In the previous two posts we decided that fairness would be our only test for evaluating the search process that resulted in the hiring of J. Bruce Harreld as the next president of the University of Iowa. We also exposed a number of dodges that acting University of Iowa President Jean Robillard and Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter have been using to confuse and obscure the question of fairness. Finally, we looked at how a fair search process would be conducted by a fictional committee determined to meet that test, and in so doing learned that the two critical aspects of a fair search are decision making and communication.
We then compared that fictional committee to the search committee that Rastetter was on and Robillard chaired. In doing so we noted that while it has been clearly established that Rastetter, Robillard and even Governor Branstad gave Harreld preferential treatment, what has been overlooked is that Rastetter and Robillard also subverted the entire committee process. In this post we will consider how administration of the Harreld search would have been done if the search process had been fair to all candidates, and how the search was actually administered.
As we saw in the previous post, if you do something you’re not supposed to do, then lie about it, that’s a crime of commission and a lie of commission. If you don’t do something you’re supposed to do that’s a crime of omission, and if nobody asks you about that crime your silence is a lie of omission.
As you might imagine, it’s much easier to detect and prove crimes of commission precisely because something happened — a physical injury, a loss of funds, property damage. With a crime of omission you have to know that something should have happened to even suspect that a crime took place. Until you do, there’s no chance that you’ll stumble on evidence that leads you to ask the right questions.
In the context of the Harreld hire, the preferential treatment given to Harreld by Rastetter, Robillard and Branstad includes individual and collective administrative crimes of commission. Because those crimes resulted in acts, however — meetings and contacts which took place during the search — they have been exposed and reported by the press over the past few weeks. Prior to that point much of that information was obscured by lies of omission from the various parties, including the protracted lie of omission which encompassed J. Bruce Harreld’s entire presentation at the open forum shortly before the election. (And of course we can’t forget the serial administrative crimes of omission on Harreld’s resume.)
As damning as all that might be, however, those crimes are dwarfed by the administrative crimes of omission that were perpetrated against the search committee itself. What makes identifying those crimes particularly difficult is that nothing Rastetter, Robillard and Branstad failed to do rises to the level of illegality, meaning even though the search was fraudulent, their complicity appears to be nothing more than laziness, incompetence, or typical bureaucratic confusion.