Iowa State University: 2016 in Review

2016 Year in Review

In January…

The Iowa State men’s basketball team defeated No. 1 Oklahoma, 82-77, at Hilton Coliseum in a nationally televised Big Monday contest. It marked ISU’s first win over the nation’s top-ranked team since the Cyclones defeated Kansas in 1957.

Following a month-long investigation by law enforcement officials, CyRide bus driver Benjamin Clague was arrested and charged in the Dec. 14, 2015, death of ISU student Emmalee Jacobs (pictured, right), who was struck by a bus Clauge was driving while she attempted to cross Lincoln Way. Clague would go on to broker a plea deal for 30 days in jail and a $100 fine after the Story County prosecutor concluded that Clague didn’t realize he’d hit a person at the time of the incident. In the wake of the tragedy, Iowa State launched a partnership with the City of Ames to study safety issues on the “Iowa State stretch” of Lincoln Way where Jacobs was killed.

ISU President Steven Leath (L) presented the final report prepared by the Spring Event Planning Committee, which was tasked with determining the future of student events and activities in the wake of VEISHEA’s permanent cancellation. Among the recommendations were alternate dates for cherry pie sales and the creation of a spring arts festival. Implementation of these plans and recommendations is ongoing.


In February…

The ISU Alumni Association held its fifth-annual Cardinal & Gold Gala at the Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines. The event raised $50,000 for first-generation student scholarships, as well as student and alumni outreach and programming.

Martino Harmon (A)(pictured, right) was named ISU’s senior vice president for student affairs, succeeding his now-retired boss Tom Hill (A). Harmon had been serving as the university’s associate vice president for student affairs since 2013.

The state of Iowa held its regular first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, with Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Hillary Clinton claiming narrow victories in their respective races. Iowa State politics experts, including “Dr. Politics” Steffen Schmidt and Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics director Dianne Bystrom (A), made frequent appearances in national media outlets throughout the process as all eyes were, as usual, glued on Iowa.


In March…

The Iowa State Singers were one of four choral ensembles that appeared in the 2017 Gotham SINGS! Collegiate Choral Showcase on Easter Sunday at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The Iowa State men’s basketball team defeated Iona and Little Rock in NCAA tournament action in Denver, Colo., to advance to its second Sweet 16 in three seasons under first-year head coach Steve Prohm. The Cyclones ended their year – and the distinguished career of fan favorite Georges Niang (pictured, right) – in Chicago on March 25 with an 84-71 loss to top-seeded Virginia. Niang would go on to earn consensus All-American honors and the 2016 Karl Malone Award as the nation’s top collegiate power forward. The now-Indiana Pacer poured in 2,228 points and snared 714 rebounds during his illustrious ISU career.

Cyclone wrestler Earl Hall (133 pounds) closed out his ISU career as a two-time All-American, finishing seventh at the NCAA championships. Unseeded 174-pounder Lelund Weatherspoon, a redshirt junior, and 197-pounder Patrick Downey, a redshirt sophomore, both placed sixth.


In April…

Iowa State student Rachel Wonderlich (S), the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program’s global citizenship intern, was chosen from among 3,000 nominations as the 2015-2016 National Student Employee of the Year.

Iowa State alumnus Goran Micevic (’10 biochemistry)(pictured, right) was awarded a prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Micevic, a native of Yugoslavia, is now a graduate student at Yale University studying melanoma epigenetics.

Iowa State junior point guard Monte Morris delighted Cyclone men’s basketball fans with the announcement that he would remain in Ames to play his senior season at Iowa State instead of pursuing the NBA Draft.


In May…

Just five months after being fired from his position as head coach of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, former ISU men’s basketball star Jeff Hornacek (L)(’86 accounting) was named the 28th head coach of the New York Knicks, making Iowa State the only university with two alumni currently serving as NBA head coaches (Fred Hoiberg ’95 (L), Chicago).

ISU President Steven Leath hired Rear Admiral Kate Gregory (L)(pictured, right) to serve as ISU’s senior vice president for university services.

After being postponed twice, the Iowa State softball team finally played host to instate rival Iowa at the Cyclone Sports Complex on May 3. The Cyclones won, 5-0, and in the process captured the 2015-2016 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series championship for the third-straight season.


In June…

It was the end of an era as ISU senior vice president Warren Madden (L)(’61 indus engr) officially retired after 50 years of service to his alma mater.

Jamie Trachsel (pictured, right) was hired as ISU’s head softball coach, replacing Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler, who was dismissed in May after the Cyclones recorded just one conference win during the season.

The Iowa State Cyclone Football ‘Varsity’ Marching Band performed in Normandy, France, as part of a U.S. government delegation sent to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.

Iowa State alumnus Edward F. Knipling (MS ’32 entomology, PhD ’47) was posthumously awarded the Golden Goose Award for his work in the 1950s that helped eradicate a deadly pest called the screwworm fly. The Golden Goose Award is designed to recognize seemingly obscure research that has actually had a major impact on the world.

Iowa State dedicated a new 49,210-square-foot Economic Development Core Facility on the south side of ISU Research Park. The facility is now operating as a “one-stop” shop for industries and businesses seeking the assistance and expertise of Iowa State faculty and researchers.

In July…

Marston Hall officially reopened following an extensive $27 million renovation that included three new state-of-the-art classrooms, a 177-seat auditorium, a student/lounge welcome center, and much more.

Laura Dunn Jolly (A)(pictured, right) began her tenure as dean and Dean’s Chair of ISU’s College of Human Sciences. Jolly was selected following a national search in April to replace the retiring Pam White (A)(PhD ’81 food tech). Jolly came to ISU from the University of Georgia, Athens, where she was a professor of textiles, merchandising and interiors.

Iowa State closed out the fiscal year by reporting a record $425.8 million in external funding was secured in FY16, including grants, contracts, gifts, and cooperative agreements from governments, corporation, foundations, and other universities.


In August…

Former Cyclone All-American Hillary Bor (’10 accounting & finance, MS ’12) represented Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, competing in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. Betsy Saina (’13 child, adult, and family services) competed in the women’s 10,000-meter run for Team Kenya, and Mohamed Hrezi (’14 accounting) represented his native Libya in the men’s marathon.

Iowa State women’s shot putter Christina Hillman (’16 child and family services & psychology)(pictured, right) was nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year. She would go on to travel to Indianapolis in October as one of nine finalists for the prestigious honor.

Iowa State’s unique cyber-security playground, “ISERink,” which supports activities ranging from cyber defense competitions to classes and industry training sessions inside a simulated environment that University Professor Doug Jacobson (L)(’80 computer engr, MS ’82 elec engr, PhD ’85 computer engr) describes as a “baby Internet,” was named a finalist for the 2016 R&D 100 Awards.


In September…

Iowa State announced a record enrollment for fall semester 2016: 36,660 students, up 1.9 percent from the prior year.

The Iowa State University Foundation launched the public phase of Forever True, For Iowa State – a historic $1.1 billion fundraising campaign — the largest in university history.

The Iowa State BioCentury Research Farm announced a partnership with Chevron U.S.A., supported by a four-year, $3.5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, to develop a pilot plant on campus and study an advanced biorenewables technology called solvent liquefaction. The technology converts biomass such as quarter-inch wood chips into a bio-oil that can be processed into fuels or chemicals and a biochar that can enrich soils.


In October…

Homecoming 2016, “Leave Your LegaCY,” was one of the largest celebrations in university history – including the historic return of the ISU Homecoming parade, which hadn’t been held in Ames since 1932.

Iowa State alumnus Pete Kostelnick (’09 finance and international business)(pictured, right) shattered a 36-year-old Guinness World Record when he completed a cross-country run from San Francisco to New York City in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes.

Two Iowa State University faculty members — Alicia Carriquiry (L)(MS ’86 stat, PhD ’89) and James Roth (L)(DVM ’75, MS ’79, PhD ’81) — were tabbed for induction into the prestigious National Academy of Medicine – a particularly remarkable distinction for a university that does not have a medical school.

The Iowa Board of Regents launched a review of travel and state equipment use policies following multiple media reports about ISU President Steven Leath’s use of university aircraft. The audit would be completed in December, with the Regents’ chief auditor concluding that some of the uses of the aircraft by Leath entered “shades of gray” as to whether or not they violate Regent and/or university policy. The Regents have accepted Leath’s statement of responsibility for some of those uses and his plans to prevent future issues.


In November…

The conclusion of a contentious and divisive U.S. presidential campaign brought race issues to the forefront on college campuses across the country – including in Ames, where protests, marches, and walkouts were prevalent in the days following the election. President Steven Leath responded to increased incidents of intimidation and harassment, as well as the appearance of racist posters on campus, with a video address in which he urged community members to revisit ISU’s “Principles of Community,” noting that “anyone who feels that their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political views makes them superior to others is encouraged to find another institution.”

Iowa State was one of just 14 collegiate cross country programs to have both its men’s and women’s teams advance to the NCAA championships. The Cyclone men finished 16th and the Cyclone women 29th Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind. At season’s end, head coach Andrea Grove-McDonough was named women’s Big 12 coach of the year and freshman phenom Thomas Pollard (S)(pictured, right) was named men’s Big 12 newcomer of the year.

The Iowa State volleyball team was selected for its 11th-straight NCAA tournament after compiling an 18-10 regular-season record under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch (L).

The Iowa State football team finally hit its stride under the direction of first-year head coach Matt Campbell. The Cyclones earned their first Big 12 win of the season Nov. 12 at Kansas and then broke the school record for points against a conference opponent the following Saturday in a 66-10 rout of Texas Tech at Jack Trice Stadium.


In December…

Iowa State football legend Troy Davis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York City. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist remains today the only Division I football player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Longtime Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced he was stepping down from his post to become the Trump administration’s ambassador to China, paving the way for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (pictured, right) to become Iowa’s first female governor just weeks after completing a degree in liberal studies from Iowa State University.

The Iowa State Cyclone Football ‘Varsity’ Marching Band learned it has been selected to receive the 2016 Sudler Trophy for collegiate marching band excellence from the John Philip Sousa Foundation.


Happy New Year, #cyclONEnation! See you in cyberspace in 2017!

How we got here

The words sting.

Raw and honest and unapologetic, they laid it on the line: What was it like being black on a campus of mainly white students? And what’s it like today?


Three Iowa State alumni from the late 1980s and ’90s and a former staff member spoke on campus this fall to a packed Sun Room crowd in the Memorial Union. “How We Got Here: Challenges and Achievements / A Conversation with Black Alumni” was sponsored by the Committee on Lectures, Black Student Alliance, and other organizations. Panelists included:

  • Modupe Labode (A) (’88 history), public scholar of African American history and museums and an associate professor of history and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
  • Keecha Harris (L)(’96 dietetics), president of KHA Inc., a consulting firm specializing in evaluation and organizational development for nutrition and public health support services, Sterrett, Ala.
  • Mohamed Omer (MS ’96 physical chemistry), former forensic chemist and associate VP for strategic foresight and innovation at L’Oréal, Naperville, Ill.

The moderator, Cecilia Naylor (A), was director of ISU’s Margaret Sloss Women’s Center from 1993 to 1997. She opened the discussion with a frank and honest declaration: “When I left Iowa State, I said I would never, ever, ever, EVER come back here. I was not stepping foot in the state of Iowa.” Her experience on campus as a staff member during the 1990s was that bad. But in the end, she said, she decided to make peace with Iowa State.

img_5086She said she connected with Harris, one of her fellow panelists, and they “decided to do something for the black students here now,” many of whom were in the audience.

Despite significant challenges during their time at Iowa State, the panelists agreed that their experiences made them stronger, and each made lifelong friends.

“My experience at Iowa State made me not afraid of anything,” Omer said. “I was the only black graduate student in the chemistry department. And this is the University of Science and Technology! There were NONE! Everywhere I went!”

Omer went on tutor and mentor undergraduate black students who were taking chemistry classes. “We were really a close-knit community,” he said.

He also told the students gathered in the Sun Room not to be afraid to work hard and try something new while they’re in school.

“I worked as a detassler,” he said of the ubiquitous Midwest summer cornfield job. “I had no fear. If you can survive detassling for 10 days, you can survive anything.”

Harris named the late George Jackson, former ISU assistant VP for student affairs and director of minority student affairs, as “the reason we’re all in this room.” Jackson implored Harris and other black students to take care of themselves and also of each other.

“He told us, ‘This place is incredibly rich in tradition but psychologically unstable for you. We are not as transracial as we think we are,’” Harris said.

Others on the panel listed Liz Beck (former director of the University Honors Program), Pat Miller (director of the ISU lectures program), and other faculty members and academic advisers as helping them navigate what was for them a difficult time.

“It was a hostile environment,” Harris remembered. “I loved the professors, but my classmates questioned whether I should be here. I became a parent during my sophomore year, and my daughter experienced micro-aggression even in preschool. It was heartbreaking.”

But, Harris said, she’s still “proud to be a Cyclone. I want this to be a better place for those of you who are here now.”

Labode, a Rhodes Scholar, became an ISU faculty member after graduation. “My greatest achievement here was the opportunity to teach,” she said. “The student-teacher relationship was really fascinating. I was in awe of all the student activism [of the time]. It remains with me today.”

Following the panel discussion, audience members were given an opportunity to ask questions. “What’s your advice on handling these daily micro-aggressions?” asked one student. “Majority students don’t have to deal with the things we deal with.”

Naylor, now a professor of history and Africana studies at Barnard College, responded: “Racism is racism is racism. You belong here just like everybody else. There’s a structural shift that needs to happen.”

And from Omer: “Part of learning is mixing with others. It’s going to help you at the end of the day. You need to know your Indian neighbors, your white neighbors. There’s a lot of beauty – you just have to open yourself up.”

— Carole Gieseke