The president of the board that oversees the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa says a few ideas coming out of the legislature aren’t that “brilliant.”
“The reality is everyone, just on some of those bills, needs to take a deep breath,” Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter says. “…It might even be a stupid bill, but you know what? They have the right to do that and we don’t the right to control that, so we’ll all just deal with that and we’ll have reasonable conversations.”
One bill Rastetter has criticized would end tenure for professors at the state’s public universities. Republican Senator Brad Zaun says he’s frustrated by some of the sabatticals professors take and the number of classes taught by graduate students. Rastetter says Zaun’s bill is “not the appropriate way” to deal with those concerns.
“He should know that the universities are focused on, and the faculty is, on wanting high-quality people that work every day and are there to make the university better and the student experience better,” Rastetter says, “and that learning experience better.”
Tenure is “an important part” of the universities, according to Rastetter.
“Tenure should be maintained…It’s a part of the national system,” Rastetter says. “For us to have high-quality professors, we’re going to have to have tenure. That’s a reality and we’re going to have to pay people well that are very good at their job.”
Another high-profile proposal targeting the universities came from State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, the son of Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann. In December, the younger Kaufmann vowed to send a “suck it up, buttercup” message by cutting the budgets of universities that had set up counseling for students upset by Donald Trump’s victory. Representative Kaufmann later announced he’d scale his bill back, to just impose tougher penalities on political protesters who shut down interstates. Rastetter says it was “inappropriate” for protesters in the Iowa City area to close down Interstate 80 after the election.
“We will all win some in life. We lose some in life and we all try to move forward together,” Rastetter says, “so I think that’s the key message that I heard being sent that I’d continue to support.”
Rastetter made his comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. Rastetter, an agribusinessman from Alden, served on Trump’s ad advisory group before and after the election.