A key Democrat in the Iowa Senate says the leader of the board that governs Iowa’s three public universities should stop the “public flogging” of the University of Iowa’s president. Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, spoke directly to Board of Regents president Craig Lang during a senate committee meeting this afternoon.

“The view from Iowa City is not good. They feel there’s a vendetta by you and others on the Board of Regents and you’re out to get President Mason for some unknown reason,” Dvorsky said. “…There’s too much public flogging out there of President Mason. I think it needs to stop. I think she’s doing a good job.”

Lang has raised concerns about Sally Mason’s management of the University of Iowa and Mason has been working without a contract since August.

“Not until the reputation of the Board of Regents itself was in jeopardy did I say something publicly,” Lang said. “Now I hope as we move ahead in the future everything will be good, all the stories will be great.”

Lang spoke before the Senate Education Committee this afternoon. Lang faces a confirmation vote in the Iowa Senate for another term on the Board of Regents. Lang told senators he is “not perfect,” but works “very, very hard” for the universities.

“I’ll make mistakes,” Lang said in a closing statement. “You can take a risk on me. I hope you do. I hope you support me for another six years and I know that when I make a mistake, you’ll let me know.”

Democratic senators spent part of the hour-long meeting with Lang questioning the collapse of the Harkin Institute at Iowa State University. In early February Senator Tom Harkin announced he would not be donating the work papers from his 40-year congressional career to ISU over concerns about academic freedom. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames who also teaches at ISU, said the value of Harkin’s papers can’t be calculated.

“Losing that resource is a dishonor to the university and a disgrace,” Quirmbach said, “and I would hope that we could find a way to turn that situation around.”

Lang has not read the memorandum that prompted Harkin to first raise questions about academic freedom for the Harkin Institute.

“I probably should,” Lang told senators, “but who wants to read bad news?”

Lang said he doesn’t want to see the memo “because it’s unworkable” and ISU’s president redrafted the plan to try to accommodate Senator Harkin’s concerns. Other Democrats on the Senate Education Committee accused Lang “politicizing” the board.

“My answer is that I think in leadership we should be in the middle,” Lang said. “We should respect law and policy that’s passed for us to follow and we should try to do everything that we can to make sure that we are looking at everything from a balanced approach.”

 AUDIO of Lang’s 55 minute confirmation hearing

The Senate Education Committee could vote as soon as Wednesday on Lang’s nomination. Lang must win a “yes” vote from 34 senators to be confirmed for another term.