Faculty Senate hears from chief of police on public safety


Iowa State University Police Chief Michael Newton speaks on public safety on March 21, 2023 at Faculty Senate.

Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated that Megan Landolt spoke during the special order. The article has since been corrected to state it was Sophia Magill. The Daily regrets this error.

Iowa State’s Faculty Senate heard a presentation from Iowa State University Police Chief Michael Newton regarding security on campus during their meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The presentation came partially in response to the shooting that took place at Michigan State University in February. Newton said one of the things the Department of Public Safety is working on is getting people to think ahead for violent or dangerous situations.

“What are the things and actions that you’re going to take to protect yourself, to protect your students?” Newton said. “Having that mental rehearsal and having that consideration for ‘what are these going to look like, what are my potential alternatives when the situation has happened?’”

Newton said his team is there to help faculty strategize for such situations and ensure people on campus have the information they need to make the right decisions if such an event were to occur.

Newton said ISU Police undergo active threat training more than once a year. He also said the ISUPD does joint training with the Ames Police Department, Story County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies in the area.

“We know that when the worst could happen here, we already have those relationships built, and we can respond to those incidents,” Newton said. “We have the tools that we need because we’ve done that pre-planning and that work.”

Newton explained the police’s first priority in an active threat event is to neutralize the threat and ensure the safety of people on campus before stabilizing the situation.

“We’re trying to mitigate, neutralize the threat that exists, and then we’re going to come back and stabilize and take care of people,” Newton said. “We can’t get other first responders, we can’t get EMS in there, we can’t get the firefighters in there until our police officers have stabilized [the situation].”

Newton emphasized the importance of recognizing potential threats to the community before they turn into violent incidents. He said the Department of Public Safety gets a lot of requests for Violent Incident Response Training, but the department’s Recognizing and Reporting Disruptive Behavior training program receives less attention.

“We’ve had this other training for a really long time, Recognizing and Reporting Disruptive Behavior; isn’t that sometimes where we want to get to?” Newton said. “That’s the training I would really ask people to request first; let’s identify those issues that are out there.”

Assistant Chief of Police Carrie Jacobs spoke on the Threat Assessment and Management Team housed within ISUPD. Jacobs said the team is a specialized unit within the Investigation Services Unit that focuses on individuals of concern.

“When we talk about persons of concern, these can be individuals who work here on campus, it can be students, it could be staff members, it could be visitors or it can just be individuals who happen to come on to campus,” Jacobs said. “Threat assessment is structured in such a way that allows us the investigative process to identify and investigate as well as manage these cases of concern.”

Jacobs said when the threat assessment team receives a call about an individual, they start by asking three questions. She said they assess whether the individual poses a threat to themselves or others, whether that threat is focused on an individual or a larger group and whether the individual has acquired any means of taking violent action.

From there, Jacobs said the team conducts interviews and collects both direct and indirect information regarding the individuals. Jacobs said the team also focuses on taking interim protective measures.

“And then we always, always, always follow up with our individuals, both the individual of concern as well as the original concerns to begin with, because we think it’s important,” Jacobs said. “Communication is key, and making sure that we’re keeping a safe community and that you’re also doing the best you can to keep your area safe.”

Jacobs said the threat assessment team does office space assessments to help faculty ensure they do all they can to help mitigate threats.

Athletics Council Election

The Senate held an election for two Faculty Senate-appointed seats on the Athletics Council, which advises the university president and athletic director on matters related to intercollegiate athletics.

Darren Berger, chair of the athletics council and associate professor in veterinary clinical sciences, said the Athletic Council’s work centers around student-athletes and their overall experience at Iowa State.

Eight faculty members ran for the two open seats on the council. The faculty members appointed to the council were Megan Myers, associate professor of world languages and cultures, and Michael Bootsma, teaching professor in accounting.

Strategic Plan Proposals

Sophia Magill, the senior advisor to the president, presented on a call for proposals related to Iowa State’s strategic plan.

Magill said the university’s call for proposals went live March 8 and will be in effect for the fiscal year 2024 starting July 1. Magill showed the senate where they can find the forms necessary for submitting a proposal on the strategic plan website and outlined what information is important for faculty to include in their proposals.

Magill encouraged faculty to focus on a budget narrative to explain not only the rationale for different requests of funds, but also the various commitments faculty members may take on for the projects.

“Really talking about your impact of what is going to be the return on investment with this university funding on how will it best impact not only Iowa State University, but our stakeholders broadly,” Magill said.

Magill said the deadline for proposals is April 23, which she acknowledged does not give faculty much time to come up with proposals, but explained that the university wants to get things moving for their strategic plan in year one.

In a statement from the Board of Regents president March 14, Michael Richards announced that the Board of Regents would begin a comprehensive study and review of all Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in the regent universities. Richards directed each university to pause the implementation of DEI programs until the study is completed.

Annemarie Butler, associate professor in the philosophy and religious studies department, asked how the Board of Regent’s pause on implementing new DEI programs may affect proposed initiatives, given that cultivating diverse, equitable and inclusive environments is the second goal listed on the strategic plan website.

Magill said the university is still awaiting guidance from the board of supervisors on how universities will be engaged.

“At this time, we’re not making any changes to our current programs or services, and we’ll work with the Board of Regents on those DEI initiatives…” Magill said. “Ultimately all proposals that could demonstrate a connection to the strategic plan will be permitted unless we receive further guidance that would change course on that.”