Sticky post linking you to the most recent Ongoing Harreld Hire Updates.
Previous threaded post here.
This is real. The chaos and uncertainty you are wrestling with — that you feel as unease and fatigue — is real. The pandemic is really happening, and that is the most important thing for you to remember. When you feel overwhelmed or disoriented, consciously remind yourself that the coronavirus pandemic is real.
The Story So Far
Late in 2019 a virus made the leap from animal to man, precipitating an outbreak in China. Because of a delayed response to that outbreak by the Chinese government, the virus was able to leap to other countries, precipitating a pandemic. Because of a delayed response to that pandemic by the American government, the virus was able to overrun the United States.
Following varying degrees of mitigation over several months, the federal government and the governors of America’s states and territories are now relaxing restrictions in service of economic recovery. Despite this easing of restrictions, however, the virus persists, and nothing about the biological threat posed by the pandemic has changed. [ Read more ]
I will continue to add updates about J. Bruce Harreld and his illegitimate presidency to this threaded post. If this post scrolls you will be able to find it by clicking the link in the sticky post at the top of the home page. You can also bookmark this post, or search for it using various keywords and phrases, such as Harreld, fraud, co-conspirator, or carpetbagging dilettante.
06/01/20 — Another day, another old white guy at the University of Iowa doing his darnedest to keep his cozy little administrative empire from bursting into flames. From the Daily Iowan’s Robert Read: ‘Individually, one person at a time, we can make a change’: Iowa AD Gary Barta releases statement speaking out against racism.
Along with that short statement, Barta also released a linked video, which he says was “written by our student-athletes this past spring”. But if that’s true then the people who appear in that video — including student-athletes at the University of Iowa — were not talking about the murder of George Floyd by uniformed police officers, or the ongoing aftermath. So did Barta notify the people in the video that he intended to repurpose their words to this heightened cultural moment, or did he just avail himself of the nearest diverse group of young faces that he could hide behind?
As to why Harreld and Barta pushed out these statements on successive days, that’s probably because they were in such a rush to bring the Iowa football team back to campus for ‘voluntary’ practice next Monday, only now they have to navigate a social war zone. Should be fun watching them try to pressure the student-athletes to remain docile, and not dishonor the sacred UI brand.
(For those who are unaware of recent history at UI, a few years ago Gary Barta treated two women in his employ so poorly that he lost a discrimination lawsuit in court, at which point the university settled that case and another discrimination case for $6.5M. At that point Barta’s little buddy, Bro Bruce Harreld, then stepped in to cover Barta’s ass by blaming the entire university, after which he gave Barta a new contract and pay raise. So that’s two old white men in two days who want you to think they care about diversity, equity and inclusion, who demonstrably do not.)
* Hey — when it rains it pours. Now we get a short and eagerly empathetic statement from UI head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery — another old white guy at Iowa — who clearly cares a lot about “student-athletes of color”. Not enough to preclude him from offering scholarships to his own two sons, and running a nepotism farm team I like to call the Fighting McCaffery’s, and thus denying those scholarships to other players — but still…you can tell that Fran is in a lot of pain right now, and not just trying to prevent unrest on his team or on the UI campus.
* The Daily Iowan’s summer editor, Josie Fischels, provides more context and info on Harreld’s statement from yesterday: ‘Together we must act’: UI leaders to release update to diversity equity and inclusion plan this week.
* In other news, the University of Iowa actually did the right thing regarding the Sanxay-Gimore House, which it had threatened to demolish a few years ago to make room for yet another monument to entrepreneurialism on the UI campus. From the Press-Citizen’s Zachary Oren Smith: Iowa City to move its oldest building across the street.
* From Alexandra Witze at Nature.com: Universities will never be the same after the coronavirus crisis. (Kicks off a week-long series about science.)
* On the enrollment front, apparently other countries may not want to send their young people to America to pick up COVID-19. From Preston Cooper at Fortune: Foreign Student Enrollment At U.S. Universities May Plummet This Fall. (Factor in the riots and not only will that drive enrollment down even farther, but Americans may actually start thinking about sending their own kids abroad.)
05/31/20 — As detailed exhaustively in prior posts, one of the truly corrosive administrative accomplishments of illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld involved kicking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion out of his office and out his cabinet, and instead foisting responsibility for those concerns onto the provost’s office and the academic side of campus. In that context, let’ us consider once again the following spectacular exchange from Harreld’s Daily Iowan interview on 02/16/20 — only three and a half months ago — in which he dismisses concerns about “representation” and instead focuses on “behavior”:
DI: Going back to the VP for Student Life search specifically, there have been some questions at those forums about the candidate’s role, should they be chosen for the job, in a predominantly white President’s Cabinet. With you, of course, being the leader of that core group of administrators, how would you ensure that the next VP for Student Life feels supported in that space, and that they also serve students from all backgrounds — whether they’re one of the candidates from an underrepresented community themselves, or whatever the situation may be?
Harreld: If they’ve got an open mind, have an appropriate skill set, and have a broad set of collaborative skills, they’ll be fine. I think in a lot of this, we’re trying to find another Melissa [Shivers], and I think that is a mistake. Melissa is Melissa. She’s wonderful. But now we need to find somebody else that can actually do the job here. So, now we’re focused on how we have just an overly white cabinet. We’ll be fine. So, if this is the only position on campus in the senior leadership that will actually improve our diversity, we’re really in trouble, and I don’t buy that. Behavior is most important. Representation is important, but behaviors are by far more important.
Personally, I’m still astonished that a very old white man — who only managed to land himself in the president’s office at UI because of his crony connections to a small cabal of other old white men — would just come right out and say something like this, but okay. Perhaps Harreld’s very white and largely old superiors at the Iowa Board of Regents, and in the governor’s office, are just fine with the idea that “representation” has no real value. Now that the United States is blowing up over the murder of a black man by a white police officer, however, with protests and riots across the country, it also not particularly surprising that Bro Bruce decided to issue a statement today, along with his hostage provost, announcing the impending release of an update to the university’s DEI ‘action plan’.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the UI DEI action plan, it’s a largely meaningless document which Harreld routinely refers to in order to obscure the fact that he intentionally ejected diversity, equity and inclusion from his own office. So while he may not be concerned with hiring people of color into positions of power in his presidential cabinet — because well-behaved white people are just as good, if not better — he is once again willing to wave pieces of paper around which speak to a higher good that he himself does not believe in. In that spirit, then, and in the face of a rapidly accelerating cultural crisis, Harreld is announcing that some time later this week he will one again wave those pieces of paper around, only this time in the apparent hope that they will keep people from actively protesting. And I would assume that includes Iowa’s student-athletes, many of whom are set to return to campus one week from tomorrow.
05/30/20 — If I learned anything over the past five years or so, in the aftermath of the rigged hire of J. Bruce Harreld as illegitimate president of the University of Iowa, it is that if you really want to know what’s happening at the Iowa Board of Regents or its subsidiary universities, all you have to do is follow the money. Speaking of which, for all the wailing that the UI Athletic Department is already doing about the revenue it expects to lose to the pandemic — and it will certainly take a hit — that hasn’t dissuaded the school from spending. Which is to say that so far business as usual is business as usual.
From the Daily Iowan’s Robert Read: UI asking regents to approve new women’s soccer complex. Without making any judgment as to need, if you are plowing ahead with a $3.9M investment for a collegiate soccer team in the middle of a global health crisis, then objectively you do not have any real problems. Because if you did have real problems you would be pushing that project back and hoarding cash, and that clearly isn’t happening.
* Recently you may have heard that a number of colleges and universities are abandoning the ACT and SAT altogether. In the context of higher-ed that is interesting in itself, but on the economic side it is particularly relevant to Iowa City, Iowa, which is home to ACT. And as expected, those academic decisions are having a big impact on business at that company.
From Valerie Strauss at the WaPo: Testing giants ACT and College Board struggle amid covid-19 pandemic.
In Iowa City, ACT, Inc., chief executive Marten Roorda, who aggressively lobbied against the UC decision, is suddenly out of his job. The organization posted a news release on its website announcing Roorda’s departure without saying why he was leaving and introducing Janet Godwin, the chief operating officer who is a 30-year veteran at ACT, as interim chief executive.
ACT also announced that it was taking “a series of cost-cutting measures to enable it to continue to serve students into the future, despite the current negative business impact of covid-19.” And, it said, no one would get a raise next year while some fringe benefits would be reduced. “Further cost reductions are expected,” it said.
Given the downturn in nationwide enrollment that was already anticipated, to say nothing of the negative enrollment effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the ostensible and burdensome ranking service that ACT provided may simply be unnecessary in the higher-ed industry going forward. Whether ACT survives or goes the way of the buggy whip I don’t know, but testing is probably not a growth industry in the near term.
05/29/20 — There will be a lot of news spilling forth today because the Iowa Board of Regents finally posted the agenda for its “virtual” June 4th meeting in Iowa City, and because the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference is meeting today in Des Moines, in anticipation of the legislature reconvening on June 3rd. In terms of long-term effects, the most important news today is contained in this document from the board’s agenda, which details the names and titles of the people who will now begin dismantling Iowa’s three independent state universities under cover of the coronavirus pandemic, and remaking them into a single system focused on revenue generation and the funding of entrepreneurial ventures with tuition and fees. In effect, the Iowa Board of Regents will be converting public education into a quasi-governmental corporation which sells degrees in order to generate more and more profit for the state — both directly, and indirectly through startups, intellectual property, sponsored programs, and other business mechanisms. And as long as the individuals named on that document continue to get paid, they won’t stop it.
* The official numbers informing today’s meeting of the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference are here. In typical fashion, the head of the REC, Dave Roederer, was idiotically optimistic, but the numbers themselves don’t lie. (I don’t believe the losses at the tail end of FY2020 will trigger clawbacks — opportunistic or otherwise — but FY2021 is going to be tight.)
From the Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller: Iowa expecting $65 million year-over-year drop in revenue due to coronavirus.
From the AP’s David Pitt: Panel says virus reduced $360M from next year’s state budget.
One thing to keep in mind is that just because Iowa’s governor is pretending the worst of the pandemic is over, that doesn’t mean the worst of the pandemic is over. In fact, we have no idea about coronavirus transmission when K-12 and colleges are in full swing, because in-class education stopped in its tracks in mid-March. We are all still guessing about what happens next.
* From Kelsey Harrell and Katie Ann McCarver at the Daily Iowan: UIHC expected to take unprecedented $100 million hit this fiscal year due to COVID-19 with more losses on the horizon.
Interesting additional info in the .pdf version of the presentation that UIHC will give to the Iowa Board of Regents at next week’s meeting.
* Two days ago the following tweet appeared from the Corridor Business Journal, complete with a large photo of a photogenic woman, and a smaller and wildly out of date picture of illegitimate University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld:
Register now for the CBJ’s Mid-Year Economic Review. The June 24 live webinar will examine how the economy has changed in 2020 and discuss challenges facing Corridor businesses. Panelists include Bruce Harreld of @uiowa and Lura McBride of @VanMeterInc.
For those outside Eastern Iowa, the ‘corridor’ in question is actually a marketing name for the economic union of Iowa City (home to UI) and Cedar Rapids, which sits about twenty miles or so to the north. What is particularly ironic about asking Harreld to shoot his mouth off at such a gathering is that only a year or two earlier, Harreld devoted himself to destroying the reputation of a venerable Cedar Rapids company called Modern Piping. In fact, along with impugning the integrity of Modern Piping in the press, and in public testimony before the Iowa Board of Regents, Harreld blew millions of dollars trying to fight Modern Piping in court over their performance on a bungled, botched and badly managed UI construction project, and lost every case every time.
Proving that hell hath no furry like a toady scorned, Harreld finally succeeded in exacting revenge by pissing away $4M in state money to ban Modern Piping from future UI projects. So yeah — I can’t imagine a better speaker to explain to the corridor business community how to position themselves to advantage for the remainder of 2020. First, make sure you have plenty of government money to throw around….
05/28/20 — One interesting byproduct of the sociopathic disregard that Iowa’s governor has for human life, is how her bloodless attitude informs the leadership at the University of Iowa. Only recently we discussed how illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld believed that the entire pandemic might already be behind us by now — which would have allowed him to put the football team on the practice field, and launch the fall semester as if nothing had happened — even as COVID-19 shows no sign of abating, and we have no treatments or cure. Coincidentally, yet perhaps also inevitably, today’s malevolent UI administrator is none other than UI Athletic Director Gary Barta, who seems to have the same brain damage.
From the Daily Iowan’s Robert Read: Iowa AD Gary Barta not ruling out full capacity of fans in Kinnick Stadium this season.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said Thursday on a video conference that he is not ruling out Hawkeye football games being played in front of a full capacity Kinnick Stadium this season.
“I’m still, and my staff are still, planning for several different scenarios.” Barta said. “And the scenarios we plan for seem to change by the hour, by the day, by the week. But as of today we are still planning to open Kinnick up and have as many fans join us as want to join us. That’s one of our scenarios and we haven’t closed that scenario down yet.
By way of review, while the university has already committed to crowding +32K students back on campus in order to generate multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in the fall, even Harreld recognizes that cramming a lot of people into a relatively small space would be asking for trouble. And he’s a dolt.
From the Daily Iowan’s Josie Fischels, on 05/12: UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences planning for large classes to be at least partially virtual.
Fall courses with an expected enrollment of 50 or more students are planned to be offered in either blended or entirely online modes. A blended course could include an online lecture paired with an in-person discussion section or lab, according to the email.
So on the academic side of campus it has already been determined that a group of 50 or more will require mitigation, but because he’s money-grubbing garbage Gary Barta is still trying to figure out how to jam 70K fans into Kinnick Stadium — because after the game most of them will head home and get sick or die somewhere else. But it gets better.
From the Gazette’s Marc Morehouse: Iowa AD Gary Barta says the goal is a full Kinnick Stadium this fall, but that path isn’t going to be easy or clear.
The two big takeaways: Barta said the UI is looking into numerous ways to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus. He also pledged transparency on what Iowa is doing to mitigate.
“Once fans know what we’re doing to mitigate, then they’ll make a choice to attend or not attend and they’ll also make a choice to protect others around them,” Barta said.
Now…let’s take a moment and marvel at the fact that the UI Athletic Director just made it optional — “a choice” — for a fan in one seat at Kinnick, or Carver-Hawkeye Arena, to “protect others around them”. As to why he may have done that, however, I can think of two reasons. First, the university doesn’t want to police disputes between people who are or are not wearing masks or face shields or coughing or vomiting all over the people in the seats around them. Second, as a general objective, the university wants to preclude any legal liability from consequent injury or death, and as such intends to make clear that if anyone gets sick or dies after attending a Hawkeye sporting event, it’s their own damn fault.
* Update 5/29/20 — Rob Howe at Hawkeye Nation posted a full transcript of Barta’s presser. There is plenty more insanity to go with the quotes above, but Barta does know what he’s doing. Whatever perspective reporters want to adopt as a frame, Barta makes sure there are plenty of handy quotes which serve the university’s revenue-generating interests.
05/26/20 — A busy ten-day run is coming up for the higher-ed news cycle in Iowa. Following the Memorial Day weekend — which came early this year — the coronavirus pandemic is effectively over from a bureaucratic point of view, both at the federal and state level, and individual citizens are now on their own. And among those individual citizens, of course, are the students, faculty and staff that make up the higher-ed communities at the University of Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.
On this Friday, Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference will report on its best estimate of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on Iowa’s economy. On Monday of next week the University of Iowa will put football coaches on the field and symbolically ‘kick off’ the 2020 season, primarily as a means of helping J. Bruce Harreld save face for his failed prediction that practice would begin on June 1st. On Thursday of next week the Iowa Board of Regents will convene for a “virtual” meeting on the UI campus, and I still do not know what that means. (Will the regents be present but the meeting closed to the public? I dunno, but clearly the regents don’t feel like it’s safe to come out and play.) The very next day, Friday, the long-suspended session of the Iowa legislature will reconvene in Des Moines for what will certainly be an abrupt session as legislators also attempt to shield themselves from COVID-19, while still passing all sorts of abusive, party-line laws which provide liability protection for business and government. Finally, on Monday of the following week — meaning June 8th — the Iowa football players will be ‘allowed’ to participate in ‘voluntary’ workouts, which are of course both a test of loyalty and an opportunity for the university to use said loyal athletes as lab rats.
* Speaking of which, if you’re still under the binary illusion that people either die from COVID-19 or have a mild case, take a moment to read the following:
> A 05/14/20 NYT editorial from Mara Gay: ‘I Wish I Could Do Something for You,’ My Doctor Said.
> A 05/24/20 report from the AP’s Ryan Foley: Waterloo father, 35, recovering after nearly dying of COVID-19.
While college and university campuses teem with students in their late teens and early twenties, the majority of faculty and staff at any institution of higher learning are in their 30’s or older. Putting a large group of socially active students — who also know they are at relatively low risk of serious negative outcomes — in contact with a large group of people who could have a severe reaction to COVID-19 is insane on its face, and once again reminds us that the precipitating factor in opening up campuses for the 2020 fall term is not healthcare or even education, but revenue generation.
* On that point, even if you are a young student you should think about avoiding in-class, on-campus instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year if at all possible. (And that goes double if you are on faculty or staff, but that obviously presents significantly greater obstacles compared to students taking a year off.) In this case, however, the primary reason for doing so relates to your own financial welfare, which is precisely what college and universities don’t want you thinking about.
If you are concerned that a ‘gap year’ might look bad on your transcript, please understand that anyone who tells you that is not worth listening to about anything — and that would be true even if there wasn’t a lethal pandemic on the loose. Schools were already loosening enrollment requirements prior to the pandemic, as the pool of recruits began to shrink nationwide, and they are going to have their doors wide open for the foreseeable future.
If you enroll at a four-year college or university for the coming year, whether as an on-campus or off-campus resident, you will be paying full price for a product that will inevitably be diluted in quality because of the pandemic, to say nothing of making it much more likely that you will become sick or make others sick. If you can live at home and take online courses through a much-cheaper community college, I guarantee you will never regret that choice. Even if you pay for your own place, however, taking online courses through a community college, or even a few part-time, online-only courses at a four-year school, will save you precious dollars at a time when the economy may yet spiral into a depression.
05/23/20 — After a lot of really dumb comments from illegitimate University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld over the past month or so, we have entered a blessedly quiet period leading up to the next regent meeting on June 4th. That meeting is still listed on the Iowa Board of Regents website as a “Virtual Meeting originated from the University of Iowa”, and I honestly still don’t know what that means. Will the nine regents and XD/CEO be in Iowa City in person, but the meeting will not be open to the public? Because if that’s the case I’m note sure why the board would make everyone travel for a meeting that could be done telephonically, and yet the meeting itself is not listed as telephonic, as is customary on such occasions.
In any event, while the Board of Regents still seems to have some concern about the lingering pandemic, the University of Iowa has announced that not only will athletics gear up at about the same time, but the University of Iowa intends to use Iowa’s coaches, staff and student-athletes as lab rats, to help dial-in Iowa’s untested mitigation policies. While the families of UI’s student-athletes are understandably a bit nervous, if you want playing time for your kids the university has to know your kid is loyal and willing to sacrifice.
From the Daily Iowan’s Josie Fischels: University of Iowa to begin phased reopening of select campus operations.
Select coaches and staff will be returned to Iowa’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics beginning June 1, according to the update, while football student athletes can return beginning June 8 to participate in voluntary workouts.
Men’s and women’s basketball student athletes can return for voluntary workouts beginning June 15. The email stated that all student athletes who choose to return will undergo a formal clearance process supervised by UI Health Care medical staff.
One thing we have not yet heard is how UI has altered its athletic waivers and enrollment contracts to ‘respond to’ the coronavirus pandemic. By which I mean, of course, added language which shields the school from legal liability if a student, staff or coach becomes sick, is hospitalized, or dies. Given that UI is ready to put non-employee test subjects (student athletes) through “voluntary workouts” in a couple of weeks, one would assume the UI Office of the General Counsel, if not also the legal staff at the regents office, have already nailed these new provisions down, and would thus have them available for perusal by the press. (New clauses in employment contracts would also be necessary, but as a ‘personnel matter’ could be shielded from the public.)
In any event, it looks like Bro Bruce’s promise to have football practice underway on June 1st is a bust, and even when players return on June 8th they won’t be engaging in official team activities. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is also a meeting of the Big Ten Conference’s ass-covering coronavirus committee scheduled for the 7th, during which the long-term plan to play football will probably be revealed. And then it will be time for Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz to decide how eager he is to get himself killed by hanging out with a bunch of socially active college students.
* There are several short reports out this morning (here and here) that make it sound as if UI also just announced that it will be holding in-person classes in the fall, but as regular readers know that is not the case. That statement was included in a post on UI’s Campus Coronavirus Updates page (which now has yet another new name, because why not) on May 1st.
The University of Iowa plans to resume face-to-face instruction this fall.
I don’t know whether various news outlets and even some members of the UI community have not been paying attention, but the fact that UI will be holding in-person classes on the UI campus for the fall term is not only not news, the regents made that clear with regard to all three state campuses during their meeting on April 30th.
* There were a couple of stories this week about University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. First, from the Press-Citizen’s Aimee Breaux: University of Iowa Hospitals losing $20M-$30M every month as fewer Iowans seek health care amid COVID-19 pandemic. While UIHC is clearly not generating the same revenue compared to before the pandemic, money can be recouped in a number of ways. What matters right now is not only that UIHC was not overrun during the initial shock from the coronavirus pandemic, but that the hospital seems to have provided excellent care while keeping its own staff relatively safe. (There have been reports of UIHC staff being infected, but no reports of deaths.)
(Relatedly, from Lyle Muller at the Des Moines Register: More than $500M in federal aid heading to Iowa hospitals would cover only half their COVID-19 losses. The pandemic is going to put a tremendous squeeze on the bottom line of every business in America, and the healthcare industry will not be spared. There will be personnel cuts and closures, and the truth is we haven’t even gotten to the real economic pain that will follow. It is also possible, however, that there will be more stimulus pumped into the country’s financial system to ward of an entrenched depression.)
Second, we have this report from the Gazette’s James Q. Lynch: UIHC encourages Iowans to keep washing hands, social distancing, because it has worked. At a public research university defined by the crony obedience of its toady president — who will not and indeed cannot talk to the local or national press without revealing himself to be a colossal boob — it has been extraordinarily reassuring not only that UIHC CEO Suresh Gunasekaran has routinely made himself available to answer questions, but that his answers are always care-focused and health-focused even when he is talking about financial issues.
After a wobbly first year, it feels as if Gunasekaran has not only filled his role, but accepted personal responsibility in a way that J. Bruce Harreld is incapable of doing. While central administration at UI is anonymously pursuing branded masks and kicking the football program into gear, Gunasekaran is once again out front, reminding people to wear masks, wash hands and continue to social distance so we don’t give back the local gains we made against the pandemic over the past few months. (And he is almost certainly doing that, in part, because he knows what’s coming, when Bro Bruce floods Iowa City and Johnson County with +32K students in August.)
* Speaking of medicine and UI, there was a report out today that the University of Iowa expects to receive approval for a new COVID-19 test which people can self-administer at home. From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: University of Iowa researchers expect their coronavirus at-home spit test to be approved within weeks. While the test will be sold “at cost”, which is expected to be “below $100 per test”, it is not yet clear whether the FDA will authorize the test without restriction, or under an emergency exception (EUA). Unfortunately, because Harreld has infused a lust for entrepreneurial ventures into the academic bloodstream at UI, what should be greeted as prideful news must instead be met with skepticism, and particularly if an EUA is granted.
A related concern is that UI could also use this in-house test to ‘prove’ that the UI campus is safe, and that could involve serious conflicts of interest. Especially given Harreld’s track record at UI — and particularly the attempted theft of $4.2M from UI students and families in early 2017 by administrative fraud — the university itself cannot be trusted to use in-house tests to prove that individuals in the UI community are disease-free. At the very least, the State Hygienics Lab (SHL) — which, unfortunately, is also on the UI campus — should conduct rigorous validation tests of the UI spit kit to certify that the tests are accurate.
Additional concerns involve how these kits would be processed because the SHL is already working around the clock, and how data from this program would be integrated into reports from the Iowa Department of Public Health, which also includes data from the murky TestIowa program. It is also possible that @UIowa might charge itself for these tests, and that the regents might purchase tests to use at the other state universities, thus broadening conflict-of-interest concerns to include accounting practices by the board. And of course given the sketchy audit that the regents conducted when former ISU President Leath was found to be using a state airplane for personal business, the Iowa State Auditor should certainly review any such transactions.
* Over the past few weeks it has become abundantly clear that the main driver of bureaucratic decision making throughout Iowa state government is revenue generation, not public health. We see that in the zeal with which Iowa’s governor is relaxing restrictions to spur supply and demand, both of which will shore up tax revenue. We see that in the zeal with which the Board of Regents has already committed to in-class instruction in the fall, to shore up tuition and fee revenue. And of course we see that in the zeal with which J. Bruce Harreld has pursued football practice at UI, in order to generate as much money as possible from both television and gate revenue. If money is involved, and the state gets a cut, then it’s a damn fine idea even in the middle of a pandemic.
Proving that thesis, Iowa’s court system — which, so far, is not an entrepreneurial enterprise — just extended its ongoing suspension of jury trials. From Laura Belin at BleedingHeartland: Iowa Judicial Branch not rushing back to normal practices.
Under an order Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen issued on May 22, in-person bench trials will remain on hold until July 13, and jury trials won’t resume in Iowa until September 14.
In terms of prevention, it would be much easier to conduct a jury trial using social distancing and other mitigation protocols — perhaps with the aid of technology — than it would be to put 100 athletes on the training field or in the weight room, even with staggered start times. Breathing heavily and shedding sweat, to say nothing of physical contact, are vectors for disease transmission, yet on the same day that the courts put off any possibility of a jury trial for four months, UI was gearing up for football practice in coming weeks. And yet that’s really only the beginning of the dissonance we will see from government officials in Iowa.
Early last week Ohio cancelled its 2020 state fair, followed Friday by Minnesota — even though Minnesota’s state fair doesn’t take place until September. So far, the Iowa State Fair is still scheduled from August 13th to 23rd, and the very next day classes commence at the three regent universities on the 24th. Given that athletics are about to begin at the state schools, and students will be moving back to campus on the final weekend of the fair, it will be very hard for the fair’s governing board — which, notably, includes Iowa Governor Reynolds and Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen — to cancel that ten-day-long celebration of agricultural excess. At the same time, cancelling would also make clear that the regent universities cannot be made safe regardless of any testing and social distancing protocols.
As to what the Iowa State Fair board will ultimately decide I have no idea, but such is the insanity of state government in Iowa. What I can say is that in Iowa City (Johnson County), which is home to the University of Iowa, the city just cancelled fireworks for the 4th of July, and the downtown Englert Theatre just cancelled the previously rescheduled 2020 Mission Creek Festival in September, and is now aiming for 2021. And yet on the UI campus, which occupies much of the center of Iowa City, J. Bruce Harreld insists that the pandemic games begin.
A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
05/20/20 — I put on a HAZMAT suit yesterday and calibrated my Geiger counter, then dutifully plowed through the most recent Daily Iowan interview with illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld. Beyond the usual blather, ass-covering and self-aggrandizing rhetoric, I detected two significant radiation leaks from Harreld’s head.
First, here’s Harreld lying to the DI staff, which is something he does with regularity, but seldom so nakedly:
Last week, somebody tweeted incorrectly what I’d said that you know I’m hopeful that we’ll start football practice June 1 — I didn’t say we will… People wanted to interpret it as a ‘will’. I said ‘no we’re prepared, we’re set.’
Here is specifically what Harreld said, and if you are dubious about the transcription or curious about the greater context, you can hear Harreld himself here:
“But right now, June 1 is the date — we’re gonna get back to practice, and here we go.”
When I say that J. Bruce Harreld is lying trash, this is a mundane example. I can understand why he might be embarrassed about promising that Iowa football practice would begin on June 1st, when it very well may not, but the fact that his response to his own idiocy is to then tell an easily disprovable lie once again goes to the heart of why this man is not and never was suited for the job he holds. Which, unfortunately, now entitles him to deploy said idiocy in service of getting people killed by COVID-19 — which he will then lie about. [ Read more ]
A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
04/25/20 — On Thursday of last week the Daily Iowan’s Rin Swann had an interesting story up about the search for yet another Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Iowa. There have been so many searches at UI since illegitimate president J. Bruce Harreld was hired that it’s hard to keep them all straight, but the AVP-DEI position is particularly notorious because of the TaJuan Wilson debacle earlier this year. (For more on all that, see here and here.)
Despite the fact that the new search is just now getting underway, Swann does an excellent job of framing the larger context and underscoring the stakes involved, starting with the headline: UI student urges next Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leader to report to president. As regular readers know, not only did Harreld demote DEI from his cabinet and kick that position out of his office, but at the same time he invented an entirely new position for an ex-jock to handle startups on the UI campus — which Harreld then also made a dual report to his office. And yet from Swann’s report it sounds as if there may be a reassessment taking place about whether DEI is a cabinet-level position or not:
Donna Cramer, a representative from [search firm] Isaacson, Miller who hosted the student session, said the person who holds the position will report to the provost.
“… The person will most likely sit on the President’s Cabinet, so they will have a voice at the President’s Cabinet level,” Cramer said.
I don’t know what “most likely” means, but making that determination prior to advertising for the position will certainly have an impact on the quality of the applicants, as well as comity on the UI campus. Harreld has in fact been an entitled slug about DEI during his tenure, and in her reporting Swann rightly points out his administrative opportunism and hypocrisy:
The UI often turns to peer institutions when pitching its need for more state funding because some of those schools see better outcomes, such as higher graduation and retention rates — which Harreld has said is because those campuses, such as University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, receive more support per student.
Whereas on the issue of tuition, Harreld has advocated for its cost to be at or above the median of the peer group, he said in a September 2019 DI interview the UI felt comfortable straying from the peer group in this reporting structure because “context matters.”
Without performing an exhaustive historical analysis, I can state with high confidence that there has never been a more disreputable president at the University of Iowa, and Harreld’s cavalier belief that he can cherry-pick facts to suit whatever argument he is making at the moment underscores that certainty. No one who is honest talks like J. Bruce Harreld talks. [ Read more ]
A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
04/04/20 — While illegitimate University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld basks in the glory of his la-la-land fantasies about online learning, cracks are starting to appear in the corporate infrastructure that is suddenly handling loads it was never designed to meet. From Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post: School districts, including New York City’s, start banning Zoom because of online security issues.
As noted in yesterday’s story from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, UI does use Zoom and is aware of recent security problems. Now add corporate gaslighting and dirty tricks to weaknesses in any application or service, and we’re about to see an all-out war for market share in virtual/online learning — even though no one knows how long the spike in demand might last.
* Well that didn’t take long. Only a couple of days after the president of the Iowa Board of Regents (who is a former medical doctor) committed to having the state campuses open for business-as-usual in the fall, the governor of California said the following about the NFL season kicking off in August [full quote here]:
I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.
As noted below, it is going to be very hard for college football to kick off as scheduled if the NFL isn’t committed to the same timeline. In fact, even if the NFL tried to push ahead, public Division I programs would be under tremendous pressure to hold off until the pandemic was truly over. Again, I do understand that the regents and state schools want to keep people engaged on the chance that things break their way, but short of a sure-fire miracle vaccine, I don’t see any scenario in which that happens. [ Read more ]
For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
03/12/20 — I don’t know where J. Bruce Harreld and J. Brooks Jackson are, but even if they are lurking on the University of Iowa campus, they should both just stay out of Theresa Brennan’s way and give her whatever she needs to do her job. From the Daily Iowan’s Alexandra Skores: UI Hospitals and Clinics to open new clinic, conduct video doctor visits amid COVID-19 cases.
* The dissonance between academics and athletics is now deafening. From the Daily Iowan’s Brooklyn Draisey: Hawkeye Service Breaks cancels student trips.
So it’s okay for Iowa’s athletic department to send the men’s and women’s basketball teams off to various tournaments, and for the wrestling team to head up to Minnesota for the NCAA tournament, but domestic travel for academic purposes is being curtailed. Kind’a seems like revenue is the determining factor in which UI students are placed at risk. (Gonna be interesting watching Gary Barta — a great humanitarian and mentor of college athletes — explain himself if one or more students are hospitalized.)
* Sarah Hanson has been named the new UI VP for Student Life, replacing the interim Laura McLeran, who will now go back to black ops in the president’s office. Press release includes another disembodied quote from J. Bruce Harreld.
* Someone at the UI Office of Strategic Communication finally got around to writing up a very short press release about how the university completed the financial close on the UI P3 two days ago. Incredibly, however, despite using the words “financial close” in the headline, there is no mention of the fact that UI just pocketed $1.17B as a result of the deal. Instead, we are given yet another disembodied quote from illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld, which is of course also a lie:
“We’re pleased to have found an innovative way to bridge a meaningful gap in available resources in order to help continue delivering on our mission of education and research excellence,” says UI President J. Bruce Harreld. “We’re looking forward to our partnership with ENGIE and Meridiam and appreciate the involvement of university shared governance members, academic leadership, and the campus community during this whole process.”
As detailed endlessly in these virtual pages, the “meaningful gap in available resources” that Harreld takes pains to mention is itself a fraud perpetrated by Harreld.
* Well this is a relief: Big Ten Cancels Remainder of Basketball Tournament.
Apparently, somewhere in the office of the Big Ten Commissioner — which, in better days, usually focuses on denying any knowledge of decades-long sexual abuses perpetrated against student athletes on its storied campuses (so far Penn St., Ohio St., Michigan St. and now Michigan) — there is at least one person smarter than UI AD Gary Barta and UI Head Men’s Moron Fran McCaffrey, who should both be fired for cause for pushing ahead with plans to attend the Big Ten tournament. If that is the level of intelligence and concern that UI administrators in athletics demonstrate in the middle of a global pandemic, then we know everything we need to know about those individuals and their warped, self-interested and potentially calamitous priorities. (As a direct result of their greed and idiocy, Barta will now be given another raise by J. Bruce Harreld, for his steady leadership in a time of crisis, and Barta will give McCaffrey a raise and contract extension that locks him in for another decade.)
* The committee for the nationwide UI AVP-DEI search has been announced. Following the TaJuan Wilson debacle, Harreld initially tried to put off a new DEI search indefinitely, but that obviously exposed his false claim that he was a big proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion at UI. (In reality Harreld demoted DEI from his cabinet, then kicked DEI out of the president’s office altogether.) Fortunately for Harreld, one of his fixers — Russ Ganim — was somehow miraculously named as a co-chair for the new DEI search committee, which will now take an extraordinarily long time to fine just the right person for that critical job, thus also giving Harreld the extensive administrative delay he originally wanted:
The search will begin in April, with a new associate vice president expected to be named during the Spring 2021 semester.
You can’t make this stuff up.
* Apparently the crony Iowa Board of Regents is suddenly cognizant of the fact that a bunch of bodies may start piling up, and are now eager to pass the buck to the crony toads they installed at the state universities, who were all hired primarily to rubber stamp directives from the crony Iowa Board of Regents. From the Daily Iowan’s Katie Ann McCarver: Iowa regents consider policy change to give president emergency-authorization authority. Next up: J. Bruce Harreld authorizes a $200M public-private partnership for body bags.
* Remember back in October, when the Iowa Center for Advancement brought four of the previous UI presidents together, and they also let Harreld tag along? And when those presidents were asked what their toughest challenge was on the job, Harreld talked about how badly he was treated after it became clear that he lied his way into the job he now holds, which was granted as a result of a rigged search process by the Iopwa Board of Regents? Well this is the man who will now lead the University of Iowa’s response to a global pandemic.
* Looking ahead to the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic — which may yet leave us in a state of cultural limbo and ongoing risk — we can already see the contours of the economic shocks that the University of Iowa will have to endure. Whatever revenue is lost and cash expended in the near-term, in the fall there may also be a sharp decrease in enrollment depending on the aftereffects, and how safe the UI campus seems to students and parents who are considering enrollment. Any downward pressure on revenue will in turn provide yet another opportunity for Harreld and the board to increase tuition, but precisely because they have perpetrated a four-year cash grab by relentlessly hiking tuition there is no more elasticity in the system. Meaning a sharp increase in tuition, even if legitimate, may also prove to be a barrier to enrollment. [ Read more ]
11/03/19 — Paralleling an in-process post, this weekend the Gazette published an LTE from Shelton Stromquist about the privatizing of the University of Iowa, and a staff editorial titled “What’s going on at the University of Iowa?” What’s going on is that we’re four years into J. Bruce Harreld’s tenure as the illegitimate president of the school, and the damage from that corrupt act is ongoing.
09/29/19 — J. Bruce Harreld Marches to the Beat of His Own Broken Drum. Updated 09/30/19.
09/25/19 — So it’s been about 48 since the first UI P3 ‘information session’ was apparently held, and about 24 hours since the second session yesterday, yet I can’t find a single report or tweet or stray mention that either of those meetings actually took place. I’m hopeful there will be press accounts of those sessions after the marching band fiasco dies down, but what I can say is that UI never announced those new, rescheduled ‘information sessions’ to the UI campus. If Harreld wanted to keep people from showing up and asking questions, he could not have done a better job. (In comments to the DI about the assaults perpetrated against the UI marching band, Harreld did manage to blithely mention his globe-trotting efforts on behalf of the P3, while humbly casting himself in the role of administrative superhero.)
09/23/19 — I have no idea yet if the first ‘information session’ on the UI P3 took place today. What did transpire on campus is that Harreld gave a sit-down interview to the Daily Iowan about the assaults that were perpetrated against members of the UI Marching Band, in which he lied about calling off the investigation. DI interview here, related Twitter thread here.
09/22/19 — I kept an eye on this page through last week, and as of today the only ‘information sessions’ that the UI community will ever receive about the UI power-plant P3 are still scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) and Tuesday. What is particularly concerning about the sequencing of those meetings is that administrators at UI have already stated that nothing will be definitively known until later, meaning the ‘information sessions’ are not so much about informing the campus of specifics, but about checking off an administrative obligation to pretend to have informed the campus.
From a report by the Daily Iowa’s Brooklyn Draisey on 07/11/19:
“Please remember, as stated from the start, the UI is exploring a P3 involving its utility system through a deliberate and measured process — and no final decision has been made,” Bassett said in the email. “The UI won’t know the value of the utility system P3 until the RFP process is completed and a concessionaire agreement is signed.”
From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, three days ago, on 09/19/19:
Although administrators haven’t finalized any decision to move forward — and they’re still vetting potential partners — Harreld said an endowment made possible through the collaboration could yield $14 million annually.
Because the university still has not chosen a potential partner, and because the specifics of a deal won’t be known until after the deal is signed, I’m not sure what useful information will come out of these ‘information sessions’. What I am sure of is that as soon as those meetings have been concluded, administrators at Iowa will claim that the UI campus was fully informed about deal that had not yet been consummated.
09/21/19 — One of the benefits of hiring real leaders as opposed to bureaucratic tools, is that when there’s a problem real leaders tend to do the right thing by default, while bureaucratic tools have to be forced to do the right thing. If you told me that Iowa band members would get assaulted at Ames, yet between them J. Bruce Harreld and AD Gary Barta would turn that straight-forward problem into yet another public relations disaster for the University of Iowa, I would have…obviously believed you, because they’re bureaucratic tools. When you read the details, however, as provided in this comprehensive report by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, it’s not remotely funny. And again, not only did the Iowa Board of Regents just extend Harreld’s contract, including a $200K increase in compensation, but Harreld immediately turned around and gave Barta a similarly sweet new deal. For this they should both be fired.
09/19/19 — As of this evening the ‘information sessions’ for the prospective public-private power-plant project (P6) are still scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Toward the end of a report today by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller — which largely concerns the next round of abusive tuition hikes that the Iowa Board of Regents will impose for the following academic year — we get our first visibility as to how Harreld will foment greed on the UI campus, in order to galvanize support for what will almost certainly be a money-losing venture:
To ensure “we maximize the use of these proceeds,” Harreld unveiled a proposed grant process.
Grants of up to five years would be available, and existing work groups, steering committees and the university’s budget review board would consider applications, Harreld said.
“Anyone on campus could apply for a grant so long as it specifically and directly impacts the strategic plan,” he said.
More to come, but so far it’s basically a game show in which UI borrows money, puts it in an endowment at interest, then spends the proceeds on fabulous prizes, as opposed to meeting any critical or even demonstrable need. And yes, this man is making $800K per year, and will soon be pulling down $1M.
09/08/19 — J. Bruce Harreld Goes Missing in Action at UI. Updated 09/10/19.
08/26/19 — J. Bruce Harreld, TaJuan Wilson, and the UI Employment Practices Review. Updated 08/28/19. Later update 08/28/19.
08/22/19 — I’ll have more to say about this when I get my head around it, but the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller just published an update on the TaJuan Wilson resignation:
For the next five months — or until he lands a job outside the University of Iowa — the campus’ short-lived head of diversity, equity, and inclusion will telecommute for his “special assignment” and be allowed to “job search during working hours,” even while continuing to earn his $224,000 salary.
So not only is there still no permanent AVP-DEI on the UI campus after two years, but Harreld is now paying someone full freight not to do that job. This is what you get when a small cabal of crony co-conspirators hires a carpetbagging dilettante to run an R1/AAU research university. (See also the prior post for more info.)
08/19/19 — J. Bruce Harreld’s Pretense to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UI. Updated 08/19/19. Updated 08/20/19. Updated 08/21/19.
08/06/19 — J. Bruce Harreld and the Instinct to Lie.
Take a look at this face:
That’s the face of J. Bruce Harreld, the current president of the University of Iowa. That’s also the face of crony corruption in higher education — not only in the state of Iowa, but across the United States. [ Read more ]
This post is part of an extended Open Letter to the Iowa State Auditor.
The Iowa Board of Regents oversees three public institutions of higher learning: the University of Iowa (UI), Iowa State University (ISU), and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Like most colleges and universities in the U.S, each of the state schools is abetted in fundraising by a closely affiliated but legally separate foundation, which is solely dedicated to generating and managing charitable donations for its school. Importantly, these foundations are not simply separate non-profits which are owned and controlled by the state, but are entirely separate legal entities. Confusion about that status, however, is actively perpetuated by the schools and foundations because doing so aids in generating revenue, and inherently promoted by varying degrees of conspicuous administrative overlap between each symbiotic pair. [ Read more ]
This post is part of an extended Open Letter to the Iowa State Auditor.
A little over eleven years ago, in March of 2008, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) — which is owned by the state and administered by the Iowa Board of Regents — commenced a feasibility study for constructing and operating a new, dedicated children’s hospital. That study was in turn the result of decades of conversation about moving the various pediatric units into a single facility, thus building out UIHC’s infrastructure in a market already heavily influenced by the university’s massive, sprawling medical complex. Despite the fact that much of the campus would soon be inundated with catastrophic flooding, by 2011 that study had turned into an active and accelerated plan, with an initial budget of $270M. (Project timeline here.) [ Read more ]