Governor Terry Branstad says he’s “concerned” about recent events at the University of Iowa — and Branstad supports a decision that gives the board that governs the university authority to fire U-of-I president Sally Mason at any time.
“The universities are governed by the Board of Regents,” Branstad says. “And so the Regents have made, and I was aware of this decision last summer, not to give her a new contract, but rather to keep her on an at-will basis because they have not been satisfied with some of the things that have happened at the University of Iowa.”
Being employed “at will” means Mason could be fired at any time, without any advance notice and for any reason — or no reason at all. This morning Branstad was asked by a reporter to cite his concerns with Mason’s job performance.
“I think a lot of people are concerned about the lack of transparency that we’ve seen at the University of Iowa in a number of instances and that is of concern to me because I’ve been one that’s always has been a believer in openness and transparency in the way we operate in state government,” Branstad said. “And I think there are some disconcerting things about things that have happened there.”
The most recent controversy involves allegations that high-ranking university officials ordered the destruction of documents detailing faculty dissatisfaction with the dean of the College of Education. Margaret Crocco, dean of the college for nearly 17 months, announced her resignation in an email to staff this morning.
Another controversy this fall involved a former academic advisor to student athletes who is accused of inappropriate behavior, including trading tickets to athletic events for sexual favors.
The president of the Board of Regents also has said University of Iowa president Sally Mason must improve working relationships with state legislators as well.