The selection of a new president has created a split in the board that governs the three state-supported universities. Current Board of Regents President Owen Newlin does not plan to seek another term, and a vote on his replacement came before the board’s meeting Wednesday in Des Moines. The vote was a last minute addition to the agenda, as the board normally votes on new officers at its April meeting. Newlin said it would give the new leader more time to get acquainted with the job. Regent David Neil of La Porte City questioned the move. He asked what the great urgency was to vote, he says he received no notice until Tuesday before the meeting. Regent Sue Nieland of Sioux City though questioned the need for speed. She says we have a new member of the board who is on the verge of tears because of the pressure on her as a swing vote. Nieland was referring to Jenny Rokes, the student Regent from the University of Northern Iowa, who just joined the board. Rokes will be the deciding vote between Robert Downer of Iowa City and John Forsyth of Des Moines. Nieland says they should discuss the issue in the open meeting. Regent Mary Ellen Becker of Oskaloosa said a vote now would relieve the stress the board has felt in trying to decide the issue between two candidates. She says she’s worried this is going to erode, rather then cement relationships the longer this goes on. Nieland disagreed saying she thinks one of the biggest decisions they’ll make is who provides leadership to the board over the next two years. Nieland says she doesn’t see it as something they just have to get over with so they can get on with other “boilerplate” sorts of things. The board did not take a vote on the president, they instead tabled the issue until next month. The vote on the motion to table the issue was split when it got to Rokes. She voted for the motion and then started to cry.
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