The president of the Board of Regents quickly addressed the controversy surrounding Iowa State University president Steven Leath’s used of the school’s airplanes today during their meeting in Cedar Falls.
Leath’s use of the planes became an issue after one of the planes he was flying was damaged during a fuel stop in Illinois, and subsequent reports indicated he had taken family members on some flights. Regent’s president Bruce Rastetter of Alden opened the meeting with a statement on the issue.
“Frankly I am extremely disappointed. We at the Board of Regents take the use of university resources very seriously,” Rastetter says. “In more than a few instances, the decision to use the plane appears to be questionable at best.”
Rastetter says the board has the obligation to ensure that its policies are followed. “I believe — and I think all members of the board would agree — that Steve Leath has been a successful president at Iowa State University. However, we were all appointed as board members to ensure that our universities are run in a manner that the people of Iowa expect and demand,” according to Rastetter. He says the constant flow of stories about Leath’s used of the planes has been a big distraction.
“The issue has taken the focus away from us being able to move our public universities forward,” Rastetter says. “We need to return to devoting all of our time and resources to making the public universities the best they can be. So, as we as regents discuss this today — I very clearly believe that additional action is warranted.”
Rastetter’s comments came as a lead in to the meeting of the board’s audit committee. Committee chair, Larry McKibben of Marshalltown, says there is an audit underway and it will give the facts on what has taken place. “I read the media just like everyone else on this board reads it. And I spent 12 years in the Iowa Senate following what they said about me every once in a while wondering where they got the data that wasn’t really true,” McKibben says. “But without being snarky here, I will just say that I am a fact-based person. And I want facts and I want the data and I want it supportable, as you do and your comments have been.
McKibeen says it is good that the audit will look at all three schools. “And I can tell you that all of you at this table, will be included any time you have a question as we wrap this up. And we probably have a special meeting to specifically discuss this one more time and go through our questions and any questions that you board members want to be completed,” McKibben says.
Rastetter asked that the approval of the audit include a review of all the use of the ISU airplanes since Leath took over as president. “I want to make clear that when we do this, it needs to be a very complete audit that answers all the questions people would have. And it will become a public audit so it needs to be in depth and detailed,” Rastetter says. Rastetter is expected to talk more about the audit later today. President Leath is also scheduled to give his regular report to the board during today’s meeting.
Audio: Regents president’s statement 11:00