2017: An ISU Year in Review


Happy New Year, Cyclones everywhere! Let’s have a little stroll down memory lane. Here’s our annual look back at the events that defined the year at Iowa State University: the ISU News Flash Year in Review. Thank you for being part of a Cardinal & Gold 2017:


…the ISU Foundation announced receipt of one of the largest major gifts in university history: an anonymous donation of an equity stake representing majority ownership of the education company Curriculum Associates, LLC to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The gift would later be analyzed and valued at $145 million, providing $5-6 million annually to the college in perpetuity.

…a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Geoffroy Hall, a new 784-bed residence hall that is named in honor of Iowa State University President Emeritus Gregory L. Geoffroy (L).

…the College of William and Mary’s Vernon Hurte (A) was tabbed to take over as ISU’s dean of students effective July 3. He succeeds Pamela Anthony, who served as ISU’s dean of students from 2012-2016 before becoming vice president at Southern Methodist University. The ISU campus mourned when Anthony died of cancer Jan. 17 at age 45.

…Iowa State’s largest student-run philanthropy, Dance Marathon, celebrated its 20th anniversary raising funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.

…the ISU Alumni Association launched a new Black College Network Mentor program for African American students and alumni.

…a team of three ISU design and engineering students captured first place at the 26th annual Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition.

…head wrestling coach Kevin Jackson announced he would step down from his position following the 2016-2017 season.


…the Iowa legislature passed a de-appropriation bill that administrators estimated would have an $8 million negative impact on the university’s bottom line in 2017-2018.

Lisa K. Nolan resigned her post as ISU’s Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Veterinary Medicine to become vet med dean at her alma mater, the University of Georgia.

…Virginia Tech’s Kevin Dresser was named Iowa State’s new head wrestling coach.

…more than 570 Cyclones attended the sixth-annual Cardinal & Gold Gala in Des Moines, which raised approximately $80,000 for student and alumni programming and fully funding the endowment that supports first-generation college student scholarships.

…Iowa State alumna Nawal El Moutawakel (’88 phys ed), who chaired the 2016 International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission, was part of an IOC team that was recognized with the international 2017 Laureus Sport for Good Award for its creation and support of the 2016 Refugee Olympic Team.

…the ISU Alumni Association sponsored the ISU men’s basketball team’s Senior Night game at Hilton Coliseum and launched “Cyclones Everywhere,” a new rallying cry and commitment to tell the stories and provide the experiences that bond us as Iowa Staters.


Steven Leath (L) was appointed the 19th president of Auburn University, ending his five-year tenure at Iowa State. Leath announced that his last day on campus would be May 8. Former ISU dean and provost Benjamin Allen (L) was quickly tabbed to take over as Iowa State’s interim leader.

…the Iowa State men’s basketball team won its third Big 12 tournament title in four seasons, defeating Oklahoma State, TCU, and No. 11 West Virginia to earn the 2017 league tourney crown at Kansas City’s Sprint Center (Hilton South).  Point guard Monte Morris (’17 liberal studies) was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

…Iowa State was one of 25 schools with both its men’s and women’s basketball teams represented in the NCAA tournament. The men advanced to the second round and the women bowed out in round one to defending national champion Syracuse. Head coaches Steve Prohm and Bill Fennelly (L) each signed contract extensions following the season.

…ISU vice president for extension and outreach Cathann Kress (A)(’83 social work) resigned her position to become vice president and dean at Ohio State University.

…a record number of women participated in the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics’ annual “Ready to Run: Campaign Training for Women” workshop on campus.

…Iowa State held its annual Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE), which was for the first time named in honor of retired ISU administrator Thomas L. Hill (A).

…Michael Newton (A) was named ISU’s chief of police, replacing retired chief Jerry Stewart.

…the ISU Alumni Association launched a new special interest society for Graduate College alumni during ISU’s 4th annual Graduate and Professional Students Research Conference.


…the Iowa Board of Regents appointed the search committee tasked with selecting Iowa State’s 16th president—led by co-chairs Dan Houston (’84 marketing), president and CEO of Principal Financial Group, and Luis Rico-Gutierrez (A), Dean of ISU’s College of Design.

…four Iowa State students were awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship for math, science, and engineering excellence. Iowa State was one of only four schools nationally to go 4-for-4 on having its nominated students selected for the award in 2017.

…the Iowa legislature passed Senate File 510, a budget bill that zeroed funding for ISU’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture – a 30-year-old institution created at Iowa State to provide sustainability resources for Iowa farmers.

…Cyclone gymnast and Des Moines native Haylee Young qualified for the 2017 NCAA gymnastics championships in St. Louis, Mo., after notching a top-two individual finish at regional competition.


…for the second year in a row, Iowa State graduated a record number of students at its spring commencement exercises; 5,093 Cyclones earned undergraduate, graduate, or veterinary medicine degrees May 4-5.

Benjamin Allen (L) began his term as ISU’s interim president after Steven Leath (L) officially left office following spring commencement.

…Iowa State alumna Kim Reynolds (A)(’16 liberal studies) was sworn in as the first female governor of the State of Iowa. Reynolds was the state’s longtime lieutenant governor under Terry Branstad, who left office to become U.S. Ambassador to China.

…Cyclone men’s golfer Nick Voke (’17 kinesiology & health) shot a school-record 61 to earn medalist honors and the Iowa State team shot a school-record 263 (-21) at the NCAA Austin Regional to qualify for ISU’s eighth national championship appearance in school history.

…Iowa State’s Black Cultural Center was officially renamed in honor of the late ISU retiree George A. Jackson. Jackson, who died in 2016 at the age of 75, played a pivotal role in creating opportunities for African American students on campus throughout his distinguished career.


…the Iowa Board of Regents approved a supplemental tuition plan that has added $216 to ISU students’ undergraduate tuition bills for the 2017-2018 academic year. The Regents also approved a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Iowa State.

…ISU announced a $7 million commitment from the Gerdin Charitable Foundation to fund facility expansion in the College of Business – something Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding (L) described as critical, citing the fact that the college has grown by a whopping 30 percent just since he arrived in 2013.

…ISU’s Team PrISUm unveiled its latest solar car, Penumbra, on a 99-county summer tour that kicked off at the ISU Alumni Center. The $750,000, four-seat passenger car would go on to race in October at the World Solar Car Challenge in Australia.

…All-American point guard Monte Morris (’17 liberal studies) and All-American long jumper Jhonamy Luque (’17 marketing) were named ISU’s male and female athletes of the year, respectively, for the 2016-2017 season.

…Iowa State University became a partner in a new, $104 million research center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation was created to study the next generation of plant-based, sustainable, cost-effective biofuels and bioproducts.

…Iowa State also announced a new partnership with Des Moines Area Community College to create the Iowa Cyber Hub, a regional facility designed to create “a critical mass of cyber security education and training in central Iowa.”

…Iowa State head softball coach Jamie Trachsel resigned her position to become head coach at the University of Minnesota after only one season in Ames. She was replaced by Jamie Pinkerton, a former Cyclones assistant who most recently served as head coach at the University of Montana for three seasons.

…the ISU Alumni Association re-introduced its LegaCY Club, with new programs and benefit—including a brand-new children’s book, Cy’s Surprise.


…Iowa State University received a historic gift commitment of $50 million to name its College of Business. The Ivy College of Business, named in recognition of the support from Debbie and Jerry (’53 indus admin) Ivy (L) of Los Altos Hills, Calif., is ISU’s first-ever donor-named college.

…Iowa State’s presidential search committee began discussion of the 64 applications it received for the position.

…the university received gift commitments from Kent Corporation, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and Sukup Manufacturing Co. to create a new $21.2 million ISU feed mill and grain science complex.


Wendy Wintersteen (L)(PhD ’88 entomology) was selected as Iowa State’s 16th president and first-ever female president. Wintersteen had served as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 2006 and has been an ISU faculty member almost continuously since 1979, leaving only briefly from 1989-1990 to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She was chosen from among four finalists who visited campus early in the month. “I love this university,” Wintersteen said at her introductory press conference. “I care about its future. I am just thrilled I’ve been given this opportunity.”

…Iowa State was an October surprise and became the talk of college football, going undefeated in the month with victories over not one, but two, top-five teams. The streak began Oct. 7, when third-string quarterback Kyle Kempt got his first career start at No. 3 Oklahoma and led the Cyclones to a 38-31 victory. Three weeks later, ISU closed out the incredible month with a 14-7 defeat of No. 4 TCU at Homecoming.

Homecoming 2017: Sound the CYren was a tremendous success – with 900 Cyclones marching in the second-annual downtown parade, 7,495 meals being served on campus throughout the week, 1,400 students yelling like hell, and 542 alumni gathering for special reunions.

Iowa State swept the Big 12 cross country championships, winning its sixth women’s title in seven seasons and its first men’s team title since 1994. The Cyclones would go on to sweep the NCAA regionals and finish seventh (men) and 20th (women) at the national championships in November.

…the Iowa Board of Regents tabled its high-profile, ongoing discussion of 2018 tuition rates at the state’s three public universities. Stiff increases were being proposed by leaders, including ISU interim president Ben Allen (L), in the face of flagging state support. The Regents opted to buck the standard operating procedure of reading rates in October so that it could instead wait and react after the Iowa General Assembly considers the Board’s request in January for a $12 million increase in financial aid support. Stay tuned.

…the ISU Alumni Association launched the Cyclone Traditions Challenge on its Iowa State Alumni mobile app as a way for Cyclones everywhere to collect and share memories and experiences of participating in some of the university’s most beloved traditions.


…Wendy Wintersteen (L)(PhD ’88 entomology) officially took office Nov. 20 as Iowa State University’s 16th president.

Big 12 Conference Football Coach of the Year Matt Campbell agreed to a new six-year contract worth $22.5 million after leading the 2017 Cyclones to a 7-5 record and its first bowl berth in five seasons.

…ISU chief of staff Miles Lackey (L), senior vice president for university services Kate Gregory (L), and chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach (A)(’90 indus admin) all vacated their executive posts at ISU.

…Iowa State alumnus Paul A. Newman (’78 physics, PhD ’84) of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was named one of six recipients of the United Nations’ highest environmental honor, the Champions of Earth award, for his efforts to restore Earth’s ozone layer.


…the Iowa State football team defeated No. 19 Memphis in front of thousands of fans at the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., marking the Cyclones’ first bowl victory since 2009.

What’s to come? We can’t wait to see what is in store for 2018. Happy New Year!


Cy’s Suitcase: August Edition


A Message from Shellie

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”

– Samuel Johnson

If there was one piece of advice I have for people today to experience more joy in life, it would be to travel more. Traveling is wonderful in many ways. It gives us a sense of wanderlust and has us longing for more destinations to visit, cultures to experience, food to eat, and people to meet. But, most importantly, travel changes you by opening your eyes to see this world is a big place and we are just inhabiting one small part of it.

When we spend time away from home, especially in a place where we don’t have luxuries readily available to us — like a village I visited in Fiji that runs without electricity — we become more aware and appreciative of luxuries we have back home. I remember visiting Tanzania and watching kids haul concrete blocks in wheelbarrows and walk miles with the load – in the heat. The lucky kids there would walk more than three miles, one-way, to go to school. When I got home and heard my kids complain about HAVING to go to school, I felt sad at how we take things for granted here in the United States. I wish everyone had a chance to see how much poverty there is in the world and better appreciate what they have.

There are so many amazing places to visit in this world. I’m not sure where your heart is telling you to go next, but take a look at our 2018 trips that are now up on our website and see all the amazing places the Traveling Cyclones will be going in the upcoming year. You can travel to the Wild West or Antarctica or the Kentucky Derby or Cuba. You can explore Africa or Alaska or cruise on the Danube or the Mississippi. We offer a variety of trips that we hope will cover everyone’s wish list.

For anyone who gets to travel, it is a blessing. Traveling should change you. It leaves marks on your memory and on your heart. You take something with you and leave something good behind. When you return home, you are a better person with a wider perspective on your little part of the world. And — let’s be honest, as you lay your head on your pillow at night you will be grateful not only for what you have experienced, but for what you have.

See you everywhere,

Alaska 2018

We have a special opportunity for our Traveling Cyclones next July. We are partnering with the schools of the Big 12 Conference next July aboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta  – – hosted by Voice of the Cyclones John Walters and his wife, Joni!

This Big 12 sports-themed trip to Alaska’s Vistas and Glaciers will include a Big 12 reception and tailgate, a celebrity lecture by legendary CBS Sports announcer Verne Lundquist, and the chance to network with not only your fellow Cyclones, but with Bears, Jayhawks, Horned Frogs, Sooners, Longhorns, Cowboys, Mountaineers, Wildcats, and Red Raiders, too. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see glaciers, fjords, forests, mountains, and historic Alaska towns — including the Alaska Explorer Youth Program for your children and grandchildren ages 5-12.

If Alaska’s on your bucket list, this is a cool opportunity to check it off. Let’s make sure Cyclones claim their fair share of the ship and represent the Cardinal & Gold on this Big 12 cruise. For more information about this unique opportunity to see Alaska, visit our website or call Traveling Cyclones director Shellie Andersen (L)(’88 marketing) or assistant director Heather Botine (L) toll-free at (877) 478-2586.

Shellie’s Shopping Secrets

Upcoming trips

Please check out our vast listing of 2018 trips to everywhere — and even some close to home. Visit www.isualum.org/travel. We hope to see you soon!

Travel tips

Ask for the digits.
If you are like me and have no sense of direction (a great trait for a travel director, huh?) I put my hotel name and address in my phone in case I go out on my own. And because I travel a lot, I also put my hotel room number in my phone. On a recent trip, we stayed at three hotels in six days. Not hard to get confused!

Ask the locals.
If you find some free time on your trip, ask a local where he or she would want to eat. You will find some spots that you might not have normally chosen.

Alert your bank and credit card company.
Let them know you will be traveling out of the country so they don’t put a hold on your credit card when they see you trying to use it out of the States.

Let someone at home know your plans.
This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.

Separate your personal items.
If you are traveling with a companion, it is a good idea to mix your personal items into each checked bag (if you have more than one.) That way if one of the bags gets lost, you still have some clothing and personal items.

Separate your sources of money.
Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a backup credit card in a separate bag — not the same bag that my wallet is in.

Make a travel first aid kit.
I now travel with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, band aids, Benadryl, Tums, Neosporin, etc. I have had way too many bug bites, scrapes, tummy aches, etc., while traveling that I now know it’s best to be prepared. I also carry extra thread and buttons — something I have carried with me for years. A year ago, while in Cuba, my button on my dress fell off and that sewing kit came in handy!

Gardening for Good


When you look at Iowa in the summer – with its bountiful crops and fertile soil – there’s no reason people should be hungry.

That’s the philosophy and the selfless goal of Tracy Blackmer (A)(’90 agronomy) of rural Madrid, Iowa. For the past four years, Blackmer has been organizing an army of volunteers to help tend his 10-acre garden for one purpose and one purpose only: To give the food away to those who need it.

IMG_8901This week, the ISU Alumni Association staff teamed up with colleagues at Nationwide Insurance to harvest peppers in the summer heat. So far this season, more than 8,000 pounds of food from Blackmer’s garden has been donated to the Food Bank of Iowa, a not-for-profit organization that disperses the produce to food pantries and other volunteer agencies in central Iowa. As of this week, Blackmer estimates that as many of 4,000 volunteers have worked in his bountiful vegetable patch this year, taking on such tasks as planting, weeding, and harvesting.

“This is my hobby,” he said. “I enjoy doing it, and it helps others. People want to make a difference, and we just provide a place for them to do it.”

IMG_8899In addition to the peppers the Alumni Association staff harvested, Blackmer and his wife, Doreen (A)(’88 animal science) are growing eggplant, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and string beans – a veritable vegetable soup of flavorful produce.

The time each volunteer worked in the garden was recorded and submitted to our Cy’s Days of Service program. Cy’s Days of Service is designed to unite Cyclones everywhere in community service while spreading their ISU pride. If you have completed or plan to participate in any service opportunities before May 2018, you can report your hours on our Cy’s Days of Service website.
Whether your volunteer work is specially designed for Cy’s Days of Service or a project you’re doing with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues, it can all be counted to help us reach our goal of 30,000 hours of service. Be sure to wear ISU apparel so your photos will showcase how Cyclones everywhere are making a difference in their communities!


Kaleidoquiz: How It All Started


Kaleidoquiz ’73 goes on the air. Photo courtesy Iowa State University Special Collections.

By Craig Spear

In the winter of 1968 the Vietnam War was heating up, LBJ was President, Laugh-In aired for the first time on TV, and Planet of the Apes opened at the Varsity Theater on Lincoln Way.

The Beatles’ latest hit, Hello, Good Bye, was playing on the radio. Spooky and Chain of Fools were climbing the charts.

The university was run by gray-faced bureaucrats, women had to be in their dorms by eleven, and Don Smith, “a bearded, motorcycle riding” ag student (in the words of the Bomb) had recently been elected student body president.

Strains of 60s-style radicalism were rippling through our conservative land-grant campus. There were occasional “sit-ins.” And Smith, scourge of the administration, promised to drag Iowa State “kicking and screaming” into the 20th century.

I was an English major in my sophomore year and co-manager of KISU, the student-run radio station located then, as now, in the basement of Friley Hall, a few doors down from the “T-Room” – a snack bar hideaway popular with us radio rats.

KISU (formerly KMRI) had been on the air since 1949. The studios were cluttered and shabby. Second-hand radio gear, constantly in need of repair, was crammed in every available corner.

Nevertheless, it was a haven for tinkerers, music lovers, and aspiring DJs like me. What’s more, despite our modest accommodations, we served a sizeable closed-circuit radio audience of some several thousand students living in nine university-run dormitories.

The preceding few months, starting in the fall of 1967, I had been circulating an idea among my 12-member board of directors for an audience-participation radio contest. The premise was simple: broadcast some quiz questions, award points to listeners with the right answers, and string the competition out over a long weekend.

The idea wasn’t original with me, but it had only come to my attention the previous summer during a meet-up with an old high school friend at a Cedar Rapids pizza parlor.

Phil York, then a student at Lawrence College – a small liberal arts school in Appleton, Wis., had, like me, signed on with the campus radio station. We were both new to broadcasting and had a lot of rookie radio stories to share. But one story in particular stuck with me.

At the close of spring semester in 1967, the Lawrence station hosted a campus-wide trivia contest. This came on the heels of a similar broadcast the year before. The weekend-long competition, as Phil described it, became a campus obsession. A record number of Lawrence students took part. That weekend radio event turned out to be groundbreaking in other ways, too.

Campus trivia competitions had been around for a long time. Intercollegiate “academic bowls” were common on college campuses. Many were inspired by the long running GE College Bowl, a Sunday morning network television show dating back to the 50s. Then too, daytime television quiz shows, like Jeopardy, which hit the air in 1964, were well-known to TV viewers.

College competitions were often staged in student unions or campus gymnasiums. Quiz Masters emceed, teams of trivia experts hunched around cafeteria-style folding tables, and on-lookers cheered them on.

James deRosset, a Lawrence senior math major, apparently attended one of those quizathons at his girlfriend’s campus in nearby Beloit. Unimpressed, deRosset returned to Appleton in the spring of 1966 with a plan to organize an on-campus trivia contest of his own.

As the story goes, deRosset shared his ideas with roommates who, as luck would have it, worked at the campus radio station. Somehow, out of those late-night brainstorming sessions, the idea of hosting a campus-wide trivia contest over the college radio station first came to light. College radio—social media of its era—would play host to a “virtual” campus trivia contest.

That same year—1966—and apparently by coincidence, Williams College, an elite northeastern private school, also began hosting a campus radio trivia contest. It was an abbreviated affair—lasting only 8 hours—and aired at the end of spring and fall semesters. Owing perhaps to its east coast locale, the contest drew the attention of major media outlets like the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

Determining who gets credit for hosting the first college radio trivia contest has long been debated. The distinction is probably academic. Or, in the words of one observer, “trivial.”

Following that consequential summer meeting with Phil York, I began pondering whether such a radio contest would work at Iowa State. There were several points in our favor: KISU had a large, loyal residence hall audience. Every listener was a potential player. The contest could easily be folded into our regular, ongoing music programming. And maybe most important, the structure of the university residence hall system created natural rivalries among individual houses.

Not everyone agreed. Lawrence and Williams—small, community-based private colleges—attracted only a few hundred players. Our carrier-current signal reached 10 times that many.

There were doubts if ISU residence hall students, so widely dispersed, could be drawn into a competition with one another. And if they could, would there be sufficient enthusiasm to sustain a weekend-long contest?

Despite some skepticism, our management team eventually, cautiously, agreed to take on the project.

We mobilized our staff, signed on volunteers, assembled a talent roster of 16 DJs to host 42 hours of programming, and prepared for a February launch. I asked two volunteers to compile trivia questions on 3×5 index cards.

(Looking back, this part of the contest was the one least thought through. I hadn’t anticipated the possibilty of challenges to our questions or answers. No one thought to appoint a Quiz Czar with authority to settle disputes. This was another of several critical oversights that would fuel the pandemonium that awaited us just a few weeks away.)

Finally, there was the matter of a name. What would the contest be called? I wanted something unique and descriptive. Something that would differentiate us from generic “trivia” contests. Something that would resonate with listeners. A long list of “possibles” were rejected. One name seemed to stand out: Kaleidoquiz.


Vintage Kaleidoquiz poster. Courtesy Iowa State University Special Collections.

As the launch date approached, we began airing promos and teasers. Our stack of 3×5 index cards grew to a couple hundred. After several weeks of preparation, we were finally ready.

On February 9, 1968, at 6:30 in the morning, a recorded contest intro hit the air—“It’s time to play…Kaleidoquiz!” The morning shift DJ opened his microphone and read the first Kaleidoquiz question. Something to do with Robert Goulet and Clarabell the Clown, as I remember.

A handful of us, hovering over the announcer’s shoulder, waited for two incoming listener lines to blink. Nothing. Finally, a single call. A record request.

More music, a station break, and the contest intro aired again: “It’s time to play…” The announcer offered up another quiz question. Another long pause. Finally, a single phone line sputtered to life. The first-ever Kaleidoquiz player had come up with the right answer!

“What do I win?” he asked.

After an hour or two, listeners began to get the hang of it. Quiz questions aired every 10 minutes. Occasionally, 50- or 100-point bonus questions were thrown in the mix. Callers were given the length of a single record to phone in answers and score points for their house.

As morning wore on, the now-familiar contest jingles were airing at steady, rhythmic intervals. “It’s time to play…” Call volume, slowly, but noticeably, began to build.

Around noon, the first signs of a scary momentum began taking hold. Incoming phone lines flashed furiously and relentlessly. Scorekeepers behind the studio plate-glass window acted out a panicky pantomime as they struggled to keep up with phone calls.

Phone company records would later show 35,000 dial-ins attempted that first day.

By early afternoon, dorm residents could no longer get dial tones. Frustrated callers heard only scrambled cross-talk on their receivers. Desperate to get through, more callers jammed the lines.

Kaleidoquiz was trending.

By late afternoon classrooms across campus had emptied out. Absent phone service, university offices began closing, unable to do business.

By early evening the first contingent of phone company representatives showed up at our studios—stern-faced and disapproving.

There was talk of shutting us down. Negotiations ensued. Finally, conceding the obvious, it was agreed seeing it through was the best course of action.

We imposed a two record time limit, and one caller per house. Pressure on the network eased. The phone system began to right itself.

Meanwhile, over the ceiling-mounted monitors, “It’s time to play…” was heard yet again. Another round of trivia questions hit the air.

Across campus, Friday night plans were scrapped. take-out pizza orders soared. Residents settled in for all-nighters. KQ roared into the night.

At midnight Saturday, 42 hours later, nearly two days after the first Kaleidoquiz questions were broadcast to an unsuspecting audience, KQ finally came to a climactic close.

Meeker House, with 1845 points, was declared the first Kaleidoquiz winner. Kimble House and Wilkinson House battled to second- and third-place finishes.

Two days later, KISU co-manager Bill Monroe would tell an Iowa State Daily reporter, with some understatement, “We had no idea it would be so popular.”

Fifty years have passed since that first Kaleidoquiz weekend rocked the ISU campus. KURE, the campus radio successor to KISU, celebrated the 50th anniversary with another KQ broadcast this past March.

Over that time, any number of student radio-based trivia contests have popped up, fizzled, and occasionally persisted, on college campuses across the country.

Lawrence College, arguably home of one of the first campus-based trivia contest (by 22 months) abandoned live radio broadcasts for a web-based version of the game a decade ago.

Williams, known for its biannual competitions, continues to host trivia contests at the end of each semester.

All of which makes Kaleidoquiz, as now aired by KURE, perhaps the largest and longest-running college radio based trivia contest in America.

Over several decades, hundreds of thousands of Iowa State Students, sometimes spanning more than one generation, have played the game. Thousands more have listened in. KURE’s KQ Director, Isaac Bries, calls Kaleidoquiz an Iowa State tradition rivaling the once preeminent—and now defunct—Veishea in popularity.

Looking back, it may seem odd that a campus trivia contest, launched during the tumultuous 60s, hearkening back in many ways to a quaint, less aware era of panty raids and phone booth stuffing, would survive the societal changes of the past half century and still remain as popular as ever.

But good ideas have a life of their own. From 3×5 note cards to laptops and Google searches, the essential elements of Kaleidoquiz are still in fashion: an out-sized challenge, a competitive group of friends, and a slightly off-kilter sense of humor.

As radio promotions go, 50 years is a good run.


spearCraig Spear (’71 distributed studies), the originator of Kaleidoquiz at Iowa State, is a writer and producer living in San Francisco, Calif.


A letter from the travel director: Travel Changes You!

From the February/March 2017 issue of Cy’s Suitcase, the official publication of the Traveling Cyclones


I recently saw a story on Facebook about an older woman who denied treatment for her cancer so she could spend the rest of her time traveling. She died a year later after visiting 34 states with her son and her dog. The story ended with this quote: “You cannot control the wind, but you can direct the sail.”

I really like that. At a crucial point in her life, she chose to experience new things in new places, with the little time she had left. For anyone who has traveled, you know how it changes you. I know it has changed me! I have a couple of those life-changing experiences that have stuck with me over the years and have helped mold me into who I am.

In 2005, I hosted a trip on the Danube River before I was the Alumni Association’s travel director. I was hesitant about going since I was a single mom and leaving my four kids was not easy. Little did I know that this trip would be significant in helping me gain my independence. One of the stops on the trip was Prague, which remains one of my favorite places I have visited. I was on my own one day and found this amazing church hidden in a quaint courtyard. I am still not sure how I found that place. I attended service and it was beautiful. The church was so plain and although they spoke a different language, I didn’t have to understand the words. I felt the faith. After leaving the church, I found a restaurant and had lunch on a patio at this cute restaurant and remember thinking how far I had come: this small town Iowa girl in a foreign city, exploring on her own. On the last night of that trip, I was sitting on the top deck of the river boat in Budapest. There I was in the dark, watching all the lights of the boats cruising by and taking in the lights of the city, thinking how I didn’t want to leave my kids and now I don’t want to go home! This trip had changed me, and I knew I would never be the same.

A more recent experience was on a trip to Egypt. We were fortunate to stay in a hotel that


The “best bathroom ever,” basically

was one of the most amazing places I have ever been. As a colleague and I each entered our rooms, we both let out a squeal at the sight of what we saw when we opened our doors. It was a former palace and the rooms were exquisite. On top of that, the bathrooms were made of marble and tile and fit for a queen. As I soaked in the tub that night, the curtains were blowing in the breeze off the Nile. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe I was in Egypt. We had seen the pyramids and the Sphinx and now I was staying in a hotel off of the Nile River! How did this happen? I will never forget that moment and how that warm breeze felt. I then promised myself I would never take one minute of traveling for granted. I am truly blessed.

THAT is what traveling can do. It changes you. It changes your perspective and you are never the same because of it.

As I plan my trips for 2018, my hope is that each of my passengers will have one of these experiences with the Traveling Cyclones.


The Hall-of-Famer


A college football player rushing for 2,000 yards in a Division I season has only happened 26 times in history – and two of those were the work of one man: Iowa State’s Troy Davis. In 1995 and 1996, Davis raced into the record books and kicked off an era of Iowa State football in a way no other player could.

“We were coming off an 0-10-1 season and needed somebody to get us on the map and represent the standard our new coach, Dan McCarney, was espousing,” remembers former Cyclone offensive tackle Tim Kohn (1993-1996). “Troy was a talent that was an order of magnitude above everyone else on that team. Even though [1995 and 1996] were losing seasons, what he did in reversing our momentum is an accomplishment you can’t find on the stat sheet.”

Kohn (’96 pol sci & intl. studies) says he wouldn’t have blamed Davis if he’d left Ames after a winless freshman season in which he carried the ball only 34 times for Coach Jim Walden. But if there was one person who could light a fire under the diminutive phenom, it was McCarney. The young, energetic coach was full of belief – not just in Iowa State, but particularly in Davis. McCarney knew he could make the elusive, 5-foot, 7-inch Miami native the centerpiece of his program.

“Coach Dan McCarney didn’t recruit me, but he re-recruited me,” Davis says. “He told me he could help me transfer, but he also promised we were gonna run the ball here. He looked me in the eye and shook my hand.”

Davis took a chance on the future, surmising that McCarney’s commitment could translate into as many as 20 carries a game for him going forward. As a sophomore, Davis would carry the ball 345 times for 2,010 yards and finish fifth for the Heisman Trophy. As a junior, he rushed 402 times for 2,185 yards. In ISU’s 1996 home opener against Northern Iowa, Davis carried the ball an astounding 53 times.

Davis, who averaged nearly six yards per carry in his college career, succeeded because, Kohn says, he was almost mystifyingly durable, mentally tough, and innately able to see holes on the field.

“He was an incredibly complete player,” Kohn says. “He knew his body and knew what he was capable of and absolutely maximized it. He took Coach Mac at his word, and my goodness Troy held up his end. He always had the self belief and the awareness that he could do all the things he ended up doing – and I know a lot of us are better because of it.”

Davis still remembers his years at Iowa State – particularly 1995 and 1996 – as the best of his life. He held up his end of the bargain, put in the work, and showed off his talents. His belief in McCarney paid off and he became the football star he always knew he could be. So when, in 1996, Davis was denied the prize at his second-straight Heisman Trophy ceremony after accomplishing something no one in college football had ever done – rushing more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back campaigns – he felt helpless and hurt.

“I still remember Coach McCarney after the ceremony saying, ‘Troy, are you coming back for your senior year?’ I was like, ‘There’s nothing else for me to prove, Coach.’”

So Davis took his talents to the NFL, but he landed with Mike Ditka’s New Orleans Saints in a situation where he struggled to showcase his talents on a bad team. He spent three years with the Saints before heading north to Canada, where he became a Hall-of-Famer during seven seasons with three different CFL squads.

“I hear people say, ‘Troy, you left too early’ or ‘Troy, you did a good thing leaving,’” Davis says. “I can’t have any regrets. I feel like I made the best choice but ended up in the wrong situation.”

Years went by, and memories of Davis’ unprecedented accomplishments faded from the national conversation. Davis settled into a quiet existence surrounded by family back in Miami, returning to Ames just once in 2007 for his induction into the Iowa State
Athletics Hall of Fame. Number 28 jerseys remained popular at Jack Trice Stadium, however, and the lore of Troy Davis endured. “Only Iowa State,” self-deprecating fans would moan, “could produce a 2,000-yard rusher in back-to-back seasons and NOT get the Heisman Trophy.”

ISU officials never stopped toiling to right the Heisman wrongs and get Davis the recognition he deserved, even as decades passed and football coaches came and went. And then, in 2015, they learned their efforts had finally paid off: The 2016 College Football Hall of Fame class would include Troy Davis.

Davis couldn’t believe the news himself: “My first response was, ‘Oh, okay, when does the ballot come out?’ But I wasn’t just on the ballot, I was in. I just dropped the phone and looked up [in disbelief]. Every kid, that’s in their goals and dreams to be a Hall-of-Famer – and I’m there.”

Davis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in New York City in December, the culmination of a year’s worth of celebration and reminiscence. A visit back to Jack Trice Stadium this fall wasn’t without “chillbumps” or tears for Davis as his beloved coach, Dan McCarney, was introduced on the football field as a member of the 2016 ISU Athletics Hall of Fame class one weekend and Davis was presented with his College Football Hall of Fame plaque the next.

Davis has been able to use the year to reflect on his unique story – on the people who helped him achieve his dream and the decisions he made along the way that shaped not just his life, but the Iowa State football program.

“I just think about how I was ready [in 1994] to pack it all up and go back home,” Davis says. “If it wasn’t for Dan McCarney, there wouldn’t be a story and there wouldn’t be a Hall-of-Famer. I’m glad he invited me to play in his system. There will never be another Troy Davis.”



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.

2017: A snapshot

Another year, another record-breaking student enrollment. And now, a historic fundraising campaign, changes all across campus, and a new strategic plan.Welcome to Iowa State University in 2017.


Where we are; where we’re headed
Maintaining quality amid growth. That’s one of President Steven Leath’s top goals for this academic year.

It’s a tall order, given the fact that student enrollment has grown 44 percent in the past decade (to last fall’s high-water mark of 36,660) but state funding has continued to decline.

In 2008, Iowa State received about $12,700 in state funding per resident student. At that time, nearly 50 percent of the university’s operating revenue came from the state; the other 50 percent came from tuition and fees. Today, ISU receives about $9,400 from the state per resident student, shifting the budget revenue ratio to approximately 30 percent from the state and 70 percent from tuition and fees.

Meanwhile, the Regents have held the line on resident undergraduate tuition, freezing or making only minimal increases over the last five years.

“We’ve been unable to make meaningful improvements in our national ranking and our student-to-faculty ratio because of the tremendous growth we’ve seen,” despite hiring more than 400 new faculty over the past five years, Leath said during his annual address last fall.

But progress is being shown in a number of areas:

  • Iowa State continues to offer the lowest tuition and fees of its peer institutions, and student debt has declined 8.5 percent, due in part to Leath’s Moving Students Forward campaign to raise $150 million in private gifts for student financial aid over five years. That campaign has now raised nearly $190 million, and so far more than 23,000 students have received support from the fund.
  • A number of facilities to enhance academics and student life have opened in the past few years, and more are in the works, including two biosciences facilities, improved classroom spaces, new residence halls and apartment communities, and a cutting-edge student innovation facility.
  • Iowa State is becoming a more inclusive community. With the hiring of Reginald Stewart as the university’s first vice president for diversity and inclusion, Leath says he believes Iowa State can become a model of diversity. Last fall the university hired project directors for diversity and inclusion in LGBTQA+ Affairs and in Hispanic/Latinx Affairs and will soon create a new position to oversee sexual misconduct prevention.
  • The ISU Research Park continues to expand, and the new Economic Development Core Facility that opened last summer will greatly enhance the positive impact the university will have on the state’s economy.
  • A new strategic plan was rolled out last summer, with four key objectives to take Iowa State well into the next decade.
  • An administrative team that features familiar faces, as well as key leaders new to campus, has been put in place.
  • The ISU Foundation announced in September the launch of Forever True, For
    Iowa State, a landmark initiative to raise $1.1 billion for the university, the largest goal ever for an Iowa State comprehensive campaign.

Forever True: Iowa State launches historic $1.1 billion campaign
On Sept. 30, Iowa State University announced the launch of the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, a historic initiative to raise $1.1 billion for the university by June 30, 2020. The goal is the largest ever for an Iowa State comprehensive campaign.

forevertruelogo1With a name inspired by the Iowa State Fight Song, the campaign will rally support for scholarships, faculty support, facilities, and programs. It will help ensure access to an exceptional education, advance Iowa State expertise in key areas that address global challenges, and enhance the university’s impact on the economy and quality of life in Iowa and around the world.

“I invite everyone whose lives have been touched by Iowa State to consider what it means to be Forever True to this university,” said Jon Fleming (L)(’75 meteorology). “With the help of our extended Iowa State family, I know we can make this the most transformative campaign in Cyclone history.” Fleming serves as campaign chair and is a former Alumni Association Board of Directors chair.

Larissa Holtmyer Jones (L)(’91 marketing, MBA ’03), president and CEO of the ISU Foundation, announced that since the campaign began its quiet phase in 2012 more than $551 million has already been raised. “This goal stretches us,” she said, “but there is so much to be gained in meeting it for our students’ and for our children’s futures.”

For more information, visit forevertrueisu.com. To learn about the Iowa State University Alumni Association funding priorities within this historic campaign, visit the ISU Alumni Association’s website.

By the numbers
Iowa State’s fall 2016 enrollment…and other fun facts

  • 36,660: Iowa State’s total student enrollment for fall 2016
  • 44: The percentage of student population growth in the past decade
  • 20,713: The number of Iowans attending Iowa State
  • 23.9: The percentage of U.S. multicultural and international students enrolled
  • 64: The percentage of Iowa State classes that have 29 or fewer students
  • 2 million+: The number of visitors to the Iowa State Library last year
  • 65: The number of new student organizations added last year, for a total of 850+ organizations on campus
  • 5: The number of wireless devices, on average, that students bring with them to campus. Iowa State has installed 9,300 wireless access points to accommodate all that digital traffic.

The class of 2020
A look at Iowa State’s fall 2016 entering freshmen

  • Total freshman class: 6,325
  • Total Iowans: 3,380
  • U.S. multicultural enrollment: 946 (15% of new freshmen)

Who’s counting?
10 years of enrollment growth
2006: 25,462
2007: 26,160
2008: 26,856
2009: 27,945
2010: 28,682
2011: 29,887
2012: 31,040
2013: 33,241
2014: 34,732
2015: 36,001
2016: 36,660



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.