All but one of the Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate are calling on the Board of Regents to delay action on a proposal to create a public policy institute named for Democrat U.S. Senator Tom Harkin at Iowa State University.
Senator Sandra Greiner, a Republican from Keota, first raised concerns about the proposal late last week in a letter to the Board of Regents President David Miles.
Greiner told Radio Iowa she questioned the propriety of a seated senator whose organization would be soliciting funds to run the institute from the same people who would possibly be seeking regulation from that senator. The other Republican senators have now sent a letter to the president of the board saying they agree with Senator Greiner’s concerns.
And 59 of the 60 House Republicans have signed on to a similar letter . The letters from the House and Senate are “respectfully requesting that the Board of Regents postpone any consideration of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy until there is further public discussion about the proposal and the general propriety of a state institution naming an institute after a current elected official.”
Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, has also called on the board to delay its decision. The proposal is on agenda for Wednesday’s meeting in Ames. The president of the board has not issued any statement on the letters from the lawmakers. See both letters below:
Senate Republican letter to Regents: Senate Letter Harkin Institute PDF
House letter to Regents: House Harkin letter PDF
Update 3:45 P.M.:
Response from David Miles, president of the Board of Regents:
A number of Republican state-elected officials have expressed concerns over Iowa State University’s proposal to create the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. We take their concerns seriously and will ask the university to respond to them in the course of our deliberations on the matter at tomorrow’s meeting. It will then be up to the full Board to determine what action, if any, to take on the proposal.
Each year the Board of Regents – an independent, politically and gender balanced board of nine citizen volunteers – makes dozens of policy decisions affecting the quality of higher education in our state. In doing so each Regent, regardless of when their appointment begins or ends, has a responsibility to cast their votes objectively and in the best interest of Iowans. However this matter is decided, I have confidence that my fellow Regents will discharge their responsibilities appropriately.