The Board of Regents neglected its duty to Iowans

With virtually no public discussion and no opportunity for independent analysis of the complicated financials, the Iowa Board of Regents on December 10 approved a plan to lease the University of Iowa’s utilities for 50 years in exchange for an up-front payment of $1.165 billion.

Governor Kim Reynolds hailed the “historic day for higher education in Iowa.” In an official news release, Regents President Michael Richards praised what he called an “open, inclusive process leading to this agreement.”

Orwellian spin won’t fool anyone. A government board charged with managing public institutions should not have committed the university to such a far-reaching and costly deal without a full airing of the risks and benefits.

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Iowa students lead in nationwide fight for free college for all

A group of Iowa college students wrote this post, including Paige Oamek and Naomi Runder (Grinnell College), Javier Miranda and Katie Sinn (Iowa State University), and Jack Reardon (Des Moines Area Community College). -promoted by desmoinesdem

Students across Iowa will gather at Iowa State University in Ames on Monday, October 15 to call attention to soaring tuition hikes and wasteful development spending, such as the $8​4 million dollar project that will soon become the new Student Innovation Center.

This action comes as part of a National Day of Action hosted by ​Student Action and Young Democratic Socialists of America at over 20 campuses across the country as part of a broader campaign for Free College for All.

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Lawsuit claims secret Harreld meetings violated Iowa law

A retired University of Iowa employee has filed suit to nullify last year’s hiring of University President Bruce Harreld, on the grounds that five members of the Iowa Board of Regents violated the state’s open meetings law, Ryan Foley reported yesterday for the Associated Press.

I enclose below more background on the case as well as the full text of the plaintiff’s court filing.

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Iowa Board of Regents news: Branstad appoints new members, Rastetter elected president

Governor Terry Branstad appointed two new members of the Iowa Board of Regents yesterday. Former State Senator Larry McKibben and construction business owner Milt Dakovic will fill vacancies created when the Iowa Senate did not confirm two of the governor’s three Regents appointees this year: Craig Lang and Robert Cramer. Branstad likes to appoint former state lawmakers to boards and commissions. He encouraged McKibben to come out of retirement to run for the Iowa Senate again in 2012, but McKibben lost the GOP primary in Senate district 36. I’ve posted more background on McKibben and Dakovich after the jump. Their appointments are subject to confirmation by the Iowa Senate during the 2014 legislative session.

Lang recently finished six years of service on the Board of Regents and had been board president. Today the remaining board members chose Bruce Rastetter as the new board president. Rastetter has served as president pro-tem since the summer of 2011 and has been in frequent communication with the three state university presidents. The largest donor to Branstad’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign has also been a controversial figure as a Regent, having “blurred the line” between “his role as investor in AgriSol Energy” and his position on the board. (The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed an ethics complaint filed against Rastetter over that proposed AgriSol land deal.) Earlier this year, Rastetter asked the University of Iowa president to arrange a meeting between ethanol industry representatives and Professor Jerald Schnoor. Democrat and Linn-Mar school district superintendent Katie Mulholland will replace Rastetter as president pro-tem of the Board of Regents.

UPDATE: Democratic State Senator Jeff Danielson has already announced that he supports Branstad’s new nominees for the Board of Regents. Earlier this year, he voted against confirming Lang and Cramer.

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