Senator Tom Harkin formally announced on Friday that he will donate his historical papers to Drake University. Former Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy will chair the advisory board of the Tom Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement. Drake's leaders hope the institute will raise the profile of the private university based in Des Moines. O.Kay Henderson and Jens Manuel Krogstad reported more details on the new institute's mission. There will be no restrictions on academic research using the Harkin papers--which was a key reason the original plan to create a Harkin Institute at Iowa State fell apart. Harkin withdrew his offer to donate papers to ISU in February.
While things worked out well for Drake, I believe the senator's papers belonged at ISU, a public school and his alma mater. It's a shame that two Republicans on the Iowa Board of Regents mucked up what could have been an asset to Iowa State. Craig Lang won't be able to serve a second term as a regent, but his legacy in derailing the Harkin Institute (which he never wanted at ISU) will live on.
Naturally, The Iowa Republican blog is still trying to portray this fiasco as a Harkin fundraising scandal. Nice try, but lots of elected officials donate papers to public universities, and it's common for the fundraising to begin before the person retires from public service. Drake's president confirmed Friday that donors to the new institute will be made public.