A Republican in the Iowa Senate says it’s time to get rid of all nine members of the board that governs Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa. Senator Brad Zaun, from Urbandale, says he’s appalled with the way the Board of Regents has handled the search for a new University of Iowa president. A second search committee has been formed after the first search, which cost taxpayers $200,000, was abandoned in November.
"How can we trust the Board of Regents with the money that we allocate? How can we expect them to recruit the best candidate…when you have to answer to a Board of Regents that’s dysfunctional?" Zaun says. Governor Chet Culver will appoint four new members to the board later this spring as the terms of service for three board members expire and a fourth resigned. Zaun is calling on Culver to ask the other five board members to resign so Culver can start fresh.
"I’m very happy we have a new governor. I really didn’t believe Governor Vilsack was engaged in his responsibilities to take care of this mess," Zaun says. Zaun says he hopes the charges brought Tuesday in the CIETC scandal send a message about openness. "I congratulate Governor Culver and I’m looking forward to his fresh energy and his ideas and I am asking Governor Culver to show strong leadership and send a message to Iowa taxpayers — enough is enough."
Zahn is especially critical of Michael Gartner, the Board of Regents president. During a speech today (Wednesday) on the floor of the Iowa Senate, Zaun read news accounts featuring statements from Gartner.
"Now there’s a quote in here from Michael Gartner and I agree with this quote. ‘The issue is who governs the University of Iowa: the Board of Regents or the faculty over there (in Iowa City)?’" Zahn recited. "I agree with him there, but I want to know who’s running the Board of Regents? Who’s overseeing the Board of Regents?"
Zahn suggests that rather than political power brokers and campaign contributors, Governor Culver should appoint "moms and dads" who are writing out the checks for their children’s tuition at the universities to serve on the Board of Regents. Zahn suggests those kind of Regents would bring "new blood" and "fresh ideas" to the board.
Senator Bob Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, says the Board of Regents had done a good job choosing a new president for the University of Northern Iowa. Dotzler says it’s not productive to have a "lynch mob mentality" among those who’re critical of the board’s search for a new University of Iowa president.