Senator Tom Harkin has announced he will not be donating the work papers from his 40-year career in congress to Iowa State University.
In a letter to Iowa State University president Steven Leath, Harkin said it had become clear the university “would not grant (The Harkin) Institute the very freedoms that I learned to cherish at Iowa State.”
The Harkin Institute’s advisory board met late this afternoon by phone to discuss the ongoing controversy surrounding the institute and the panel voted to recommend that Harkin not donate his papers to ISU.
Harkin said in his letter that the idea of giving his work papers to his alma mater had been “appealing, for it was at Iowa State where I learned the force of ideas, where I was exposed to a world of diverse opinion and where I further developed my own philosophy.”
It’s unclear what’s next for the institute at ISU that bears Harkin’s name, as it was created by a vote of the Board of Regents, the nine-member panel that governs the state-supported universities.
Harkin closed his letter to Leath by saying: “I regret that this did not work out as we had all hoped at the beginning.”
Leath issued a written statement early this evening, saying he had “sincerely tried to resolve differences over the operation of the Harkin Institute…and I am extremely disappointed.”
Leath used the words “unfounded and false” to describe allegations that the guidelines he had established for the institute violated the principles of academic freedom.
“I cannot say at this time whether the Harkin Institute will continue to function,” Leath said. “The institute was established by the Board of Regents, and any change to significantly alter its status, including closure, must be made by the board.”
(This story was updated at 7:08 p.m. with additional information.)