Iowa’s next governor promises big changes in the board that governs Iowa, Iowa State and UNI. The Board of Regents has been under fire from University of Iowa faculty and students who’re unhappy with the way the board conducted its first search for a new U-of-I president.
During an interview this (Thursday) morning with Radio Iowa, Governor-elect Chet Culver expressed his own concerns with the current board’s performance. “There have been some real fair concerns raised about the open meetings law,” Culver said. “Look, this is a public body. The Board of Regents is asked to do the taxpayers business, the people’s business, and we are expected to do that in an open way.”
According to Culver, the board should not only follow the letter of the open meetings and open records law, they should follow the “spirit” of the law. “I will not tolerate any of our board members in the future that aren’t respectful and in compliance with the law,” Culver said.
Current Regent Tom Bedell submitted a letter of resignation earlier this month, but Bedell said he’d leave in January so the new governor can pick a replacement. That means four of the nine members of the board will be Culver’s choices. “I’ll be making unprecedented changes. In my first 90 days in office, I’ll have four new appointments to the Board of Regents,” Culver said. “I’m taking this responsibility very seriously.”
Culver has already interviewed potential board members. “We need a board that is committed to openness and transparency,” Culver told Radio Iowa. “We need a board that is going to work cooperatively with our Regents institutions, with faculty and staff.”
Culver said he will “settle for nothing less” than people who “agree with my commitment and my philosophy.”
Many on the University of Iowa campus, and a few Iowa City-area legislators, have called for the resignation of Board of Regents president Michael Gartner. Culver stopped short of saying he’d ask Gartner to go, but the governor-elect didn’t offer an endorsement of Gartner either. “At this point, it’s up to Michael Gartner, it’s up to Governor Vilsack and it’s up to the Board of Regents to make that decision,” Culver said. “If and when I think we need to make a change, I will say so as governor — and I will not be afraid to make changes on the Board of Regents at any time.”