The controversy surrounding the hiring of a new president for the University of Iowa has prompted one the members of Board of Regents to submit his resignation. Tom Bedell of Spirit Lake says he joined the board with the hope of once again making Iowa the top education state in the nation.
Bedell says when he was growing up Iowa was the number state in education and that provided a lot of opportunities for people in the state. Bedell says the state let that ranking slip and his dream and passion was to says “let’s reinvigorate that inspiration.” But, Bedell says that’s not the direction the Regents have gone.
Bedell says, “What’s happened is the regents, and certainly at the University of Iowa, an in the press and so forth, have become embroiled in personality conflicts, intrigue, things that have nothing to do with the common agenda that most Iowans would want us to serve. And we’re unable for some reason to pull out of that and step up above and say ‘come on that’s not why we’re the Board of Regents.'” Bedell says he will stay on the board until Governor-elect Chet Culver takes office in January.
Bedell says he felt if he couldn’t contribute to the purpose of serving the people of Iowa and delivering the best possible education and opportunities for our kids, then he needed to create an opportunity for Culver to appoint someone to the board to do that. Bedell says he’s never spoken publicly about this issue during regents meetings because it wasn’t the right place.
Bedell says that’s not his style and to some degree he’s complaining about people doing that in his announcement. But, Bedell says he’s spoken privately with the other regents and those on the campuses of all three state universities about his concerns.
Regents president Michael Gartner has taken much of the criticism in the University of Iowa situation. Bedell says you can’t blame one person. He says he’s not blaming the board only, he says “It’s happened because of the acrimony, and the personalities and the power games and all the silly stuff that’s gone on between the leadership of the University of Iowa and some of the leadership on the board, has just been unfortunate. And we just need to cut it out.”
Bedell says it’s frustrating to see all that has gone on for the wrong reasons.
“If we’d spent the energy on the things that are the common ground that we all care about and that’s important,think of the impact we could have had,” Bedell says,”And I think it’s important we redirect that energy toward our right priorities.” Bedell also blamed the press for continuing the rumors and not being more objective in its reporting.
Bedell cites the rumors surrounding the recent search for the new Iowa athletic director that said the regents tried to interfere. Bedell says he knows for a fact the regents didn’t interfere, but the true story wasn’t reported. Bedell says they’re seeing that happen day-after-day-after-day in the president’s search. “It’s about personality and intrigue. It should be in one of those tabloids on the stand in the grocery store, but it’s not appropriate as part of the debate as to how we make Iowa a great place.”
Governor-elect Culver released a statement that said: ?I thank Tom Bedell for his service to the state of Iowa and his commitment to quality education. As with the other positions I am working to fill during this transition, I will be committed to appointing the best qualified Iowans to the Board of Regents during my administration. While I continue to be very concerned about this situation, I am confident that Governor Vilsack will keep this among his top priorities in the final days of his administration. We should not lose sight of the fact that the highest priority for all involved parties should be to work in an inclusive way to get the best possible president for the University of Iowa.”