollars to support student financial aid at Iowa State University and the other Regent universities. I think that shows the commitment to assist students and their families with any tuition increase. We also know that Iowa State had a very tight budget last year. For the most part, our faculty and staff did not receive salary increases. I’m making that a priority to address in this coming year. We work in a competitive market, and we have excellent faculty and staff.”

– From a Nov. 27, 2017 interview with Inside Iowa State

“We knew fairly quickly that [7 percent] was a number that wasn’t very well received in Iowa. It was jarring to students and to their families.”

– From an interview with the Des Moines Register on Jan. 16. Presidents from Iowa’s three public universities proposed annual tuition hikes over the next five years of 7 percent at ISU and the University of Iowa. In the Register interview, Wintersteen  predicted next year’s tuition rates will increase at least 3.5 percent and that the Board of Regents would not approve a 7 percent tuition hike. A final decision will be made by the Iowa legislature in April or May.

…being the first female president at Iowa State
“We went to the Homecoming football game with [interim president] Ben and Pat [Allen], and we visited all the tailgate tents. We walked along and stopped and visited with so  many people, but what was life-changing for me was the number of women who came
up and hugged me and thanked me for serving as president. To be a role model for young women, for their children, they thought that was important. And I think it is  important. We all need role models, and you know, I’m the 16th president – we were  formed in 1858 – and we now have the first female president. So, it’s a big deal. It was  nice to see the outpouring of support from people I don’t even know.”

…the student experience
“We have to always be committed to an extraordinary student experience. I want every student to be able to succeed at Iowa State. They have to work hard; they have to earn it, but we need to be making sure they have the opportunities to reach their full potential. That’s our obligation. ¶ We’re proud of where we are in terms of graduation rates, but those graduation rates are not where they should be. We need to be more successful  there. [We must provide] that extraordinary student experience, where more and more students are able to successfully graduate and go forward. ¶ It’s also about research, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development. We do this every day, and we’re going to do it even better in the future.”

“We’re not bringing back VEISHEA. It wasn’t President Leath who took away VEISHEA. It  was the people that came into town and misbehaved [and some of our own students]. Those people took away VEISHEA. So, what I think [senior VP for student affairs] Martino Harmon and [Talbot ISU Alumni Association endowed president and CEO] Jeff Johnson and other leaders have done, working with student government, is create a set of events throughout the year now. [These events] give students an opportunity to celebrate, an opportunity to be part of the planning and leadership of a big event that gives them a new set of experiences that will help them in their future careers, and an opportunity to raise money for the student organizations they’re a part of. That all exists, and it will  continue to be refined and improved upon. And when students have an opportunity to
participate, lead, carry out something like that, that’s a learning experience.”

…the importance of alumni in the life of the university
“We have a great Alumni Association, and people love being engaged in the Alumni  Association. I’ve always thought it was fabulous how the alumni board of directors is elected. That shows a level of commitment by alums. They know their set of  responsibilities that come with that seat, and they take it very seriously. You can see it in the outcomes that they achieve. ¶ It’s important to begin working with alums immediately [after graduation]. By having our young alums become engaged with us, they may go up and down with how they participate as their life changes and they have children and their job gets bigger, but when you connect early, then I think you connect forever.”

…the 21st century land-grant university
“When I think about the 21st century land-grant university, I believe that our missions are still as relevant today as they were back in 1858 and when the very special pieces of legislation were passed to support the Morrill and Smith-Lever Acts. I think those missions are still in place. I think it’s critically important that we have our Extension programming out in the state, that we have a diverse set of programmatic areas that we work in. ¶ I think the work we do in all three missions – teaching, research, and extension – continues to evolve, and how we reach and connect with Iowa citizens and with our students, how we connect nationally and internationally, continues to evolve. But the core stays the same, and in the end it’s about the relationship we have with people, it’s how we communicate with them, and it’s the trust that we’ve built together really to achieve some very great things.” ■

Statements are from Wendy Wintersteen’s Dec. 8, 2017 interview with VISIONS magazine
unless otherwise noted.


Just call him the president’s spouse

Life for Robert Waggoner (L) since Oct. 23, 2017, has been a whirlwind.

That was the day his wife, Wendy Wintersteen, was named president of Iowa State  University.

“Around that time there had just been the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and I told people that we’d just entered our own personal Category 5,” he says, laughing. “But as each week went by it decreased and decreased, and now we’re just in a tropical storm. That’s our current life.”

Waggoner and Wintersteen met in the state of Kansas when they were still in high school. They married in 1984. Waggoner is a 1981 graduate of Drake University, with a degree in psychology. He worked in sales and marketing in his family’s business before pursuing his dream job: dreams.

“I decided that I wanted to write a book on a niche area of psychology called lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming means that you realize within the dream that you’re dreaming,” he said.

He joined the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and he published a book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, in 2008. That book has been translated into multiple languages and is currently in its 10th printing. He followed it up with a second book, Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple: Tips and Techniques for Insight, Creativity, and Personal Growth in 2015, co-written with author Caroline McCready.

Waggoner had to make a speedy transition to the president’s spouse, his new official job title. On Oct. 23, he says, Wintersteen was on the phone with the Board of Regents,  accepting the position.

“She gave a date that was literally about 10 days later, and I was in the background thinking, ‘We will not be ready!’” he said. “So, thankfully she thought about it for 30 seconds after she hung up and called them back and asked for one more week.” Wintersteen started her job on Nov. 20.

But now he’s ready to embrace his new role, one that, for 160 years at Iowa State, has been held by women.

“For the most part, I see the demands of the role are roughly the same [for a male]: to act as someone who supports their spouse, supports the president, supports the university, supports the students, faculty, and staff, and in many degrees is involved in social  functions. But it is a little bit different, I think, being a man in this role, because my wife is the first woman who’s been a president of Iowa State University. So, in that sense I’m aware that I’m setting precedents.”

Waggoner has experience, serving as the dean’s spouse for 11 years, during which he traveled, met with alumni and donors, visited project sites, and attended events for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He said he plans to reach out to all parts of the campus and the Ames community, making the historic president’s residence available for events.

“We’re happy to have events here, because we know for many people, coming to The Knoll is a special time,” he said. “I think things will be a bit more active here [in The Knoll].”

Wintersteen says her husband is ready to step in to his new role.

“Robert is very serious about his role,” she said. “He was engaged in conversations with [former interim first lady] Pat Allen very much during that month we had with them. He’s in great conversations with [former first lady] Kathy Geoffroy; he and [former first lady] Janet Leath have had a conversation. He’s very serious about it. He wants to do a good job.”

Waggoner says he’s excited about the challenge to support the new president.

“You know, we’ve been here at Iowa State University throughout Wendy’s entire career,” he said. “We feel very much at home here. We’ve come to love Iowa State and the students and the faculty and staff. It’s truly a phenomenal university.”

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.