The state Board of Regents voted today to revise its policies for naming centers or institutes at the three state-supported universities. The vote came in response to controversy raised over the new “public policy” institute at Iowa State University named after Democrat U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

The regents approved the Harkin Institute in April despite an attempt by Regent Craig Lang of West Des Moines to table the vote for more discussion. Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy defended the proposal in April, saying it would be a nonpartisan institute and would have a board that oversees its operation. (story)

House Republicans later passed a resolution asking the regents to reconsider the naming of the institute after Harkin. Regent Katie Mulholland of Marion made the motion today for the change.

“The reason that I brought this up was, I think that as we look to the future, we want to really address the issues of having proposals to create new centers or institutes at the universities to be submitted to the board office for consideration before any action is taken, or before any procedures or activities are set up,” Mulholland said.

There was no other discussion on the issue before the vote. Senator Harkin’s wife Ruth, who is a member of the board, abstained from the vote, while all others voted for the change. Regent Lang was not at the meeting.

The change in rules approved today would require any requests to name centers or institutes be reviewed by the regents staff and the council of Provosts at the school before going to the full board for discussion. The change also would not allow any center or institution to be named for a public official who is still in office.

See the policy changes here: Institute naming PDF