Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is threatening to disassociate himself with the research center that carries his name at Iowa State University. Harkin disagrees with ISU President Steven Leath over how the Harkin Institute of Public Policy will operate.
Leath wants the institute only to do research that’s first approved by another university facility, the ISU Center for Agriculture and Rural Development. Harkin sees that as too limiting.
“I want the best for my alma mater,” Harkin says. “Ruth and I have always worked hard to support ISU but I simply cannot be part of any arrangement that restricts full and unfettered academic freedom at this institute.” Reports quote Leath as saying the institute’s staff members need to work through the other center in order to avoid duplication of efforts.
The Harkin Institute was created by the Iowa Board of Regents in 2011 amid controversy, as Harkin was and is a sitting U-S senator. Harkin’s wife serves on the Board of Regents. Reports say Ruth Harkin voted this week to essentially overrule President Leath’s orders, raising questions about Mrs. Harkin’s actions. Senator Harkin was quick to rush to her defense.
“In 44 years of marriage, through all those years, not one person, not one person has ever accused my wife of being unethical,” Harkin says. “I can say this unequivocally, she never has been and is not to this day doing anything unethical.” Harkin is threatening to withhold his documents and other papers from the institute, until the issue with Leath is resolved.