Board of Regents cautioned to show no humor

Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson covered this morning’s Board of Regents meeting from the Regents office in suburban Des Moines.  Three of the nine members of the board were in Iowa City.  The rest joined by phone.  At one point the telephone connection to the Iowa City location dropped off.  The rest of the members started talking among themselves and one joked that they needed to figure out the "line of succession" since Regents president Michael Gartner was in Iowa City.  One of the Regents still on the line suggested that the University of Iowa Faculty Senate president was next in line, and there was quite a bit of laughter. 

After the guffaws died down, a Board of Regents staff member in Urbandale cautioned the board that the rest of the locations were still on-line — including the Urbandale location where the press was listening in on the conversation.  As you may know, U-of-I Faculty Senate president Sheldon Kurtz has been a frequent critic of the board’s action — he would call it inaction — on finding a new university president.  (Radio Iowa story)

State Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, chatted with three statehouse reporters today about the search for a new U-of-I president and the whole controversy surrounding the Board of Regents.  Bolkcom is among those who are calling for all nine members of the Board of Regents to resign, and let the new governor sort things out.  Out-going Governor Tom Vilsack said Friday he had no intention of sacking his Board of Regents, and intends for them to set up a second presidential search committee before he leaves office.

"These are the governors appointments and the process is completely broken down and I wish he would continue to be involved in trying to bring some solutions to the issues here," Bolkcom said.

"So his solution of keeping the same people around…" I started to ask.

"It’s a failed solution.  It’s not going to result in getting the presidential search process going again.  I think it’s going to undermine our ability to get the best candidates.  I can’t imagine somebody wanting to come to the University of Iowa when you have essentially this divided Board of Regents who does not have the trust of people on the campus," Bolkcom said.

"Has (Vilsack) been asleep at the switch or distracted by his presidential run here that he didn’t see all of this brewing?" Rod Boshardt of the Cedar Rapids Gazette asked.

"I think (Vilsack’s) gotten up to speed in the last couple of weeks on the level of concern around this process and I think he’s well aware, at this point, of how raw the relationship has grown and how dysfunctional it is and I guess the question at this point is whether he’s going to engage any further in trying to bring some resolution," Bolkcom said.

"But this thing has been going on for 10 months," Boshardt followed up.

Bolkcom smiled.  "Is that a question?" he added, after a pause.  Then, Bolkcom continued in the same vein as above.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.