April 28, 2011

Regents approve Harkin institute

by Anne Krapfl

The state Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a new public policy institute at Iowa State that will be named for ISU alumnus and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. The vote was 6-2, with regents Greta Johnson and Craig Lang voting no, and regent Ruth Harkin, spouse of the senator, abstaining from the vote.

A motion by Lang to table a decision failed on a 3-5 vote, with regents Lang, Johnson and Jack Evans voting in favor and Harkin again abstaining. Lang said he first learned of the proposed institute last week and was receiving "numerous" emails expressing concerns from around the state. He added that he wanted more time to review the proposal.

Citing the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and ethical concerns, Lang said it's wrong to seek funds for and name an institute "for a person in such a position of power."

More regents coverage

During Thursday action items, the board approved faculty promotion and tenure lists, gave final sign-off to the Troxel Hall and outdoor sports complex projects and began its discussion of a presidential search at Iowa State.

Regent Bonnie Campbell said she supports the institute "because I trust President [Gregory] Geoffroy and Provost [Elizabeth] Hoffman.

"And because it is a good thing for Iowa State. Public policy . . . is to be honored. We're very, very lucky to have this opportunity to vote for it," she said.

"From the other side of the political fence, I echo regent Campbell's sentiments," said regent Robert Downer. Regardless of political affiliation, he said the institute is a positive development for the state and something all Iowans could be proud of.

At the request of board president David Miles, Geoffroy and Hoffman made a brief presentation that offered some insight into the institute and how it would be operated. Among the points they made:

  • The institute will be run as an academic unit, with a tenured faculty director hired through a national search. The director will be a scholar in a not-yet-determined area of public policy, and he or she will report to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Sen. Harkin's papers, when they arrive on campus, will be archived in the library's special collections unit for both preservation and public use.
  • Initial fund raising for the center, an estimated $3-5 million, is being led by former Iowa Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson and will focus on gifts from Harkin's friends. Future fund raising will be handled by development staff in the LAS college.
  • The institute will have an advisory board that is nonpartisan. It should not include any sitting elected officials or political party activists.
  • Sen. Harkin will have no oversight of the center. Neither can its scholarly work be conducted to benefit the senator or any specific donor. Geoffroy said the university's academic integrity will not be compromised.

"From an academic perspective, there's strong, clear merit to establish this institute," Geoffroy said. "It will significantly enhance the university's profile in the public policy arena."

He added, "It would be a travesty if those papers were embedded somewhere in Washington, D.C., say at Catholic University" [where Sen. Harkin received his law degree].

Allocation of student fees next year

The board also approved Iowa State's proposal for allocating mandatory student fees during the 2011-12 academic year. The fees were approved last month with tuition rates and total $1,077.60 per student. Here's the breakdown of what those dollars will support:

Technology   $230
Health services   $196
Health facility     $16
Student activities
      Student government     $70.50
      Legislative relations       $0.20
Student services
      CyRide   $125.20
      Athletics     $63
Recreation*   $321.60
      MU     $49.10
      Multicultural Center       $6

*Includes $179.90 for bond debt on new recreation facility

Phased retirement, parking permits

In other Iowa State business, the board approved:

  • An extension of the application period for the Phased Plus retirement program (PDF), from April 30 to June 30.
  • Increases to ISU parking permit prices, including the Memorial Union ramp, for the year that begins July 1. Most increases are in the range of 2.6 to 3.1 percent:
24-hour reserved$846$8213.0%
General staff*$132$1283.1%
Memorial Union ramp
      MU employee$474$4622.6%

*Includes Residence, Ames Lab staff permits
**Fall, Winter and Spring

  • A name change for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' department of plant pathology, to plant pathology and microbiology, effective immediately. The change will help the department market more effectively its research in plant pathology and microbiology and its undergraduate and graduate teaching programs in microbiology.
  • A five-year renewal period (FY 2012-17) for the regent system's phased retirement program, with no changes to the program. This is a longstanding and separate program from ISU's phased plus program. Among the differences in the two is that phased plus is limited to a two-year phasing period; the regents' program has a maximum five-year phasing period. The age and service requirements are different: Eligibility for the phased plus program is age 55 with 10 years of service; the regents' program requires age 57 with at least 15 years of service.