Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Latest News from April 2014

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I’d like to let everyone know about a number changes in leadership we’ve had in the last couple of months. I am excited about these moves, and I think we’re going to see some great things from these people in their new positions.

David Todt – new Chief Administrative Officer

David is taking the reins as CAO from Dr. David Streid, who is taking a leave of absence from the University (see below). His background prepares him perfectly for this new role.

David graduated from the University in 1982 with a degree in business, completing TTC as part of his degree. After that, he was involved in a number of business ventures in several different industries.

He started working for the University at the end of 1985. He worked as Assistant to the President and later, in the 1990s, as Treasurer. He spent three years working with Dr. Morris and other international Movement leaders on international projects.

Between 1998 and 2010, he oversaw all the new construction on campus, starting with the Dreier Building, which opened in 2000, and ending most recently with the Argiro Student Center.

He then became Vice-President of Expansion, responsible for leading our strategic planning effort as well as helping with the Endowment Campaign.

“Having played a key role in developing the University’s strategic plan and being very excited about our growth opportunities, I’m thrilled now to be part of the leadership in organizing the resources and guiding the expansion that we envisioned in the strategic plan. We are growing and expanding, and our future looks fantastic. I’m really happy and honored to be a part of it."

Ellen Jones – new Chief Lean and Sustainability Officer

We created this new position to support Ellen’s passion for making the University as streamlined, high-performing, employee satisfying, and customer satisfying as possible.

Ellen became a faculty member in 1979, teaching law and government courses and serving as Associate General Counsel. She assumed various leadership roles — including Dean of External Studies and Co-Dean of MIU College of Natural Law (MUM’s branch campus in Washington, DC) together with her husband, Chris, before taking a multi-year leave to raise their two sons, Jeremy and Benjamin.

Ellen returned to MUM in 2009 as Dean of Student Life, responsible for overseeing the student experience outside the classroom. She also became a member of the Executive Council at that time.

Last year Ellen began working on the Endowment Campaign, reconnecting donors with the University.

She is very enthusiastic about her new position:

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on faculty and staff, as well as our students, trustees, and benefactors, to identify ways to make the University more efficient, financially self-sufficient, and excellent in every way.”

Tom Brooks – Vice-President of Expansion

Tom is back, and he has taken over for David Todt as VP of Expansion. His special focus: expanding the academic programs with high growth prospects — particularly new master’s degree programs such as the David Lynch MA in Film, and the MA in Sustainable Living that we hope to begin this fall. He is also the Executive Council member overseeing our distance education initiatives.

Tom has done so many things at the University. He worked as project manager for Physical Plant, helped oversee construction for the Taste of Utopia Assembly, helped supervise the construction of the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment building, served as deputy chair of the 7000 Council, served as assistant to Dr. Morris at MERU in Holland, co-founded MUM Organic Farms, and served two tenures as the University’s Chief Administrative Officer and later as Chief Operating Officer. He took two leaves from the University, first to supervise the renovation of the Movement’s 70 Broad Street building in Manhattan, and then to serve as Chief Operating Officer at the Maharishi Vedic Pandit Campus.

Tom will also work with Ellen Jones as a member of the Lean Steering Committee and Campus Sustainability Committee.

Tom says:

“Being back at Maharishi University of Management is like a dream come true. The ideal routine and the Golden Domes and so many wonderful friends make each day a blissful experience. I see so many positive changes that have taken place in the two years I have been away, and now I get a chance to help grow the University even more toward the vision we all share. Jai Guru Dev”

Mary King – new Registrar

Mary is taking over as Registrar for Tom Rowe, who will remain in the Enrollment Center doing more strategic work (see below).

Mary has also served the University in a number of important capacities. In the 1970s, while pursuing her Masters in Educational Administration, she was the Personnel Director and later the Assistant Registrar. In the 1980s she worked with the faculty to help create our MBA program. For several years in the 1990s she was the assistant director of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in the Radiance community in Austin, Texas. From 2008 to 2011 she was an administrator in Student Life, where, among other duties, she served as the First-Year Program academic coordinator. Since 2011 she has worked in the Enrollment Center, as the transcripts officer and graduation director. She helped oversee the transition of academic advising from the Enrollment Center to the various academic departments, including training faculty to be academic advisors. Mary received an MA in Education from the University in 1989.

Mary says:

“I'm excited about the opportunity to further improve the Enrollment Center's customer service, help increase student retention, and support our staff. I'm also looking forward to working with the faculty to realize the goals Maharishi established for this University — a Consciousness-Based university.”

Tom Rowe – Enrollment Center

Tom will remain in the Enrollment Center but in a more strategic role. He will also focus on bringing the Enrollment Center services more fully online to better serve both Fairfield and distance education students. He will also assist Mary King with administrative duties and reporting functions. 

Tom Rowe arrived in Fairfield in 1980 to help create coherence, as the men's Dome was still being built. He worked in several early Sidha businesses before joining the University in 1986. Tom first served as Financial Aid Award Officer when Student Services were still in Verrill Hall and Registrations were still in the Fieldhouse. 

Tom earned a staff scholarship to attend TTC in 1989 and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in California and Kansas City for three years with his wife Dorothy before returning to MUM in 1993 to serve as Director of Financial Aid. After ten years Tom moved across to the Enrollment Center to serve as Registrar for the last ten years. 

Tom says:

"I have enjoyed serving our students and faculty so much over all these years. There is such a profound joy in working for this University and seeing the development of consciousness day by day among all those who are lucky enough to be here together in this special place."

Yali Jiang – Director of Student Accounts

Yali first came to us in 2010. She was an intern student in the MBA program and worked as the office manager of the Art Department for a year and a half. She spent another year and a half as Assistant Director of Student Activities, then moved to the Enrollment Center, where she worked as the Assistant Director of student accounts for about six months. Then, last October, she became our Director of Student Accounts.

Yali was already an outstanding student when she arrived. She had earned a BA in business administration from Capital University of Economics and Business in China, where she earned the Excellent Student Award in 2008 — and in 2010 received the Outstanding Student of the Year Award from our Management Department. She holds an MBA in sustainable business and a Lean Accounting Certificate from MUM.

About working at MUM, Yali says:

"It’s a place that I can explore my potential and talents and give back to humanity."

Dan Wasielewski – Enrollment Center – Financial Aid Office

We’re also so happy to have Dan back at the University, working in the Financial Aid office as a Financial Aid Award Officer.

Dan first came to MIU way back in October 1975 and worked in a variety of departments and leadership positions: Student Accounts, Associate Controller, Administrative Assistant, Student Financial Aid Director, Food Services Director, Student Affairs Council, Human Resources Director. In 1987 he earned his MBA degree from MUM.

In 1995 he took on the job of managing hotels and other Movement properties in cities around the US — Hartford, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Lancaster, and Antrim (New Hampshire). He also spent time in Vlodrop, Boone, and several other countries on various Movement projects.

For the last four years Dan worked at the Maharishi Vedic Pandit campus in Maharishi Vedic City.

Dan has been working full-time for the Movement since 1975. He says:

“The fastest path of evolution always leads to MUM.”

Dr. David Streid

As I mentioned, Dave is taking a leave from the University. He has been at Maharishi University of Management as a student, faculty member, and administrator, in addition to teaching the Transcendental Meditation program in the field for many years and being on Purusha for a number of years as well.

He came here first as an undergraduate student in the 1970s, earning a degree in mathematics and going on to earn a PhD in mathematics from the University of Illinois. He returned as a faculty member in the mathematics department and then was named Chief Administrative Officer in 2004.

Along with all the responsibilities of this position, he was a major force in building the Argiro Student Center, helping design and equip the kitchen. He also led the way with our campus master planning process and oversaw all the campus renovation projects of the last few years.

He has been a quiet, powerful force in the University for years. We wish him all the best during his leave.


Posted by on 4/3/2014 2:12:00 PMComments 0
Latest News from March 2014

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

It has been awhile since my last blog posting, so the inside stories have accumulated and there is a lot of news to share. I'll try to do these in shorter, more frequent doses.

In this post I want to tell you about:

  • the great new Compro entry
  • the renovations we're doing in Verrill Hall for our growing Compro enrollment
  • our new health insurance coverage
  • the status of the Campus Clinic
  • our spring standard student enrollment and some marketing initiatives
  • the latest achievement from business professors Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi
  • the Board of Trustees meeting that took place on March 1
  • the 749 windows we have replaced (with a $20,000 grant from Alliant Energy)
  • comments from the visitors to our most recent Visitors Weekend
  • where Iowa ranks in a listing of the happiest states in America 

100 new Compro students arrive on campus

This past month, as most of you know, we enrolled 100 Compro students, the largest entry since 2008.

These students come from 26 countries, including 23 from Ethiopia, 13 from Nepal, 8 from Bangladesh, 7 each from Egypt and the Philippines, and 6 each from China and Mongolia — and perhaps our first-ever student from the Gambia.

This is on top of the 97 students we enrolled in October (the second largest since 2008) and the 45 students we expect in June — for a total of 242 this year, a huge boon to our enrollment and our budget. We had the highest percentage of visa accepts from Nepal and Ethiopia in a decade, 20 more than the target.

The Compro students are now taking the 33-lesson Science of Creative Intelligence course. The faculty tell us that the students are enjoying this course a great deal and having good experiences with their Transcendental Meditation practice, and the Student Government says that these students seem to be more engaged with campus life and activities than any previous Compro class.

Dr. Greg Guthrie and Elaine Guthrie left just a few days ago on a recruiting tour of China and Nepal.

Congratulations to Greg and Elaine and to Dr. Keith Levi, Craig Shaw, Peter Vonderheide, and the whole Compro team.

Renovation for new Compro students

We are renovating the south end of Verrill Hall to create a classroom environment for our expanding Compro enrollment.

We are creating two new large classrooms, which can accommodate 35–40 students each, as well as upgrading an existing classroom. We’re also creating several new offices, as well as upgrading the bathrooms and significantly improving two hallways.

The whole area will be virtually new from top to bottom, with new HVAC, ceiling, lighting, walls, and flooring, plus new furniture for the classrooms. The total investment in this project is about $150,000.

In the fall we’ll convert an old laboratory in Verrill Hall back to its original function for our expanding Physiology and Health department.


Unlimited health insurance coverage for all full-time employees

Starting in January, health insurance coverage for our full-time faculty and staff rose to infinity, in keeping with the regulations of the Affordable Care Act. This requires an additional $240,000 investment from the University. Now no full-time employee is at risk of being wiped out financially due to some health situation, and those who had been “buying up” to higher levels of insurance coverage no longer have this expense.


Admissions and marketing

We fell short on our US undergraduate enrollment goals, especially compared to our bumper crop last year — 44 new standard (non-Compro) students this spring, compared to 69 last spring and an average of 55 from 2009–2012.

At the same time, the trend in US graduate students in our other programs has remained strong over the last two semesters. We also saw an increase in the Accounting Professionals program enrollment — 15 new students this spring compared to 7 last year.

We have a number of exciting marketing initiatives either in planning or underway. Foremost among these is that we’re redesigning the University website. Actually, we are creating two new designs:

  • The MUM Marketing Department is creating a new design similar to the new international sites (, with improved architecture. We will A/B test this site against our existing site. A/B testing means that we have both sites up at the same time, and half the visitors to are presented with one of the sites, half with the other, and we monitor the results — how long people stay on the site, how they engage with it, whether they send in a prospective student inquiry.

  • Alek Lisefski, MUM graduate and talented web designer, is also designing a new University website. This site will include structural changes that will flatten the site architecture to affect user retention and conversion. Alek’s site will also employ “responsive design,” meaning the site will adapt to all mobile platforms. We will A/B test Alek’s site against the winner of the International model and our existing site.

We’re also strongly considering contracting with a public relations firm called Stamats to help us boost public perception of the University. Stamats is based in Iowa but works with colleges and universities around the country.

I will tell you about the other initiatives in my next blog post in a week or two.


Integrated campus wellness clinic now open

Our campus clinic opened in January in the Maharishi Peace Palace for women on the west side of Highway 1. Its focus is prevention and wellness.

Dr. Jim Davis is the medical director, assisted by a Maharishi Ayur-Veda expert Vaidya from Nepal. Our campus nurse, Deidre Lentz, is working there, and undergraduate students in Physiology and Health being trained as Maharishi Ayur-Veda consultants will assist with wellness consultations.

We are waiting for Dr. Davis to get his final approval from the state — which should come any day now — to begin his practice.

The clinic’s primary goal will be to provide integrative wellness for students, faculty, and staff, including Maharishi Ayur-Veda assessments and recommendations. Dr. Davis, an osteopathic physician, has 23 years of experience as a practitioner of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. Most recently he has been in private practice in Austin.


Congratulations to Dr. Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi

Last week Dr. Andrew Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi, business department faculty members, were notified that a paper they had coauthored had been named Best Case Study for the 2014 Carl Menconi Ethics Competition by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

The article will be published in the July issue of Strategic Finance, a monthly IMA journal focusing on professional practices in management accounting and finance.

The Menconi Case Competition aims to develop teaching cases around ethical issues affecting management accountants and finance professionals.

This continues a pattern of recognition from the IMA for the accounting faculty and PhD students at MUM:

  • Last October, Lin Lin was named IMA’s Lean Accounting Student of the Year for her work in teaching and writing case studies while pursuing her PhD at MUM.

  • In 2011, Manjunath Rao was named Lean Accounting Student of the Year and shortly, thereafter, he received a research grant from the IMA for his PhD dissertation research completed in 2013.

  • In 2009, Dr. Bargerstock was named Excellence in Lean Accounting Professor at the Lean Accounting Summit. 


Board of Trustees meeting March 1

The Board of Trustees held its second meeting of the year last Saturday, March 1. Main agenda points:

  • Compro — They met with the Compro leaders to congratulate them on their great success

  • Admissions and Marketing — They met with the Admissions leaders — Brad Mylett, Paul Stokstad, Paul Schaefer, Aster Hesse, Alwin Hesse, Gwendolyn Stowe, plus David Sinton, our website analytics consultant — to review the spring enrollment and prospects for the fall.

  • Fundraising — They reviewed the status of our endowment campaign and the Annual Fund, with endowment campaign chair Mayor Ed Malloy, along with David Todt and Ellen Jones. The Annual Fund is running just ahead of where it was at this point last year, and this year so far we have 890 donors, compared to 745 at this time last year.

  • David Lynch MA in Film — They met with Stuart Tanner, Gurdy Leete, Noah Buntain to review the progress of this new initiative. The students are now working on their final projects.

  • MA in Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Integrative Medicine — They met with Dr. Keith Wallace, Dr. Paul Morehead, and Dr. Robert Schneider to review this new program, an online program with tracks for medical doctors and health professionals. We plan to launch this in August.

  • May Board of Trustees meeting — Usually this meeting runs for the 3-4 days prior to graduation. This year, Board members are invited to come a week early and spend the first five days rounding on the Invincible America Assembly as well as visiting classes during the first part of that last week. The idea is for Trustees to gain a fuller taste of the rich experience here.


Fall-to-spring retention dips slightly

You may recall that last fall, our fall-to-fall student retention rate for new first-year students (the figure we report to the Federal government) rose to nearly 80%, which may be an all-time high. 

Our fall-to-spring retention rate (last fall to now) dipped slightly this year, compared to the last three years. For all new undergraduates it was 82.4%, compared to 89.4% last year, 90% the year before, and 85.1% the year before that. For all undergraduates the figure was 87.2%, compared to 91.3%, 88.6%, and 86.4% for the three prior years.

Although these are not significant changes, we always try determine the reason for students not returning, including calling them where necessary. Three of the non-returning students never completed a course. Altogether nine did not return for academic reasons (poor GPA, lack of motivation, learning challenges, etc.). Seven transferred to other schools, in some cases to pursue disciplines not offered here. Six had health issues, five had family issues, four needed or wanted to work, three were suspended, three wanted to travel, and one ran out funds. For seven students the reasons remain unknown.


749 windows replaced – with a $20,000 rebate

As part of the 2-year frat renovation project, we have replaced 749 windows in 11 buildings with Energy Star windows — and we received a $20,000 rebate from Alliant Energy, our energy provider.

In addition to this rebate, we expect these windows to save us $13,000 per year in energy costs through increased energy efficiency.

The detailed application for the Alliant rebate took several months to complete. Congratulations to Dr. Dave Streid and our Aramark team.


Comments from visitors to our last Visitors Weekend

  • I love how MUM is able to present often abstract concepts in very concrete quantitative ways.
  • MUM is the school of my dreams — a perfect balance of love and real-world applicability!
  • I was completely astounded at how well MUM provides ideal living conditions: food, water, outdoor space etc. It is all of the highest quality that made my stay perfect.
  • MUM has left me feeling very cleansed this weekend. I'm going home with so much more faith in America now that I know such a wonderful place exists.
  • Many different cultures, religions and races are represented, but everyone is accepted equally because its about each individual's own journey.
  • The feeling in the golden dome was amazing, the kindness here is all pervasive, it’s like heaven.
  • I was especially impressed with the Golden Dome.
  • The relationship between the teachers and students impressed me the most. This relationship is much closer than what I've experienced a other universities.
  • The environment MUM provides is amazing. I feel like it really helps creativity flourish.
  • I had an amazing weekend. I met a lot of awesome people. Everyone made me feel welcome. 
  • I have never been anywhere that has so many people open to Knowledge. The environment here is amazing.
  • My consciousness has never been so open and aware than in this supportive environment. I have finally found somewhere I can belong and fit in. I was very lucky to find this place. 


Iowa among the 10 happiest states in America

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa number 10 in its listing of “The Happiest States in America” and four other states around Iowa in the top 10.

More than 176,000 people from all 50 states were interviewed last year for the index, which measures Americans' physical and emotional health. Well-being effectively reflects health, employment, education, and the local environment.

The highest-ranking states are not particularly wealthy. But this is counterbalanced by the fact that residents are healthier and more likely to learn new things every day.

Iowa ranked #10. Three other top 10 states border on Iowa — Minnesota (#4), Nebraska (#3), and South Dakota (#2) — while #1 is nearby North Dakota. (Hawaii ranked #8.)

So, quality of life-wise, Iowa is right up there with Hawaii — good to keep in mind in the winter.

Thank you all for your good work day after day after day.

Jai Guru Dev


Iowa among the 10 happiest states in America

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa ranks Iowa number 10 in its listing of “The 

Posted by on 3/11/2014 11:41:00 AMComments 0
October news

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

There's been lots of good news these past few weeks.

Retention increases across the board

Our fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time undergraduate students — that is, students who are new to college who enrolled here last fall and returned this fall semester — rose from 77.3% last year to 79.4% this year. 

This is the highest retention rate we have had in the last nine years and represents the fifth straight year this number has increased. This is the figure we report to the Federal government.

Retention also increased among all new undergraduates (that is, transfer students as well as new-to-college students) and among all undergraduates taken together.

Retention is an overall measure of the student experience, both in the classroom and out. These numbers reflect the great work of everyone who comes into contact with our students, from the Admissions Office in the initial stages to the Student Life department to everyone in the University — and especially the faculty.

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this achievement. We intend to continue doing everything we can to further increase these numbers.

MUM helps form the new Iowa College Sustainability Alliance

Professor Lonnie Gamble and Steve Langerud have inspired faculty at Grinnell College and Luther College — two of Iowa’s leading private colleges — to form the Iowa College Sustainability Alliance.

The purpose of the Alliance is to organize exchanges and collaborative projects among students and faculty at colleges across Iowa. They are planning to start with a summer sustainability institute for students — with the first one hosted at MUM next summer, and then rotating among institutions. Other collaborations could include sharing guests speakers. We are already planning an exchange with Grinnell when the former Minister of Education for Bhutan visits here later this year.

Here's what Steve Langerud says about this:

What I have heard from faculty at other colleges while I have been on the road is this: MUM students are head and shoulders above students at other colleges in terms of their understanding of deep sustainability, their practical application of these principles, and, finally, their post graduate activities that bring these ideas to life as social and business entrepreneurs and activists.

When Lonnie mentioned that he would like to learn what they are doing in their curriculum, the faculty member said, "Your students should be teaching us what to teach!"

Clearly, in the area of sustainability, MUM is admired for its innovative curriculum and outcomes. From what I hear, we are the not just the leading edge, but the bleeding edge of this scholarly area.  (I would argue for the development of a scholarly, peer reviewed journal housed at MUM!)

One student who I met and shared information about our study abroad programs went to a computer and looked up MUM. He came back to me and said, "I am so jealous of those students. I wish I had known about MUM when I was picking a college."

Six students from DePauw will join Lonnie on the Hawaii J-Term program. And many are interested in joining MUM students in Bhutan this summer. Another student plans to study at MUM next fall.

I have learned so much going out and sharing our programs. We should continue to push our faculty and students into public positions as thought leaders in deep sustainability and preparation for satisfying careers.  

Congratulations and thank you to Lonnie and Steve, on helping place MUM in this leadership role in Iowa, and to David Fisher and everyone in the Sustainable Living department for creating such a high-quality learning experience for our students.

Check out Steve Langerud's new "Career Coach" blog
Steve has created a blog for students entitled "Career Coach: Strategies and Tactics for Career Success." 

This is just one of many things Steve is doing, along with Jan Sickler, to strengthen our Career Center for students — and also for alumni. In a future blog post, I'll lay out all the exciting initiatives.

Answering your phone – campus-wide protocol

I’d like to clarify our protocol for handling phone calls. This may be slightly different from what was sent out earlier.

1 – Always answer your phone when it rings in your office — Do not let it go onto voicemail. We are here to serve the people who need us, and this is one of the most important ways to do it. If you’re in a meeting and cannot talk at length, take the call and quietly tell the person when to call back or when you will return the call.

2 – Switch on voicemail when you leave your desk — People expect to be able to leave a message if you are away from your phone. We don’t want to frustrate people by having them place calls to phones that just ring and ring. Keep your voicemail message short: "This is Hugh Jackman, please leave me a message," or "This is Katy Perry, please leave a message or call back later."

3 – If you need to be reached when you’re away from your office, make sure people can reach you on your cell — Forward your office phone to your cell phone as necessary.

4 – Return all calls promptly — We are a service organization — and few things say “excellent customer service” than getting back to people right away

How are we doing? Comment from a member of the Fairfield community

We must be doing pretty well with this. I received this unsolicited comment from a Fairfield resident, who had worked to help plan an event on campus:

I would like to share with you a positive experience I had in the run-up to the event, which is how delightful it was to work with people (mostly over the phone) who I do not know, but who impressed me as having an extraordinary combination of friendliness, intelligence, competency, and professionalism along with overflowing bliss. Just interacting with the MUM staff over the phone felt almost like a number one experience in the Dome!

It made me think how wonderful it would be if lots and lots of people could have an experience similar to my own. The contrast between the usual "customer service" interaction over the phone or in person at almost every company or institution these days with my uplifting experience with MUM staff was really striking. It seemed to me that many non-meditators could become very receptive to learning TM and/or attending MUM just by getting a chance to be "served" by the wonderful staff that are so ably helping you accomplish Maharishi's CBE goals.

Thank you to everyone for making one of our “customers” so satisfied that he took the time to write me this note.

Campus master planning takes another step forward

Picture Wallace Drive transformed into a beautiful pedestrian mall, perfectly straight, paved with brick, lined with trees and flags. . . . Now picture it extending across Highway 1, with a 12-story Maharishi Tower of Invincibility at its western end. . . . Picture a broad set of stairs leading up to the mall on the east, with a water feature running down the middle. . . . Envision a beautiful outdoor amphitheater sculpted into the hill in front of the Argiro Student Center, with a water feature there as well — a place for outdoor concerts and festivals and just enjoying the space. . . . Picture bike and pedestrian walkways connecting all parts of campus.

These are just a few of the features we will see on our campus as the Campus Master Plan gets implemented in the years to come. The process has been guided by a landscape architecture firm, Confluence, based in Iowa City.

But these are just broad brushstrokes. To actually implement the plan, many small design decisions are necessary. Looking at architects’ drawings can take you only so far. Creating a pedestrian mall, for example, will require dozens of finer-level decisions.

What’s the best way to do this?

Go and visit other pedestrian malls — and outdoor amphitheaters, etc. — and see how others have done it.

This is what Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, Chair of our Board of Trustees, proposed. Dr. Abramson should know. He’s a partner in The Tower Companies, the award-winning and sustainability-oriented Washington DC-based real estate development and building firm. 

Dr. Abramson proposed that a group of University leaders join him in visiting some sites in Iowa (he even generously funded the expense of this trip). Besides Dr. Abramson, the group included Dr. Bevan Morris, Trustees Toby Lieb and Doug Greenfield, Dr. David Streid, Michael and Rosemary Spivak, architect Jon Lipman, and Kathy Brooks. They were joined by representatives from Confluence.

They looked at campus streets that had been converted to pedestrian malls. They examined amphitheaters, walkways, bioswales, and water features. In particular, they visited the amphitheater with water feature and native plantings at the Leed-certified Aviva Campus in West Des Moines; the pedestrian mall at Central College with overhanging trees, a fire pit, and personal-sized spaces; the unique horse-tail bio-swale at Drake University; and the terraced native gardens at the Capitol Building in Des Moines. 

This was a preliminary step to the next phase of the Master Plan, which will now focus on detailed planning for the central campus area.

Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey Abramson, for inspiring, funding, and participating in this trip. And thanks to Dr. Dave Streid, who has poured so much time into our campus master planning process.

Click here to page through the beautiful booklet that lays out the master plan, with drawings of what the Wallace pedestrian mall and the outdoor amphitheater and 
other features will look like.

This vision for our campus need not be some distant dream. Any day we could wake up to the news that someone has decided to provide the funds to make this vision a reality. Let’s do everything we can to deserve that support of natural law.

Highlights of Pella to Des Moines Campus Landscaping Tour

September 25-26, 2013

Fire pit, seating, Central College

Pedestrian Mall, Central College; former city street; variety of elements projecting in and out on sides.

Amphitheater, Grinnell College

Bioswale, Aviva Campus

Water course, amphitheater, Aviva campus

Water course, amphitheater, Aviva campus

Bike racks, multiple campuses, from Signage, Aviva campus

Landscapeforms, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Horsetail bioswales lining pedestrian walk & former road that slopes. Walk is periodically interrupted with strip of pavers (bottom left in photo). When rainwater sheeting down walk hits a paver strip it soaks between the pavers where it is taken to the bioswales.

Allee—walk lined with over-arching trees both sides, Drake University

Separating two bioswales a walk lined with large limestone blocks, Des Moines University

Campus lighting: light bulb shines up; the light hits horizontal reflector and is reflected down onto the ground, with no visible bright point of light or light pollution. Two examples, River Walk, Des Moines.

Hybrid varieties of native plants, State Capitol Plaza, Des Moines

Don’t forget about the online suggestion box

If you have a suggestion for improving anything at the University — to save time or money or improve service — please send it to You can win a $40 gift certificate at the Store or Golden Dome Market if your suggestion is chosen as the best that month.

Speaking of making things even better . . . 

I want to make sure everyone knows about the free online Lean training course that we all now have full access to. I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two looking through this. It’s full of systematic tools for how to do less and accomplish more in any organization.

Lean has been a great success in the University so far, and we have only scratched the surface. We will be applying Lean tools to every area in the University. The more familiar we all are with this, the better.Also see

We will have a staff meeting where we walk everyone through the basics in this course.

* * * * * * *

For a "small" private college, there is such incredible dynamism in this place, almost hard to keep pace with — such amazing creativity, with so many opportunities coming our way. It's a great time to be here.







Posted by on 10/15/2013 11:42:00 AMComments 0

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