Inspire Volume 8 Issue 1

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SHRINKING & THRIVING Interdisciplinary team studies how shrinking towns can still thrive PAGE 2



NSF -funded study examines how shrinking towns can still thrive

Left: Towns selected for study from those included in the Iowa Small Town Poll. Map by Ahmed Elsherif, Matthew Lechowicz and Marwan Ghandour. Above: Zarecor, agriculture and society senior Hannah Fisher, Hamideh, Rozier, community and regional planning junior James Weatherly and sustainable environments graduate student Ahmed Elsherif. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Losses of population, jobs and occupied homes are usually seen as signs of community decline. Current research shows that in rural communities, such trends are likely to continue due to global shifts from a largely industrial to a postindustrial economy. But residents in some small towns report that their quality of life is improving despite these apparently negative indicators. Iowa State researchers want to know why, and what can be learned by studying these towns that might help other shrinking communities protect residents’ quality of life. A team led by Kimberly Zarecor, an associate professor of architecture and director of the interdisciplinary design program in the College of Design, received a one-year, $100,000 National Science Foundation planning grant for their project, “A Data-Driven Framework for Smart Decision-Making in Small and Shrinking Communities.” 2

Funded as part of the NSF’s Smart and Connected Communities program, “our research is innovative because many studies of rural communities focus only on documenting signs of decline or promoting uncertain growth strategies,” said Zarecor. “We use an integrated research methodology that combines qualitative and quantitative methods from design, the social sciences and data science to study shrinking Iowa communities where residents perceive that quality of life is stable or improving. We call this a “shrink-smart” process.”

Research team Zarecor is joined on the team by: •

Sara Hamideh, an assistant professor of community and regional planning and an affiliated faculty member in the sustainable environments program who specializes in disaster resilience and community engagement;

David Peters, an associate professor of sociology and extension sociologist who heads the Iowa Small Town Poll, an Iowa State survey that gauges perceptions of quality of life in rural Iowa;

Eric Rozier, an assistant professor of computer science and data science specialist interested in how datadriven methods can contribute to social and community-based research; and

Marwan Ghandour, formerly a professor of architecture and director of the sustainable environments and urban design programs at Iowa State, now director of the Louisiana State University School of Architecture, whose expertise is in spatial analysis and mapping techniques.

The team also includes undergraduate students from agriculture and society, architecture, community and regional


planning and computer science, and a graduate student in sustainable environments.

These are the places we think we can learn from.”

Pilot communities

Hamideh has led the task of verifying the poll data through one-on-one interviews and focus groups with residents.

The initial project stages have included selecting communities to study, conducting interviews with stakeholders and creating detailed maps of the towns

Correctionville. Photo by Hannah Fisher.

and their regional networks at multiple scales. Using 20 years of longitudinal data from the Iowa Small Town Poll, the team identified seven towns to study: Elma, Correctionville, Hamburg, Montezuma, Murray, Sac City and Sheffield. These communities had populations between 500 and 10,000 residents in 1994 and have since experienced loss of people, jobs and occupied housing units. Towns were chosen for the study based on residents’ perceptions of quality of life on measures such as local government, schools, medical services, childcare services and elderly care. The team is looking at upward and downward trends in the data, with stable or improving metrics signaling a process of smart shrinkage, Zarecor said. “We excluded small communities close to much larger communities because they have an advantage of being essentially suburbs or bedroom communities,” Zarecor said. “We’re looking at truly small towns isolated from growing metropolitan areas that are still doing better than expected based on the quantitative data.

Qualitative research

“We started by speaking with decision makers — people who have influence over or are active in changes in the community, such as city council and school board members, church and business leaders and the heads of community organizations,” she said. “We asked questions in categories directly linked to the Iowa Small Town Poll to better understand the processes and perceptions related to shrinkage and quality of life. How do they think the population has been changing? What do they think about the quality of public services, shopping facilities, schools, child care? What opportunities are there to get involved in the community? How do they see the future of the town?” The next step is to speak with groups of “everyday residents” to capture their perceptions of the same issues. The interviews provide depth and texture to the more objective responses to the questions in the poll, Hamideh said, and may offer a clearer picture of why some towns are doing better than others despite similar economic and social challenges. Preliminary results suggest that some towns may be doing better because they are integrated into regional networks of services and community relationships that make them great places to live, she said.

Data science component Rozier heads the data science part of the project, which uses machine-learning techniques to understand more about the factors that contribute to smart shrinkage and test methods to extend the research into additional communities in Iowa and across the United States. “David has collected great sets of data through the Iowa Small Town Poll, and Sara is bringing deeper insights through the qualitative research. But what about a town that’s not in the study? We don’t know how they’re doing or what their trajectory is,” Rozier said. “What we’re

hoping to find with this project is a way to leverage other available data to measure things we don’t have a good method to measure.” In other words, he said, the team is looking for “proxy metrics” that correlate with the poll and interview data and can serve as predictive indicators for outcomes in communities for which there is no longitudinal data. “We don’t have a good sense of what might be relevant, so we pull data from everywhere — water bills, building permits, city/county/state-level inspections, number of businesses that have opened and closed, social media posts — and sort through all of that to find what differentiates City A from City B and is predictive of success.” If he were to do this himself, Rozier would be limited to a low number of variables, but a computer can run millions of variables a second, build lots of simple models and test the predictive power of those models until the system achieves a very smart model with high predictive power, he said.

Replicate and extrapolate “We want to find these proxy metrics that help us understand why these communities are doing better than average in quality of life so we can go to any community anywhere and ask similar questions about it,” Zarecor said. “This is a true planning grant to try to develop a methodology through a pilot study in Iowa to help us learn, test and then extrapolate these methods to use in other places,” she said. “We’ll apply for more funding to try to replicate the process successfully in communities in other parts of the country — which may be larger, and where social and economic conditions are different — to prove that the tools can be scaled out and scaled up.”

Funded as part of the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) program




By Heather Sauer

Planning alumna shifts focus from urban to rural placemaking

Left: Wilcoxon has found joy in her personal and professional life. She and her fiancé, Vito Carena, are planning an April wedding in Italy. Their rescue dogs, Coco, Siena and Napoli, provide ample opportunities for walks in Des Moines metro parks. Above: More than a quarter of Stanton’s residents attended a visioning meeting with the McClure creative placemaking team. All photos courtesy of Wilcoxon.

Bethany Wilcoxon is guided by the “seventh generation principle” of considering how decisions made today will affect the next seven generations. “We need to leave the world a better place than it is now,” said Wilcoxon (BS 2008 Community & Regional Planning / Graduate Certificate 2009 GIS) in a recent telephone interview from her office at McClure Engineering Company in Clive. “In every situation, I try to think about how I can help a community or an individual have a better quality of life.” After nearly a decade in the government and nonprofit sectors, Wilcoxon joined McClure’s creative placemaking department last August as the vice principal of community planning. “I really wanted a new challenge and saw this as a way to grow professionally while contributing to McClure’s new community-building endeavor,” she said. 4

“It’s like a startup within the company, so a big task [for principal community planner Zachary Mannheimer and me] is building the team, creating the framework and establishing our processes for working with communities while diving right into the placemaking work,” she said.

Transformational projects The team recently completed a “placemaking action plan” for Hardin County that details a dozen projects it believes can be transformational, including a regional branding and marketing initiative, skilled trades enhancement program and code enforcement strategy as well as individual proposals (public market, sports academy, outdoors outfitter, brewery, etc.) for seven towns in the county. “We start with community visioning with a broad cross-section of residents and

leaders who represent as many viewpoints as possible, create a list of ideas and assess the feasibility of each idea as well as where it could go in the community,” Wilcoxon said. “Then we develop business plans for the first three years of operation to help ensure sustainability and longevity; we don’t want these places to be there one day and gone the next.” The placemaking team currently works in seven states, primarily along the Mississippi River from Iowa to the Gulf Coast. Challenges posed by a history of segregation and economic disparity in the South, and a shortage of housing and skilled labor in the Midwest are some of the crucial issues to be addressed, Wilcoxon said. “No two communities are alike, but there are often similarities that allow you to


adapt concepts and strategies from one to the circumstances of another. My experiences working with a variety of stakeholders and communities at the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and Capital Crossroads helped me learn to think creatively to find solutions to unique challenges.”

“We did a piece in partnership with local hospitals and Business Publications called ‘Lifting the Veil,’ dedicated to stories, facts and figures on mental health in central Iowa. Getting that out in the business community was a huge win for Capital Crossroads 2.0, and I’m very proud of that accomplishment.”

Professional achievements

Volunteer activities

Wilcoxon served as a senior transportation planner with the Des Moines Area MPO from 2009 to 2014, where she led development of the $3.1 million Tomorrow Plan, the first regional comprehensive plan focused on the sustainable development of Greater Des Moines.

In addition to her professional contributions, Wilcoxon is active in many organizations focused on community well-being. She was part of the Jester Park Nature Center campaign leadership team, which successfully raised funds for construction of a new nature center set to open in August.

Since the plan’s adoption in 2013, the steering committee and partner communities have worked to implement the economic, environmental, infrastructural, recreational, transportation, energy, health and neighborhood initiatives outlined in the plan, which received the 2013 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan from the Iowa chapter of the American Planning Association.

“I’m especially excited about this project because a large number of school groups visit Jester Park, but they’ve never had a place like this with STEM classrooms and an interactive streamscape where they can learn about water quality and the value of caring for our natural resources,” she said. “A connection with nature is so important to developing critical thinking skills and creativity at a young age.”

From 2014 to 2017, Wilcoxon was the director of Capital Crossroads, where she managed development of the next fiveyear regional vision plan for Greater Des Moines and central Iowa. “Des Moines has been on several “best of” lists over the past decade, so the challenge with the second iteration of the plan was to look beyond the low-hanging fruit to the overarching priorities like water quality and community mental health,” she said.

Wilcoxon also is a member of Polk County’s Great Outdoors Foundation board of directors, an APA ambassador and the U.S. Green Building Council ADVANCE ambassador for Iowa. The ADVANCE program is designed to enhance equity in sustainability by increasing access to resources and expertise for new, underserved and underrepresented groups. “We helped develop a sustainability playbook for Community Youth Concepts in Des Moines,” she said. “They have

installed 54 solar panels on the roof of their building and expanded gardening and greenhouse opportunities for youth to understand where their food comes from and learn skills to create healthier outcomes.” Wilcoxon’s interest in sustainability and the environment stems from her childhood on an acreage in rural Atlantic. “I distinctly remember a nearby farmer ripping out a small grove of oak trees to gain a bit more land for production. I was 7 or 8 at the time and really upset about the loss, but I didn’t have the words then to express why it mattered so much. In high school, I refused to mow over the acorns that had sprouted in our lawn; I’d dig them up and replant them somewhere else,” she said. “In time I realized the importance to me of growing things and having a connection to the land. I learned how to harness that passion for broader goals.”

Global recognition Wilcoxon is an alumna of Leadership Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Community Leadership Program. She was recognized as an Iowa STATEment Maker by the ISU Alumni Association in 2012 and named a Business Record “Forty Under 40” and Royal Town Planning Institute International Award for Planning Excellence finalist in 2016. She also was invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community — a grassroots network of young people addressing local, regional and global challenges — and develop Iowa’s first Global Shapers Hub in Des Moines.

Personal fulfillment “I’m incredibly fortunate that these opportunities have allowed me to grow personally and professionally. Feeling that I have positively impacted a community or someone’s life brings me a great sense of satisfaction and internal happiness,” Wilcoxon said.

The Tomorrow Plan led by Wilcoxon received the 2013 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan from the Iowa chapter of the APA.

“I want to continue down that path, to learn and be challenged as I work with people to better their lives and their communities. That’s what drew me to planning in the first place and that’s my hope for the next decade of my career.” 5



By Heather Sauer

Grad student advocates for active transportation

Left: On his five-week summer bike tour, Dunn encountered trails both paved and primitive. Above: For his capstone project, Dunn looked at “trail towns” like Madrid as case studies, documenting how former railroad corridors are integrated into communities as recreational trails. All photos courtesy of Dunn.

memories, and a new appreciation for the region he calls home.

Rail trails study

Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” Graduate student Austin Dunn has sweat and coasted his way throughout much of the Midwest, learning the contours of the land and the culture of the people who live there. To gather data for his capstone project, Dunn traveled 1,200 miles on his Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike through Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He returned with a wealth of photographs, maps, sketches and 6

things about rail trails is that they transect so many different types of environments and offer access to places you’d never really have access to otherwise.”

Dunn completed his epic journey in five weeks from mid-May to the end of June 2017. With funding from the Barbara King Landscape Architecture Scholarship for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creativity, the MLA/MCRP dual-degree student set out on a field study of rail trails — former railway lines converted to multi-use paths for pedestrian, bicycle, skating, equestrian and/or light motorized traffic like ATVs and snowmobiles.

Before he finalized plans for his trip, Dunn was hired as a trails intern for the summer with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

“I’m looking at how rail trails intersect small communities and how some towns are able to transform and engage with these spaces inherited from the railroad in new and exciting ways,” Dunn said.

Dunn first rode the Katy Trail in Missouri from Boonville to St. Louis, then followed the Mississippi River north to Minneapolis. He headed east to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, continued south to La Crosse and looped back west to Lanesboro, Minnesota, the end of the route.

“I’m really interested in these linear spaces that move people or connect them to different contexts. One of the cool

“When I told them I was doing a bike tour for my research, they said they were interested in the Mississippi River Trail and invited me to document it for them. So that wound up being the backbone of my route, and I found other rail tails near that general corridor to explore,” he said.

Mississippi River Trail

On the way, he collected data for his


creative component (an alternative to a master’s thesis) and for the INHF. “Because they’re interested in the MRT in particular, I documented signage, shoulder width and materials, where the route is off-road, etc. Most of that was done with voice memos, which I later transcribed and mapped out.” Dunn also took photos each time he entered a new road or trail, and all of his photos are geotagged with location coordinates. “None of this information existed in one place; the trail is a very decentralized project with all the counties and cities doing their own thing, and the [Department of Transportation] in each state doesn’t really know the conditions of the route,” he said. “It felt good to fill a need and provide data to help them maintain and promote the trail.” For his own research, Dunn kept a journal, shot GoPro photos and video and did measured drawings of areas of interest to him. “My creative component characterizes successful trail-town interfaces and offers strategies for towns hoping to better engage with rail trails.”

Memorable moments Dunn camped most nights or stayed in homes with people he met on the way or through, a hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. He spent just one night in a motel in Hermann, Missouri, when the threat of tornados made camping dangerous. “I remember thinking that a bike tour would be very romantic. There were certainly some glorious moments when I’d be cruising on an open stretch of road in the early morning and the birds were singing and everything was wonderful,” he said. “It was also full of unromantic moments like biking into 20-mile-per-hour headwinds all day, the trail turning to sand, or having to lug my fully-loaded 80-pound bike through jungle gyms of downed trees across the trail after it would storm. Those were some humbling times but still pretty fun.” Of the many memorable moments on the trip, a true highlight was the kindness and generosity he encountered, Dunn said.

“Total strangers would welcome me into their homes, cook me food, offer me a warm shower and a bed to sleep in. I can’t count the number of times someone paid for my breakfast or my coffee,” he said. “All those little experiences have changed my understanding of the region and the people and the landscapes. Living pretty much outside and moving at the pace of a bicycle for five weeks is a really intimate way to get to know a place.”

Iowa Data Bike After completing the bike tour, Dunn helped collect data on more than 500 miles of central Iowa recreational trails — many of them rail trails — using the Iowa Data Bike, a collaborative project by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the INHF. The Data Bike is an electric bicycle outfitted with pavementcondition sensors, a 360-degree camera to upload imagery to Google Street View and a rear-facing GoPro camera to capture georeferenced photos of trail conditions.

Mapping and modeling A native of Newton, Dunn received a BA in geography and international studies from the University of Iowa in 2013. Before enrolling at Iowa State, he did research on participatory mapping for permaculture in Malawi, which was funded by a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. He also served with AmeriCorps in Brookings, Oregon, where he worked on park and trail design projects. As a research assistant with ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development, Dunn uses GIS to model non-motorized transportation networks and connectivity. For the past three years, he’s worked with landscape architecture professor and extension landscape architect Christopher Seeger (MLA 1997 Landscape Architecture), exploring tools and technology for measuring and modeling walkability in rural Iowa towns. “Most recently we have been building tools in GIS using OpenStreetMap data. Open-source data is especially important in rural communities that don’t have GIS resources or staff, to make information more accessible to people who can use it to make decisions about the built environment,” he said.

“I’d ride up to Dunn collected hundreds of miles of trail data with the Iowa Data Bike. 50 miles a day and the bike would Dunn will present “Evaluating Walkability gather all this data, which we could in the Age of Open Data,” a paper cothen map out to see what areas need authored with Seeger and extension maintenance,” Dunn said. “People systems analyst Bailey Hanson, at DLA were very curious about the bike, so 2018, the Digital Landscape Architecture I became like an ambassador for the Conference, in Munich in May, and the project. It was a great way to promote paper will be published in the Journal of trail usage and share the really cool Digital Landscape Architecture. environments in the area.” Dunn presented his MRT/rail trail tour and Data Bike project at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective and the fall 2017 conference of the American Society of Landscape Architects Iowa chapter. He’ll also present his rail trails research at the Mid-America Trails and Greenways Conference in Columbus, Ohio, in May.

“I feel very thankful for these opportunities to pursue my research and fulfill my desire for adventure,” Dunn said. “So many things have coalesced in ways I never would have imagined. After graduation, I hope to land where I can continue working in the realm of active transportation and reimagining the built environment.” 7



By Heather Sauer

Artist combines digital, traditional media in genre-crossing work

Left: A finalist in the 2016 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition, Holland’s “CN III” was drawn on four layers of plastic to achieve physical and perceived depth. Above: Holland experiments with new materials and technologies in his ever-evolving artwork. All images courtesy of Brent Holland.

For Brent Holland, art is an evolution. A classically trained artist with a bachelor’s degree in drawing from Missouri State University and a master’s in painting from the University of Washington, Holland began his career producing highly accomplished, traditional works on paper and panel. When some early projects found him struggling to assert his true artistic sensibility, however, Holland chose to return to what he loves: “observing and drawing.” But drawing on paper was no longer enough; several years ago, he integrated digital with traditional media applications in his work. “I really loved the idea of being able to draw infinitely and edit and make marks 8

that are different, adding dimension and depth through layering,” said Holland, an associate professor of art and visual culture who teaches all levels of drawing and painting. “I’m also fascinated with emerging technologies such as 3D digital sculpting and printing.”

Digital experimentation Holland now begins all of his work digitally, using a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet and different software packages to create multidimensional, hybrid paintings and drawings. In one process, he creates drawings in multiple layers in Adobe Photoshop, then prints each layer on plastics and assembles them into a single 2.5-dimensional or “pseudo-3D” artwork. He draws or paints on each layer using traditional media

like acrylic paint “to insert moments of spontaneity” before assembly. In another process, Holland uses Pixilogic ZBrush 3D sculpting software to create abstract biomorphic paintings. For now, he prints these sculptural forms as twodimensional images, but he’s eager to move toward 3D-printing them. He’s also experimenting with resins, stickers and other media — like augmented reality — to expand the palette available to express his artistic vision. His “lab” is a rented studio space at the Fitch Building in downtown Des Moines, where he manages parallel tracks in his practice: client-based, commissioned work and his personal artistic endeavors.


“Commissions are different in that I make the work to fit the client’s needs, which is often more commercial. The end result isn’t always what I would have chosen, but there are always parts that are mine,” Holland said. “And I can take some parts, like the sketches for the bus wrap, and display them as art in their own right, and turn them into something new. You can’t put resin on a bus, but you can do it with studio pieces.”

Art on DART In 2016, Holland was commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation and the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) to “turn a commuter bus into a traveling canvas.” Part of the foundation’s Project Spaces initiative to place compelling, temporary works of art in highly accessible and visible public spaces, Holland’s was the fifth “Art on DART” bus design. “I was asked to do something that considered the form of the bus, so I developed the idea of the bus going through a river of paint and having the paint splatter up over it,” Holland said. Influenced by the city’s location on the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, the design incorporates abstracted iconography such as the granite tile pattern from the Principal Building. Using a template of the bus, Holland designed the artwork and turned his digital files for “Splatter” into a highresolution graphic wrap installed and unveiled in October that year.

Holland’s design, an illustration depicting iconic Fort Dodge structures, landscapes and figures, was one of five finalists last summer. While the city’s public art committee chose a concept by an Australian artist, Holland is philosophical: “It’s another piece of my portfolio that shows I’m not a onetrick pony; I can adapt to particular circumstances and needs.” He continues to apply for projects that play to his strengths and challenge him as well. “Public art commissions can provide access to tools and processes I might not normally have access to. It’s a way of experimenting with a lot of different materials and trying new things. I’d love to do a layered-glass and fiber-optic light piece,” he said.

IAC Fellowship An Iowa Arts Council Fellowship in 2016-2017 provided funding and professional development opportunities to advance Holland’s career. He used some of the funding to “build a proper website and run Facebook ad campaigns in different locations for specific projects,” like the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition, in which one of his 2.5D drawings was a finalist. Holland also purchased a membership to the Downtown Des Moines Chamber of Commerce for the networking opportunities it affords. And the IAC’s own “Meet the Artists” events for fellows led to a potential exhibition at the Dubuque Museum of Art. “I shared images of my personal work as

well as public and private commissions at the Dubuque event, and DMA executive director David Schmitz invited me to submit a proposal for a solo show in 2020,” Holland said. “At the time I wasn’t even working with augmented reality, but now I’m creating new artwork with an AR dimension,” he said. “Viewers can use a smart device to unlock a new level or layer of the work that can only be accessed through digital means, like a video game. Dubuque could be the first museum in Iowa to have that as a featured component.” The IAC named Holland the featured artist for the 2017 Celebrate Iowa Gala, a fundraising event in December that marked the council’s 50th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Holland’s artwork — a montage of thematic imagery in the same style as his Fort Dodge silo proposal — appeared on the gala’s promotional materials and featured prominently at the event.

Crossing genres Holland’s current work crosses genres between realism and magical realism, representation and abstraction. “I’m building a world that could plausibly exist within itself, creating things I’ve never seen but want to see and being innovative with processes, emergent technologies and alternative materials,” he said. “I’m excited to see where it takes me.”

He was so enamored of the result, he incorporated similar imagery into a series of fine-art prints and paintings in layers of resin, exhibited at Olson-Larsen Galleries in Des Moines, which represents him. EMC Insurance purchased a large, multilayered version of “Splatter” for its corporate collection.

Fort Dodge grain silo mural Following the Art on DART project, Holland applied for the Fort Dodge Grain Silo Mural Project, which when completed will be the largest mural in Iowa. “It was a challenge to design for something so massive,” he said. Holland turned a DART bus into a traveling canvas with his “Splatter” graphic wrap.




By Heather Sauer

Bequests extend gifts’ impact beyond donors’ lifetimes

Left: Senior Joel Wienhold received the first Diane Engh Anderson Interior Design Scholarship. Photo courtesy of Wienhold. Above: Graphic design department chair Bernard Canniffe is the inaugural holder of the Dorothy Maitland Miller Professorship in Graphic Design. Photo by Alison Weidemann.

Many alumni, faculty and staff members and others with close connections to Iowa State seek ways to give back to the university both now and in the future. Through charitable bequests, donors can extend their impact and provide ongoing support beyond their lifetimes. The Iowa State University Foundation has 832 estate gifts on record — 32 of which are designated for the College of Design. These gifts are vital as they allow us to plan long term, and having explicit instructions ensures we understand and can fulfill donors’ wishes for the use of their funds. “We are so thankful for those who choose to include us in their estate plans. Remembering us through a bequest is a meaningful way to support the college well into the future,” said Emily Kruse, College of Design development director. “Because we want to ensure we are honoring your intentions, the best way to help us do that is to document your bequest with us in advance. It also allows 10 10 10

us to express our appreciation for your generosity now.”

Assisting students, faculty In 2001, Iowa State alumna Dorothy (Maitland) Miller (BS 1952 Applied Art) — who worked as an artist for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and for Meredith Corporation in Des Moines before retiring in 1973 — established two expendable accounts. The Dorothy Maitland Miller Scholarship Fund provides renewable in-state tuition scholarships for sophomore students, and the Dorothy Maitland Miller Annual Scholarship Fund provides a one-year instate tuition scholarship for sophomores, juniors or seniors in graphic design. “At a time when families are struggling to finance higher education and looking for every advantage, Miller’s generosity has made it possible to give Iowa students an amazing educational experience and allow them to graduate relatively debtfree,” said Bernard Canniffe, chair of the graphic design department.

Miller also made a bequest, which upon her death in 2014 endowed the two scholarships and established the Dorothy Maitland Miller Professorship in Graphic Design to recognize “the importance of higher education and the talented faculty who teach and mentor graphic design students.” Canniffe recently was named the inaugural Dorothy Maitland Miller Professor, becoming only the second holder of an endowed professorship in the College of Design. He plans to use funds associated with the award to provide seed money for innovative faculty research projects, to support faculty travel to international conferences, to enhance the technology available to graphic design students and faculty and to develop a departmental publication. “These resources will allow me to support experimental projects and will help increase the department’s international footprint and reputation,” he said. “I am honored to be the first Miller Professor and appreciate her tremendous gift.”


Investing in education

Witnessing impact now

Like Miller, Diane (Engh) Anderson (BS 1971 Applied Art – Interior Design) and her husband, Lynn Anderson (BS 1969 Industrial Administration), wanted to give back to their alma mater. They met many times with ISU Foundation representatives to discuss their charitable wishes before developing a detailed bequest in 2011. Diane Anderson

In addition to the bequest, the Andersons established scholarships for student members of Lynn’s fraternity, Beta Sigma Psi. They were so pleased to see the positive impact of this support on recipients that in 2017 they also established scholarships in the College of Business and the College of Design.

“We chose to invest in Iowa State because it is where Lynn and I met and fell in love. It is where we have fond memories of making new friends, many of whom are still good friends. It is where we cheered on the Cyclones, and it is where we pursued our personal goals of getting a college education,” Anderson said. “Our Iowa State University degrees launched our careers and were instrumental in the successes we have had in life.” The Andersons were married the week after Diane graduated from ISU and moved to Chicago, where she initially worked for Marshall Field and Company, then as a residential interior designer for Plunkett Furniture and later as the home furnishings fashion coordinator for Carson Pirie Scott and Company. After their first child was born, Diane spent several years as a freelance interior designer in Illinois and South Dakota, where the family relocated in 1986. Lynn pursued a successful career in railroad administration, retiring as senior vice president of marketing for Cedar American Rail Holdings in 2008. He currently serves on the ISU Foundation Board of Governors.

“We were able to meet our first recipients last fall for lunch, and the joy we received from talking with them was more than we could have imagined. To learn their backgrounds, their goals and what they are doing in and out of the classroom to accomplish those goals was exciting,” Anderson said. “It’s wonderful to see our gifts enjoyed and appreciated now while we’re still living.” The first Diane Engh Anderson Interior Design Scholarship was awarded to interior design senior Joel Wienhold, Lincoln, Nebraska. The $2,000 scholarship is “a tremendous help in paying for my last year of college,” said Wienhold, a member of the ISU Interior Design Student Association and the National Society of Leadership and Success who plans to work for a design firm or organization specializing in historic preservation after graduation. Wienhold also appreciated the opportunity to meet Anderson last fall. “It felt good to express my gratitude in person,” he said. “We had a great conversation comparing our college experiences, and I enjoyed discussing how the options for career paths with the same degree have changed over time. I hope I have stories of my own to share with the next generation of designers someday like she was kind enough to share with me.”

“Forever True, For Iowa State” is the university ’s historic initiative to raise $1.1 billion by June 30, 2020. The College of Design’s $14 million goal will support three key priorities: students, faculty and studios. To make a gift, visit or contact College of Design Development Director Emily Kruse, (515) 294-7272,

inspire Inspire is published twice per year by the Iowa State University College of Design and is mailed to more than 16,500 alumni and friends. Newsletter Staff Writer & Editor Heather Sauer Photographers Austin Dunn, Hannah Fisher, Christopher Gannon, Alison Weidemann Graphic Designer Alison Weidemann Contact Us 134 College of Design 715 Bissell Road Iowa State University Ames, IA 50011-1066 Twitter: @ISUdesign Instagram: @isucollegeofdesign Alumni Updates Have you married, moved, changed jobs, published or exhibited your work or earned an award? Let us know at alumni/share-your-news/. On the Cover Sustainable environments graduate student Ahmed Elsherif and agriculture and society senior Hannah Fisher, far right, are part of the research team led by architecture associate professor Kimberly Zarecor that’s studying how shrinking towns can protect quality of life. Photo by Christopher Gannon. Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. veteran. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies may be directed to Office of Equal Opportunity, 3410 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa 50011, Tel. 515 294-7612, email


Office of the Dean 134 College of Design 715 Bissell Road Ames, IA 50011-1066


Thomas Leslie named American Institute of Architects fellow Morrill Professor Thomas Leslie, the Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture at Iowa State University and an internationally renowned expert on architectural history and practice, has been named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Fellowship is awarded to architects who have made significant contributions to the profession and society and who exemplify architectural excellence. Only three percent of AIA members have received this distinction. Leslie is being recognized for his teaching and his research — particularly on Chicago skyscrapers, Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi, American architect Louis Kahn and post-war design for

aviation. Leslie will join all new fellows at the College of Fellows Investiture Ceremony during the AIA Conference on Architecture in June in New York City. Leslie teaches the advanced integrative design studio in both the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs and serves as the graduate coordinator for the Department of Architecture. Before joining the Iowa State faculty in 2000, he was an architect for Foster and Partners, London/ San Francisco. Leslie holds a BS in architectural studies with high honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MArch from Columbia University. He has received several awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of

Architecture, an AIA Education Honor Award, the AIA Iowa Educator Award and the Booth Family Rome Prize in Historic Preservation from the American Academy in Rome. He is the author of four books and co-author of a textbook.

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