A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
12/11/15 — What the AAUP Report Means to Iowans.
12/10/15 — J. Bruce Harreld: Frequent Flyer.
12/08/15 Are you tired of playing fair and actually earning your successes in life? Then you should cut a deal with Bruce Rastetter. Updated 12/09/15.
12/07/15 — J. Bruce Harreld in his own words. 2 Videos. 2 Origin Stories.
12/03/15 — J. Bruce Harreld and Motive. Part 1. Part 2.
11/25/15 — J. Bruce Harreld: Co-conspirator. Part 1. Part 2.
11/21/15 — When a ‘vocal minority’ rallied on Friday to apologize to J. Bruce Harreld, the UI’s own Rod Lehnertz noted — perhaps unintentionally — that the vast majority of community and business leaders were not in attendance, and thus did not support the fraudulently elected Harreld.
11/20/15 — University of Iowa commenters expose the sham Iowa Board of Regents ‘transparency hearings’ for what they are. More of the sham. (Taped comments here.)
11/19/15 — A few thoughts about UI traitor Jean Robillard and the ongoing AAUP investigation.
11/18/15 — For months Jean Robillard tells a consistent lie about needing J. Bruce Harreld to save UIHC. Harreld repays Robillard by both confirming and betraying the lie on the exact same day.
11/16/15 — It’s early May, 2015, and Jean Robillard is hard at work, betraying the University of Iowa.
11/13/15 — Jean Robillard, UIHC, and the axes of power behind the carpetbagging dilettante on the University of Iowa throne.
11/12/15 — With his Harvard MBA neutered, J. Bruce Harreld gets religion on campus culture.
11/11/15 — Hiring a Harvard MBA to run a university is not thinking outside the box. It is the box.
11/11/15 — Christopher Brochu writes an open letter to J. Bruce Harreld.
11/10/15 — Click here for nagging questions about the previously undisclosed secret meeting in early June, which was arranged by Jerre Stead, and attended by J. Bruce Harreld, Regents President Bruce Rastetter, Search Chair Jean Robillard and staffer Peter Matthes.
11/09/15 — In 2012 the visionary Missouri Board of Curators bought themselves a ticking liability by hiring a president with no academic administrative experience. Today that liability blew up in their collective transformational faces. (Comment here.)
11/07/15 — The evolving J. Bruce Harreld origin story, and where it inevitably leads.
11/07/15 — Now that Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter has his man at the helm at Iowa, what can the students, faculty and staff expect? To be used as a six-figure political retirement community. Job not advertised, no search conducted — just cold hard cash.
11/06/15 — From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, on J. Bruce Harreld and the world of inter-collegiate athletics, which Harreld also knows nothing about:
Harreld said he’s committed to winning on the field but is more concerned with the department’s comprehensive value statement of ‘Win, Graduate and Do It Right.’
“I believe very strongly in the three-legged stool,” Harreld said. “I told Gary the winning is yours; I’m all about the integrity and the academics. I’ll do everything I can to support that.”
(My take here.)
11/06/15 — If you’re not keeping up with Nick Johnson’s repository of links and notes on the Harreld hire, you’re not keeping up. (Comment here.)
11/05/15 — J. Bruce Harreld did not submit a letter of application. (Comment here.)
11/05/15 — Vanessa Miller of the Gazette reports on J. Bruce Harreld’s new venture: co-chairing a committee on monetizing the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor.
11/05/15 — Vanessa Miller of the Gazette reports on J. Bruce Harreld’s plans to give the faculty money. (A few comments here.)
11/03/15 — KWWL’s Kristin Rogers reports on J. Bruce Harreld’s reaction to the criticism he faced on his first day, and the criticism that has been growing now for over two months. (Comment here.)
11/02/15 — Excellent explanation of why the newest origin story from Harreld and Rastetter only makes their problems worse, from Bleeding Heartland. (My take here.)
11/01/15 — Comprehensive summary to-date, by Eric Kelderman.
11/01/15 — Vanessa Miller on how disinterested Harreld was until the last minute. (A few comments here.)
11/01/15 — Jeff Charis-Carlson, on a previously undisclosed meeting between Harreld, Rastetter and Robillard in early June. (My take here.)
— Mark Barrett
As you know, the revelation that a committee of Iowa peeps met with Harreld in June. http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2015/11/01/earlier-bruce-harreld-visit-iowa-revealed/74807034/
Jere Stead arranged the meeting, which he did not attend. However search committee member Peter Matthes did attend. Note that these dudes are getting their stories together now. 🙂 Much better alibis than the past few months.
Harreld also revealed that Bruce Rastetter called ‘early in spring’ recruiting him. (as I have pointed out Harreld and Stead live within a few blocks of each other in Barrington Ill, as as Elders of the Presbyterian Church, and on several community groups may have been known to each other. In fact, Harreld calls Stead a ‘mentor’. Rastetter knows investors in Connecticut where Harreld lived.
Nothing wrong with that. Stead is a pretty successful guy.
On the other hand, it seems clear that the power in this university is with a small group of businessmen: Rastetter, Stead, Papajohn and maybe Krause.
Papajohn and Rastetter have interests in new start up businesses. Stead is tight with Rastetter, VP Jean Robillard, and the others.
Stead, Papajohn, Krauses and to a degree Rastetter donate to the arts and education. Stead and Papajohn in a huge way. Rastetter donates to Iowa football, and heavily to political causes, obviously wanting payoffs for his bucks.
Rastetter and Stead are huge political donors to the GOP. Papajohn leans that way too. Papajohn and Rastetter are very large Terry Branstad donors. Likewise with Regent Cownie whose husband is credited with 100,000s of GOP donations. Mulholland is a small GOP donor.
Of course Harreld is a GOP supporter.
Is it historical that money buys this much influence? As you point out Rastetter not only wants to punch out opponents, but kick dirt in the face too (and Sahai is a major UIowa donor). I would also say from his actions (interviewing personally GOP candidates onstage at his Ag Summit) Rastetter is a control freak. Micromanager. He wants to micromanage what he owns. And he dang well wanted to micromanage this presidential search to come out the way he wanted.
Is it disturbing the millions of donations gets this much influence and this much clout that Rastetter, Stead and Papajohn call the shots on governance of UIowa (remember he was on-board early with Harreld too)?
If we look at Regents in Michigan, California, Virginia, New York do we see such politics (and economics) played out? North Carolina recently named a Bush appointee and manager to be President of all NC. At least our new nontraditional unqualified president has an engineering degree and an MBA from two good schools. Margaret Spellings, the nontraditional poorly qualified President of North Carolina has a BA, so we clearly outrank her on that account.
With this kind of clout and money behind Harreld, no other candidate for Iowa had a snowballs chance in Greenland. The search was a sham. What this means for the Univ of Iowa is hard to tell. Rastetter and Papajohn demand flesh for money at times (BR esp). Stead not so much.
And how does the AAUP feel about donation clout outranking academic influence? Is it time to give up the ghost and understand ‘Iowa is open for business’ and only business, and only political and economic cronies of Branstad and Rastetter?
Note that joining Kum and Go in advertising at athletic events now is Koch Brothers, and Iowa ethanol. Wonder if IBM won’t be plastered up there soon. And I do like the idea of the doctors at UIHC wearing little ad patches on the white coats: Koch on the emphysema unit and birth defects unit; Kum and Go on the diabetes and cancer unit; IBM on the GI (Harreld did lead BM right) and bowel unit; and maybe IBM on toxicology (Harreld lead IBM too 🙂 ).
It’s kind of a thing with these guys, isn’t it? Arranging for meetings that they somehow don’t actually attend. Stead arranges for the meeting in early June, Rastetter arranges the secret meeting with four regents at his place of business on July 30th. A lot of arrangements all around.
And yes, while they’re getting their stories together a bit better, the damage they’re incurring in the process is incredible. In order to try to make sense of all of the lies they’ve already told, they have to actually divulge an earlier secret meeting that confirms many of those lies.
Stead is now discredited. He lied in the press about how Harreld came to his attention on the committee — a bald-faced lie.
Harreld now saying that Rastetter called in ‘early spring’ does damage two ways. It puts the lie to other lies about Harreld’s origin story from Robillard, and it comes dangerously close to pushing the first point of contact prior to the beginning of the search proper, on 2/25. Because if that ever happens then Harreld is provably a co-conspirator.
Regarding the big-money donors and their intersection with politics, it has been a recurring thought to me that most of them are not actually donors. Charitable giving is giving, not an ownership stake or equity position. And yet that’s clearly not how they think, witness how they came out of the woodwork not only to state that they would keep giving, but to lobby on Harreld’s behalf. (Except for Mary Louise Petersen, who smelled the stink immediately.)
After Branstad defiled the spirit of the regents by packing it with political cronies, and given the rank corruption in the heart of the university itself, you’re right — no other candidate had a chance, and Rastetter saw to that every step. Meeting after meeting, he’s there.
I honestly think the AAUP has no choice but to deliver a harsh rebuke. If the governor has corrupted the Board of Regents, and they’ve corrupted the University of Iowa, the AAUP still has to maintain its standards or it’s just as corrupt. I don’t see any other alternative, but it’s also ridiculous that no OTHER entity — like, say, the Iowa AG — has begun an investigation that might actually deal with the corruption.
Opps, according to the Gazette, the members of the Rump Search Committee to meet AT KIRKWOOD: http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/higher-education/new-university-of-iowa-president-says-he-didnt-want-the-job-at-first-20151101
In early June, in a Kirkwood Community College conference room in Cedar Rapids, Harreld sat down with Rastetter, UI Interim President Jean Robillard and Peter Matthes, interim chief of staff and vice president for external relations. They talked about a “host of issues,” such as how institutions can continue to improve themselves and about the UI Hospitals and Clinics — Robillard also is vice president for medical affairs with UI Health Care.
During that discussion, Harreld said, Rastetter again asked if he was interested in applying for the UI presidency.
“I said no,” Harreld said. “He asked me three more times, and I remember turning to Peter Matthes and saying, ‘He doesn’t take no for an answer, does he?’”
“Kirkwood”? One gets the distinct impression these dudes wanted most of the interactions with Harreld off the record. Kirkwood?
And why is this coming out now? Is someone else with knowledge about the blow the cover off it all?
That they felt the need to confess to this meeting is extremely interesting, because it’s not actually compelled by their other lies. In fact, as noted in my previous comment, it actually does a lot of damage.
In my gut I think this is Matthes making clear that he’s not going to eat any of this for Harreld or Rastetter. He’s been sitting on knowledge of this meeting for months, and as the heat has risen since mid-September it has to have been gnawing at him.
I also think we’re going to see more of that, particularly from staffers. Nobody with 10 or 20 years in and a pension to protect is going down the tubes with Harreld or Rastetter. Not at the U. of I., and not at the Board of Regents. The more pressure is brought to bear on Harreld and Rastetter — with Robillard now sneaking off into the shadows — the more we’ll see people wanting to get on the record to make sure they’re not seen as complicit later.
Also, the ongoing bit about Harreld playing hard to get, and having clients he was loyal to, and just being so darn unsure until the last minute, is all a lie. He brings his wife with him to the July 8th “VIP lunch”, which itself takes place under false pretenses because neither Rastetter, Robillard or Harreld inform Gardial or Bohannan why Harreld is there. And again, the new early-June meeting now destroys any pretext that all three of those men were not aware that he was already in the candidate pipeline.
“We have a process. We are following the process. That is the plan,” UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard said after Thursday’s telephone meeting of the UI Presidential Search and Screen Committee.
This was carried in the 2-July P/C. http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2015/07/02/ui-presidential-search-committee-finalists-campus/29648175/
Considering the early June meeting at Kirkwood, could Robillard’s statement be any more duplicitous?
Robillard cracks me up. You can tell that conspiracy is not his thing, but he’s not an innocent. He’s just bad at it.
I can’t even keep track of how many lies Robillard has told in succession, particularly about the origin of his contact with Harreld. It’s at least three now, and maybe four. And he still has a job.
Sorry to bother you so much, but…listen to the Harreld interview here. He stumbles around trying to explain his first visit like first week of June, at Kirkwood. http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2015/11/01/earlier-bruce-harreld-visit-iowa-revealed/74807034/
1. Forget the Mitch Daniels thing. Harreld subtly says Rastetter ‘got’ his name from a colleague at Boston Consulting Group.
2. Jerre Stead ‘pinged’ him a week later, and Harreld knew Stead was on the search committee. Stead wanted him to come out to chat.
3. Then Robillard took over. Stories indicate Rastetter drove the show, but Harreld is sticking with this Robillard lead.
Throughout this explanation, Harreld stammers and spits. As if he is struggling to coordinate his story.
4. ‘Punctuated proactive change’, apparently is a big deal. What is it? What needs to be changed? This is all confusing.
For something that occurred a couple months ago, Harreld struggles to tell his side of the ‘story’, even saying he is confused or ‘doesn’t know today’. Weird. I can tell you about my vacation that occurred about the same time, and I don’t need to struggle with my recall.
Not a bother at all. It’s complicated, and you’ve helped a great deal.
I know what you mean about Mitch Daniels, but it’s important not to lose sight of him because he is on the record telling Eric Kelderman at the CHE that he “recommended” Harreld to…someone. So we still have two different versions of Harreld’s origin story to reconcile, and of course they cannot be reconciled. So someone is still lying.
Harreld cannot keep his story straight because it is incoherent. There is no through-line that makes everything track. He is desperate to make sure that his first contact does not pre-date 2/25, and given that they’ve now admitted to “early spring” I think we have to seriously consider the possibility that he was in on the fraud from the beginning.
The single most interesting aspect of the disclosures in the press on 11/1 is that Rastetter really is pinned down about July 30th and the secret meetings he arranged at his private business. That’s the hill he’s going to die on, and he’s taking Harreld with him — witness Harreld’s ludicrous statement that he asked to meet with at least four regents. Yet Harreld has to say that, because if he doesn’t prop Rastetter up then not only can Rastetter take Harreld down with him, Harreld loses the $4M that made this all worthwhile in the first place.
And that’s what I meant when I said they didn’t have to disclose the early-June meeting. They could have just bear-hugged in this suicide pact over the meetings on July 30th and left it at that. Except of course that still doesn’t solve the real problem, which is that it doesn’t matter whose ideas those meetings were.
Rastetter was not allowed to schedule those meetings or keep them secret under any definition of a fair search, which is why he’s guilty of criminal fraud. The only question is whether Rastetter will spill his guts and admit that Harreld didn’t ask for the meetings, which then makes Harreld an obvious co-conspirator.
“Punctuated proactive change” is nothing. It’s guru speak — or some buzzwordy pablum that takes the place of last year’s buzzwordy pablum.
As for Harreld struggling to explain himself, just wait until someone with the ability to issue an indictment stops by. He may swallow his tongue.
Summarizing yesterday’s revelations, from the day before Harreld officially starts work (today):
1) Harreld is alibiing Rastetter to the hilt with regard to Rastetter’s claim that Harreld demanded meetings with ‘at least four regents’ — which Rastetter then felt obligated to arrange in secret, keep secret until after the election, and refuse to offer to any other candidates.
2) In every other regard, Harreld has now woven an elaborate narrative about how he had absolutely no interest in the job until the very last minute, even though he brought his wife with him on July 8th, and failed to acknowledge prior contact to Gardial and Bohannan during that meeting.
At the risk of helping these liars tell better lies, I would submit, again, that this changes nothing. Rastetter was obligated to NOT give Harreld those meetings, if indeed Harreld demanded them, and once granted, Rastetter was obligated to let all other candidates know that such meetings were available.
On the question of Harreld’s origin story, we still have to believe that Harreld knew nothing about the open position until Rastetter called in ‘early spring’, even though Harreld lived in the same town (Denver) as Stead during the previous year, and maybe longer.
Given that Stead himself is now on the record as lying about his own original awareness of Harreld’s interest in the position, along with Harreld’s own history of lies in that regard, it has to be assumed until proven otherwise that Jerre Stead and J. Bruce Harreld talked about the open position at Iowa prior to any so-far-acknowledged conversations, and that their interaction almost certainly predates the official start date of the search committee on 2/25. Which would again make Harreld a co-conspirator rather than a willing dupe.
Subpoena power would allow even a novice investigator to make those connections using phone records, employment records and emails from Colorado.
A couple of points about the newly disclosed early-June meeting in Cedar Rapids, and the snazzy new narrative that Harreld has woven around it.
* Everything about the July 8th visit seemed to suggest that Robillard and Rastetter were indeed wooing Harreld to apply for the job. Harreld was given the stage in front of the power brokers at UIHC, he’s given a “VIP lunch”, it’s a full-court press. And of course Harreld’s wife is given a tour of the campus at the same time.
But now look what happens because of the newly disclosed meeting in early June, which also included Robillard and Rastetter, as well as “Peter Matthes, UI’s interim chief of staff and a staff member assigned to the search committee.” That meeting, which is ostensibly the first face-to-face contact between Harreld and any of those three men — and is brokered by Jerre Stead, who does not attend — would seem to be the moment when you put on a full-court press, and yet it takes place in a conference room at Kirkwood Community College.
Really? Jerre Stead finally gets J. Bruce Harreld to come all the way to Iowa to hear the pitch,, and instead of showing him the campus or introducing him to a few movers and shakers, you hole up in a conference room by the airport to get acquainted — which you have almost certainly already done in more than one phone call?
Now imagine that the meeting in early June isn’t about meeting and greeting, but about hashing out a deal. Once the deal is cut, they move on to hashing out a game plan, which includes having Harreld and his wife come out in early July so Robillard and Rastetter can get buy-in from the UIHC brass, then move on to getting buy-in from four regents in secret meetings at Rastetter’s place of business, then get buy-in from the governor in a secret phone call that no other candidate receives. Sell, sell, sell.
* Matthes is a staffer, but he’s not quoted in either the Gazette or Press-Citizen piece. He was in the room. He knows what was talked about in that room. He’s not going to lose his job for anybody else who was in that room, so it’s important that Peter Matthes be put on the record about exactly what was and was not talked about — or, that Peter Matthes be put on the record refusing to detail what was talked about.
* When Bruce Rastetter isn’t flying Terry Branstad around in his jet plane, it would be worth knowing where that jet has been over the past two years, and who’s been on it. Has it been to Denver in 2013, 2014 or 2015? And while we’re on the subject, how about Scottsdale, in April, where I believe Stead also spends time? Also, did Harreld fly commercial into Cedar Rapids, in order to meet at Kirkwood, which is right near the airport?
Going to say that a Harreld – Rastetter – (Stead) connection is through a Scott M Sperling.
Like Harrled, Sperling has a BS from Purdue and an MBA from Harvard. Like Harreld he was part of Boston Consulting Group. And like Harreld, Sperling is an inductee into Purdue’s Sigma Chi HOF.
Harreld said he was named to Bruce Rastter by someone from Boston Consulting. Sperling fits that bill. Sperling is now a partner with Thomas H Lee – private equity firm.
Sperling was on the board of Hawkeye Holdings, the CEO was Bruce Rastetter. Bruce Rastetter was a director of Advanced Bioenergy, where Sperling was a director too. (and Hawkeye Energy Holdings)
Others possibly involved are Thomas Haggerty, Joshua M. Nelson, Soren Godlberg, (Thomas Lee and Advanced BioEnergy, and Hawkeye Holdings)
Rastetter and Sperling are large contributors to ‘Restore our Future’ the Mitt Romney machine. Branstad can’t be far behind. Don’t know about Stead.
Rastetter uses his business connections and political cronies. Stead uses his local and religious connections. Both heavily influence UIowa and Terry Branstad. Hawkeye Energy was sold to the Kochs. And I believe ALEC is in this too.
Robillard wants Steads 20 million, wants a business CEO who endorses UIHC at the head of U of Iowa, and wants those hospital naming rights.
Mitch Daniels may be involved. Sally Mason said she knew Harreld from Purdue, but stayed recused (an actual ethical person?).
It is incredible that the trio meet Harreld in Kirkwood. They wanted deniability to U of Iowa, to the other Regents like Sahai and maybe too to Parker. Why not meet in a hotel, or Matthes’ office at Iowa.. Say 15 minutes v. 30 minutes.
Also note, Matthes is a huge GOP supporter, including Jim Leach’s clark. I also wonder how a guy so young (on staff since 2011) moves up so fast?
Surprise Dr Sahai, there were even more covert meetings!
BTW, Dr Ditchwalk (heh heh) you are getting pretty good at this conspiratorial stuff. I believe you have a great future in politics or university administration. Or perhaps attending the Washington DC showing of “Our American Cousin”.
I know that conspiracies exist, of course, but I’ve never been a ‘conspiracy’ person. You have to show me the connections — I’m not going to imagine my way to a conclusion.
What’s so shocking about this conspiracy, and that’s all it can properly be called, is that you can see the connections. And as the co-conspirators are compelled to answer more and more questions the conspiracy keeps growing.
It’s like jamming J. Bruce Harreld into office at Iowa was a skunkworks project for half the big names in Iowa politics and ‘charitable giving’. And they could have just hired the guy outright, instead of defrauding the taxpayers over $300K.
If you’re not sure what all the fuss is about regarding the hiring of J. Bruce Harreld, I want to illustrate for you why people are concerned.
As noted in an earlier post, I never heard of Jerre Stead until about two months ago, but obviously his name carries some weight on the Iowa campus. In late February, when the search committee was announced, Jerre Stead was on that list.
One day after Harreld’s election, on September 4th, here’s what Jerre Stead said, on the record:
So it’s clear. Stead knew Harreld in 1993, they go their separate ways, and then the next thing Stead knows, there’s Harreld’s name on a committee list, right out of the past.
Now consider this from yesterday (11/01), also on the record:
So on September 4th Jerre Stead lied to the press about the extent of his relationship with Harreld. There is no ambiguity about that.
Now here’s Harreld himself, expanding on their relationship, also from yesterday:
So in two short hops we move from Stead knowing Harreld in 1993, and only encountering him again during the search, by pure chance, to Stead orchestrating meetings on Harreld’s behalf, and Harreld himself describing Stead as “a mentor of mine at various stages of my career.”
And yet at no point, until two days ago, did either Jerre Stead or J. Bruce Harreld acknowledge any of that even as the search was taking place.
Which brings us to this moment from the open forum, just prior to the vote:
As you can see, Harreld is so certain that he instantly answers, “No.” And yet, from Harreld’s comment above about ‘technically’ having worked for or with each other, we now know that answer is also a lie. Which is why it’s all the more important to make sure that Harreld and Stead did not have additional business dealings more recently, which would make that lie grounds for termination, if it isn’t already.
I don’t know why Jerre Stead put his sterling reputation at risk in order to make sure that J. Bruce Harreld was the new president at Iowa, but he did. I also don’t know why J. Bruce Harreld hid his long-time relationship with Stead from the university community, but he did. And that’s why people are deeply suspect of both Harreld’s motives and his veracity.
Agree with the Stead suspicions. I remember seeing that article in the Gazette (on the way back from a Hawkeye game). My first thought was ‘Who is Jerre Stead and why is he interviewed?
Why was the Gazette interviewing Stead? Where did they find him? Who arranged that interview? Why not interview Nate Kaeding, or Mary Sue Coleman, or Gene Wilder, all ppl with interests in Iowa?
And the vague ‘Oh yeah I remember, I was trying to sell the Boston Chicken Man NCR terminals”. Think back 20-25 years. Would anyone remember one sales contact? Would one think a Boston Chicken CEO would be a good university president? That was very odd.
As documented Stead and Harrled ran in the same circles in Barrington IL; Harreld may have moved closer to Stead, and in fact Harreld’s comments make it seem that way.
Nothing wrong with Stead mentoring anyone, he is a insightful, brilliant businessman. But why did Stead lie about his relationship? He obviously did.
If Stead is a mentor, he might have noticed Harreld was a 7 year-retired dude with a gig at Harvard business, which ended in Dec 2014. Unemployed, although wealthy. I cannot tell you how many friends I have seen down on their luck and I think ‘If only I were rich….”
Was this a Stead favor? Did Stead see someone down and out? A man like Stead who donates 20 million at a wack can call on favors. Stead isn’t going to say ‘Hey J Bruce, ummm you wanna check out the job postings at Subway?’
Harreld was a pretty high up exec. In Stead’s world that translates to President. And maybe he believes in Harreld. Big favor.
Stead steers his ‘student’ toward something at Stead’s alma mater, who owe him big time. There is a ‘meet and greet’ at Kirkwood, just to see if Harreld can walk and chew gum at the same time. Robillard sees something, then talks himself into this thing. “This guy can replace Sally Mason — who didn’t do squat for me, Jean R, anyway — in a good way. Dude will owe me so I will have the president in my influence.. Besides I make points with Jerre Stead, which means more donations, and points with Rastetter who wants a nontraditional businessman — with gives me naming rights. And he is 64, so what do we have, 3-4 years max?
(continuing my fantasy) Harreld says he isn’t interested, he can throw rocks at coyotes or go to Conn to fish if he wants. Stead calls up the Mrs. ‘Mrs J Bruce you gotta get him out get him motivated like the old J Bruce’. “Jerre, he is kinda down, he sleeps until noon”. OK, Jean R wants him to be at UIHC Tuesday at 9am. OMG Jerre, we can’t possibly…..””I have two tickets, one for you, and one for him”. “OK, I will try, but Jerre, J Bruce can’t even work on his resume, he gets too upset”…”No worries, let’s try it, we gotta get him involved in something”.
Go back to read those emails with Harreld. I swear Mary Andriga is like trying to get Robert Downy Jr or Lindsey Lohan to come back…..
Stead is ‘available’ immediately after the election for the same reason that former regent Bob Downer just happens to be standing around to confirm Robillard’s dodge about the search process not being in sync:
The search was fine, except for the corrupt people who turned it into a sham. But it always helps to have an unbiased observer telling you that the man on the dais is correct.
It’s so nakedly political, and so completely contrary to the spirit of the Board of Regents, to education in the state of Iowa, and to how a university president should be selected. I don’t know if the state ever recovers from this damage — and for the umpteenth time, I cannot fathom how this cannot at least have triggered an investigation by the AG. It’s their job to ask questions.
Dana Forbes says
Here is what I don’t understand: as a state employee, every time my department runs a search for a position, we have to give all candidates the same treatment, ask each candidate the same questions, and basically document everything in case we are asked for an explanation regarding the hiring decision. Do the Iowa Board of Regents follow different state laws? Seeing that this equal-opportunity process was clearly violated, why isn’t any legal action being taken? I heard on the grapevine that the Iowa Attorney General is not interested in pursuing this. Really? I know there are influential Democrats like Michael Gartner who openly support Bruce Harreld. I don’t want to be paranoid, but is there a larger conspiracy here?
Your point about fairness goes to the heart of what is the obvious fraud in this hire. It’s so brazen that it almost defies description.
No, the Board of Regents is not covered by separate laws — they’re just apparently immune because Bruce Rastetter is Terry Branstad’s biggest donor. So it is exactly what it seems to be: pure naked corruption.
The idea that Harreld asked for things that Rastetter was then compelled to deliver in secret is idiotic. The idea that Rastetter was then allowed to prevent any other candidate from having those same things is even more idiotic. Not even a child would buy such claims, yet among the adults there doesn’t seem to be anyone in government who either has the guts or the legal authority to call him on it.
(It doesn’t matter whether Harreld says he did or did not ask to meet ‘at least four regents’. The meetings themselves were inherently improper.)
To further Dana’s observations: The search committee had EEO obligations and a fraudulent search would by definition not satisfy those obligations. The “search” is actionable even if NO individual applicant comes forward, and even if no candidates in EEO protected categories made it to the final four. The only question is “Did they have a chance” during every step of the process? Mark Barrett has more than made the case based on evidence that the only answer to “Did they have a chance?” is two letters (to quote Harreld), NO. It’s time to launch a federal EEO investigation. And perhaps find a hungry, heavy-hitting labor attorney. I chaired and sat on a number of searches here at Iowa and Grinnell, including one with over 900 candidates. As Dana says, we would have been toast if we’d not followed EEO Act requirements.
Time to get regent, Robillard. Harreld, involved administrator & staff, and search committee hands on a Bible. I’ve already it clear to Robillard how much I look forward to his either having to admit his lies or perjure himself.
Out of curiosity, having never visited the EEOC website before, I poked around a little bit. I can see that the Harreld hire doesn’t fit their usual categories of discrimination, but again it’s also hard to imagine that it doesn’t gut every possibly conception of fairness in any hiring process.
I did learn that the EEOC probably does have jurisdiction, however, because the Board of Regents has more than 15 employees (19 at least), so it meets that basic test. At which point I am now officially out of knowledge.
You are correct. Because the Univ of Iowa does business with the federals in grants and contracts Uiowa should follow equal opportunity laws. You have to have hiring approved by that office. In research, investigators must answer that they attempted to recruit subjects in a distribution of gender etc that matches the country, or explain why.
Either no one is interested in the Big Hires, or the Des Moines/Iowa Board of Regents ‘fixed’ the excuses. Surely the BOR knows all the rules and red tape.
I really want someone to call up attorney Thomas Evans Jr of Des Moines to get his reaction to this search. Somehow he ‘retired’ in June, although it was hidden. Being a person who loves conspiracies I smell that all over the place. Let’s see we get rid of the 10 years attorney for the board of regents (a Vilsack appt) so he wont blow the whistle on fake searches that did not match up to fed requirements.
If someone wanted to challenge this search the ignorance of EEOC (Title VII I think) would be grounds. Someone of standing would need to bring a complaint against the search in that it wasn’t open nor did the search include gender or race diversity.
IBM can hire anyone they darn well please, but federal contractors cannot.
The issue would be who would take notice? The Iowa AG? The Civil Rights Commission? The EEOC? These agencies are so stripped down anymore they seem to be shells of former selves.
Yesterday, in a short piece from Kristin Rogers at KWWL, J. Bruce Harreld responded to criticism about himself and the manner in which he was appointed to be president of the University of Iowa:
In dealing with people like J. Bruce Harreld, and Regents President Bruce Rastetter for that matter, it’s important to understand what they do and do not mean by being ‘professional’. In a previous post we noted that Rastetter and former Search Chair Jean Robillard intentionally talked about other subjects instead of talking about fairness in the search process, because they knew the search was criminally unfair. Here, in talking about professionalism, J. Bruce Harreld is engaging in the same willful deception.
The key to understanding J. Bruce Harreld is that when Harreld talks about being professional he is not saying that people should be ethical or honest. We know that because he himself was repeatedly unethical and dishonest while conspiring to become president at Iowa. First, there was lying on his resume about his prior work history, which was documented in the press. Then there was lying about his writings, which led to Harreld being censured by the faculty. And of course yesterday we learned that J. Bruce Harreld flatly lied in the open forum about his prior relationship with Jerre Stead — who was a member of the search committee and is now himself a proven liar. So it’s clear that as a man J. Bruce Harreld has no ethics and no personal integrity.
Now, with Sunday’s revelation about a secret meeting in early June, which was organized by Stead and attended by Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard, and Peter Matthes, you can see the magnitude of Harreld’s disinterest in truth, honesty, integrity, ethics or values, simply by comparing his previous response to a question about his origin as a candidate, with the divergent reality that Harreld himself knew to be true at the time. Here’s president-elect Harreld explaining his origin story as a candidate, in a report by Eric Kelderman of the Chronicle of Higher Education, on September 14th:
From Sunday, however, we know that Harreld not only met in early June with Robillard, Rastetter and Matthes, reportedly at Stead’s request, but that Harreld and Stead have a relationship that goes back twenty years, and Harreld considers Stead a mentor. So how does that square with the idea that Daniels brought Harreld to the attention of the committee? It doesn’t. It is, in fact, another lie — another conspiratorial lie, this time involving the sitting president at another Big Ten university — which was told expressly to conceal Harreld’s long-standing relationship with Stead.
Now, you may be wondering how a proven serial liar like J. Bruce Harreld can have the gall to talk about professionalism, but the answer is simple. To a man like Harreld, or Rastetter, or any of a number of other people who are perpetually concerned about professionalism or being civil, there is a manner in which you are allowed to destroy people’s lives and subvert the will of the people, and that manner must be respected. It’s not the crimes that are wrong, it’s allowing yourself to become emotional that’s the flaw.
J. Bruce Harreld is telling you, flatly, that he is going to lie to your face every chance he gets, but he will do so in that maddeningly robotic administrative way that sets any normal, healthy person on edge. And he expects you to do likewise.
Which is now your green light to be professional in exactly the same manner. You can and should smile and agree and pledge support, then, at the last minute, switch sides or ask for more or just absent yourself. Perhaps to spend more time with your own family, while J. Bruce Harreld is hiding behind his.
In any case, when you sit down and talk with J. Bruce Harreld, you should do so in a professional manner. Then you should remind yourself that the face of J. Bruce Harreld is the face of moral decay, because the man you’re looking at has no ethics or personal integrity, and will, in a professional tone, lie to you about anything. Which is also why J. Bruce Harreld does not, and never will, speak for Iowans or the University of Iowa.
Very good observation. You can see the technique in political debates all the time. Harreld doesn’t answer the question, then pivots to address another issue.
The media needs to ask very specific questions of someone like Harreld or Rastetter who are masters of dodging issues. The question may need to be repeated over and over until the person actually answers them.
Harreld isn’t alone in his deflect, pivot, then scream ‘god mother and apple pie’ (or professionalism). Bill Clinton dodged questions in the same manner.
The answers to the real issues and the real questions will never come out, unless someone subpoenas records or gets someone under oath (and even then these fellows are clever; Rastetter is very very gifted at dodge and pivot).
It’s a separate harangue of mine that I’ve gotten fed up with potholes and voids in language. I see words as less about precision or truth than about frail necessity. We have to have them to share information, but they’re creaky, rickety, prone to confusion and — in ‘professional’ hands, exploitation.
So I’m going to stop using words in the next update, and instead go visual. I’m tired of playing prove-I-lied with a bunch of weasels.
Parse this. (Meaning, you know, when I actually post it.)
About a year ago in an effort to understand lying and deception in public and professional life I checked into a few books. This predates the BOR-Herrald controversy, but on refection, I may have reached a lifetime BS/lying/manipulation quota even back then. One book I discovered was “People of the Lie” by Scott Peck. I suspect readers of this blog known well who Scott Peck is. There may never be one clear universal cause of pathological lying, but Peck’s thoughts and examples are well worth the time reading. Written in 1983, some of the examples may appear dated, but really are timeless. The faces and the situations change, but the behaviors and the lies remain eternal.
So J. Bruce Harreld conspires with a small handful of key players at Iowa to get himself elected president, which will pay him $4,000,000 over five years — assuming the Iowa Board of Regents doesn’t decide to give him even more money when the heat is really on to keep him quiet about said conspiracy.
Well, now that’s Harreld has had his job for two whole days, he’s eager to spread the wealth — albeit not out of his own pocket.
But again, I’m not willing to look at Harreld’s crass political moves with a cynical eye. This is professionalism in action. This is exactly what you get when you run a school like a business, and I’m sure a lot of people are probably thrilled. Time to cash in that moth-eaten personal integrity and make out like a bandit, because that’s the only thing that really matters in life. If you feel bad later you can always give some of that money away as a tax write-off, then people will think you’re rich and giving. Win-win!
The students, of course, are still screwed twice, but that’s their problem.
I don’t know if every other candidate submitted a letter of application. What I do know is that the Iowa Board of Regents and the University of Iowa have never documented the work flow, chain of custody or processing of any materials that J. Bruce Harreld did submit.
Given that the man is now the sitting president at the University of Iowa, you would think there might be an obligation to prove that Harreld did in fact meet the stated requirements of the hiring process and not receive any preferential treatment beyond all of the preferential treatment already documented in the press. (The original email showing that Harreld did not submit a latter of application can also be found on the FOIA site. As you can see from the 11/04 note , the stonewalling is almost complete. )
As previously noted, it’s not at all clear that Parker Executive Search ever saw J. Bruce Harreld’s resume, because the resume itself is a disaster. How does a professional search firm not catch the typos, errors, omissions and lies which littered that document?
We know that Regents President Bruce Rastetter received a copy of the resume shortly before the secret meetings that Rastetter arranged between Harreld and four regents at Rastetter’s own place of business, but there’s no evidence anywhere that Rastetter or Harreld or anyone else submitted that resume or any other resume or any other documents to Parker Executive Search.
Given that Harreld’s latest narrative has him still on the fence about the Iowa job until the morning of the final interview with the Iowa Board of Regents, it’s again worth wondering exactly when he submitted the required paperwork, and to whom.
From Parker Executive Search, via the FOIA site, we have this, from a document titled “Minutes 7 30 Search and Screen.docx”, which reflects meeting notes on the exact day when Harreld was meeting in secret with four regents at Rastetter’s place of business:
If Harreld had not officially applied for the job as of July 30th, then I’m assuming he would be one of the six — unless Harreld was still not known to PES or the search committee at the time. So that would also be worth answering. When did J. Bruce Harreld officially become a candidate according to both Parker Executive Search and to the search committee itself?
Update: Anyone who gets pushback from Harreld or anyone else at the U of I or the Board of Regents regarding the disclosure of public records should point to this.
(Note the ‘gotcha’? He’s only promising to tell you the truth about his ‘vision’ and ‘values’. Not about the facts of his hire. Now that’s professionalism.)
Update: Jeff Charis-Carlson with some useful knowledge:
The lecture Harreld gave the public, and the exchange with Ms Riley (an attorney from CR) is pretty testy.
Before that exchange (at about 131:00) Harreld was giving his ‘vision’. He struggles to use academic words: ‘customer’ than changes to ‘student’ and ‘faculty’; ‘industry’. He really uses the wrong vocab, but then again UIHC has relabeled patients as customers too. Some might say that is simply semantics, but it isn’t; each of those labels carry ethical and responsibility relationships. A person who is a student needs different ethical considerations than a customer (for instance in romantic relationships; it may be OK to ask a customer out, but never OK for a teacher to ask a student out, etc.)
Harreld thinks tech schools and community colleges are new and competing institutions, from his talk. Big deal. Not new and not ignored.
Harreld talks about ‘unbundling’, and ED-X and Corsair, Khan academy. So? Don’t see the conflicts or innovations there. Maybe if Apple developed a new super fast computer IBM (ok in the old days) would worry. If Khan-Ed puts courses on the internet, for free (nothing is free) with poorly paid instructors, I doubt that is going to affect the student at the Univ of Iowa. These arent (in my opinion) incredible apocryphal threats to a research big-ten university. Quick Care might threaten UIHC’s bottom line, but someone interested in the Big Ten experience isn’t running to sign up for Khan Ed.
The exchange with Ms Riley gets into a pissing match real quick. The grimaces of the audience are hard to read…could be pain or could be they agree with her. The exchange is painful from both sides. Her questions, while important, are presented in an annoying way. Harreld at about 1.:31 gives an eye roll to the lawyer comment. Not good to eye roll at an alumna of Uiowa, a parent of UIowa kids, nor anyone in public. And this is why he received about a 3.0% approval.
Some real issues include bureaucratic bloat, higher tuition, student debt, drug and alcohol abuse on campus, sex crimes, armed police and public safety. research support, faculty-student ratios, privatization, shared governance, and Rastetters xenophobic drive to emasculate the UIowa and transfer funds to ISU and UNI. Harreld isn’t going to know all the local issues, but he doesn’t seem to understand some of the larger ones.
Also note his dismissal of ‘liberal arts education’ “I don’t have one”. Oh yeah, he never set foot in a history class or a science class undergrad or a lit class. And he does have the superior degree of MBA too, where he learned to go form great to greater in a greatfinity period ot greatime.
For me personally there were only about 93 cringe-worthy moments during the whole open forum. I could see why everyone came away thinking it was a train wreck or unfair to any and all, but that way lies theater. I don’t care about the theatrics, I want to know that the person who’s running the University of Iowa is qualified, and Harreld was not and is not qualified.
One of the great ironies about ‘business people’ is that the smart ones — the one who want to do business instead of just win — know that a liberal arts education is the cornerstone of long-term viability. You cannot succeed over time without understanding context. You can burn through cash and flog a stock and dupe your investors like Harreld did with Boston Market, but you cannot build a lasting business that mindset.
One minute you’re flying high, then the next minute you’ve lost your way and you’re committing fraud and conspiracy in order to hijack a billion-dollar research university for your own ends.
And yeah — for a guy steeped in business Harreld’s body language is horrendous. He goes from open during his initial talk to arms-folded and closed during the Q & A, and it’s almost instantaneous. This is not a guy who likes to be questioned about anything, unless he’s playing ‘teacher’.
So I know B R and J S know each other extensively as they are both in the same fraternity as I am.
What isn’t clear here is the endgame. Yes, the search was as rotten as anything you’ll see on The Walking Dead, but what is the great hammer that will drop. I have know doubt it wil, but what?
I’ve spent almost no time thinking about motive or objective. I honestly don’t care, because it gets in the way of understanding the crime. (At least for me.)
My gut tells me that this comes from a few men — and I think gender is important here — who simply could not get over a woman (Sally Mason) saying no to them. I don’t think they like hearing ‘no’ anyway, but plug a woman into the equation and I think that just sent them over the edge.
So when the time came to pack the office with one of their own, who would always take their calls and never say no to them, they went for it. And then I think it got a little more complicated and convoluted than it was supposed to get, until it morphed into full-blown fraud.
Which is why we just had the panic-move this past weekend of trotting out a brand-new origin story for Harreld, which in itself proves that at least three people were lying on the record in the past two months. It’s incredible, but it’s all right there. And the new story isn’t going to last either.
Every time I go to Nick’s site I learn something I didn’t know. Case in point, the sensible search for a president at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
While Harreld himself and every money-hungry business interest within a thousand miles is championing his appointment, one state over a university is able to remember that its core mission — its own, internal strength — is education. (How embarrassing is it that Iowa, the state most closely associated with education as a core value, has sold out completely?)
On the subject of J. Bruce Harreld saving IBM from itself, or turning it around, or somehow being the lynchpin in IBM’s evolution as a company, Nick observes:
Nick also points to a series of articles on the IBM’s history by Peter E. Greulich, and how Harreld does and does not factor in. Click the links to download Part I, Part II and Part III.
With Harreld there seems to be an almost innate tendency to deceive that is not befitting of the president of a major university. Among all the other obvious problems on his resume, he listed himself as the ‘Managing Principal’ of Executing Strategies, LLC, when he was in fact the sole employee. And yet the need to inflate, to ‘sell’ himself, fits perfectly with his own gross overstatements of his contributions to IBM’s recovery, and speaks volumes about his need to put ego and vanity before ethics and integrity.
It’s impossible to list, item by item, the damage that was done with Harreld’s hire, but here is a snapshot.
When the president of your university hands in a resume that would receive a failing grade in any course, is caught lying outright, participates in his own fraudulent hire and a massive cover-up to hide that fraud, then comes to you and tells you that he expects you to be on the up-and-up, you’re going to wink back. Even if he didn’t wink.
Every relationship has an origin story. Even today you know how you first met all of the people who are or have been important in your life. You know where your pets came from. You know how you learned of the house or apartment you live in. You know how you and your car got together, or your bicycle, or your skateboard.
Over billions of lives and lifetimes the permutations are endless, yet right now you can probably explain how every person and possession came into your life. Which is why it’s particularly odd that nobody including J. Bruce Harreld can explain how Harreld and the Iowa presidency found each other. But not for lack of trying.
The disclosure in the press this past Sunday of yet another previously unknown secret meeting between Harreld and members of the search committee, this one in early June, has done incredible damage to the credibility of almost every key player. Not only does the new origin story reveal prior versions of that story to be outright lies, the new story itself fails to hold up under even cursory scrutiny.
To see why, we’re going to document a series of facts then consider them from both a logical and common-sense perspective. It’s a given that we cannot account for all possible origin stories, but we can give more weight to the most probable. In doing so we will lean toward Occam’s Razor and away from the perpetrator’s premise that we must prove guilt beyond all possible doubt. We will even momentarily pull back from language itself, because if we’ve learned nothing else it’s that J. Bruce Harreld and his compatriots are professional-grade liars.
The following facts can be confirmed in the press or by using online resources.
1) In 1965, Jerre Stead receives his BBA from the University of Iowa. He will later become a major donor to the school.
2) In 1972, J. Bruce Harreld receives his Bachelors of Engineering from Purdue.
3) In 1991, J. Bruce Harreld receives the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from Purdue.
4) In 1993, Jerre Stead and J. Bruce Harreld do business together, marking the beginning of a relationship that will span more than 20 years to present day. (A social relationship may have existed as early as 1990.)
5) In 1997, J. Bruce Harreld is named one of that year’s Outstanding Industrial Engineers by Purdue. (Harreld’s resume incorrectly lists a Distinguished Industrial Engineer award.)
6) On 12/01/00, Jerre Stead becomes executive chairman of IHS, and later takes over as CEO. Stead takes IHS public in 2005, steps down as CEO in 2013, then returns as CEO in June of 2015. IHS is located in Denver, Colorado.
7) On 05/01/11, Bruce Rastetter is appointed to the Iowa Board of Regents by Governor Terry Branstad, whom Rastetter personally recruited to run for a fifth term. Rastetter is Branstad’s biggest donor and a ‘kingmaker’ in Iowa politics.
8) In January of 2013, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels becomes president of Purdue University.
9) On 01/05/14, for his work at IHS and for helping Colorado recover from severe flooding, Jerre Stead is named Business Person of the Year by the Denver Post, the state’s largest newspaper.
10) Sometime in 2014, and perhaps earlier, J. Bruce Harreld moves to Avon, Colorado, 100 miles due west of Denver on I-70. Harreld’s wife, an attorney, has a long history in the community.
11) On 01/15/15, Iowa President Sally Mason announces that she is retiring effective August 1st.
12) On 2/25/15, the Iowa Board of Regents’ search committee is announced by the University of Iowa. Among the members of the twenty-one person committee are: Regents President Bruce Rastetter; Search Chair Jean Robillard, vice-president for medical affairs at Iowa, who will become acting president from August 1st until November 2nd; and Jerre Stead. Peter Matthes, interim chief of staff and vice president for external affairs, serves as a committee staffer.
13) On 07/08/15, J. Bruce Harreld gives a presentation to 40 administrators at UIHC, followed by a “VIP lunch” with Rastetter, Robillard and two other search committee members — Sarah Gardial, dean of the college of business, and Christina Bohannan, president of the faculty senate. At the time neither Gardial nor Bohannan have seen Harreld’s name on any committee list.
14) On 07/30/15, Rastetter arranges for Harreld to meet secretly with four regents at Rastetter’s place of business in Ames. Two of the regents are on the search committee, two are not. The other four regents on the nine-member board will not learn of the meetings until after Harreld is elected.
15) On 09/03/15, the Iowa Board of Regents elects J. Bruce Harreld to be the next president of the University of Iowa. A unanimous vote is recorded by convention, but does not reflect the preference of all nine board members.
16) On 09/04/15, one day after the election, in a report on the KCRG website written by Gazette reporter Vanessa Miller, Jere Stead says that he first became aware of J. Bruce Harreld’s candidacy when he saw Harreld’s name on a list distributed to members of the search committee.
When Stead makes that statement he knows he is lying, and that he is using Miller, the Gazette, and any affiliated press to disseminate that lie. (See 21.)
17) In a 09/14/15 article by Eric Kelderman for the Chronicle of Higher Education, J. Bruce Harreld explains how he was first introduced to the search committee.
When J. Bruce Harreld makes that statement he knows he is lying, and that he is using the assembled press to disseminate that lie. (See 21.)
In the same Kelderman piece, Search Chair Jean Robillard makes a misleading assertion regarding J. Bruce Harreld’s status in the search:
When Jean Robillard makes that statement he knows that he is intentionally using the word ‘candidate’ to mislead Kelderman, and to use the Chronicle of Higher Education to disseminate that lie. (See 19 and 21.)
Jean Robillard and Mitch Daniels will both later confirm to Kelderman that Daniels initially “recommended” Harreld to the search committee. When Robillard makes that confirmation he knows that he is lying, and that he is using Kelderman to disseminate that lie. (See 21.)
In the same Kelderman/CHE piece, Robillard explains why he invited Harreld to the University of Iowa campus on July 8th.
When Robillard asserts that he cannot remember how he first heard of Harreld he knows he is lying, and that he is using Kelderman and the Chronicle of Higher Education to disseminate that lie.
When Robillard asserts that he invited Harreld solely on the basis of Harreld’s name or business reputation he also knows that he is lying, and that he is using Kelderman and the Chronicle of Higher Education to disseminate that lie. (See 21.)
18) On 09/16/15, in a Gazette article by Miller, search committee members Sarah Gardial and Christina Bohannan confirm that as of 07/08/15, J. Bruce Harreld was not on any candidate list seen by the search committee.
19) In a 09/16/15 article in the Press-Citizen by Charis-Carlson, UI spokesperson Jeneane Beck corrects the lie that Robillard told Kelderman on 09/14.
Beck does not explain how she knows Harreld was considering the position, nor does she correct Robillard’s lie that he did not recall how he learned of Harreld.
20) 0n 09/25/15, in an article by Charis-Carlson for the Press-Citizen, Bruce Rastetter is named as the person who initially recruited Harreld.
Rastetter does not indicate to Charis-Carlson how he initially learned of Harreld.
21) On 11/01/15, in separate interviews conducted with Miller of the Gazette and Charis-Carlson of the Press-Citizen, Harreld confirms that Rastetter was his initial contact regarding the Iowa job. From the Gazette:
In the the Press-Citizen, however, the initial point of contact is earlier:
In both articles a previously unknown meeting, arranged by Stead and involving Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes, is also disclosed. From the Gazette:
From the Press-Citizen:
From these reports the earliest established point of contact between any member of the search committee and J. Bruce Harreld now becomes “late spring”, meaning between about 05/15/15 and 06/15/15. From that single fact we can confirm the respective lies told to, and disseminated through, the press by Stead, Harreld and Robillard at 16, 17 and 18. (Analysis below.)
In the Press-Citizen Harreld also expands on his relationship with Stead:
In the Gazette Harreld also discloses prior business dealings and contact with just-retired Iowa President Sally Mason:
As noted there are myriad ways in which J. Bruce Harreld could have become aware that there was or soon would be an opening at the top of the University of Iowa. Were the people involved all of the highest personal integrity we might be able to wander down the plausibility road a bit, but, as just explained, Jerre Stead, J. Bruce Harreld and Jean Robillard must all be considered unreliable on the specific point of Harreld’s origin story, with Rastetter considered unreliable on every other point.
Specifically, from 13, 16 and 21 we know Stead is lying twice in this quote:
First, we now Stead is lying because Stead himself coordinated a meeting between Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes in early June — the arrangements for which were probably made weeks earlier. Yet in early June Gardial and Bohannan have not seen Harreld’s name on any committee list, which means Stead is talking to and arranging meetings for Harreld before Harreld is known to the committee. Second, Stead’s claim that he wanted to “vet him and make sure he was prepared and qualified for the job” is also a lie because Stead did that prior to setting up the meeting in early June, if not years or decades earlier as Harreld’s “mentor”.
From 13, 17 and 21 we know that Harreld is lying when he says the following:
Had Mitch Daniels introduced Harreld to the search committee then Daniels would have to be the person who, according to the latest origin story, prompted Rastetter to call Harreld “out of the blue” in late spring. And yet if that were the case then Harreld would have been on a committee list by the time the July 8th “VIP lunch” took place. Because Harreld was not on a committee list in early July, Daniels cannot have submitted Harreld’s name to the committee.
(It is possible that Daniels at one time believed he was the first person to mention Harreld’s name to the committee, or perhaps to Parker Executive Search. Given recent disclosures, however, that is obviously no longer the case, meaning whether Daniels was used as a front or not he is now also conspiring to keep quiet about how he came to think of Harreld for the Iowa job, when he submitted Harreld’s name, to whom Harreld’s name was submitted, as well as any other points of contact or discussions that Daniels may have had about Harreld.)
From 17, 18, 19 and 21 we know that Jean Robillard’s personal credibility has been destroyed. Simply by virtue of attending the secret meeting with Harreld in early June, every statement Robillard subsequently makes about the origins of his interest in Harreld, or the committee’s interest, is revealed to be a lie. Robillard may well have been spell-bound by Harreld’s personal charisma in early June, or by something that Harreld co-wrote while taking sole credit, but in all cases the initial impetus for Robillard’s interest in Harreld was the secret meeting set up by Stead. Unless of course there are even earlier points of contact that remain undisclosed.
Were that the extent of the lies we could simply note that in clarifying his origin story over this past weekend, J. Bruce Harreld has now proven that previous on-the-record comments by himself, Stead and Robillard were lies, and that each of those men knew they were lying when they spoke. As usual, however, there are also lies of omission to account for, and in that context the damage is equally crippling. Having already accounted for the voluminous lies of omission that allowed Rastetter, Robillard, and others to administer a fraudulent search and, in so doing, defraud the taxpayers of Iowa, we will now limit ourselves to one particularly egregious instance in which a group of people had the right to know — and Harreld, Stead, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes had an obligation to tell — about the secret meeting that Stead arranged on Harreld’s behalf in early June.
Previously, with regard to the relationship between Stead and Harreld, I said this about the happy reunion that must have taken place between them:
What I did not speculate about, but left implied, was that Stead and Harreld had an obligation to disclose any prior business or social relationship to the full search committee, as well as any recent contact. That’s particularly true regarding the “airport interviews” which took place on August 11th and 12th, when the two ostensibly met face-to-face for the first time in more than twenty years. Now, with the disclosure of the early June meeting arranged by Stead, an entirely different set of circumstances is in play regarding the “airport interviews”.
While the “airport interviews” took place in confidence, it must have been amazing for all of the other search committee members to learn, at that late date, not only that Harreld and Stead had a twenty-year relationship in which Harreld considered Stead a mentor, but that Stead took time out of his busy schedule to set up a secret meeting between Search Chair Jean Robillard, committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter, committee staffer Peter Matthes, and J. Bruce Harreld. I say it must have been amazing because the only alternative is that none of the people at that early June meeting disclosed that meeting to the full committee while Harreld was being interviewed — even though everyone was in the same room on both occasions. Because if such disclosures did not take place, that would indicate that all of those individuals were indeed conspiring to defraud the other candidates, the other members of the search committee, and the taxpayers of Iowa.
As for Harreld, not only does Stead lie to the press, twice, only one day after Harreld’s election, but the moment that quote is published President-elect Harreld knows that Stead is lying. Does Harreld remind Stead that Stead set up a secret meeting for him in early June, with two other members of the search committee, and a staffer on the committee? No, Harreld does not do that. Instead, after saying nothing about Stead’s lie for two months, Harreld unveils a whole new origin story that not only proves that Stead’s previous statements were lies, it also reveals that Harreld knew that Stead was lying at the time. As to why Harreld would present a new origin story which exposes his mentor and himself to both be liars, that will probably only be answered at the pointy end of an indictment, but it’s still an interesting question.
Occam’s Origin Story
Since we don’t have subpoena power here at Ditchwalk, we’re going to try a different approach to understanding the Harreld origin story, and we’re motivated to do so by two related problems. First, at least three of the key players are on the record not only conspiring to corrupt the search process, but specifically lying about Harreld’s origin story. Only Rastetter, with his claim that he was the person who recruited Harreld, so far remains unsullied on that point.
Second, as noted earlier, there are myriad ways in which Harreld could have become aware of the vacated presidency at Iowa. Since that uncertainty itself plays to the strengths of the disreputable people who have repeatedly deceived us, we are going to stop obligating ourselves to follow what have often been false and intentionally misleading statements, and instead step back and look at the big picture. In doing so we will momentarily leave the slippery slope of language behind so as to avoid being misled by words and the liars who wield them.
The simplest means of trying to understand Harreld’s origin story is to look for the most probable path by which information about the vacancy at Iowa could make its way to J. Bruce Harreld. In itself the answer to that question proves nothing, but if we tackle the most likely scenario first and come up empty, then we can move on to more convoluted solutions. (As has often been said with regard to Occam’s Razor, the practice of medicine and the need to diagnose patients, when you hear hoofbeats your first thought should be horses, not zebras.)
One thing we can say for sure about Harreld’s origin story is that he cannot have become aware of, or been made aware of, a job that did not yet exist. In order to learn about, or, as Harreld repeatedly professed in reports last weekend, to have knowledge of the Iowa job foisted on his completely disinterested mind, Sally Mason first had to decide to retire, then tell at least one other person that she had made that decision. From 11 above we also know that moment must have occurred at some point prior to the official announcement on 01/15/15.
I have no idea what traditional notice is for a retiring university president, but odds are that Mason had been thinking about retiring for some time before telling anyone that her decision was made. Once she did decide, and communicated that information to anyone other than family, we will assume that information was in play at both the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents. While nailing down the date when that happened could be resolved by asking Mason, for our purposes the specific date doesn’t actually matter, so we’ll say Mason gave two months’ notice, meaning the knowledge that she was leaving appeared in the universe on 11/15/14.
Prior to that moment, on 11/14/14, there is no information about the Iowa job to be conveyed between Iowa and Harreld. In that sense, if we pull way back and think of the Iowa universe as one set, and J. Bruce Harreld’s life as another set, we get this:
Yes, there are certainly common elements to both sets, and some inevitable overlap. For example, Harreld knows about Iowa as a school, and the main library at Iowa probably has something he’s co-written on file somewhere, albeit with an accurate citation. Still, if we assume that Mason has not yet told anyone about her desire to retire, there’s no way for that information to be exchanged.
The moment Mason’s retirement does exist in the Iowa universe, then, all we have to do is merge the two sets and see what the most likely pathway is for that information. And from 1-21 above we know that there is at least one common element of both sets that dates back over twenty years.
Even if you’ve never seen his picture before, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the man in the gold intersection between the Iowa universe and the Harreld universe is Jerre Stead. Yes, there are other common elements in the gold intersection, including Sally Mason of all people, but if we’re specifically asking which common member of both sets is most likely to convey the information of Sally Mason’s impending retirement to J. Bruce Harreld, in looking at 1-21 above I don’t think there’s any question that the answer is Jerre Stead.
From the moment Mason informs the Board of Regents of her impending retirement, of which Bruce Rastetter is the president, it’s entirely possible that the knowledge that Mason is going to retire reaches Jerre Stead in a matter of hours if not minutes. And as a big-money donor with a long history at the University of Iowa, there’s nothing wrong with that. Too, the transfer of information from Iowa to Stead does not mean that Stead has any immediate or direct contact with Harreld, yet given their long history and the fact that they’re both living on the same postage-stamp-sized patch of the planet that possibility cannot be ruled out.
In fact, assuming that Stead knows about Mason’s retirement as soon as Rastetter knows, that means Stead has to avoid telling Harreld about the Iowa job from 11/15/14 until “late spring”, when Rastetter now purportedly first makes contact, which we said was sometime between 05/15/15 and 06/15/15. During that six-to-seven-month span of silence in the Rockies, it’s particularly important that Stead not say anything about the opening at Iowa to Harreld prior to 02/25/15, when the search committee is announced. Because if Stead did talk to Harreld about the Iowa job prior to that date, that would mean that Harreld and Stead — with Rastetter’s help — really did conspire to fix the election with a done-deal search, which in turn defrauded the taxpayers of Iowa out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Because Jerre Stead is the most probable conduit for information exchange between Iowa and Harreld, you can see why Stead might want to disabuse people of that notion. And in the abstract there’s nothing wrong with the idea that Stead gave Harreld a heads-up about the opening at Iowa — provided, of course, that that’s all he did. Yet we know he did more for two completely different reasons unrelated to his later lies. First, because Stead was on the search committee, yet never seems to have notified the committee that he not only knew Harreld from twenty years back, but that he and Harreld were living and working in and around Denver in 2014 and 2015. Second, because Stead went out of his way to arrange a meeting between Harreld, Regents President Rastetter, Search Chair Robillard, and staffer Matthes.
In fact the evidence in favor of Stead being the go-between was apparently so compelling that Stead himself came right out the day after the election and put the kibosh on that idea. On the very question of whether Stead could have possibly been the person who let Harreld know about the opening at Iowa, Stead was incredibly specific in making sure that he was not that person:
Until this past weekend, as flimsy as that assertion may have seemed, it held up. Which meant that the above image was wrong. Stead might have been the most obvious conduit, but by his own testimony he was not the person who told Harreld about the Iowa job, which of course left a gaping hole in Harreld’s origin story. Fortunately, three different people quickly stepped up to explain that they were the person who brought Iowa and Harreld together, although in doing so all three somehow managed to tell mutually contradictory tales.
Rastetter said that he recruited Harreld. Robillard said, no, he recruited Harreld. And of course Harreld himself volunteered that Daniels initially brought Harreld to the attention of the search committee, at which point some unnamed person or persons from the committee then reached out to Harreld. And yet, as insane as all that is, there is in fact a single common aspect to every lie told.
All we have to do to make sense of all those completely contradictory origin stories is stop looking for one story that everyone agrees is correct and instead look for one narrative that everyone is desperately trying to prove wrong. And the moment we do that it’s blindingly clear what that narrative is. No matter how J. Bruce Harreld learned about the Iowa job, the one thing everyone agrees on — meaning Stead, Rastetter, Robillard, Harreld and, of all people, Purdue university President Mitch Daniels — is that Jerre Stead is not the guy who told Harreld about the opening.
One day after the election, Stead volunteers that he’s not the guy in an interview. A little latter Harreld fingers Daniels as the instigator, thus clearing Stead. Then Robillard steps up and takes responsibility, also clearing Stead. Then Rastetter cops to being the guy who recruited Harreld, again providing Stead with an alibi. In the entire Harreld narrative there has never been more agreement on a single point than the communal insistence that there is nothing to see here:
But it’s not just that Stead comes out a day after the election and says he’s not the conduit. Stead himself is so eager to show that he wasn’t the first person to recruit Harreld — or even talk to Harreld about the job — that only a day after Harreld is elected Stead lies about his relationship with Harreld, and in that moment he is fully aware that he is doing so. Why? What possible reason could Stead have for lying if in fact he really was not the person who first talked to Harreld about the Iowa job?
The only possible explanation for Stead’s lie is that he himself told Harreld about the Iowa job. And in less than two full months Stead’s lie has now been exposed by the new origin story that J. Bruce Harreld told in interviews this past weekend. The one goal that everyone agreed on — making sure that Stead wasn’t the person who talked to Harreld first — is actually undone by the new origin story, which again raises the question. Why is it so incredibly important that Jerre Stead not be the person who tells Harreld about the opening at Iowa? Why is that possibility such a nightmare for all involved, that they’re willing to expose themselves as liars to try to preclude that possibility? And yet incredibly, even though the new origin story has damaged all involved, and none more so than Stead, it still has a familiar ring.
The New Old Origin Story
The new origin story unveiled last weekend did not simply ‘correct’ prior statements, it revealed those statements to be false. More to the point, if the new story is true — and there is no good reason to believe that’s the case — why wasn’t it the truth on September 4th, when Stead lied to Vanessa Miller of the Gazette? Did they not want to disclose the early July meeting that Stead arranged, which Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes attended? If so, how telling is it that in having to choose between keeping that meeting secret and the mere possibility that Stead might be identified as the person who first told Harreld about the Iowa job, they were willing to divulge the meeting, while once again hewing to the same line about Stead?
That’s right. After laying waste to virtually ever other utterance on the subject, J. Bruce Harreld’s new narrative rises Stead-less from the ashes of all the former lies. Once again, no matter what else happened, Jerre Stead is absolutely positively not the person who first contacts J. Bruce Harreld about the Iowa job. Instead, it’s Rastetter, who seems to be the only person who can keep his story straight.
And yet the very fact that Rastetter is now purportedly the first person who reached out to Harreld raises the question of how Rastetter first learned of J. Bruce Harreld’s existence, let alone his availability. Which means, no matter how eager J. Bruce Harreld is to pitch a new version of his origin story — and no matter how wiling we are to believe the word of a man whose personal credibility was obliterated by the very utterance of that new origin story — there is still a missing connection.
Except there isn’t. All the new origin story does is put us right back where we started, which is wondering what the most probable connection is between Stead and Harreld, and that hasn’t changed. So if we’re mystified about how Rastetter came to call Harreld “out of the blue” we can only look around to see what the most obvious solution to that conundrum might be, and once again it’s Jerre Stead, and from 1-21 above we know it will always be Jerre Stead until proven otherwise.
As for Rastetter, the obvious questions are legion. How did he learn about Harreld? Why was he so enamored of Harreld for the Iowa job that he cold-called Harreld and asked him — begged him, really — to apply? How did he develop such a fervor for Harreld? Had he read some of Harreld’s writings — correctly attributed or not? Why did he think that a man with no prior experience in academic administration would be right for a position which that man had almost no chance of attaining? Even Harreld himself acknowledged that he needs remedial help, thus setting the school back while he learned on the job. And while we’re at it, how did Rastetter get Harreld’s phone number?
Like Harreld and Stead, Rastetter and Stead have a long history of staying in touch. So much so, in fact, that a week after Harreld shoots Rastetter down, Rastetter has Stead call Harreld to beg him to reconsider. And of course in early June there Rastetter is actually meeting with Harreld, after Stead arranges that gathering, which must have also involved a lot of phone calls — all of them specifically about Harreld. And of course there’s all the coordination involved with donating millions here and millions there. And yet if Rastetter was asked how he got Harreld’s number, I’m willing to be that he would be absolutely sure he didn’t get it from Jerre Stead.
So okay. Let’s play that game.
Imagine I’m J. Bruce Harreld, and you’re Bruce Rastetter, and you call me up “out of the blue” and ask that I — a man who has never even run a daycare — apply to become the president of the University of Iowa. After saying no ten thousand times, what’s the first question out of my mouth? Because if you don’t volunteer how you heard of me and came to give me a call — which you’re absolutely going to do in the first few minutes to keep from being hung up on — then I’m going to say something like, “How did you get my number?”, or, “May I ask how you heard of me?”
Somehow or other, in only a few moments I’m going to know the origin story of your interest in me or I’m hanging up. And then I’m calling whoever ratted me out to the rubes at the University of Iowa who are so desperate for a president that they would cold-call an unqualified, out of work business exec. Which means, even now — assuming that Rastetter did call before Stead, and was indeed the first point of contact with Harreld — that both Harreld and Rastetter know who brought them together. Yet despite the crippling revelations of this past weekend they’re still both unwilling to share that information with the public, which they would certainly do if it was anyone other than Jerre Stead.
Whether Harreld connects with the person who tipped Rastetter off or not, he’s also going to do at least one internet search about Iowa, and maybe about the search committee, at which point he’s going to stumble on Jerre Steed. We know that because Rastetter cold-calls Harreld in “late spring” months, after the committee was announced on 02/25/15. At which point Harreld will be shocked — shocked I tell you — to discover that his old friend and mentor of twenty-plus years is on that same committee.
In any case, imagine Harreld’s shock when he learns that his long-time mentor is not only on the Iowa search committee, but has also apparently owned a business in Denver for more than 14 years. Which of course means that J. Bruce Harreld also missed out on the fact that Jerre Stead was Business Person of the Year in 2013, and he never contacted Stead before that, or worked for him at IHS, even in some small consulting capacity. And of course nobody in Harreld’s family has any contact with Stead’s family, or does work for IHS, even in a consulting capacity. Because that would mean that when Harreld does take the call from Rastetter he probably already knows about the Iowa job.
Anyway…what a small world! In fact, so small, that there is no chance in hell that Harreld does not immediately reach out to Stead after Rastetter’s call, thus precluding the need for Stead to call him a week later and beg him to reconsider Rastetter’s completely absurd offer. Unless of course Stead has already talked to Harreld about the Iowa job before giving Rastetter the idea of contacting Harreld — which would make the latest origin story technically true, but also mean that Stead and Harreld were initially playing Rastetter. Or maybe all three of them talked about the possibility last December, and the new origin story is just as much of a lie as all the stories that have come before.
The real problem is that we’re not just wrestling with one origin story, we’re wrestling with two. The first one has to do with when Harreld and Stead make contact after Harreld moves to Denver. The second one concerns when Harreld learns about the Iowa job. Shockingly, the same people who have been lying about all this since day one are still insistent that Jerre Stead did not communicate with Harreld at all until after someone else contacted Harreld about the Iowa job. And yet there’s no evidence to support that assertion. In fact, if anything, given the credibility of those involved, the assumption has to be that Harreld and Stead did have prior contact until proven otherwise, which in turn might explain why everyone is so completely hysterical about trying to preclude that possibility by floating lie after lie.
Despite a new origin story every week, never does Harreld explain when he and Stead first discovered that they were both living and working in and around Denver. Harreld implies that he first heard of Stead being in Denver when he purportedly heard from Stead a week after Rastetter first made contact, but not only does he not state that factually, he doesn’t say he was surprised to learn that Stead was close by. He simply says that Stead called after Rastetter, which may again be factually true, but may also be an attempt to lead the conversation away from earlier contact with Stead. And again, given their long history, it’s hard to imagine that’s not the case.
So. Until proven otherwise, I think I’m looking at the real answer to the origin story about how J. Bruce Harreld learned about the Iowa job. And from all of the facts above that seems to make perfect and obvious sense.
Which means the only origin story left to tell is when Harreld and Stead got reacquainted, and when they first talked about the Iowa job. And I don’t think they’re going to answer those questions until they’re facing criminal charges.
I just read the article about Harreld’s meeting with the Presidential Committee of Athletics.
COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.
PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.
COURIC: Can you name any of them?
PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul;” G.W. “Dubya” Bush
Preznit Harreld needs different models from which source his quotations. It would also be to his benefit, when addressing a group of liberal arts PhDs, to pause, think, and then speak in complete, coherent sentences. In addition, he might wish to avoid the frequent use of the word “integrity,” as it serves as a constant reminder that his selection process was antithetical to the concept.
All of this is very good except for the part about Harreld being in or near Denver. Avon is a small rural community west of Denver. A surprisingly exhauasting 90 min drive and a large chunk of the Rocky mountains separate the two. I would venture that their socio-economic proximity was much more a factor than their physical proximity.
I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought Harreld was commuting on a daily basis. I’ve made that same drive a number of times and I know it’s a bear.
The Avon address has interested me since I first saw it on Harreld’s resume. Why Avon? You’re moving to the Rockies from the East Cost (Harvard/Boston), and you pick Avon? Why? I mean, obviously you can move anywhere you want, but what’s the attraction?
The most obvious answer is Denver. And that’s before factoring in family ties or business ties or anything else. Big city, big opportunities.
On the other hand, it’s also possible that that’s where Harreld wanted to retire. (He’s 64.) Or maybe he actually had retired before being recruited for the Iowa gig. From the Gazette last week:
Or maybe that’s a second home, or a fourth home, or an inter-generational vacation home — something in the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of Denver. (Given the other half-truths and falsehoods on Harreld’s resume, I’ve wondered if the Avon address was chosen precisely to distance Harreld from Denver proper.)
On the specifics of the location vis a vis his relationship with Stead, it would obviously be easy enough to make the trip into Denver for an important meeting. And IHS, and maybe even the extended Harreld clan, or old friends, could put Harreld up for a night or two if needed. Or perhaps arrangements could be made for the work week, before retiring to Avon for the weekend.
While there are a lot of unanswered questions, I think their physical proximity is not an accident or coincidence. Give the Harreld family’s long ties to the community, Stead’s prominence in Denver for more than a decade, and the more than twenty years that J. Bruce and Jerre have known each other, it’s virtually impossible to believe that they had no contact, including face-to-face interactions, in the year or two prior to the “late spring” phone call from Stead.
I have been looking at these connections and the timeline too. Have more work to do but:
1. Do not assume that the clock started with Mason’s official public notice of retirement. She was at least partially forced out.
Mason has not had contract for 3 years. She has been reprimanded and scolded for much of that time, really hard after Rastetter and Mulholland came on board 3-4 years ago. She was essentially treated like a misbehaving Kum and Go manager. The Board of Regents had reduced her to a rubber stamp. When Rastetter hatched his tuition plans, every other president fought it (UNI hard); Mason demurely accepted it with thoughts of a work around. When Ratetter came up with his redistribution plan of moving money to Iowa State, because they play ball with his corrupt schemes, Mason endorsed it (learned helplessness) to the chagrin of Iowa faculty. I say she as given an ultimatum which means Rastetter and the Board knew there was going to be an opening in July 2015. I think the clock started maybe July-August 2014.
2. Jerre Stead certainly coached J Bruce Harreld. They lived near other in Barington Il when Stead worked for Square D and NCR/ATT; Harreld worked for Kraft then that company was bought out. Interesting that Harreld taught for one year at the Kellogg School of Management, over in Evanston Il, Northwestern U. Guess who is on the board of Kellogg and has been for decades: Jerre Stead.
It is possible Stead coached Harreld into Kellogg, which is what friends do. (colleagues of Stead say he is an inspirational leader, who uses words like ‘coaching’)
Harreld became CEO of Boston CHICKEN, and networked with Stead again, likely in CO. Boston Chicken went IPO, Harreld then got a big gig at IBM. Stead of course went to Legant, Ingram Micro, and now IHS. BTW IHS is an intelligence/consulting CO firm of national reputation which Stead somehow leads from AR.
Harreld retires early from IBM (age 56 or 57, which is interesting), finds a teaching position at Harvard School of Management for 7 years or so.
Harreld leaves Harvard around Nov/Dec 2014, sells his 2.4 million dollar home in Cambridge MA, and heads out West again. https://www.therealreporter.com/pub/uploads/issues/TRRV6.28e_.pdf
Why did Harreld leave Harvard, in November (or did he)??? Academic years go from July to June. Why didn’t he transfer his consulting business to CO from MA. And did Stead once again coach him up to apply for the UIowa presidency? I kinda think Stead is a good mentor/coach who may have interacted with Harreld in Il alot. Both are Presbyterian Elders. Go to the same church at times?
Nothing wrong with this, until you get to the odd, twisted Iowa search.
Stead is still a busy man. Interesting that one CEO he seems to be fighting is a woman named Nancy Rizzo from AR. Stead was on her Corp board in AR where she is developing a medical system using goofy physics to diagnose illiness. However Stead is in court against her because he found out she falsified her CV! She lied about having a PhD in radio-logical biophysics. When Stead confronted her, she fired hi from the board leaving only herself, her MD brother, and interestingly enough, Roy Carver Jr. http://www.law360.com/articles/697053/epic-research-investors-claim-ceo-lied-about-credentials
The irony is delicious Stead in legally fighting thi women for falsifying her resume/CV yet supports Harreld who did the same sort of thing (admittedly Rizzo forged her PhD)
I agree that Mason’s departure date was probably known internally much earlier than two months before the announcement. The summer of 2014 wouldn’t surprise me at all, and would have given them that much more time to line up a candidate for their sham search.
I also agree that the regents abused Mason in almost serial fashion. I’m more than a little surprised, however, to find that Mason, Daniels and Harreld — who I have now come to think of as the ‘Purdue mafia’ — were so tight. Every time I turn around, somebody who looked squeaky clean suddenly has mud all over their shoes. And on their face.
It’s interesting how Harreld repeatedly employs the words ‘coach’ and ‘mentor’ in all kinds of contexts. That’s how he described the remedial instruction he himself will need simply to be an entry-level academic administrator, despite pulling down $4M over 5 years. And then he turns around and describes Stead as a ‘coach’ and ‘mentor’ — as if he doesn’t want to call Stead his ‘boss’ or ’employer’.
Which goes back to his use of the word ‘technically’ in the quote from last weekend, which is clearly an attempt to defuse the question from the open forum, where he asserted that he had never worked for anyone on the search committee. I think that was also an attempt to keep people from looking for other, much more recent instances when he worked for Stead.
Connecting the ludicrous dots between Stead and Carver is a big help, so thanks for that. There’s been a missing layer to all this from the beginning. Clearly big-money donors are involved, but how? Branstad turning his back on education and using Rastetter to do it may be an enduring stain on his legacy, but it is of a piece. So how does a man like Harreld suddenly enter the picture?
As absurd as it may be, the idea of competing donors trying to take control of the school fills that void. To rich people everything and everybody is just a chess piece, and I have no trouble imagining Stead and Carver or Pappajohn waging a behind-the-scenes campaign to gain control, perhaps with a behind-the-scenes deal (or two, or five) that profits Rastetter or Branstad.
Finally, thanks for the ‘falsified CV’ story. It made me laugh. I think we can all use a good laugh right about now.
Speaking of which….
JBH: “I’m all about the integrity and the academics.”
Makes me laugh every time I read it. And I’ll bet he said it with a straight face.
Kirkwood Community College is a state institution, but not a Regent institution. Who paid for the use of the Kirkwood facility for the secret June interview? Not everyone can book their conference room. If it is the Regents who booked it (and paid for it), then there is clear case of fraud. If it is a private individual who booked it and paid for it, then we have another piece of important information.
PS: who needs an Equal Opportunity process in the State of Iowa:
A very good point about Kirkwood, Dana.
There’s an almost lord-like aspect to Rastetter, where everything is really his property, no matter who owns it. I can see him pulling strings or simply announcing himself and requesting space.
And yet you’re right — they certainly have procedures in place, and people there would remember such ‘dignitaries’ suddenly descending on them.
I think a public records request from Kirkwood would bring in some very juicy information…
Interesting happenings at Univ Mizzou. Tim Wolfe, the former president (as of 120 minutes ago) was forced out when the economic clout of the football team (and black athletes) essentially boycotted, following a series of Govt and Administration incidents, missteps, and put-downs.
Mr Wolfe, born in Iowa City has an MBA from Harvard and worked for (gasp) IBM.
Comment in the New York Times today: “Tim Wolfe does not have a background in education. This is what happens when someone with a corporate mentality tries to run a university. “
The gut-level appeal of money is so pervasive in our culture that you could probably convince a percentage of the population that a Harvard MBA qualifies the holder to perform brain surgery.
By every measure Harreld was unqualified for the position, except for the fantasy of imagining him as a transformational leader. By every measure including business acumen the other three finalists were all entirely qualified. And yet here were are, with Harreld.
Universities are not plants and they are not businesses. They are cultures, just as families are cultures and houses of worship are cultures. Unless we’re willing to say that people should start monetizing their faith and their friends, the question of whether we should treat schools as profit centers is not simply moot but void.
Correction: Mr Wolfe does not have an MBA. He attended Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, which does not award degrees.
Thank you, Dana. I switched it to ‘mini-MBA’. And I guess that answers the question of why we’re paying so darn much for our unqualified Harvard grad. He went the full-MBA, and it cost us.
In a rapidly unfolding twenty-four-hour period the University of Missouri System president went from issuing press releases to resigning from his position. Several hours later the chancellor announced that he would resign by the end of the year.
While the subject of the controversy was race, the seeds of the Missouri president’s demise were planted when he was hired because he had no awareness of the cultural dynamics which lie at the heart of any college campus. Instead, he had a Harvard mini-MBA to lean on when it came time to defend the students on campus against bigotry, and apparently there’s no spreadsheet formula or flowchart for that.
That any university president could be so tone deaf is troubling, but all the more so given the proximity of the University of Missouri’s main campus to Ferguson. And yet somehow, repeatedly, the MBA-wielding president failed to understand that his job wasn’t just to pretty up the balance sheet, but to protect the lives of the students in his charge from physical and emotional harm.
Now, what’s truly fascinating about all this — beyond glaring parallels to the hiring of J. Bruce Harreld at the University of Iowa — is that in any business course one of the first things you learn is to watch out for hidden liabilities. Yes, that snazzy new sports car may attract a lot of attention, but it also costs a lot to maintain. Yes, that posh new house on Snob Knob may increase your social standing, but it also comes with hefty property taxes that your wealthy new friends are not going to pay.
Hiring someone into a job that they know almost nothing about may qualify as thinking outside the box, but so does playing Russian roulette in order to find out if your revolver is loaded. When you factor in all of the positives and negatives there may actually be a better, safer, more cost-effective way to get that job done.
Might an MBA (or even a mini-MBA) be useful as a tool for finding inefficiencies in higher education? Sure. Which is why you go out and find a couple of MBA’s who do consulting work, then pay them to tell you what to do. What you do not do is hire an MBA to do a bunch of things that that myopic degree does not address. Unless of course the only thing you actually care about is money, and as far as you’re concerned the students can rot.
Which brings us back to the University of Iowa and J. Bruce Harreld. I continue to be dumbfounded by the degree to which the students at Iowa, and particularly the welfare of the students in every regard, is not a part of the ongoing conversation. As I noted in an earlier post, the students at Iowa are already losing money twice because of the human liability that the Iowa Board of Regents is now buying for $4,000,000 over five years.
As the evolution of events in Missouri shows, however, it is not, ultimately, the faculty at Iowa that will determine whether Harreld succeeds, it is the students. And while race is not a simmering issue at Iowa, alcohol abuse and sexual assault are front and center, and hiring J. Bruce Harreld did nothing but make Iowa students less safe in both regards.
At some point those cultural issues are going to start simmering if they aren’t already, and the students — rightly — are going to hold someone accountable. And the N-O man they’re going to target is the new Iowa president, who, in 2015, proposed recruiting the football team to keep people safe from campus sexual assault. And no, I’m not joking.
The secret meeting that occurred in early June between Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes, which was arranged by Jerre Stead, took place at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. As was noted in the comments, Kirkwood is not a regents’ school, raising questions about why it was chosen and how arrangements were made.
Who booked the conference room? If there was a charge, who paid for it, and how? Did anyone submit receipts for travel reimbursement on that day? (I don’t know if Stead has ties to Kirkwood, so maybe one of the four attendees — or perhaps an unknown party — handled the specifics.)
As to the location, if you’re not familiar with Cedar Rapids, the Kirkwood campus is only minutes away from the Cedar Rapids airport (which is officially called the Eastern Iowa Airport). Given that the meeting was ostensibly an attempt to sell Harreld on applying for the Iowa job, the fact that Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes did not want to show Harreld the Iowa campus seems more than a little odd. Why fly all the way to Iowa from — apparently — Denver, then meet by the airport? You could either have that same conversation over the phone, or more profitably woo your star candidate by giving him a tour and a “VIP lunch”, which is of course what happens a month later, on July 8th.
The only real advantage to the Kirkwood campus is that it’s almost on top of the airport, so someone looking to get in and out would face minimal delays. Then again, although there are regular flights to and from Cedar Rapids, it would probably be difficult to book a flight into CR for a meeting, then immediately grab a return flight without waiting an hour or two at minimum. And that’s assuming the flights were all on time.
Unless…you had your own jet waiting for you. Or perhaps one owned by Regents President Bruce Rastetter, or one belonging to former search committee member and twenty-year coach and mentor Jerre Stead. Because if that was the case — as was pointed out to me, you could probably fly to CR from Denver in less time than it would take you to drive from Iowa City to Des Moines. And of course you wouldn’t have to worry about how long the meeting ran because your pilot and co-pilot would be standing by.
As a practical matter, since it might be difficult to track down a private jet, let alone its flight logs, and the owner of said jet might not want to comment, the simplest solution to finding out exactly how J. Bruce Harreld got to that secret meeting in early June would be to ask him. If he took a commercial carrier that should be easy enough to recall and document, and of course if he flew on a private jet that’s probably something he won’t have any trouble remembering, along with whose plane it was.
And of course now that the possibility has been raised, it might also be worthwhile to ask Harreld about the secret meetings he had on July 30th, with four regents at Rastetter’s place of business in Ames. How did he arrive for those meetings, and when and how did he depart for home after dining with ISU President Steven Leath?
Again, if the purpose of the early June meeting truly was wooing Harreld as a candidate — and as of the interviews published on 11/01/15 that is J. Bruce Harreld’s firm assertion — it’s fair to wonder why three heavyweights from the search committee decided to show Harreld the inside of a school that he wouldn’t be calling home. Unless, as speculated elsewhere, the early June meeting was not about enlisting Harreld as a candidate, but about gaming out the means by which he would become president in the next three months.
Many years ago, when I was working in the interactive industry, I ran into an intractable problem. No matter how hard I tried to explain my ideas for deriving emotional involvement from interactive entertainment, I could never really connect. After several years and many attempts, I finally realized that the problem was not my explanation, but the fact that the people on the receiving end simply didn’t have the necessary receptors.
It’s a problem that writers and particularly storytellers have long faced. If you don’t know how stories are told — how specific techniques can create specific effects — then you’re limited to understanding, and perhaps only perceiving, the effects. You know when you feel tension in a story, but not why. You ascribe meaning to an action scene or a psychological duel of wits, yet remain oblivious to all of the preparation that breathed life into those moments.
Last night, in thinking about the fate of the Harvard mini-MBA who just resigned as the president of the University of Missouri system, and about the Harvard MBA that the Iowa Board of Regents fraudulently hired to run the University of Iowa, I realized that the same dynamics are in play. While business people are always squawking that everyone else needs to think outside the box, by virtue of having turned to something other than money to define the meaning in their lives everyone else is already outside the box. It’s not that everyone else is missing the receptors for the business message, it’s that the business people are missing the receptors for a message that everyone else learned by the age of twelve.
The path to money is well worn. There is no student at any institution of higher learning who does not know how to make the most money possible over the average span of a human life. If you’re a gambler you skip school altogether and go to Silicon Valley or Wall St., then do whatever you have to — legal or illegal — to make your number. If you like a steadier pace with less exposure to the criminal justice system, then you get a law degree or a medical degree or an MBA and grind out however many millions you need to be happy. Or at least not miserable.
While business people often enjoy making fun of people who devote their lives to art — unless of course those arty types are also rich benefactors — there are no people in the arts who were unaware of how that career path would affect them economically. Across the entire spectrum of humanity there is no epidemic of ignorance that business needs to counter by convincing people to focus solely on profit or loss. In fact, given how easy it was for business people to delude themselves that J. Bruce Harreld was anything other than a criminally unqualified candidate, it seems fair to conclude that if any group is suffering from an epidemic of ignorance it’s the people who believe the bottom line is the only line.
At the University of Iowa it’s not the academics who don’t understand the complex system that is any institution of higher learning, it’s the bean counters — the people who see only through the lens of business. And now, today, even after the events in Missouri, I’m sure those same bean counters still don’t understand the fundamental problem with J. Bruce Harreld. Because if you haven’t gotten the message that there’s more to life than money by the time you’re helping to fraudulently elect university presidents, chances are you’re never going to get it.
Which brings us to the always exciting subject of thinking outside the box. I first heard that phrase in my early twenties, when I was — for some inexplicable reason — watching an interview with former GE CEO Jack Welch. Suddenly, out popped this apparently common metaphor, yet I had no idea what it meant. What was this box?
I soon learned that the ‘box’ was conventional thinking. It took me decades more, however, to realized that when business people talked about thinking outside the box they were doing so only in the narrowest sense. Thinking outside the box in business didn’t mean you should see past profit and loss to the things that really matter in life, it meant you should think outside the conventional business models because that’s how you can really make out like a bandit.
Speaking of which, throughout history one group in particular has always excelled at making money by thinking outside the box. You and I, in our impoverished understanding of the complex dynamics driving business success, would call those people ‘criminals’ or ‘thieves’. Enlightened business people, on the other hand, quite often see these future and even current felons as wealth-building visionaries — at least in terms of building their own person wealth at other people’s expense. Unless of course those enlightened business people get ripped off themselves, at which point you will never hear the end of the outrage.
Which brings us back to the central question. When hiring the president of a university do you actually need to think outside the box, or is the right move — the smart move, the wise move — hiring someone who is actually qualified for the position? Because if you do that and cover all the obvious bases, you can always bring in a couple of MBA consultants to deal with the other stuff. On the other hand, if you hire an MBA or even a mini-MBA to deal with everything a university president is already supposed to understand, you’re not going to be able to hire consultants to tell that person how to do those other things.. Yes, as a workaround you could assign all of those president-level tasks to underlings, but then you would be paying your president $4,000,000 to do nothing, which would be stupid.
You know who really thinks outside the box? People like teachers at all levels of education, who long ago decided that whatever they could do to maximize their own earnings was less important than contributing to society and culture. Do you think the business visionaries who invented CDO’s ever thought about that? No, they thought about making themselves stinking rich by ripping people off. Which is exactly what the bright lights behind the mortgage crisis were thinking — many of whom had MBA’s, including MBA’s from Harvard.
When you get right down to it, the pursuit of wealth seems to be the one box that human beings struggle to break out of the most. That is in fact a big reason why it’s so hard to interest some people in vague concepts like honesty, credibility and personal integrity. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just stand back and look at the main players in the Harreld hire and you will see that all of them eagerly shredded their own personal credibility in order to engineer Harreld’s fraudulent appointment. And because dong so apparently profited them in some narrow, self-serving, underhanded way, they didn’t give a second’s thought to the fact that Harreld’s hire left the University of Iowa ethically rudderless and massively exposed.
In only his second week on the job, J. Bruce Harreld found himself making the media rounds amid a confluence of events that no one could have possibly anticipated. As a result, instead of basking in the glory of his over-inflated business savvy, Harreld was reduced to answering naggy questions about cultural issues that have nothing to do with running a university like a business. Unfortunately, because a Harvard MBA doesn’t automatically convey decades of experience in all known professions, J. Bruce Harreld had to fall back on his nonexistent experience in academic administration in order to reply. Fortunately, nobody noticed.
As regular readers know, my own immediate antipathy to Harreld’s election hinged on the fact that he knew nothing about the job he had just been hired to do. In fact, Harreld acknowledged as much by admitting he would have to be mentored and coached in order to know what academic administration was all about. To my backward way of thinking — and at the time knowing nothing about the blatant fraud that would later be revealed — that meant J. Bruce Harreld’s election by the Iowa Board of Regents was, at best, a reckless hire.
On Tuesday, along with taping an appearance on Iowa Press that will air later this week, Harreld spoke with a number of media outlets. With Missouri still reverberating to the south, and Harreld’s glaring lack of administrative experience in higher education (or any kind of education) still very much to the fore, there were bound to be questions about issues that weren’t covered at Harvard’s business school. Which is how a man with no experience in academic administration at any level, who is fundamentally unqualified to talk about the culture at any school, suddenly got religion on the subject of culture at the University of Iowa.
From the lede in the Des Moines Register:
So what is Harreld’s plan?
So: look toward the future, not the past. That’s what $4,000,000 over five years buys you in today’s guru market.
On the subject of campus sexual assault, Harreld expanded on his plan to post football players as guards when they’re not on the field.
Now, I don’t have a Harvard MBA, and I didn’t single-handedly save IBM from catastrophe, but it seems to me that J Bruce Harreld’s plan for combating campus sexual assault is short on specifics. Leaving aside whether Harreld even asked the football team if they wanted to be turned into a political football before volunteering them into that role, how would his plan work? And how would the players feel about risking significant injury while enriching the school during the day, then turning around and moonlighting as a security force at night? Because I’m assuming they would be doing all of that for zero compensation in order to avoid NCAA violations, while the deficient president who came up with the idea would be banking more than three-quarters of a million dollars for the year.
Fortuitously, Harreld was asked to expand on his novel approach:
So: do “everything”, and “more and more and more”.
From the Gazette:
So: when the new president of the university proposed that the football team tackle the scourge of campus sexual assault, the players started at him. (For once I find Harreld’s description entirely believable.)
The Importance of Communication
Regarding the resignation earlier this week of the president of the University of Missouri system, Harreld was uncharacteristically demure.
For context, here are the two populations that do not understand what just happened at the University of Missouri:
1) 37.2% of children under the age of nine.
2) J. Bruce Harreld.
On changing the culture at Iowa:
Now, I’m not sure that “more money” equals a “change in culture”, but then again I’m not from the rich side of the tracks. So maybe Harreld is onto something here. If you want to make everyone happy, give them bags of cash. (It certainly seems to have worked in his case.)
On the other hand, if you’re a member of the faculty or staff and you’re not just looking for another $96.27 each month after taxes, what’s your confidence level in J. Bruce Harreld’s leadership? Even if you’re willing to look past the incompetence and the lies, how sure are you that this man has the stuff — not just the wattage, but the moxie, the guts — to do this job? Because based on this week’s media appearances J. Bruce Harreld seems to be waiting for some future version of himself to arrive, perhaps after all the seasoning, mentoring and coaching he needs in order to actually do the job. And by “do the job” I mean be the president of a billion-dollar research university with 30,000 students and 1,400 faculty and untold staff, as opposed to simply being the lackey of the corrupt individuals who greased his appointment with secret meetings, “VIP lunches”, and a phone call from the governor, which no other candidate received.
Hopefully, at the mid-point of J. Bruce Harreld’s second week it is finally dawning on the man that the issues he’s now dealing with are the job. Because what he may have thought of as a cushy long-term consulting gig for a semi-retired business exec is in fact a twenty-four-hour obligation to keep the lid on. Press releases touting honesty and integrity that he himself cannot and has not demonstrated don’t cut the rapidly spoiling mustard. Breezy platitudes to the press also don’t cut it — particularly after Harreld and the cabal that hired him have already lied to the press so many times nobody can keep track.
Which may be why J. Bruce Harreld is now being pressed to stop the carefully managed media tour and the private meetings and start doing his job:
The 97% of respondents who said that Harreld wasn’t qualified on the eve of his election did not simply disappear. And given Harreld’s own lack of ethics prior to taking office I’m not sure that number is ever going to change that much. Yes, Harreld can buy people off, at least enough so they’ll sit on their hands while he puts somebody else out on the street, but even given five years I don’t see him earning the trust of a community — a culture — that he himself violated.
Listening and Being Available
Because J. Bruce Harrreld doesn’t know what to think about what happened in Missouri, here’s some sage advice via the Chronicle of Higher Education:
It wasn’t too long ago that Regents President Rastetter couldn’t stop telling everyone that Iowa was stuck in the status quo and desperately needed transformational change. Well, what happened at Missouri is a businessman’s vision of transformaitonal change: cutting out the heart of a university community and selling it for peanuts. If Harreld wants a culture war all he has to do is listen to his minders at the regents.
Assuming that his bureaucratic lizard brain is a little more self-aware, here’s more advice, yet the same advice:
Talking with students and other members of the university community, every day if need be, is not part of the job, it is the job. Everything else gets done in the margins. Does J. Bruce Harreld understand that? No, he doesn’t, and I’m not sure he ever will.
From an interview with Harreld on the regent-owned Iowa Public Radio, on Wednesday morning:
Like the mysterious, never-produced throngs of faculty who supported Rastetter’s fraudulent hiring process, J. Bruce Harreld — a man who was actually censured by the faculty before taking office — now says he’s getting “an outpouring” of support. Meaning either that J. Bruce Harreld is lying about that support, which would be perfectly in keeping with his track record, or the people who are telling J. Bruce Harreld that they support him are lying, which would be perfectly in keeping with what he deserves.
As for telling those who are “upset” that it’s time “to move on”, what J. Bruce Harreld doesn’t seem to understand — perhaps because he has no experience in academic administration — is that he doesn’t get to decide when the university moves on from anything. Just as the now-disgraced former university president in Missouri did not get to decide when that school was going to move on from concerns about racism.
Dealing with the students and faculty isn’t something Harreld gets to do when it fits his schedule, it’s his job. All day, every day, for the next five years. But he should know that, because his old dinner buddy, ISU President Steven Leath, spelled that out for him over three months ago:
Fully engaged. Not hiding. Not talking to the press through friendly media outlets like Iowa Public Radio. Stepping up, taking the heat, and doing it day after day because he is the one who insulted the University of Iowa and its culture. If J. Bruce Harreld wants to build something — if he truly has the stomach for it — then he’s going to have to stand front and center and answer questions that he himself prompted through unethical, unprincipled, and intentionally deceptive conduct.
I don’t have an MBA, I never sat in on an MBA course, in fact I am a business idiot. But here are a couple takes:
– A friend of mine, a nurse who is getting swamped with patients and paperwork, said the administrator announced the problems were solved — they had hired 4 new people ALL ADMINISTRATORS. Apparently the people who do the real work in this clinic were stunned senseless. That is unless MBAs now take blood pressures and give shots.
– Notice how MBA programs proliferated as MS Powerpoint developed? Just as in the old days when an expert was ‘an outta town guy with slides’ , the major accomplishment in MBA school is to learn to give a ppt presentation. And to learn to say the least with the prettiest slides.
Only joking (smirk)
I note Harreld in his first 10 days as you alluded pontificated… “The new University of Iowa president says the school must be willing to change what are viewed as its strengths in order to remain successful and competitive.”
Wouldn’t an observant MBA object with “but success is mining your core strengths, isn’t it?”
1. What are these strengths at Iowa? Writers Workshop? Nursing? Genetics? Pharmacology? Law? Hydraulics? Speech? Partying? Krislov could have been much better at enumerating this list than Harreld.
And what do we alter for new strengths? Do we become Bruce Rastetter’s new mafia for land swindles in Africa? Do we dump annoying writers classes for more bold online courses on coding HTML?
2. What is the competition? Is Duke putting up billboards on I-80 near West Branch? Is Parsons College resurrecting to become the dominant MBA in southeast Iowa? OMG! Sharia Law School at Coe?
Seems to me that innovation rarely comes from MBAs. People like Tesla, Edison, Touring, Jobs, Newton, Van Allen, Noyce (from Burlington Iowa, co-founder of Intel), none of whom graduated from mini-MBA school.
You can talk outside the box all you want but i doubt the engineers, scientists, geneticists, writers, artists, and designers who are really creative talk either inside or outside the box. Hell they don’t even know what the box is..too busy thinking weird eccentric thoughts prolly considered nuts but other people.
Like a commentator on CNBC said this morning ‘American don’t need no more worthless liberal arts degrees’. That is thinking way outside the box, like thinking in a cesspool outside the box.
You know how to be successful if youre not innovative? You think way out of the box: You buy other companies, or you invade Poland and France.
I think hospital administration must be a bear, but as with academic administration the moment you lose sight of the patients (students) you’re finished as a human being. You may make a lot of money, you may be a big success in many people’s eyes, but your humanity died.
I read that same “change your strengths” quote. What can you say?
Actually, for anyone else who missed it, this is the perfect rejoinder.
I don’t have anything against the MBA per se. As with everything it’s the application that matters. Unfortunately, in this hire, with all of Harreld’s deficits, it’s completely wasted. To whatever degree he might have some insight from that point of view, his inability to lead — even to answer basic questions about his own hire — dooms him. And everybody should have known that in advance.
It’s funny you said this:
Once I realized what ‘thinking outside the box’ meant, I realized I had never had that problem. In fact, more the reverse. 🙂
Steve Bollinger says
Harreld is correct when he states that he is seeing great support. What he omits is that this support comes from the business community; local, regional and state wide. He’s already on board for some Corridor business group leadership.
Sadly independent business consulting is his old gig, not his current one. I keep waiting for state media to pursue this and shine a light on the underhanded way the a Regents work but that appears to be a pipe dream.
Yeah, I read about the corridor thing. Including somebody in the local business community who was dying to gain access to Harreld’s network of contacts. Still, I’m sure J. Bruce will fit in a little education here and there, as long as it supplies able-bodied and compliantly indoctrinated workers for commerce’s pressing needs.
I think the press has done a good job staying with the story, although the editorial boards should have weighed in again after some of the recent disclosures. There has been noting but validation after validation of impropriety. What was suspected is now proven, if not worse.
My biggest concern is that there’s not a whisper of any kind of investigation from the attorney general’s office. Not even basic questions are being asked, which suggests to me a collapse of state government controls. There simply are no penalties for abuses of power or corruption. (See also the six-figure ISU job that Rastetter just gave to a retiring political crony. No job search, no advertising — just a bag of state money for being a good boy.)
A couple of weeks ago I ran across a University of Iowa press release which, after some deliberation, I decided not to highlight. The subject seemed inevitable in a procedural sense, the press release itself was pro forma, and reading between the lines I thought — because I am, as ever, horribly naive about such things — that perhaps I detected an attempt to withdraw from the spotlight.
A few days ago, however, a guest column appeared on the Gazette website, and while reading it I found myself not only revisiting my previous decision about the UI press release, but confused about why that particular column had appeared at that time. It not only seemed counterproductive on multiple fronts — by which I mean counterproductive to the aims of the people who engineered the fraudulent appointment of J. Bruce Harreld — but it seemed out of phase in the context of explosive revelations about Harreld’s perpetually shadowy origin story.
After thinking about the guest column for the past few days I’m not sure I’m any closer to understanding what it means, but I think it’s worth unpacking my confusion in case anyone else has some insight. One thing I am sure of is that the issue raised in the guest column was originally floated at the beginning of October, and entirely discredited shortly thereafter.
Jean Robillard Rides Again
The press release which I ignored several weeks ago was a thank-you note from Jean Robillard, vice-president for medical affairs, as he relinquished the title of interim president. That is of course the manner in which bureaucracies present information to the world, and Robillard did need to step down to make way for Harreld, so in then end there was really nothing to say. Yes, I could have picked at it or used the notice to remind people that Robillard was up to his gills in the fraud that delivered Harreld to Iowa, but in my mind I saw the text as a kind of departure, albeit one in which Robillard was leaving a great deal of damage behind.
Three days ago, however, on November 9th, a guest column written by a man named Tim Terry appeared under an odd headline. Or at least an odd headline to anyone who has been closely following the unraveling web of deception that brought Harreld to power. The headline read: “UI rift isn’t Harreld’s to repair”.
Now, I don’t know what your reaction is to those six words, but mine was disbelief. I mean, if it’s not Harreld’s job — as the new president — to repair the damage already done, then whose job is it? While I know guest columnists don’t usually get to write their own headlines, still, that headline meant the guest columnist was in some way absolving Harreld of responsibility, and at the very least I found that a novel idea.
With apologies to the Gazette regarding fair use, I am going to step through the entire Terry column in order to show how a presumably good man can be led astray by a demonstrably dishonest man. Too, while I don’t usually comment about guest opinions or letters to the editor, in this case Terry himself asserts a connection to Jean Robillard, and in that sense is related by proxy to the events surrounding Harreld’s fraudulent hire. My inclination is to believe that Terry was duped, as many good people have been in this debacle, but in that possibility we also see the portent of a considerably greater risk to the University of Iowa itself.
Here is the first graph of Terry’s piece:
Okay, that’s a very promising start. As you know if you’ve been reading Ditchwalk on the Harreld hire, the key to understanding what really happened is not simply looking at what people did wrong, but also looking at what didn’t happen that should have. It’s not just the lies and crimes of commission that matter, but the lies and crimes of omission. So yes — not only are full-blown lies a problem, but so are half-truths.
Again, completely agree. When you look at the damage already done, to say nothing of ongoing investigations, as well as investigations that we may not know about or that may be launched down the road, it’s absolutely incredible that any of this was allowed to happen. Whether resulting from vice or stupidity, or, more likely, a toxic mix, everyone who should have been protecting the prestige and reputation of the university seems to have been determined to destroy it.
Now, when I first read the Terry op-ed I thought maybe it had been written earlier — perhaps on the order of weeks — for reasons that will soon be made clear. But the fact that Terry mentions the previous weekend’s news story about Harreld means even if the Gazette did hold his op-ed it was only for a few days. And that presents us with a second problem, which in turn leads back to the press release.
The first problem, however, is the assertion that Harreld’s reported disinterest in the Iowa position required aggressive pursuit on the part of Rastetter. As regular readers know, that is in fact Rastetter’s own disigenuous contention: that Rastetter was obligated as both a member of the search committee and the president of the board of regents to do everything possible to land the best recruits, including attending secret meetings arranged by Jerre Stead. Because as a factual matter, that’s not true. Rastetter was ethically and professionally obligated to ensure a fair search, and at no time did he do that.
Still, Terry is calling out Rastetter for a lack of veracity, so I’m with him on that.
I agree that Harreld is obligated to rebuild trust with the UI community, and that doing so is going to be unbelievably difficult. Terry’s mention of the UI Foundation is particularly interesting, however, because other than passing mention I haven’t really thought about the scandal’s impact on fundraising. Yet here we also clearly see Terry’s interest, as noted in his bio at the end of the piece:
Obviously I think the whole UNESCO thing is a big plus for Terry, but that’s me being a sap for writers and literature. Given that he knows his way around money, however, and particularly fundraising, it seems obvious that the fraudulent Harreld hire might make for some difficult phone calls. Who wants to call someone up and ask the for fifty bucks, let alone fifty million, only to hear a bunch of shrieking on the other end? “What the hell are you people doing out there!” “Have you all lost your minds!” And those are probably tame examples of what the UI Foundation is hearing these days. (You know, when they’re not all thrilled to have J. Bruce Harreld aboard, who himself knows absolutely nothing about fundraising.)
Back to the next graph in the column:
Now here things get a little squishy. Again, if you’ve followed the Harreld hire at all you’ve heard this argument before. Things are so bad in higher ed that we had to hire an unqualified carpetbagging dilettante to save the university from itself. Not true, but the lie has been in play for some time, particularly in service of allowing business people to suck on yet another government teat.
My problem was that I couldn’t see how Terry got to that conclusion by himself. I mean, he’s obviously reading the news, but how does he connect those dots? And how does he conclude that the real problem with the election was not wanton fraud in the hiring process, but a communication problem about the position description?
I agree that the decision came as a shock, but the shock was not the result of a communication problem. The Iowa Board of Regents could have hired anyone they wanted, including J. Bruce Harreld, without incurring the cost of a sham search. By conducting a search premised on shared governance, then abandoning shared governance at the last minute, an act of betrayal was committed. It’s not that people were confused, it’s that people were lied to, serially, during the search and selection process. Harreld’s election simply revealed the deceit.
Again, don’t really disagree, but the shading is still there. It’s not that five of the regents and the governor “appear to have lacked integrity with the process”, it’s that those people and others fixed the election of J. Bruce Harreld. And yes, there was a lot of dignity denying going on, but from where I sit there was also a lot of criminal defrauding going on. This was not simply a bureaucratic bungle, and it’s not clear why Terry is framing J. Bruce Harrled’s election in that way.
Okay, now it’s clear. Unfortunately for Tim Terry, he sought information from the one person most likely to lie to his face about what went wrong during the search. Because as Terry notes, Robillard was the chair of the search committee. What Terry probably does not know, however, is that as chair of the search committee Robillard himself administered a fraudulent search process in order to guarantee that J. Bruce Harreld would be one of the four finalists sent to the Board of Regents.
You can also now see why I thought maybe this guest column was older than it was. As detailed on Ditchwalk over a month ago, the idea that any problems with the search had to do with whether it was open or closed was entirely discredited. And yet here Robillard is, clearly using Terry to peddle a specious argument that not only has no merit, but which is in turn being used to distract from the fact that Jean Robillard was one of the key co-conspirators who engineered Harreld’s fraudulent election.
Yes, a closed process would have protected the dignity of a number of individuals, but every person whose dignity was protected would have necessarily been one of the people who fixed the election. There are no innocent people who were injured in any way by the openness of the search. The only people who have been injured are those who conspired against fairness in the search process, which is to say that they were injured by their own hand. If those self-inflicted wounds qualify as indignities then they are indignities richly deserved.
Terry closes with this:
Knowing that Terry has been led astray by Robillard makes it easier to understand how he arrives at his conclusion. Harreld is not only not an innocent, but at $4,000,000 over five years it is entirely his responsibility to repair the damage that a small cabal of co-conspirators wreaked within the university community. The only steps that Branstad or Rastetter could take to start the healing process would be to resign, but short of criminal indictments that’s clearly not going to happen — and probably not even then.
I do agree, however, that there is “no room for half-truths in a relationship that depends on mutual trust”, which is why we’re now going to do something I should have done a long time ago. We’re going to take a closer look at Jean Robillard, and in so doing consider the ways in which the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics have been left exposed by Robillard’s duplicitous conduct. As for Terry, I think he and anyone associated with the UI Foundation might want to spend some time catching up on the actual facts of the Harreld hire, so as to avoid being taken advantage of in the future.
Jean Robillard, Interim President
Along with the need to reassess Robillard’s involvement in the Harreld hire, given Terry’s op-end, I know I also made two early mistakes about Robillard. First, by chance I initially called him the ‘acting’ president of the university instead of using the ‘interim’ title. That led to all sorts of capitalization hijinx and style-guide abuses, which probably made some people crazy, but hopefully no permanent harm was done. I also mistakenly thought that Robillard became interim president much sooner, so there are some early posts — particularly about Harreld’s appearance in Iowa City on July 8th — where that needs fixing.
To recap, on 01/15/15, Sally Mason announces her retirement effective 08/01/15. The search and selection committee, which was put in motion by Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter, is announced on 02/25/15. Among the members of the twenty-one person committee are Rastetter, and Robillard serving as chair. On 03/25/15 it is reported that Robillard will also probably become the interim president until the new president is ready to take office.
On 04/25/15, like monthly clockwork, it is announced that Robillard will indeed become the interim president effective 08/01/15. Rastetter, who oversaw the appointment of Robillard as interim president, and appointed him chair of the search committee, takes time out of his busy schedule to acknowledge that Robillard is a super-great guy for not billing for the massive amount of unchecked power that he had just been handed by Rastetter:
We’ll talk more in a moment about what a terrific individual Jean Robillard is, but for now, more dry facts. As noted above, Robillard’s day job was and still is being the vice-president for medical affairs. Because I’d never heard of Robillard until a couple of months ago, and because I didn’t really care about the leadership structure at the university — meaning both on the east side of the river and at UIHC on the west side — I wrongly assumed from the ‘vice-president’ designation that Robillard was second in command to the CEO at UHIC. I now think I was also wrong about that.
If you look at this page you’ll see that Robillard occupies the coveted upper-left spot. Two slots to the right you’ll find Kenneth P. Kates, who is listed as both the CEO and the associate vice president at UIHC. Now, because UIHC is a teaching hospital and a very big one, it makes sense that a physician like Robillard would be senior to the business person handling all the paperwork and marketing and such. Unfortunately, that also means Kates is in no position to go to Robillard and tell him to stop drawing attention to the fact that he, Robillard, fixed the Harreld election. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
On 06/05/15, Robillard, in his capacity as search chair, issues a mass email and press release asking everyone for nominations:
As we now know, of course, not only was the election decided by a handful of co-conspirators who remorselessly ignored any other voices, even as they encouraged pointless contributions from all quarters, but at almost exactly the same time, in early June, Robillard was meeting in secret with Rastetter, Harreld and Peter Matthes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. That meeting, which was disclosed less than two weeks ago, was arranged by big-money donor Jerre Stead, who has donated tens of millions to the university over the years.
On July 8th, as endlessly reported and dissected, Robillard hosts Harreld and his wife on their first visit to the campus. While Harreld’s wife is given a tour of the grounds, Harreld gives a presentation not to the faculty but to 40 administrators at UIHC, before having a “VIP lunch” with Robillard, Rastetter, and two other members of the search committee. While the meeting itself is not secret, during that meeting Robillard lies to members of his own search committee about why Harreld is in town, and in the aftermath of that meeting the number of lies that Robillard tells will swell.
On July 30th, the university issues a press release about Robillard taking over as interim president on 08/01/15. Also on July 30th, Robillard, addresses the media on both the transition to interim president and the ongoing search process. Also on July 30th, as regular Ditchwalk readers know, Robillard, Rastetter and the other twenty-one members of the search committee participate in a telephonic conference call with Parker Executive Search. Also on July 30th, J. Bruce Harreld is meeting secretly in Ames with four regents at Rastetter’s private place of business — thus giving Harreld, and only Harreld, cumulative critical face time with five members of that nine-member board.
It’s not clear whether Robillard knew at the time about the July 30th meetings, but in light of recent disclosures about the secret Kirkwood meeting in early June I would not put any stock in a denial. In fact, we’ve already been down that road with the good doctor regarding the phone call which Rastetter brokered from the governor to Harreld. When later apprised of that phone call, search chair Robillard had this to say to Eric Kelderman writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Again, giving one candidate preferential treatment is not okay simply because nobody else knows about it. That is in fact the definition of corruption. Whether Robillard was left in the dark about the phone call or not, he’s front and center for virtually every other moment in the wildly improbably election of J. Bruce Harreld, except for the July 30th meetings at Rastetter’s business in Ames. Interestingly, however, Rastetter also makes himself scarce for those meetings, citing other obligations.
On 08/01/15 Robillard is both interim president and chair of the search committee. On 08/04/15, the search committee meets and winnows forty-six candidates down to nine. On 08/11/15 and 08/12/15 the search committee conducts “airport interviews” with those nine candidates, selects four finalists to send to the Board of Regents, then disbands. Among the four finalists is J. Bruce Harreld.
During those critical two weeks in early August no one has more control over the search process and more control over the university’s fate than Jean Robillard. In the following weeks and months it will also turn out that nobody has lied more on the record about the search and selection process than Jean Robillard. The same Jean Robillard who is still, apparently, running around loose, goading good people like Tim Terry into writing op-ed pieces in support of ever more secrecy and concentrated power.
UIHC and the Harreld Hire
In order to see Robillard’s contribution to the Harreld hire in proper context, we now have to pull back and look at the big picture. In the entire search process there were three phases, but it was Jean Robillard, in his role as chair of the search and selection committee, who administered or presided over the great majority of critical decisions which led to the hiring of J. Bruce Harreld.
Phase I began when Regents President Rastetter and the Iowa Board of Regents decided not simply to hire someone, as was their right, but to conduct a search, setting in motion the committee and the eventual outlay of over $300,000 in state funds. Implicit in the decision to conduct as search was the idea that the search — whether open or closed — would be fair to all applicants, because if the regents simply wanted to hire a given individual they could have done so at minimal expense.
Phase II began when the search committee was officially announced on 02/25/15. Although Rastetter and two other regents were also on the committee, as the chair, Robillard had control over the administrative levers that would have enabled him to conduct a fair search had he chosen to do so. Instead, Robillard repeatedly used his seat of power to provide preferential and secret opportunities to J. Bruce Harrled, while preventing other candidates from taking advantage of, or even knowing about, those opportunities. In doing so Jean Robillard, above all others, intentionally conducted an unfair search at taxpayer expense, his sole aim being to make sure that Harreld was one of the four candidates sent to the Board of Regents for the final interviews and vote.
Phase III began when the search committee disbanded in mid-August, and ended when Rastetter and the four regents who secretly met with Harreld on July 30th cast five majority votes in Harreld’s favor.
As you can see, while the regents are critical to the overall process, the actual mechanism of the search is Robillard’s responsibility for six months. Which means there can be no question about who is ultimately responsible for the fraud that occurs during the search process. Whether secret meetings or special treatment or lies to the press or whatever else we still don’t know about, the buck stops with Jean Robillard.
In standing back we can also see the various axes of corruption that conspired to fix the election, and it’s here that Terry’s mention of Robillard suddenly made me realize I might have overlooked something important. As regular readers know, the corruption that led to the Harreld hire starts at the top with Governor Terry Branstad, who appointed, then turned a blind eye to, Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who is and was and probably always will be Branstad’s main financial backer and political fixer. Rastetter, in turn, launched the fraudulent search in Phase I, then enlisted Regents President Pro Tem Katie Mulholland and three other regents in Phase II, so as to be able to fix the final vote in Phase III. In sum, we can think of all that as the political axis driving the corrupt process that produced J. Bruce Harreld.
Too, we know about the business axis, which starts with mega-donor, business whiz and meeting planner Jerre Stead, then flows to agribusiness titan and Regents President Bruce Rastetter, then to Harvard MBA and former ‘BM’ exec J. Bruce Harreld. So we’ve got a political axis, and, not surprisingly, a symbiotic business axis, but what about Robillard? What’s he doing over there all by his lonesome?
Well, that’s where I made my mistake, because in fact he’s not alone at UIHC. While Jerre Stead is a businessman, and he’s donated major money to the business college, one of his favor places to donate to is the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In fact, just a few years ago Stead donated $20,000,000 to UIHC, after which he was shocked — shocked — to learn that the department of pediatrics had been renamed in his honor. By…guess who:
That’s right. Once again Regents President Bruce Rastetter, the major-domo of brokering power for anyone who can pay the freight, is there to do the right thing. Or at least the most profitable thing. And by the way, have I mentioned that when Jean Robillard isn’t being the interim president of the entire university, or the chair of the search and selection committee, or the vice president for medical affairs, that’s he’s a pediatrician? No? Well now I have.
The upshot of all this, of course, is that Robillard at UIHC now effectively controls the office of the president across the river. Instead of J. Bruce Harreld being the top man, he is a front. The real seat of power lies with Jean Robillard, and Harreld has already served notice that he has no plans to check Robillard’s power:
As depressing as all that is, it’s while standing at a remove that we also finally notice what’s missing. The political axis, the business axis and the UIHC axis are all intertwined and heavily invested in the outcome of the search process. When it comes to representatives from the liberal arts college, however, we only find a few faculty on the search committee, all of them being used as shared-governance props by Robillard. There is, literally no one in the core cabal of co-conspirators who cares about English or Philosophy or anything other than business, or medicine as a business. Instead, all we see are three different groups banding together to appoint a new president who knows nothing about academic administration, who has no ties to the school, and whose only loyalties are to those who appointed him and cut his checks.
The UIHC as a Business
So okay — they won, and integrity, credibility, ethics, and truth lost big. In real life that might set you back, but in business you can always throw a few million at an advertising campaign, pay off the right people behind the scenes, back the kind of politicians and political dupes who will never hold you accountable, and get on with making money. Unfair enough.
So let’s quit whining about the fraudulent hire of J. Bruce Harreld for a moment and take stock of UIHC from a purely business perspective. We’ll even forget about the patients and the pain and the Hippocratic oath and just look at how jamming President Harreld down the throats of a bunch of namby-pamby eggheads profits us the most.
And yet, except in some vain, egotistical sense, that’s not really clear. Healthcare is a tough, low-margin business in part because nagging regulations preclude wholesale abuse of ‘customers’ while mandating the actual delivery of ‘healthcare’. Too, even if you’re undeniably the big dog on the block, healthcare is competitive. When UIHC’s advertising campaigns touted ‘the academic difference’, smaller hospitals countered with claims of more personal or family-oriented care.
Yet while the line of tension in the marketplace shifts from time to time, it never really jumps. Which is why, if you’re Jean Robillard, there isn’t an easy way to make huge profits no matter who you install as your puppet. There is, however, an easy way to hose your healthcare business down the drain. All you have to do is destroy your carefully managed brand by doing something stupid, like, say, rigging the election of the university president who presides over your facility. Because if you do that then all those people who have been arguing that you’re just a big, cold, hopefully sterile bureaucracy will have a much easier time making that case in the marketplace, if the press doesn’t feel obligated to do it for them.
And that’s all before people start thinking about the implications of the way Robillard ran the search committee and lied to the press afterward, and how that might say something about the way he wields power at UIHC. I mean, if you’re willing to lie to members of your own committee about when you first met J. Bruce Harreld, what else are you willing to lie about? What other basic ethics do you see as ‘optional’ in your work as a hospital administrator or physician? Again, this is a man who has unbridled access to the heathcare records of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. Are we to assume that his misadministering of the search was only a one-off, or was his conduct as chair of the search committee who he really is?
And you can now see the danger. If the person at the top of an organization has a questionable reputation, the questions don’t just stop there. Again, I don’t have an MBA, and I don’t know anything about branding, but based on my own gut reaction to the Harreld hire, and particularly to Robillard’s conduct, I can tell you that in my own head the once-sterling reputation of UIHC is now tarnished. And I can see that — literally — when I look at the web page I mentioned before, this page, which shows UIHC’s leadership.
What I should be registering as smiling, reassuring, professional faces devoted to my health, albeit at a cost, now give me pause. The picture in the upper-left corner hemorrhages questions, which then spread like a stain to the other faces on the page. Is there anybody else at UIHC who was in on the fix? Maybe somebody who also attended Harreld’s presentation on July 8th? I mean, we didn’t know about Peter Matthes until a couple of weeks ago, so maybe there are others who have yet to be identified?
More importantly, from my point of view, is there anybody on that page with the guts to have a ‘free exchange of ideas’ with Robillard about the damage he’s already done to UIHC, let alone what might be coming down the pike? And how much time is being spent at UIHC trying to prop up Robillard or Harreld instead of stanching the institutional bleeding they’ve caused? Even if we just look at UIHC as a business, how can it be good for business to have someone sitting at the top of the org chart when their credibility has been publicly shredded?
Pulling back again to look at the political axis, the business axis and the UIHC axis, and all of the overlapping individual roles, did any of the geniuses who crowbarred J. Bruce Harreld into his current job think, even for a minute, about what would happen to the crown jewel at the University of Iowa if they bungled their coup? Or what would happen to the reputation of the Board of Regents? Or to Jerre Stead — whose family name is on the wall in the pediatric department? Because once again I don’t think any of those visionaries looked at the downside risks or considered the potential liabilities of their conspiracy. And if that’s the case not only did they pick the wrong guy on the merits, and not only did they run a sham hire at taxpayer expense in order to pick the wrong guy, but given the level of basic business incompetence demonstrated across the board, not only should none of them have been involved in the search to begin with, none of them should have the jobs they have right now.
And yet there Jean Robillard is, still sitting in the upper-left corner, still pimping people out on the op-ed page to push for more dignity-protecting secrecy. And why not? Because with the appointment of J. Bruce Harreld, Jean Robillard finally answers to no one.
Paula Anton says
While Branstetter holds the most responsibility for this, Robillard was the biggest betrayer. This 35,000 character anti-Twitter post needed to be written.
A few comments 1) The hospital is facing the even bigger Branstad Fiasco, which is the railroaded Medicaid Modernization– another issue, but not really. So this: does it strike you as odd that the single largest business entity on campus is somehow going to be left alone with it’s unbelievably status-quo and unhealthy culture? By the business genius? At the time of perhaps the largest upheaval in Iowa’s healthcare history? If Robillard et al truly believed in JBH, isn’t this where they would want him the most? And yet, perhaps it is recognized that the healthcare industrial complex is it’s own business-beast. Yet unrecognized is that a major institute of higher education is also another thing entirely.
2) This particular corruption will not harm the UIHC. It operates in a different universe.
3) There was an email sent to members of the UI community early on. It contained a link to a questionnaire asking about priorities that people were looking for in a new president. The survey so very clearly demonstrated the rigged nature of this search. There was an agenda behind these questions. Whatever happened to the information that was collected at that time? Surely it must be public information.
4) Speculation: I am not so certain that this search was rigged specifically for JBH. It was most certainly rigged for someone of that nature. But perhaps there were more under review. Perhaps none of them had the right combination of arrogant and naive to consider it. Perhaps there was even someone from the upper echelons of the health care sector. We know that another candidate came to UI and gave a talk at the College of Public Health, yet nobody seems to know who it was. Strange bedfellow conference: http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/pophealth/speakers/ Perhaps James Weinstein. And who knows how many NON-candidates had secret meetings.
Your 1 above is exactly right: the dissonance between Robillard’s rhetoric pre-election and the ‘status quo’ after the election is not only preposterous, it’s born out in the record. (Quotes in the next post.)
Regarding 3, this may be the notice you’re referring to:
There is no date on the page, but the page does say:
I also found this interesting IC/PC article, dated 05/26/15, from the ever-eagle-eyed Jeff Charis-Carlton:
Robillard dutifully laying the groundwork at the end of May, which dovetails nicely with his secret meeting with Harreld in ‘early June’. (Note that the phone calls brokering that meeting took place in ‘late spring’, so along with the planning necessary to get everyone together it’s likely that Robillard is specifically talking about Harreld here.)
The question you ask in 4 is important. We don’t know when Harreld and Stead first talked about the Iowa job. Both men won’t answer that question, except to the extent that they have both already lied about the answer multiple times. They do now want that date known.
It may well be that Stead fed Harreld into the search after it began, but in any case the search itself was also fraudulently run. Whether from the beginning or ‘late spring’ is of no difference regarding the defrauding of Iowa’s taxpayers.
Warning: long post coming:
There are some things to know about Jean Robillard, the UIHC, and the Uiowa.
In the mid 1990s the UIHC and the College of Medicine were in bad shape. Years of power struggles, led to a nasty relationship between UIHC CEO John Colloton and the leadership of the COM (College of Medicine). The CEO represents the administration, the business of the UIHC, and the COM Dean represents the academic body of the place. This was a time of rapid descent of health care into health industry and the struggles for power and money were legend.
Hunter Rawlings, a classics prof was president of Iowa. He appeared to have little control over medicine, UIHC and sports. A fellow named Herni Manasse was brought in to make the peace at the UIHC/COM from 93 to 95. A pharmacist, he was given the title of Vice President of Health Sciences to outrank the CEO and the Dean. A new Dean and new CEO were required.
The search for a Dean led to a ‘corrupted’ choice of Robert Kelch in 94, Pediatrics Chair and Asst Dean at U Michigan. Why do I say corrupted? A past head of the AMA had the inside track on the job, but she claims she was usurped. (it is also interesting that because of the rifts she proposed moving the medical school to Mercy Hospital). The search for a workable CEO led to Ed Howell in 94 too, a very very slick administrator. Kelch and Howell (schemed) worked together such that in 95, Manasse moved on to Chicago, dissolving his Vice Presidents office; at the time he said it was unnecessary bureaucracy and excessive costs. The replacement for Kelch when he left Michigan – John Robillard became head of Pediatrics there.
Meanwhile, Mary Sue Coleman became Iowa President in 95, by all accounts a decent President. Iowa’s President Coleman moved up to be President of Michigan in 2002. David Skorton, an engineer and an doctor became Iowa’s president in 2002.
Meanwhile Coleman recruited Kelch (who elevated himself to VP of Iowa Health Services, these guys are always looking for promotions) in 2003 to became Czar for Michigan Health Care. The new Dean at Iowa COM was named – Jean Robillard crossing paths again, came from Michigan. Howell left around 2002 for Virginia. A woman named Donna Katen-Bahensky became UIHC CEO.
Life was good, until the winter of discontent in 2005-6. At that point, Wellmark had stacked the Iowa BOR with minions including the CEO, John Forsyth. When Skorton was shoved out the door, because he did not play ball with Wellmark, Gary Fethke became ‘Interim President’ for a year.
The players in 2006-7 included Gov Vilsack, and BOR Chair Michael ‘I destroyed NBC News’ Gartner. There was one failed presidential search in 2006 when the BOR rejected all 4 finalists. This ‘secret search’ which failed was led by Teresa Wahlert/M Gartner. However Gartner wanted to sneak in a Deborah Freund who had deep ties to the health insurance industry. At that time, it was felt Vilsack, then a US Presidential hope was being pushed and financed by Wellmark and this was quid pro quid for donations.
Faculty revolted, a new search was launched; Sally Mason emerged as the new UIowa President in mid-2007. However in the meantime Jean Robillard ‘named himself ‘Vice President of Medical Affairs (it was felt he owned Interim President Fethke) in early 2007 — which means more administration; Robillard named a Paul Rothman Dean COM, which means Robillard basically installed another Dean to do his job, while he watched over him, at great expense. Robillard received a fat raise too.
Since 2007, there is little evidence Robillard bows to anyone in Jessup Hall. The UIHC rolls over it’s employees and faculty and students, and health care in Eastern Iowa. Robillard even pushed out the old CEO Katen-Bahensky in 2007-8, paying her off with 700,000 extra as the door slammed. Robillard gets what he wants. (quick name the current COM Dean anyone? Robillard is the dominant player)
If the recent history of the University of Iowa shows the dominance of the health care industry; it is not alone in this aspect, but because of the small population of Eastern Iowa and the large operation of the UIHC the dynamics are remarkable. Seems like the final chip played is the new Childrens Hospital which, like a large phallus, rises over the west campus, towering above Kinnick Stadium. Robillard has erected his mark over even the Hawkeye madness on Saturdays.
1. The leadership of the Univ of Iowa remains tarnished over the past 10 years or so, and much of it results from the vast academic health care industry. The political leadership in Iowa carries some of the blame under both Vilsack and Branstad, although the latter seems to be slicing Iowa’s non agribusiness structure (read mental health, criminal justice, Medicaid) into nepotistic oblivion.
2. Masters of politics and masters of raising money (after all the COM is called the ‘Carver College of Medicine’), call the shots in all academia now. Obviously then Robillard was at the heart of this recent fiasco.
3. Unlike past BOR leadership Rastetter utilized the tremendous economic power of agribusiness to dominate the Regents schools. His sweetheart deals at ISU – loans, land schemes in Africa, getting ISU researchers on his farm – were in stark contrast to UIowa’s reluctance to play moneyball with him. (Iowa State has even given ‘make work/sweetheart’ jobs to Rastetter’s former employees and political cronies) That needed to change.
4. Jerre Stead is a 10-20 million dollar donor to UIowa and COM, and to Jean Robillard’s pet projects – Robillard himself and his Childrens Hospital. Stead is a mentor to J Bruce Harreld. So when Stead promotes Harreld to the BOR and to Robillard, well who are they to say ‘no’.
5. Robillard gets major points with his big donor, and likely naming rights to the new Childrens Hospital by pleasing the Stead and the BOR. Plus the new President Harreld owes Robillard big time.
6. Rastetter gets rid of Mason (who no doubt was forced out after being reduced to a ‘yes-woman’), puts in place a former businessman who will be friendly to Rastetter schemes (don’t be surprised if Iowa transfers funds to ISU, and if Iowa starts hiring Rastetter allies, chums, and former employees), and dont be surprised if Iowa shuts down programs, to which Harreld has already alluded.
Paula Anton says
Oh the memories. Back when the Governor (Branstad 1) was friendly to the UI. Professor Robillard was there. Vilsack started the devaluation. And then there was Culver, who didn’t help the cause.
Thanks for taking the time to write all that — great history and context.
I remember some of the names (Colloton of course), but only vaguely.
The thing I don’t get about Robillard is, when did he just stop caring? I mean, there are always people who are never satisfied with their lot in life, but most of them don’t start out as pediatricians. If you want to be a ladder-climbing idiot you kind of have that tendency built in. And yet here is Robillard, a doctor, and behind him is nothing but ego and vanity — all of it leading to this tawdry conspiracy. I mean, doesn’t he ever look in the mirror and wonder where his integrity went?
About the nexus between Rastetter, Robillard and Stead, which birthed Harreld, I agree that it’s almost like a perfectly mutual back-scratching fest between all three. Nobody’s above, nobody’s below — they just all realized at some point that their own personal aims were in perfect synergy, and if they didn’t have any scruples the sky was the limit. And as it turns out, they don’t have any scruples.
Paula Anton says
Back-scratching: Rastetter and Stead perhaps. Robillard is a wide-eyed follower with entirely too much power. Who knows when he stopped caring. There was a tragic incident in the late 80s but I think the power trip started before that.
Good question about Robillard. However as you stated many weeks ago, his sin may be the worst; as the one person in the top tier of administration controlling this search, Robillard was supposed to watch out for the entire university. Robillard should be concerned about students faculty, staff, parents, alumni, employees, patients, and parents. And he only seems to care about his career, his welfare, his legacy, and his profits.
When did this happen? Must be his character. And then the Health Care Industry, which makes the UIHC like all the other businesses around, self interested, capitalistic, and predatory.
I bet he doesn’t even know what he did. I bet he doesn’t care who he manipulated. In 50 years if it is the Robillard Childrens Hospital no one will remember the chicanery that went into it.
As far as Rastetter, he is like the scorpion and the turtle. As the scorpion said sinking into the river when asked why he stung the turtle: “It has nothing to do with logic,” the drowning scorpion sadly replied. “It’s just my character.” It’s Rastetter’s character. He is willing to displace 100,000 African refugees for profits, so it’s his character to manipulate the thousands of constituents at UIowa.
Harreld muddles along. He was asked to be a chairman of the Corridor Business group (Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Creative Corridor). His response should be: “No thanks, I am the President of the University of Iowa. I am responsible to, and in fact paid by, the students, parents, and constituents of the Univ of Iowa. I am 24/7 thinking of how to enhance this university. I am not here for promotion of Iowa business directly, although every dollar spent on the university comes back 10 fold or more to the citizens and businesses of Iowa. No thanks, my complete efforts are here with these students and these faculty, and as a byproduct the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area will grow and prosper.”
No Harreld should not be involved directly with all these distractions. Perhaps it is his character too.
It was pointed out in an email that it was John Forsyth, who was the CEO of Wellmark, and not John Colloton, who was appointed to the Board of Regents (in 2003).
I have updated your comment to reflect that information.
Yes that is right Colloton was not on the BOR, which would be a direct conflict. However Colloton was on the Wellmark Board of Directors, so if I misspoke I apologize. (I also call Jean Robillard John, another error). http://archive.press-citizen.com/article/20070113/NEWS01/701130304/Colloton-working-attorney-protect-records
Back in 2007 there was a clear coup to send Skorton off to Cornell (well a coup to get him to comply or get him out). Skorton was problematic in many ways to those in power, because he is an honest man. If you check back on the history the BOR was enraged when Skorton would not kiss butt for some kinda sweetheart with Wellmark, when Skorton was attending a bowl game.
Colloton who was CEO Emeritus (and has a famous brass staircase to nowhere in the hospital) was clearly and insider trying to influence his old grounds in favor of Wellmark. If you look at the composition of the BOR they were all related to Wellmark.
That did change with Ruth Harkin put on the board, and Iowa city attn Robert Downer — who seems like an honest man too. However all the Demos were purged by Branstad and Rastetter.
Kinda sickening to first see the Iowa BOR in the service of Wellmark, then an arm of a political party/agribusiness/health care industry czars. Whatever happened to the students and faculty?
Oh, I remember Kelch. He famously blew gigantic wads of cash on IT systems that were supposed to save the hospital and turned out to be duds. I’ve no doubt he blew gigantic wads of cash on other things, too, that turned out to be duds.
Isn’t he the one who got stabbed? Who am I thinking of? What wonderful lives these people all lead.
One of the inherent difficulties in understanding the fraudulent hire of J. Bruce Harreld is that multiple time frames are in play. First, there is the normal passage of time. Today becomes yesterday tomorrow. Second, there is the timeline of the hiring process, which is fixed, but also receding into the past. Third, there are the conspiratorial events, known and unknown, which correlate with the hiring process, and specifically with the fraudulent election. All of those events are also now fading from view, including those that are still being concealed by the co-conspirators.
It is a measure of the conceit of the people who perpetrated the heist of a billion-dollar research university that they now unanimously agree that it is ‘time to move on’. The meaning could not be clearer: they believe they fixed the election of the president of the University of Iowa ‘fair and square’, so everyone must now submit to J. Bruce Harreld’s rule as if his election was legitimate. And they mean it. Despite the glaring obviousness of fraud in the hiring process — about which every objective voice is now in agreement — the co-conspirators behind Harreld’s election, including Harreld himself, assert the right to rule as if the election was fair when it was clearly not fair.
In order to justify acceptance of the fraudulent Harreld hire, and thus compel everyone to ‘move on’, a narrative has developed with the Board of Regents as antagonist, imposing its will on the university. While that’s objectively true as far as it goes, it is also an intentionally incomplete summation of how J. Bruce Harreld came to power. As first noted here, in a lengthy explanation of the lies that were exposed two and a half weeks ago when Harreld unveiled yet another new origin story about his candidacy, and then again here, in a post last Friday, it is now abundantly clear that the imposition of J. Bruce Harreld on the University of Iowa was in fact an inside job, and that the agent of treachery was the former search committee chair, former interim president, and current vice president for medical affairs, Jean Robillard.
Where only a couple of months ago, shortly after the election, Robillard’s duplicitous role was still obscured, we now know of his complicity because of new information that has been revealed by the press. Though the past keeps receding, as new information comes to light it also changes how we interpret previous events, countering the tendency of time to dull and dilute. To the extent that all of the key co-conspirators — Regents President Bruce Rastetter and his minions on the board, Jean Robillard, mega-donor Jerre Stead, and Harreld himself — have refused to come clean on key aspects of the search process, we can still learn more by comparing new disclosures with events already on the record.
For example, two and a half months ago, just after Harreld’s election in early September, I began reading articles that had been during the search. At the time, one of them, written by Jeff Charis-Carlson of the Press-Citizen, seemed almost prophetic. Posted on the afternoon of 05/26/15, the headline read: Odds against non-academic candidates for UI president. Here is the lede:
Again, at the time, in early September, I marveled at the degree to which the article seemed to almost predict Harreld’s election. Now, two and a half months later, and following the disclosure a little over two weeks ago of yet another secret meeting between Harreld, Rastetter, Robillard and Peter Matthes in early June — which was arranged by Jerre Stead — the implications of that story have changed. Precisely because we can now move the timeline of events in the conspiracy backward an entire month or more, from the July 8th “VIP lunch” — which was, purportedly, Harreld’s first appearance in Iowa, and his first face-to-face meeting with Rastetter, Robillard, and two members of the search committee — to early June, the information conveyed in Charis-Carlson’s reporting also changes.
Specifically, Harreld’s latest origin story — which is, in its own way, as incredible as every other version — now has Rastetter as the initial point of contact sometime in “late spring”, which we previously determined to be between 05/15/15 and 06/15/15. A week after Rastetter’s call, Jerre Stead is said to have called and begged Harreld to at least consider the position. Then, sometimes in “early June” — again within the “late spring” timeline — Stead is said to have convinced Harreld to fly to Iowa to meet with Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes in a conference room at Kirkwood Community College.
Where two and a half months ago, just after the election, the events reported by Charis-Carlson seemed to presage a non-traditional candidate’s victory, now, only two and a half weeks after Harreld’s latest disclosures, those same events clearly show that Robillard was, at that time, laying the groundwork specifically for J. Bruce Harreld’s candidacy.
Here is Charis-Carlson reporting on a 05/08/15 meeting of the committee in that 05/26/15 report:
In a month or less, Robillard, Rastetter, Mattthes and Harreld will all be sitting together in a conference room at Kirkwood Community College. Weeks prior, meaning, at the latest, only a couple of weeks after that May 8 committee meeting, Harreld has now acknowledged that Rastetter and Stead both contacted him about the Iowa job. Either that admission means that Robillard was, by pure coincidence, pitching the idea of a non-traditional candidate at the May 8 meeting, or Harreld was already on his radar — either from the now-acknowledged contact by Rastetter and Stead, or, more likely, even earlier contact which Harreld and the other co-conspirators are determined to conceal.
Note, too, that although Charis-Carlson mentions Purdue President Mitch Daniels elsewhere in the same piece, as an analogue to the non-traditional candidates Iowa might consider, Robillard does not reference a former governor or public servant. Instead he specifically mentions Bill Gates — a business executive with no experience in either academic administration or the public sector. Again, either Robillard has mystical powers of prognostication, or he is, in early May, already fitting the committee to Harreld as a stealth candidate. A practice he will continue when he hosts Harreld on July 8th without announcing the real reason for Harreld’s visit to two members of his committee, who are in attendance by his invitation.
Instead of opening the door to the possibility of a non-traditional candidate, then assiduously conducting a fair search, Robillard does exactly the reverse. He gets a non-traditional candidate passed to him by Rastetter and Stead, then builds the case for that specific candidate while also administering the search in a way that cripples the chances of the other candidates.
Again, although Rastetter launches the search and fixes the final vote, it is Robillard, every step of the way, who controls the search committee. It is Robillard who prevents his own committee members from knowing about the early June meeting. It is Robillard who fails to acknowledge to two search committee members why Harreld is in town on July 8th. It is Robillard who is not only the chair of the search committee during the critical two-week period in early August when the candidates are whittled from 46 to 9 to 4, but who is also at that time the interim president. At every juncture, where Rastetter and the other hostiles at the Board of Regents might have been defeated in their secret plan to hire Harreld, Robillard is there to make sure that Harreld is delivered.
The election of J. Bruce Harreld by the Board of Regents would not have been possible were Jean Robillard, a long-time university employee and purported campus leader, not wholly in league with the board. Though I am admittedly ignorant of the long history of leadership at the University of Iowa, it is hard for me to imagine that there has ever been a greater betrayal committed against the institution than the subversion of the search process engineered by Robillard. Unlike Rastetter, Robillard is a fixture at the university, and yet in exchange for some niggardly personal advantage he has became its most infamous traitor. As a result, the university is now saddled with a president who knows nothing about academic administration, nothing about the culture of the university of Iowa specifically or the culture of student life in general, and nothing about ethics or integrity himself.
So the next time someone tells you that the regents did this to the university, you point them to this smiling face and remind them that the regents didn’t just have help. When it comes to the fraudulent hire of J. Bruce Harreld, Jean Robillard happily sold out the University of Iowa as an institution of higher learning and paved the way for Harreld’s election. Without Robillard’s flagrant, premeditated and protracted betrayal, it is almost a certainty that Harreld would not have been hired.
Ok, it’s a total fraud, unfortunately including 2 fraternity brothers of mine. I think we get it.
But why? What is JH going to do for Robi, Rat, and Jere?
Harreld will do whatever they ask him to do. That’s why he was hired. He gets four million dollars, they get a tool they can use whenver they want.
If Robillard wants a chicken sandwich, Harreld whips one up. If Rastetter wants somebody fired, or money shifted to ISU or UNI, then Harreld either gets that done or does nothing to prevent it.
As a philosophical matter, however, as I noted in this comment above —
— these men are not simply corrupt in this act, they are inherently corrupt. Like many of our species, they accrue power and success through intelligent willful acts which are the antithesis of wisdom and integrity. And they either don’t care or don’t know that they are themselves little more than sophisticated thieves. Secrecy, betrayal, conspiracy — these are the methods by which they prosper. It would be pathetic were they not also doing so much damage to others, and to the means by which our species has always aspired to better itself.
In the end, whatever they plan to do, whatever they needed Harreld for, it is simply more of the same. Always more. Never enough. The blackness inside them can never be healed.
This is a little off-topic, but not really, Keying on your comment ‘blackness inside’.
Here it is: Doc Holiday’s reiteration of your comments. Go to about 1:00 to hear Doc’s lecture on the topic.
What’s in it for those above?
1. Rastetter/Branstad apparently get to shake a finger at the Climate Change Devils. Monies earmarked for research have been delayed or embargoed. First time ever. http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2015/11/17/regulators-delay-funding-university-of-iowa-climate-change-center/75944266/
Although the article doesn’t mention any of the three,. would any self-respecting President or any BOR head endorse denying the university resources?
2. Robillard gets a new medical facility on the SW side of Iowa City. http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2015/11/17/uihc-build-new-clinic-southwestern-iowa-city/75923792/
Apparently a huge project a mile away (IRB) and the new Kiddie Hospital aren’t enough for a voracious appetite.
Considering the people Rastetter has put into university jobs, and considering the loans and land grabs he proposed, the door is open at the university tough! Public monies for private gain.
It is hard to imagine Robillard as much of a mastermind as the story goes. He is not an impressive person personally. He does not strike anyone as John Kennedy at the podium (or even John Kerry).
In a infamous incident months ago Robillard got up at a ‘new employee’ meeting and asked MA (Medical Assistants) to stand up and acknowledge the UIHC obtaining ‘Magnet Status’.
This is interesting for several reasons:
1. These were new employees. They had nothing to do with the UIHC’s past performance of ‘Magnet Status’. (2008 and 2013)
2. Magnet Status is administered by nurses. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) gives out the award, and the nursing administration did all the paperwork and did the clinical work.
So why would Robillard ask MAs to stand up, and even recent hires when he should have been asking the nurses who worked at the UIHC the past 5 years?
People thought either he was deliberately backstabbing the nurses, or that he was losing it cognitively.
It seems almost in-congruent that the fellow who doesn’t know the difference between nurses ( at least 4-5 year degrees, and many with PhD and DNPs) and MAs (with 6-12 months training or 18-24 with an AA) can mastermind a pretty clever scheme for presidency. Unless he wanted to demean nurses, as to not give them a bonus or raise and he really is a schemer.
There are some pretty clever people around Robillard. I cannot simply believe he steered this search alone. Yet he seemed very active in it. I think something or someone who remains in the background was more important than anyone imagines.
Jerre Stead seems to be a benevolent person. He and his wife fund many charities. Have to think he was watching over his ‘student’, Harreld who sees Stead as a coach. Stead doesn’t fit into this, either politically or in his history as a donor.
I don’t see Robillard as driving the overall fraud. That’s Rastetter at the Board of Regents. But Robillard is not an innocent, or even a dupe. He had every chance to run a fair search, and at every juncture chose to administer the fraudulent process that led to Harreld’s hire.
More recently, not only did Robillard float the ludicrous idea that the search was faulty because it was too open, Tim Terry has not once but now twice repeated that lie (and also pardoned Harreld) on Robillard’s behalf.
Robillard is all-in even if someone else is the master.
As to whether Robillard’s is losing his marbles or not, I have no idea, but from my point of view it doesn’t matter. Whether he’s crooked or senile he’s still pushing lies.
As for Stead, the same disinterest holds. I’m aware that he’s done a lot of good, but for whatever reason he willfully chose to do something bad, in secret, and has still not come clean. He knows that he hasn’t disclosed all of his contacts with Harreld prior to the phone call that Harreld acknowledges in ‘early spring’ — if indeed that call ever happened. And I believe the reason he hasn’t disclosed all of those contacts is because it would put him in Harreld’s life close to or before the start of the search. With Stead on the committee that would be curtains for Harreld after all of the previous origin story lies he’s already told.
Stead can have his millions and he can have all the positive press he can buy, or generate by twisting somebody’s arm, but if he wants his good name back he’s going to have to break whatever idiotic code of silence these clowns swore and start talking.
In three previous posts (here, here and here) we detailed the critical role that Jean Robillard played as the inside man — the traitor — who helped the Iowa Board of Regents install J. Bruce Harreld as the new president at the University of Iowa. Just as Regents President Bruce Rastetter is there in the shadows, every step of the way, corrupting the final vote, Robillard is there every step of the way, corrupting the search process that sends Harreld to the board.
In the aftermath of the election in early September, a series of rolling disclosures takes place which continue right up until Harreld is about to take office. In those disclosures, we see again and again the same consistent argument from Robillard in support of Harreld’s candidacy and election. Jean Robillard not only believes that Harreld is the right man for the job, but that Harreld is critical to the welfare of Robillard’s own personal empire at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
From Eric Kelderman, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, on 09/14/15:
Although it will later be disclosed that Harreld, Robillard, Rastetter and Peter Matthes have met in secret at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, one month before Harreld appears at UIHC in a secret meeting arranged by mega-donor Jerre Stead, Harreld’s first visit to the University of Iowa campus is not to the school but the hospital, and his first interaction with administrators is with hospital administration.
More on Robillard’s motive from the AP on 09/15/15:
From the Daily Iowan on 09/16/15:
From the Gazette on 09/16/15:
From the Press-Citizen on 09/16/15:
From the Gazette on 09/17/15:
Subsequent to widespread disclosure of the meeting at UIHC, it also transpires that Harreld received secret preferential treatment from Regents President Bruce Rastetter on multiple occasions. While Robillard has not been linked to those machinations, on the eve of Harreld taking office on November 2nd, the early June meeting at Kirkwood is finally disclosed. In the reporting of that story Harreld expands on Robillard’s rationale for begging Harreld to take the Iowa job.
From the Press-Citizen on 11/01/15:
Time and again, in justifying his own manipulation of the search process, both as the search chair and as the biggest wig at UIHC, Robillard stresses the importance of Harreld’s business experience not only to the University of Iowa generally, but specifically to the hospital. Again and again it is that core concern that Robillard references when attempting to explain his indefensible preferential treatment of Harreld. In turn, Harreld himself references UIHC and its apparent troubles as the first issue that genuinely galvanized his interest in conspiring with Robillard, Rastetter, Stead and Matthes.
And yet, as noted in one of the previous posts linked to above, on the day before actually taking office — 11/01/15 — J. Bruce Harreld is also quoted as follows:
Only two months after the election which Robillard helped rig, ostensibly because J. Bruce Harreld’s business acumen was critical to the health of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, there is suddenly not only no pressing need for Harreld to intervene at UIHC, but in Harreld’s own opinion they are in “very good hands”.
While the lie Robillard tells throughout the search process and months after the election is consistent, it is still a lie. Robillard does not need Harreld to help fix UIHC, nor does he want Harreld interfering in his own personal public-sector empire. And that is why, on the exact same day that a story runs in which Harreld himself once again explains Robillard’s eagerness to apply Harreld’s ideas to UIHC, that Harreld himself also gives an interview explaining that UIHC is the last place that needs his help.
On 09/03/15, J. Bruce Harreld was elected president of the University of Iowa by the Iowa Board of Regents. Ten days after the election, the Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors released a statement in support of multiple no-confidence votes against the board, for violations of shared governance. In the following two weeks a series of rolling disclosures in the press revealed that Harreld’s election was itself fraudulent. On 10/06/15 and 10/07/15, in the Gazette and Press-Citizen respectively, it was reported that the national AAUP would be investigating the Harreld hire on the following basis:
The question of shared governance, and the unilateral betrayal of same by the Board of Regents, has been asked and answered here at Ditchwalk. Presenting an appearance of shared governance was in all likelihood the sole reason that Regents President Bruce Rastetter launched the entire fraudulent search process in the first place, at a cost of over $300,000 to state taxpayers, instead of simply hiring Harrled outright, as the regents had a right to do.
Possible penalties from the AAUP vary, but all are intended to give warning that a school has been corrupted in some fashion:
In response to overtures from the AAUP, Regents President Pro Tem Katie Mulholland, and the University of Iowa’s Jean Robillard — in his then-role as interim president, and his former role as chair of the search committee — both declined to be interviewed.
Although regent Mulholland stated that the board would not meet “because your letter fails to identify with any level of specificity the issues or scope of your investigation”, for the AAUP the issue was clear:
The AAUP was also clear about its focus:
At the time, in early October, both the process by which Harreld was elected and the sequencing of “deviations from sound and due process” heavily implicated the Board of Regents, and particularly President Bruce Rastetter, in the betrayal of shared governance. From arranging a phone call from the governor to Harreld, to arranging secret meetings between Harreld and four other regents (two of them not on the search committee) at his own private place of business in Ames, Rastetter’s fingerprints were all over the fraud.
On 10/16/15 it was reported that two investigators from the AAUP had arrived on campus to conduct interviews:
While the national AAUP went dark in mid-October, the Iowa AAUP spoke out again in late October, in response to an olive branch extended to Harreld by the Faculty Council.
Of particular interest in that piece, which was published only a few days before J. Bruce Harreld took office, is the fact that there is no mention of Jean Robillard, who is then still interim president. That, in turn, is consistent with the perspective that the national AAUP had prior to and during commencement of its official investigation. Yet only a few days later, the suppositions on which the local and national AAUP based their respective charges and investigation of abuses of shared governance will radically change.
On the day before J. Bruce Harreld took office, in yet another fit of dubious veracity manufactured to fit a particular occasion, Harreld himself disclosed yet another previously unknown secret meeting between himself and the key co-conspirators in his fraudulent hire. Present at the meeting — which was arranged but not attended by mega-donor Jerre Stead — were Harreld, Regents President Bruce Rastetter, search chair Jean Robillard, and non-voting ex-officio committee member Peter Matthes, who, like Robillard, was and is an administrator at the University of Iowa.
In four prior posts (the most recent here, which includes links to the other three), we discussed the degree to which that specific meeting exposed Robillard not simply as a bit player in Harreld’s fraudulent hire, but as central — critical — to sending candidate Harreld to the board for the final vote. In shining a light on Robillard’s complicity we thus necessarily exposed the central role that Robillard, and, by extension, Matthes, played as ‘inside men’ — administrators within the University of Iowa itself — in the betrayal of shared governance.
To whatever extent the AAUP has been investigating the Board of Regents on that basis, as of early November it now seems clear that the ongoing investigation may have — indeed should have — expanded at that moment to include the university itself. In effect, what was until late October an assumption that the regents unilaterally betrayed shared governance only in the final vote, is now a structural, systematic betrayal throughout the search process. From ‘great to greater‘ indeed.
It is now just over a month since the AAUP investigators visited the campus and took statements in mid-October. The extent of the ongoing investigation is not known, but it was reported that the entire Harreld investigation would take from one to two months . While it remains to be seen whether the AAUP’s final report will address Robillard’s intimate involvement in the abuses of shared governance that transpired during the Harreld hire, in looking at some of their prior investigations it is abundantly clear that the totality of the abuse has now moved the case toward the more egregious end of the AAUP’s investigative spectrum.
What would be particularly interesting to know in the final report, if Harreld did respond to the AAUP prior to taking office, is whether his comments at that time were undercut by his subsequent disclosure of the early June meeting. In any case, the cascading wreckage from Harreld’s recent disclosure continues to unfold. We now know that it was not simply the Iowa Board of Regents which was in violation of AAUP guidelines, but that university employee and turncoat Jean Robillard was heavily complicit in his role as the head of the search committee, and as interim president during the two key weeks in early August when the final four candidates where selected.
In an attempt to shore up support for J. Bruce Harreld — the fraudulently elected and illegitimate new president of the University of Iowa — a small ‘vocal minority’ of “community and business leaders” gathered on Friday to debase themselves by apologizing to a man who would not have been elected if the search and selection process had been fair. Unfortunately, Harreld himself was sick and could not attend, but that didn’t stop people from throwing themselves prostrate on the ground.
The irony of complaining about fairness with regard to the treatment of a man who helped hijack, and now presides over, a billion-dollar research university, seemed to be lost on that particular apologizer, who then subsequently undermined his own argument for change not once but three times in two paragraphs:
First, as regular readers know, the question of online education posing a threat to large ivy-and-mortar-board universities has already been asked and answered. Other than the ash from the incineration of several hundred million dollars in start-up capital, which might kick up your allergies, there is no foreseeable threat.
Second, the speaker did not make clear why it was critical to hire someone illegitimate now for a problem that may or may not appear in two or three decades, particularly when the person who was hired was also incompetent in every other area of academic administration.
Third, in arguing for transformative change, the speaker asserted that the university as it currently exists must be preserved. Meaning, apparently, that the school needs to change in order not to change. Or so it doesn’t actually have to change. Something like that, with an apology attached. And a big, big Iowa hug.
Speaking on Harreld’s behalf to the small ‘vocal minority’, UI interim Senior Vice President Rod Lehnertz told the apologizers that an “apology wasn’t necessary because the new president doesn’t hold a grudge.” In addressing the 100 or so people in attendance, Lehnertz then unintentionally pointed out that no matter how vocal they might be, the vast majority of business people in both the local community and across the state were clearly not joining them in support of the fraudulently elected and illegitimate Harreld:
Perhaps sensing his faux pas, Leherntz closed by reminding the ‘vocal minority’ that it didn’t matter whether Harreld was illegitimate or unqualified for his job. What mattered was the steady stream of half-truthful and intentionally misleading opinions being floated by others in the small ‘vocal minority’, which they could then all cling to in order to preserve their dignity.
“And when you go 5 feet off our campus, the support we have received from you and from around the state … has been remarkable,” Lehnertz told the group. “… We ask everyone to keep their chin up as ours is up.”
Curiously, University of Iowa Senior Vice President Rod Lehnertz did not take the opportunity to point out that if the Iowa Board of Regents and the search committee had simply run a fair election, and hired someone qualified for the job, then nobody on campus would be rightly furious, and nobody five feet or more off campus would have their chins dragging on the ground, or feel the need to apologize to a fraud.
Over the past three weeks, since J. Bruce Harreld took office as the next president of the University of Iowa, we have been dismantling a concerted attempt to project a retroactive narrative onto the search and selection process which produced his appointment. That narrative allows that while there were improprieties if not actual crimes committed during the hiring process, all of those abuses were the result of the Iowa Board of Regents imposing its will on the university. Implicitly, that narrative paints both the university administration and J. Bruce Harreld as either bystanders to or victims of the abuses of power perpetrated by the board, and thus grants legitimacy going forward to the apparatus of governance within the university itself.
However, from documenting serial lies about J. Bruce Harreld’s origins as a candidate, which Harreld himself exposed when he revealed his most recent origin story the weekend before taking office, to questioning the veracity of that new origin story, to showing that Harreld’s fraudulent hire was also an inside job administered by search chair and then-interim-president Jean Robillard (here, here, here and here), the idea that Harreld was unilaterally imposed on the university by the Board of Regents has been laid to waste. Not only did Harreld himself lie on the record to the press, and not only were multiple University of Iowa employees involved in the conspiracy to elect Harreld, but whether Harreld himself was a co-conspirator has yet to be settled.
It may at first seem that the question of Harreld’s complicity is moot. It is true that the hiring abuses committed by others necessarily occurred while Harreld was a candidate, and thus not in the employ of either the Board of Regents or the University of Iowa. Even were he a duplicitous agent in that process, by virtue of his candidacy he can claim, and others can claim on his behalf, that whatever Harreld did was simply an expression of his determination to be diligent and thorough. While plausible in theory, in reality that claim is eviscerated by the resume that Harreld submitted to the committee, which was both intentionally deceptive and embarrassingly sloppy.
It is also true — and was acknowledged in the first ‘Harreld hire‘ post on this site — that Harreld ultimately had no power to hire himself. Whether Harreld was a dupe, an opportunist or a co-conspirator, it was ultimately the responsibility of the people who authorized and administered the election to make sure that the process was fair, and they failed at that in every regard. That does not mean, however, that J. Bruce Harreld himself was necessarily powerless to abet key co-conspirators in fraudulently electing him to office, or, if he was a complete innocent, that he might not have said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, thus accidentally exposing the fraud being perpetrated on his behalf.
There was and is so much wrong with J. Bruce Harreld’s hire that it’s hard to keep the abuses straight. It’s tempting to resort to a relative scale of abuse in order to help make sense of what happened, but doing so is a mistake. Yes, the Iowa Board of Regents are procedurally responsible for Harreld’s hire, but that does not mean Harreld himself is an innocent. The very fact that the AAUP announced it was not investigating whether Harreld “collaborated [in] the process of being selected” makes clear that such a collaboration could have taken place, and that a consequent investigation could have been undertaken. (And will be undertaken in this post.)
To see how Harreld could have collaborated in his own hire, imagine you call the fire department to report a fire and they send you J. Bruce Harreld. When Harreld arrives he runs in with a fire extinguisher, looks at the fire, then begins reading the label on the extinguisher. Moments later he turns to you, for mentoring and coaching, and asks what type of fire you have. You would be right to think whoever hired Harreld should be fired themselves, and that Harreld was not qualified to be a fireman, but neither of those valid conclusions would tell you anything about how Harreld came to be hired, or whether he himself was complicit in his indefensible hire.
To answer those questions, now imagine that you dig into the firefighter-hiring process and learn that Harreld was selected by a committee, then hired by a board, after a purportedly exhaustive vetting process. In looking closely at that process, however, it not only turns out that several people in key positions of power gave would-be firefighter Harreld unparalleled preferential treatment, and one of those individuals was an old friend of Harreld’s, but that Harreld himself abetted his hire by remaining silent about the preferential treatment he received, and about important details of that long-standing relationship. By simple dint of those facts it would be demonstrable that firefighter Harreld was a co-conspirator in his own fraudulent hire.
With regard to J. Bruce Harreld and the presidency at Iowa, as regular Ditchwalk readers know, those same two facts have already been proven, meaning Harreld was complicit in the fraud that led to his hire. What has not been fully explored — indeed, could not have been until recently — is the degree of Harreld’s complicity, including whether he was a fully cognizant co-conspirator. To that end, in this post we will step through the key points in Harreld’s hire from the perspective of Harreld himself, and in so doing attempt to expose the depth of his complicity.
Condemnation and Ill Intent
If you are new to the issues surrounding the Harreld hire, it must be stressed that the basic question of legitimacy has been asked and answered repeatedly, and there are now no credible voices affirming that Harreld’s hire was anything other than improper at best. Over the two and a half months since the election, in staff editorials from four of the state’s leading papers, it has been made clear that the Iowa Board of Regents failed to show coherence in the methodology by which J. Bruce Harreld was elected, failed to come clean on the preferential treatment that Harreld received, failed to conduct a fair hiring process, and, in the most recent editorial by the Press-Citizen, on 11/14/15, failed to meets its obligations to transparency in the hiring process.
Having refused to rebut the charges made by the press, and in particular having refused to acknowledge the obvious improprieties in the hiring process which led to those charges, the Iowa Board of Regents, by their very silence, has conceded that the hiring process was corrupt. On the question of the hiring process then, the question of legitimacy is settled. The hiring process that led to the election of J. Bruce Harreld was illegitimate, if not intentionally and criminally fraudulent.
On that point it is also worth noting that the severity of condemnation in those four editorials has only grown with the passage of time. As more and more information has come to light — often as a result of excellent reporting from those same papers — the improprieties have only become more obvious. In that context the recency of the Press-Citizen’s editorial means it also the most well-informed, yet the force of its condemnation is still surprising. Not only was the Board of Regents rightly called on the carpet for its malfeasance, but Harreld himself was put on notice:
I agree with the entire Press-Citizen editorial, except for the line about Harreld having “yet to indicate ill intent.” I believe J. Bruce Harreld has, on multiple occasions, indicated ill intent by his conduct, and that in doing so he has exhibited a pattern of behavior which is hostile to higher education as both an ideal and a pursuit. Specifically, during the hiring process I believe that Harreld revealed hostility to shared governance, transparency, honesty and integrity, and that he did so not separate from the key co-conspirators who rigged his fraudulent hire, but in league.
Admittedly, as with the web of lies that were exposed three weeks ago by Harreld’s most recent origin story, it can be hard to see Harreld’s complicity because of the intentional obfuscation perpetrated by both Harreld and the key co-conspirators. Too, J. Bruce Harreld exists as a possible co-conspirator in multiple guises. First, there is Candidate Harreld, who magically appeared at some point in the past and persisted until his election on September 3rd. Second, there is President-elect Harreld, who existed from September 3rd until November 2nd. Third, there is President Harreld, whose term began on November 2nd, and will run until J. Bruce Harreld realizes he made a grievous mistake in taking the job, or everyone else does.
Adding to the complexity of analysis, we are once again confronted with multiple time frames. There are the procedural events of the hire as a formal process, there are the conspiratorial acts which determined the outcome of the election, and there is the timeline of disclosures about those conspiratorial events which has unfolded in the three months following the election. Where previously we jumped around in time to keep track of everything, however, here we are going to proceed through the key events — both formal and conspiratorial — in chronological order. We will pull information as needed from wherever we can get it, but we will still be clear about the sourcing and context.
In doing so the key question we will focus on, as has often been the case, is not what J. Bruce Harreld did, but what he did not do. Because even before we begin examining the events of his hire, in asking that question we learn something important that is not otherwise apparent. At no time, during the fraudulent hiring process perpetrated on his behalf, whether Harreld himself was innocent or involved, did J. Bruce Harreld give away what the key co-conspirators behind that fraud were up to. As either an innocent or a co-conspirator, during the five month period between the beginning of July and the end of October, Harreld could have said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong moment, and in doing so betrayed events that were only revealed well after the election, but that never happened. Not once.
Late Spring — The Immaculate Recruitment
What are now the first known events in the hiring of J. Bruce Harreld were the last to be revealed by Harreld. On the weekend before taking office on November 2nd, in a veritable gush of previously withheld information, Harreld unveiled an entirely new origin story which wiped out — indeed, betrayed as false — virtually every other narrative that had been floated to that time. The only origin story to survive was that of Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who had previously claimed he was the person who originally recruited Harreld.
Indeed, in Harreld’s new version of his origin story as a candidate, Rastetter, who was at that time on the search committee, calls him out of the blue in ‘late spring’, having apparently learned of Harreld’s name, phone number and possible availability by divine means. Harreld’s response to Rastetter’s overture is abject disinterest, at which point Jerre Stead, an old friend and mentor of Harreld’s– who is also on the search committee, and who coincidentally lives down the road from Harreld in Colorado — calls a week later on Rastetter’s behalf.
Now, because of Harreld’s troubled history with veracity, and because the new origin story he tells puts the lie to every previous origin story but one — and in so doing wipes out the credibility of two of the key co-conspirators involved in Harreld’s hire, as well as the credibility of Harreld himself — it must be acknowledged that there is no sense in which this new origin story can be trusted. Simply by virtue of its spontaneous generation it is not credible, and may in fact be anything from a half-truth to a self-aggrandizing fabrication to a full-on lie. But it is Harreld’s current story, and as such it is all we have to go on.
From the Press-Citizen, on 11/01/15:
From the Gazette, also on 11/01/15, we also get the motivation for Stead’s call:
So in ‘late spring’, search committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who has no prior relationship with J. Bruce Harreld, cold-calls Harreld about the Iowa job, apparently as a result of divine inspiration. Harreld, who has no interest in the job, shoots Rastetter down, precipitating a call one week later from his old friend and mentor Jerre Stead, who also happens to be a member of the search committee and a Denver neighbor. Stead begs Harreld to spend a day with several members of the search committee, and Harreld agrees, because they’re good friends.
Early June — The Kirkwood Meeting
Although the University of Iowa campus is only thirty minutes away, when Harreld flies to Iowa — apparently from Denver — his initial meeting with several members of the search committee takes place not in Iowa City but at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, only a few short miles from the Cedar Rapids/Eastern Iowa Airport. From the Gazette:
During the second straight interaction between Rastetter and Harreld, first weeks earlier on the phone, then in person, the question of Harreld applying for the Iowa job is fully and openly broached. In fact, Rastetter is so persistent that the bemused Harreld makes a joke about Rastetter’s fawning to Peter Mathes. Too, in recounting that ‘early June’ meeting at Kirkwood, Harreld claims not only that he was not interested in the job, but that he thought he was in Iowa to help aid the search process. From the Press-Citizen:
Again, though Harreld flew to Iowa to meet with three members of the search committee, he now insists that he had no interest in the job at the time, and instead frames his attendance as being incidental to the open presidency. It is also only by chance that Harreld piques Robillard’s interest in the kind of business practices that Harreld has been talking about for years, both as a business consultant and lecturer.
July 8th — The “VIP Lunch”
After the secret Kirkwood meeting, during which Rastetter repeatedly begs Harreld to take a job that Harreld emphatically insists he did not want, Robillard ostensibly follows up with Harreld regarding Harreld’s business ideas. From the Press-Citizen on 11/01/15:
Unlike the Kirkwood meeting, the July 8th meeting is not a closely held secret among the key co-conspirators. The “VIP lunch” takes place in quasi-public at UIHC, and before that sit-down Harreld presents his ideas about “sustaining success” to forty or so administrators at the hospital. In his retelling of that day, again from the weekend before he takes office, Harreld adds two useful bits of insight into his mindset. From the Gazette:
So at the end of October, only a day or two before taking office, Harreld revisits the events of July 8th after having four months to get his story straight, and insists both that he was completely disinterested in applying for the presidency, and that he was on campus solely to “work with” the UI Health Care team. Which would all be perfectly fine, except we have already shown that both of those assertions are patently false — meaning, among other things, that when Harreld utters those statements the weekend before taking office he knows they are patently false.
On July 8th, at the “VIP Lunch”, there were five key players: J. Bruce Harreld, who by his own statement was in town to “work with” administrators at UIHC; search committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who, on at least two prior occasions, begged Harreld to take the Iowa job; Jean Robillard, the search chair and vice president for medical affairs at the University of Iowa, who will also become interim president from August 1st until the end of October; and two other members of the search committee, on late invites — Sarah Gardial, dean of the business college, and Christina Bohannan, chair of the faculty senate.
As previously noted in exhaustive detail, in a post from October 18th, well before disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting, by some miracle, Harreld, Robillard and Rastetter manage to get through the entire July 8th presentation and “VIP lunch” without communicating to Gardial and Bohannan that Harreld was in town, at least in part, to do due diligence about the open presidency. At first blush that seems to jibe with what Harreld, Robillard and Rastetter said about the meeting in prior press reports, and also seems to confirm what Harreld is now saying as of three weeks ago — the he was not at UIHC because he was interested in becoming president. Yet on closer inspection it turns out that such claims were and are provably false given only the facts that were in evidence in mid-October. Now, factoring in the recent disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting only makes the intentional deception perpetrated on July 8th by Harreld, Rastetter and Robillard that much more obvious.
Here’s how Gardial and Bohannan described the July 8th meeting in a 09/16/15 Gazette report several weeks after the election, when the “VIP lunch” became public knowledge:
More from the same Gazette piece:
Again, while the July 8th “VIP lunch” is not a secret meeting, from the point of view of the full search committee — of which Robillard is the chair — the events of July 8th are also not fully disclosed. After the election it will turn out that some, and perhaps even a majority of the twenty-one person committee, had no idea Harreld was in town on July 8th, meaning no memo about Harreld’s impending visit was ever sent. That, in turn, corroborates the statements from Gardial and Bohannan that Harreld was not on a list of candidates at the time.
Yet from reporting in mid-September, well before the secret Kirkwood meeting is belatedly disclosed by Harreld, we already know that any assertions by Harreld, Rastetter or Robillard that Harreld was not in town, at least in part, to do due diligence about the presidency, are false. In the Gazette piece on 09/16/15, spokesperson Jeneane Beck does seem to confirm Robillard and Harreld’s version of events:
In a Press-Citizen report on that same day, however, and specifically in following up on a statement by Robillard in the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) several days earlier — in which Robillard flatly stated that Harreld was not a candidate for the position on July 8th — Beck ‘clarifies’ the reason for Harreld’s visit:
Even in mid-September, long before the secret Kirkwood meeting is finally disclosed by Harreld, the lie that Robillard tells to the CHE, and the subsequent correction by Beck, completely demolishes any contention that Harreld was not in town, at least in part, because of the open presidency. Yet despite having established that truth, J. Bruce Harreld repeats that same lie only a few days before taking office.
Now, by virtue of the recent disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting, it is abundantly clear that Rastetter, Robillard and Harreld all knew, as they were sitting at the table with Gardial and Bohannan, that Harreld was in town on July 8th, at least in part, because he was doing due diligence for the open presidency. Not because he was “working with”, or might in the future work with, UIHC, but because he was interested in learning about and perhaps even becoming president of the University of Iowa. Yet on that day none of those three men — including particularly Harreld — lets that cat out of the bag in front of Gardial and Bohannan. Why? If everything about Harreld’s recruitment was on the up and up, why did all three men avoid any discussion of their prior contact when they were sitting with two other members of the search committee?
The fact that Rastetter and Robillard do not inform Gardial and Bohannan of their prior contact with Harreld can only be seen as intentionally deceitful. They do not want Gardial and Bohannan to know that they have been pursuing Harreld as a candidate since ‘late spring’, or that they have previously met with him in person and broached the subject of his candidacy multiple times. And the only conceivable reason for avoiding such disclosures is that Rastetter and Robillard have already determined they are going to conspire, and indeed already are conspiring, to elect Harreld. If Rastetter and Robillard are simply engaging in “aggressive recruitment”, as Rastetter will later insist ad nauseum, there is no reason not to include Gardial and Bohannan in that effort, and no reason not to disclose their prior contact with Harreld. Which would then also mean that Harreld would already be on a committee list, which he clearly is not.
Even allowing that Rastetter and Robillard are intentionally deceiving two members of their own search committee on July 8th, if Harreld is a complete innocent — apart from repeatedly lying about why he is in town — how does Harreld avoid accidentally mentioning any prior contact with Rastetter and Robillard in front of Gardial and Bohannan? Only a month earlier he’s making jokes about Rastetter’s hard sell to Peter Matthes, but then, on July 8th, none of that comes up? How is it that Jerre Stead, who is also a member of the search committee, who called Harreld in ‘late Spring’ and actually arranged the secret Kirkwood meeting — whom Harreld himself will warmly describe the weekend before taking office as a long-time “coach” and “mentor” — does not trigger a conversation that leads to discussion of those prior contacts?
If Harreld is innocent of Rastetter and Robillard’s machinations, then the only possible explanation for why Harreld himself does not accidentally expose those machinations is pure luck. Merely by chance Harreld avoids saying any of a dozen or a hundred things that would make it clear to Gardial and Bohannan that Rastetter and Robillard knew more than they were letting on. Any reason other than luck, of course, implies that Harreld himself knows not to mention that prior contact, and that in turn means Harreld is conspiring with Rastetter and Robillard to keep Gardial and Bohannan in the dark. In that scenario Harreld not only knows that he’s in town, at least in part, to do due diligence — an established truth which Harreld, even now still openly denies — but he somehow knows that Rastetter and Robillard do not want him to disclose that reality to Gardial and Bohannan.
Now, if you’ve been following Ditchwalk you know there is one additional detail about July 8th that we have yet to address regarding Harreld’s most recent account of the events of that day. And that single detail once again obliterates everything that Harreld himself just said about the “VIP lunch” in interviews granted the weekend before taking office. Again, here are the two key assertions Harreld made about that day in the Gazette, almost four full months after the fact:
So as of three weeks ago Harreld still insists that on July 8th he was on campus to “work with” UIHC, and that he had “little interest” in the job because “even considering something else” would be a betrayal of several business clients. Yet not only is Harreld actually in town doing due diligence for the position, as confirmed by Jeneane Beck, but in reporting in mid-September it is also disclosed that Harreld’s wife not only accompanies him on that trip, but while he is giving his talk and having lunch with four members of the search committee, his wife is taking a tour of the campus and lunching elsewhere. (It is even reported that Robillard himself picks the couple up at the airport and chauffeurs them into town.)
If, as Harreld now insists, he was on campus on July 8th solely to “work with” UIHC, why is his wife touring the campus? And if, as Harreld now insists, merely considering the presidency at Iowa would have been a betrayal of his clients at that time, why is his wife touring a campus that Harrled never intends to preside over? From the Gazette, in mid-September:
Now, with Harreld’s recent disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting, there can be no conceivable reading of either Harreld’s appearance on campus on July 8th or his wife’s appearance on campus that same day except that Harreld was actively interested in the open presidency. So interested that he brought his wife with him, while also somehow simultaneously refraining from saying anything that would disclose any prior contact with Robillard and Rastetter to Gardial and Bohannan. Yet even in Harreld’s most recent telling, Harreld still presents a false version of the events of that day. (It is still not clear whether Gardial or Bohannan knew that Harreld’s wife was in town on July 8th. If they did not, that raises further questions about why that information was not communicated, even inadvertently, by Harreld.)
When we first looked at July 8th in detail, over a month ago, Rastetter seemed to be little more than a bump on a log. He was there, but unlike every other instance of preferential or secret treatment that Rastetter attended to on Harreld’s behalf, on July 8th Rastetter was oddly quiet. He was in the room, yes, but in the reporting almost incidentally so. Now, with Harreld’s disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting, including Rastetter’s persistent pursuit of Harreld as a potential candidate, his relative silence on July 8th — particularly on the subject of recruiting Harreld — becomes deafening. Only a month earlier, at the secret Kirkwood meeting, Rastetter is literally hounding Harreld to apply for the job. A month later, on July 8th, both Gardial and Bohannan report that Rastetter neither directly nor indirectly presses Harreld on the matter. In fact, quite the opposite. The job itself comes up, but there is no discussion about Harreld as a possible candidate.
[For Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld: Co-conspirator, click here.]
Happy thanksgiving all.
Only a minute here, but I believe your post about the business community meeting with Harreld is revealing. Why? http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2015/11/20/business-leaders-apologize-new-ui-president/76103852/
1. Nolte says this: “He was (the only finalist) talking about the fundamental threats that were happening to higher education,”
Really? and what are those fundamental threats Nick, I mean Mark.
2. Then Rod Lehnertz gives us god’s truth:
“He’s (Harreld) been places where it has not been easy to change culture, and he made big shifts in a forward direction,” said Lehnertz, referring to Harreld’s work at IBM, Boston Chicken and Kraft Foods.
Lehertz described the continuing opposition to Harreld as coming from a vocal minority on campus. The vast majority of the 1,700 faculty members on campus, he said, are not joining the protests against the new president.
“And when you go 5 feet off our campus, the support we have received from you and from around the state … has been remarkable,” Lehnertz told the group. “… We ask everyone to keep their chin up as ours is up.”
Lehnertz insinuates things he cannot substantiate. Interesting because that seems to be the modus operandi of this crew (including Lehnertz whose book on the UIowa campus appears to be plagiarized in part)
I could be wrong, but it seems like Lehnertz (a builder who has vast projects on the board) and Peter Matthes are 40ish, ambitious non-academic university leadership who would want a businessman in charge and not old academics.
I haven’t done all the research but Lehner and Matthes charge up into administration, without academic chops or academic experience. Why waste their time, they have things to do and places to go. People like them would want to change the ‘status quo’ which is academic experience and shared governance on campus, and not autocratic top-down business models.
If you look at the construction on college campuses it is all about ‘mall look’, which these guys knew growing up. Shiny glassy new buildings designed to attract ADHD students. They are not close to students. The don’t have to pay off college debt. But they want the mall experience of new dorms and new rec centers as monuments.
Academics want classes and books and libraries not malls; how out of touch. The UIowa which is run like a business more and more wants malls and entertainment and marketing and almost anything but substance. (the ultimate is U Cincinnati Starchitecture which ws feature in the NY time; it gives students new malls but the shcool a huge debt) http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2015/09/13/magazine/university-of-cincinnati/s/cincinnati-university-slide-ULRW.html
It fits. Boston chicken over the Ivy Halls.
To round out the thoughts above…
Marl Nolte is the head of the Iowa City Area Development Group. Apparently attracts business to the IC-CR corridor. So that role gives him great insight into the trends, the new directions, the challenges of higher education. Really?
Just listening to CNBC today, I hear that retail is in massive flux, obviously with the competition between online (Amazon) and brick and mortar. When evaluating the various retail chains analysts look at the expertise of the CEOs. One in finance, one in marketing, one in real estate etc. Even in business school, expertise in an area is important.
Therefore, where does a guy like Nolte get expertise, other than as a brown-noser? Who is he to evaluate where presidential candidates stand on challenges to education? He is guy who is making flashy brochures about the ‘Corridor’, and not like say Steinmetz at tOSU (and now Arkansas) who actually is an expert in higher education. Does Nolte not think a guy like Steinmetz has never once considered the future? Ludicrous. Would anyone think that a fellow who basically is a ‘consultant’ for 15 whole years can enumerate an accurate vision for higher ed? How does anyone get by with this tripe? And why think a marketing/tech guy from Boston Chicken is a higher education visionary?
Rodney Lehnertz too has chiseled his way up. He is a campus planner, a guy who makes grand plans about buildings and space. He is an Interim Senior Vice President. A Director of Campus and Facilities is a Senior Vice President. Weird. A building architect helping direct the future of UIowa — which is OK for campus planning, but don’t tell us how those idiot intellectuals on-campus and not found 5 foot off-campus are completely overwhelmed by support in ‘normal Iowa’ (there is now evidence of that). Going to demolish a landmark on campus — The Quad — to build something over it. Another MBA who wants to jam his vision down everyone, prolly without alot of input from faculty and staff.
Therefore I would be careful now in looking at only Rastetter, Stead, and Robillard in this appointment of an MBA as UIowa president. I bet guys like Lehnertz are on board too. (perhaps that is why Mary Harreld toured the new Hancher — show off the construction and campus planning). This is a mall, an enterprise to run students through, pluck their wallets and move them on to ‘the corridor’. Wonder what the total U debt is now, with all the new dorms, hospitals, halls etc.
Not to demean the role of campus planning and layout (although a visitor might inquire looking at the maze of disparate styles in haphazard places if there is any planning or coordination) but what is really important: a flashy new rec center with sparkling weight machines, or a fantastic faculty/staff in the Religion or Biology departments? How do you want to impress mom and dad: shiny glass buildings for which they can fork over monies, or a weird eccentric but brilliant writer in the Writer’s Workshop?
Why trust liberal pointy-head academics, when flashy fast-talking MBAs know the future?
If there was a Big Lie in the Harreld hire it was the idea that the other three candidates knew nothing about business. They were not only steeped in business, they were steeped in the very business that J. Bruce Harreld now requires mentorship and coaching in to be merely adequate.
The lie works because at root all of these people care about nothing other than money and power. They don’t care about education as an ideal or a pursuit, they don’t care about the individual students, they don’t care about the academic health of the school. Put a roomful of business people together and promise them money at the end of the road and most of them will go for anything, including committing crimes. Which is why they’re not at all concerned that Harreld’s election was fixed. It’s just meaningless to them.
As for Lehnertz, that whole ‘chin up’ bit made me want to puke. Like he’s enduring the Blitz during World War II.
I don’t think Stead, Rastetter, Robillard and Harreld are the only players, but I do think they’re collectively the head of the snake. Everybody else would be sucking up to anyone who was the president, because that’s how they succeed.
The snake is the threat.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to you too.
I think it’s understandable that different constituencies would see the university, and the president of the university, from different perspectives. Everybody wants something, the president gets pulled in all directions, no surprise.
What does surprises me about the business community in general, and the apologizers in particular, is that their appeal to Harreld, and on his behalf, can only be described — particularly in an academic context — as brown-nosing. And bad brown-nosing at that.
Whatever they want from Harreld, allying yourself with the cause of hiring fraud is pretty shallow. Even if your own interests are equally shallow.
I agree that some of these people don’t want to deal with the academic side of the university. It’s nuts, but then again I’m sure there are hoteliers who love their job, except for the guests.
As for me, I remain aghast that the entire question of Harreld’s candidacy had nothing to do with the students, and only distantly addressed the health of the faculty. Now that he’s in office, Harreld himself is pandering by threatening to throw money at everyone, even as his mere presence will keep the best hires away.
[This is Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld: Co-Conspirator. For Part 1, click here.]
Despite having barely begun our investigation, it is already important to pause and take stock of where we are. In discussing July 8th we are looking at Harreld’s first appearance on campus. Yet even today, given almost four full months to get his story straight, Harreld’s most recent statements are gibberish if not outright falsities.
If you genuinely believe you can reconcile Harreld’s most recent comments about July 8th with the events of that day, including particularly his wife’s tour of the campus, please hit ‘reply’ immediately below and explain. Because I do not believe even the most ardent Harreld supporter can make sense of what Harreld did and what he most recently said he did, for all of the reasons just discussed.
On the other hand, there is an extremely simple narrative that does bring everything into focus. The simplest explanation for why Rastetter suddenly falls silent on the subject of recruiting Harreld, and why Robillard asserts in the press that Harreld was not a candidate at the time when he clearly was considering the job, and why Harreld was not yet on a committee list, and why Harreld’s wife accompanied him on the trip, and why Harreld himself said nothing that unintentionally betrayed the secret Kirkwood meeting that Jerre Stead set up, which Rastetter and Robillard both attended, is that as of July 8th Harreld was already committed to applying for the job, and actively conspiring with Rastetter and Robillard to ensure his election.
Again, if you’re a Harreld fan, or maybe one of the apologizers who met recently to show support for Harreld, or you’re an all-in university employee who believes in Harreld as a visionary leader, or simply as a meal ticket, or you’re a proponent of Jean Robillard, or you even are Jean Robillard, please take the time to explain how all of those things do not point to J. Bruce Harreld being a co-conspirator in the corruption that leads to his eventual appointment. Because in doing so you will disabuse me of the notion that J. Bruce Harreld is and will be an illegitimate leader of the University of Iowa as long as he remains in office.
On the other hand, if you believe, as I do, that no coherent narrative can be spun from the facts of July 8th, in combination with Harreld’s most recent statements, then we need go no further in showing that Harreld’s presidency is illegitimate. Simply by virtue of his actions and statements, as reported in the press, we can assert that on July 8th J. Bruce Harreld was indeed one of the co-conspirators in what was already a fraudulent search and selection process.
That in turn would raise serious questions about events in the search that we have yet to discuss, and call into question Harred’s most recent statements about the secret Kirkwood meeting and the preceding phone calls from Stead and Rastetter. Because if Harreld is still lying about July 8th, it is entirely possible that the Kirkwood meeting was not as Harreld described it, and that the phone call from Rastetter was not the inciting event which alerting Harreld to the Iowa job. For example, it may well be that Harreld’s attendance at the secret Kirkwood meeting was not a favor for an old friend, but an off-the-record work session where Harreld, Robillard, Rastetter and Matthes gamed out how the search process would be corrupted.
In any case, before we proceed, please take a moment and decide what you believe Harreld’s mindset was on July 8th, when he somehow managed to avoid mentioning, to Gardial and Bohannan, any of the prior contact that he had already had with Stead, Rastetter and Robillard. And if you’re confused, here are the two possibilities:
1) Despite recent claims to the contrary, Harreld is on campus on July 8th, with his wife, doing due diligence about the open presidency, but he is not a party to the conspiratorial fraud that Rastetter and Robillard are already perpetrating on his behalf.
2) Despite recent claims to the contrary, Harreld is on campus on July 8th in order to gain buy-in both from his wife and from members of the UIHC administration, and as such is already party to the conspiratorial fraud that Rastetter and Robillard are perpetrating on his behalf.
And yes, given the facts, those are the only two possible choices.
July 30th — The Secret Regent Meetings
Three weeks after the “VIP lunch” and spousal campus tour on July 8th, J. Bruce Harreld arrives in Ames, Iowa, at Regents President Bruce Rastetter’s private place of business, to have two secret meetings with four regents total — two at each meeting. While Rastetter arranged the meetings, and is hosting them at his office, he in not in attendance when Harreld first meets with two regents who are on the search committee, then two who are not. (After the meetings, Harreld then dines with ISU President Steven Leath — another connection facilitated by the ever-dutiful Rastetter.
After meeting with those four regents, and having already met with Rastetter on at least two occasions, Harreld has had face time with five of the nine regents on the board, giving him a majority if all five regents vote for him during the final election on September 3rd. At the same time, neither Rastetter nor search chair Robillard ensure that the other committee members and candidates are informed that such obviously beneficial meetings are available. Instead, Rastetter and Robillard make sure that the meetings between Harreld and the four regents are not known to anyone else at the time, and remain unknown until weeks after the election. (At least one of the other regents on the board will be completely shocked to learn, subsequent to the vote to elect Harreld, that those meetings took place.)
When reports of the secret regent meetings finally surface in late September, after the election, former committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter insists that he was compelled by Harreld’s voracious determination to do due diligence — for a job that Harreld still asserts he did not want at the time, even as he was on his third trip to the state in less than two months — to provide secret meetings with four regents at his own personal place of power. This argument will be repeated when it is also disclosed that Rastetter arranged for Governor Terry Branstad to call Harreld “sometime in August”, even though, again, no other candidate received similar consideration, and no one besides Rastetter, Harreld and Branstad knew of the call until after the election.
From late September until late October Rastetter remains uncomfortably alone in asserting that Harreld requested meetings with regents, as well as access to Leath. Then, suddenly, in the Gazette interview conducted just prior to taking office, Harreld confirms all of Rastetter’s claims:
While Harreld’s spectacularly exacting alibi does fit Rastetter’s version of events, note that it still does nothing to explain why Rastteter, and, presumably, Robillard, kept such opportunities secret from the other committee members and candidates. Because by doing so they demolished any pretext that the search was fair, while also showing demonstrable and repeated preferential treatment in favor of Harreld.
The only remaining question about the secret regent meetings on July 30th is whether Harreld himself was aware of the duplicity being engineered by Rastetter and Robillard. In order to make that determination yourself — provided you did not already conclude that Harreld was a co-conspirator on or before the events of July 8th — here are the two options for Harreld regarding the secret regent meetings:
1) J. Bruce Harreld does indeed demand, and Rastetter provides, meetings with four regents, which Harreld then, by chance, does not mention again until three months later, just before taking office.
2) Bruce Rastetter arranges, and J. Bruce Harreld knowingly participates in, secret meetings with four regents which are designed to ensure buy-in by a voting majority of the board.
If Harreld is not a co-conspirator, he somehow not only gets lucky with his cagey demand, but by remaining silent about the meetings Harreld once again unwittingly aids Rastetter in fixing the election in Harreld’s favor. Alternatively, if Harreld is in on the fix, then secretly meeting with four regents of Rastetter’s choosing not only makes it more likely, if not guarantees, that Harreld will have the necessary votes as long as he is one of the four finalists sent to the board by the search committee, it prevents the search committee from knowing about that preferential treatment until after selection of the four finalists takes place.
August 11th and 12th — The “Airport Interviews”
On August 4th, only five days after the secret regent meetings, the entire search committee meets and whittles the candidates down from forty-six applicants to nine who will participate in “airport interviews”. Because the committee’s business was and still is confidential, we have no visibility into how the cutdown process unfolds, and particularly into any disclosures that may have been made about or by J. Bruce Harreld. What we do know, however, is that despite having no experience in academic administration, and despite having submitted a resume burgeoning with errors and omissions, Harreld miraculously makes the cut.
On August 11th and 12th the nine semi-finalists are interviewed by the entire search committee. Again, because of confidentiality we have no visibility into what was or was not said…save one particular oddity that will occur shortly after Harreld is elected. On September 4th, one day after the election, search committee member Jerre Stead will make a statement that subsequently proves to be a lie. As it turns out, from that false statement we can actually infer that a whole host of things were not said during Harreld’s airport interview, because if any of those things had been said Stead could not have uttered that particular falsehood.
When J. Bruce Harreld is interviewed by the search committee the following people are all in the same room for the first time: Bruce Rastetter, who was Harreld’s first point of contact, who met Harreld fact to face during the secret Kirkwood meeting, who arranged the secret regent meetings at his own place of business, who put Harreld in touch with Leath and brokered a phone call from the governor; Jean Robillard, the search chair, who also met with Harreld during the secret Kirkwood meeting, and who later invited Harreld and his wife to the Iowa campus on July 8th; Sarah Gardial and Christina Bohannan, who met Harreld on July 8th; Peter Matthes (ex officio), who met Harreld during the secret Kirkwood meeting; regents Katie Mulholland and Milt Dakovich, who met Harreld during the secret regent meetings at Rastetter’s business on July 30th; and last but not least, Jerre Stead, who called Harred in ‘late spring’ to urge him to consider the Iowa job, who arranged the secret Kirkwood meeting, who lives in Colorado near Harreld, and who is Harreld’s long-time “freind”, “coach” and “mentor”.
By all accounts, though Harreld has had face time with everyone else during the search, this is the first time that he finds himself in the same room with Jerre Stead in what remains a closely guarded secret amount of time by both man. It is also clear that among all of the people involved in the search process, Harreld has, by far, the longest association with Stead, and that association stretches back decades. In fact, Stead himself will comment on their longstanding association only a day after the election, which means it’s also possible that at some point Harreld and Stead shared that association with the rest of the committee during the airport interview. And why wouldn’t they? Old friends and business associates, fellow Coloradans, now brought together by chance — it’s a heartwarming story.
Except we know that it was not pure chance that brought them together. By Harreld’s own account it was Stead who convinced him to give Rastetter a second chance, and it was Stead who arranged the secret Kirkwood meeting. Whether Harreld and Stead had any other contact about the search, either prior to or subsequent to Rastetter’s initial call in ‘late spring’, it is clear that Jerre Stead and J. Bruce Harreld were in contact during the search process. Yet by virtue of the lie that Stead will tell on September 4th, it is also necessarily the case that Harreld cannot have disclosed their contact during the search process to the committee as a whole, because doing so would have made it impossible for Stead to tell the lie that he tells. Harreld and Stead can talk about old times in front of the search committee, but they cannot talk about the fact that Stead called Harreld in ‘late spring’, or that Stead set up the secret meeting at Kirkwood.
So, how does it transpire that Harreld says nothing about those particular interactions during his airport interview, and that Rastetter, Robillard, Stead and Matthes also say nothing about those interactions? Because if any one of them talks about the secret meeting at Kirkwood, or even the phone call form Stead in ‘late spring’, then Stead cannot tell the lie that he tells on September 4th. Is Harreld once again simply lucky, failing by pure chance to accidentally say one of fifty things that might tip off others about the machinations of the co-conspirators on the search committee, or does Harreld fail to mention any of that because Harreld himself is one of the co-conspirators?
While Harreld can acknowledge having met Rastetter, Robillard, Garidal and Bohannan on July 8th, he cannot acknowledge having met Matthes at Kirkwood (unless he also met Matthes on July 8th), and he cannot acknowledge having met with Mulholland and Dakovich during the secret meetings on July 30th, unless he also met with them at some other time. And that’s all true whether Harreld is or is not a co-conspirator in his own hire. Simply by acknowledging contact with others — which he would be more likely to do if he genuinely was oblivious to the conspiracy doggedly shepherding him through the search and selection process — he calls attention to events that Rastetter, Robillard and others clearly do not want made public at that time, if ever. Which once again leaves us with two choices, provided you have not already concluded that Harreld himself was a co-conspirator.
1) There is either no time for Harreld to chat with Jerre Stead, or Harreld simply gets lucky and makes no inadvertent mention of prior contact with Stead during the search process, or of the secret Kirkwood meeting that Stead brokered, which was attended by Robillard, Rastetter and Matthes.
2) Harreld, Stead, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes have agreed in advance that there will be no mention of their prior contact with Harreld during or prior to the secret Kirkwood meeting, and for that reason Harreld refrains from making any mention of that prior contact during his airport interview.
Once again, if Harreld is not a co-conspirator, he has to be lucky not to accidentally betray what the co-conspirators are up to. On the other hand, if Harreld is a co-conspirator, all he, Stead, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes have to do is keep their mouths shut. In any event, after the search committee selects Harreld and three others to move on to the Board of Regents, the search committee is disbanded.
September 1st — The J. Bruce Harreld Open Forum
The next public sighting of J. Bruce Harreld occurs when he participates in an open forum shortly before the election. Of the four finalists he is the last to appear, meaning he has the shortest amount of time to wait — and thus endure scrutiny — before the final vote takes place. (It is not clear how that scheduling was arrived at.)
When the July 8th “VIP lunch” was first widely reported after the election, back in mid-September, we previously took a close look at how J. Bruce Harreld managed to get through the entire open forum without once mentioning that he had been on campus two months earlier. A particularly notable accomplishment given that Jean Robillard, who invited Harreld and his wife to the campus on July 8th, was actually in the audience during Harreld’s open forum.
Now, given Harreld’s disclosure of the secret Kirkwood meeting — meaning July 8th was actually his second visit to the state — along with prior disclosures about the governor’s phone call and the secret regent meetings, to say nothing of Harreld’s longstanding relationship with search committee member Jerre Stead, it seems truly amazing that none of those prior contacts or associations came up during Harreld’s one-and-a-half hour talk. On what was then his fourth visit to the state in two months, somehow, despite forty-five minutes of extemporaneous remarks and forty-five minutes of Q&A, there was never a second where Harreld mentioned any of the actions of the co-conspirators doggedly maneuvering him toward the final vote. Even if only to brag, Harreld never once said, “Why, just the other day I was talking to Governor Branstad….” Even if only to ingratiate himself with the bloodthirsty masses, Harreld never said, “When my wife and I visited your lovely campus in July….” Even if only to establish some faint tie to the university, Harreld never said, “Well, as my old friend, mentor and coach, Jerre Stead used to say….”
At the time not only is Harreld’s blatant lack of qualifications raising concerns, and not only are the flaws in his resume being exposed, but people are beginning to suspect a ‘done deal’ simply because he’s one of the four finalists. Not surprisingly that incredulity will go through the roof when Harreld is actually elected, particularly after garnering only 3% support in a survey taken after his open forum appearance. So how does Harreld get through a solid ninety minutes doing a solo in front of a roomful of university students, faculty and staff, and not once mention having been in the state before? Again, assuming you have not already concluded that J. Bruce Harreld was a co-conspirator in his own fraudulent hire, there are your choices.
1) By pure luck J. Bruce Harreld does not mention his prior relationship with Stead, the secret Kirkwood meeting, the July 8th semi-public “VIP lunch”, or the secret regent meetings, and thus does not inadvertently give away the machinations of the co-conspirators.
2) Because J. Bruce Harreld is himself a co-conspirator he knows the election has already been fixed at the Board of Regents, and that all he has to do to become the next president at the University of Iowa is keep his mouth shut about the events which secured his nomination by the committee.
Once again, if we assume that Harreld is not a co-conspirator, then he may well be the luckiest man in history. While others are conspiring to see him elected, he blithely manages to avoid saying anything about multiple conspiratorial events that he himself participated in, which would then tip others off as to the machinations taking place behind the scenes. On the other hand, if he is a co-conspirator, his silence regarding prior visits and prior contacts with members of the search committee, and particularly his long-time association with Jerre Stead, who is, among other things, a generally beloved big-money donor at the University of Iowa, is self-explanatory.
September 3rd — The Regent Interviews and Vote
During the final stage of the election at the Board of Regents, the four remaining candidates are interviewed, discussed and voted on. In a shocking upset, long-shot candidate J. Bruce Harreld, who has no previous ties to the university, no experience in academic administration, three percent support among those responding to a poll after his open forum, and a resume so godawful it should have disqualified him from consideration, is named president-elect of the University of Iowa.
Again, because the regent interviews and deliberations were confidential we have no visibility into what was or was not said…except for subsequent statements by one of the regents, which allow us to reach one firm conclusion. Neither Regent President Rastetter, nor any of the four regents who met with Harreld in secret on July 30th, informed the full board of those meetings. We know that because at least one regent — Subhash Sahai — was among those shocked to learn of those meetings when they were reported in the press, weeks after the election.
While it’s obvious why Rastetter and the four conspiring regents would not have tipped their hand before the final vote, once again we are left with two familiar options regarding J. Bruce Harreld.
1) By pure chance, during the regent interviews, J. Bruce Harreld does not acknowledge to the full board, or to the four regents he has not met, that he previously met either of the two regents who were not on the search committee.
2) J. Bruce Harreld does not acknowledge having met those two regents because is a co-conspirator, and he knows doing so would betray the secret regent meetings that took place at Rastetter’s place of business.
In either case, the fact that at least one regent does not know about the secret regent meetings which Rastetter arranged at his place of business on July 30th, means that Rastetter and those four regents did conspire to withhold that information from the full board. And the only conceivable reason for doing so is that their secrecy materially benefited J. Bruce Harreld’s candidacy before the board.
September 3rd — President-elect Harreld Lies
The next public sighting of J. Bruce Harreld takes place on the same day, when he is announced as the winning candidate. Importantly, he is no longer Candidate Harreld but President-elect Harreld, a title he will hold for the next two months, until he takes office on November 2nd. In comments only moments after the election, J. Bruce Harreld takes the opportunity to represent the University of Iowa by lying about the origin of his candidacy. Here is the lie, as reported by Eric Kelderman for the Chronicle of Higher Education:
When Harreld makes that statement, only moments after being elected, he knows he is lying. It may well be that Mitch Daniels submitted Harreld’s official nomination to Parker Executive Search, but it is not possible that he did so prior to the ‘late spring’ phone call from Rastetter, the subsequent call from Stead, or the secret ‘early June’ meeting at Kirkwood, all of which involved members of the search committee, albeit conspiratorially so. We know that is not possible because Gardial and Bohannan both state that Harreld is not on a committee list as late as July 8th, which he would have been had his name been submitted to the committee. By virtue of Harreld’s own participation in the early phone calls and the secret meeting at Kirkwood, it is also not possible that he simply misspeaks or does not understand the ramifications of what he his saying. Instead, in suggesting that he was brought to the attention of the search committee by Purdue President Mitch Daniels, President-elect Harreld is conspiring with Stead, Rastetter, Robillard and Matthes to keep those prior points of contact secret.
Which means, for the first time, there is now only one option:
1) J. Bruce Harreld is a co-conspirator in the cover-up of his own fraudulent hire.
While Harreld’s full remarks after the election were not reported, because of what happens next we also know that he does not mention his prior contact with Stead during the search process.
September 4th — Jerre Stead Lies
One day after the election Jerre Stead explains his prior relationship with J. Bruce Harreld to the Gazette:
As previously detailed (scroll down to 16), when Stead makes these statements he know he is lying because he both called Harreld personally and arranged the secret Kirkwood meeting in ‘late spring’. At the same time, and for the exact same reasons, as soon as Stead’s lies are published Harreld himself is aware that Stead is lying.
So what does President-elect Harreld do? Does he correct Stead’s lie, thus protecting the integrity of the University of Iowa? No, he protects Stead’s lie for two full months, only disclosing the Kirkwood meeting and his prior contact with Stead on the eve of taking office. Meaning, again, that there is only one option:
1) J. Bruce Harreld is a co-conspirator in the cover-up of his own fraudulent hire.
In roughly twenty-four hours, given two opportunities to tell the truth about his origin story as a candidate, President-elect J. Bruce Harreld instead assists in the cover-up of his fraudulent hire. First, by telling a lie designed to obscure the fraud perpetrated on his behalf, and second, by refusing to correct a lie which is designed to obscure the fraud perpetrated on his behalf.
J. Bruce Harreld: Co-conspirator
For the next two months, as President-elect J. Bruce Harreld is reportedly working behind the scenes, talking with and meeting people on campus, he remains silent on key points about his own hire that have yet to be answered. Included among them are any prior contact with Jerre Stead in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and how Rastetter got his name and number, let alone knew he existed. Only on the eve of taking office does Harreld even reveal the secret Kirkwood meeting and the phone calls from Stead and Rastetter.
By keeping silent about secret meetings that he himself participated in, President-elect J. Bruce Harreld allows assorted minions an additional two months to erect a retroactive narrative in which Harreld’s conduct is separated from the equally corrupt actions of the other key co-conspirators in his hire. Instead of revealing that Harreld’s fraudulent hire was also an inside job administered by Jean Robillard, and abetted by Harreld himself, it is portrayed, at worst, as a bureaucratic imposition by the Board of Regents. And yet, had Harreld disclosed, prior to the election, any of the information he was privy to about the preferential treatment he received as Candidate Harreld, including why and how he knew to keep silent about that treatment during key public and procedural moments, he may still have been elected, but his complicity — and thus his illegitimacy — would have been apparent to everyone. Like it is now.
Very interesting questions you pose.
One point: Jerre Stead also ‘lives’ in Scottsdale AZ, which is sometimes called his vacation home. He apparently splits time between there and the Inverness Business Park, the campus of IHS. http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_24843280/business-civic-leader-jerre-stead-named-business-person
Stead likely lived closer to Harreld in Barrington IL.
The J Bruce Harreld narrative starts in 2014. It was then, the Iowa Board of Regents,and likely Jean Robillard tired of Sally Mason as President; I contend she was forced out to a degree. Busted to the level of a puppet, it doesn’t seem she was very happy in her role at Iowa.
Also in 2014, Harvard decided to terminate Harreld (or he resigned); given his frequent name dropping of Harvard I suggest the former. He sold his house in Cambridge MA, and moved back to either FL, CO, or CT. Between end of 2014 and June 2015, appears that Harreld started a consulting business in MA but had not transferred it to CO (using the wrong address on his CV), dusted up a very very dirty old CV, and hung out.
Along the line, Harreld says in his video interview ‘Someone at Boston Consulting referred him to the BOR (and I think it was Scott M Sperling, a fellow with links to Rastetter and Boston Consulting, and not Daniels) although from the expression on Harreld’s face he could be fabricating that ‘fact’.
Give your theses that really lean toward Harreld as a co-conspirator, perhaps one issue is cleared-up. Harreld’s almost criminal lack of knowledge about the Univ of Iowa shown in his public dog and pony act on Sept 1.
Harreld cites Wiki on the Univ of Iowa, a really pretty silly reference in front of an academic crowd, almost certain to bring ridicule (and it sure did). That makes no sense for an engineer, a corporate VP, a man who taught at Harvard to know almost nothing about the huge enterprise of higher education than to look it up on Wiki. This is a person who took a call from the Governor of Iowa, who talked to the VP of ISU, who had recently traveled to Iowa, and he is citing Wiki?
1. Harreld really is that uninformed, so uninformed that he doesn’t know how to put together a bona fide academic CV, in an honest way, and that he didn’t spend any time reading about the Univ of Iowa even though volumes of information exist out there — and he cannot use ‘I was busy’ as an excuse because he was unemployed, or
2. Harreld did not want to give away the secret game. He wanted to appear ‘interested, informed, but fresh and committed to learning’ rather than appear like an insider who knew what conspired between Rastetter, Robillard, Stead, and all the others.
Other reports indicate a person who really doesn’t understand a complicated research university, who asked for coaching up, who called upon the football team to provide leadership preventing sexual abuse on campus (OMG!), all naive perspectives.
On the other hand Harreld refers to movements in education like online schools that are the ‘talk around Harvard’ indicating he thinks he has the pulse on higher education. He refers to some old business lines leading to organizational change (although this BS isn’t new)
Is the guy losing his cognitive abilities? He forgets things?
Examining Robillard’s statements — posing Bill Gates as a candidate for president (obscenely ridiculous); saying Harreld is a ‘breath of fresh air’ — leads one to believe he was setting things up for a long time too. If you take that ‘fresh air’ comment literally it means Robillard is tired of breathing the old fetid, flatulent academic air, exhaled by typical academics. He wants a business guy, a person who will pay attention to the UIHC and not to the campus in general (has Robillard ever mentioned anything about Liberal Arts, or Nursing, or Education? No he is all about his own office and the UIHC). So here comes this person who loves the UIHC, isn’t interested in Home-Ec or Chemistry, or Journalism, who appears to be a perfect pawn to Robillard’s empire building.
The other MBAs in administration get on-board with Harreld’s recruiting, and basically pleasing a Jerre Stead (already a 50 million dollar UIowa donor) is a benefit.
However one big process stands in the way: the official ‘shared governance’, search. Parker is still compiling names. The Univ Counsel is still advising search committee members to only evaluate submitted materials, and public documents. People are told not to write about things that may be ‘discovered’ as almost certainly there will be a challenge via FOIA or lawsuits.
And thus the shaky ever-changing narrative is developed that presents Harreld as a candidate, but not a candidate; as presidential, but not presidential (fresh air); as innovative, and changing organizations, but need coaching, and needs a CV make-over.
As far as conspiracies go, this is more ‘Airplane’ than J.F.K. or The Manchurian Candidate.
Maybe more like All the Presidents Men (with buffoonery) than House of Cards.
Which video are you talking about — meaning the one where you say Harreld references how he was brought to the attention of the search committee or BoR?
I do think that Harreld betrayed his participation in the conspiracy when he appeared in the open forum. There are a couple of moments that have always stood out to me, which I plan to address shortly in a broader context.
And yes, his general laziness in presenting his resume and doing his homework — even as he most recently asserted that he was an insatiable vacuum of information for months on end — fits that narrative. This is not a man who felt that his performance on that day would affect his grade.
Again, the degree to which he omitted so many opportunities to even talk about his prior visits to Iowa says as much. If you’ve talked to the governor and you’ve hobnobbed with the president of the board of regents and the head of the search committee and your wife has visited the campus, and you feel as if you need to earn the respect of the people you’re talking to, you play some of those cards. Maybe badly, but you play them.
Harreld’s instinct the entire time was to betray nothing, and the only conceivable reason for that is that he already knew the vote was in the bag.
Here is the video, go to about 0.50 (with the point at 0.55) where he says Rastetter got his name from someone at Boston Consulting. He also says then one week later Jerre Stead calls.
It is now three months to the day since J. Bruce Harreld was fraudulently elected as the new president of the University of Iowa. While it has been relatively easy for Harreld’s co-conspirators to fade into the shadows over that time, and Harreld himself was able to hide for two full months between his election on September 3rd and taking office on November 2nd, for the past month or so Harreld has been publicly wrestling with a very big problem. As it turns out, because the job he helped steal inherently involves media attention, as well as all sorts of messy interpersonal dynamics that don’t exist in the business world, like freedom of speech, it has been considerably more difficult for Harreld to stage-manage his presidency than it would have been if had lied his way into a similar position in the private sector. (Yet another important difference between academic administration and the business world that Harreld may have failed to appreciate.)
The obvious solution would be for Harreld to stop saying stupid, pig-headed things that not only remind the university community that he is the puppet leader of an occupying power, but make it implicitly clear that he has nothing but blatant contempt for the intelligence of the people he’s talking to. Yet until the beginning of this very week there was no evidence to suggest that Harreld was capable of being mentored, coached or even dragged in that direction. In fact, until Thanksgiving break Harreld not only seemed determined to say things that were antagonistic, at times he seemed so genuinely obvious to the insults coming from his own lips that I began to wonder about the man’s marbles.
As is always the case, it is of course dangerous to start mucking around in someone’s mind in order to divine the initiating cause for an act or behavior. As a matter of policy Ditchwalk is disinterested in motive precisely because it usually provides no useful predictive value. In a narrative context, yet, it’s always fun to speculate about motive, and even more fun to author, but in the real world motive usually turns out to be obscured by the human condition. The more you think you know about someone, the less you really do, proving once again that it’s generally better to ignore what people say and only pay attention to what they do.
The problem for J. Bruce Harreld is that much of what he does as president actually hinges on what he says, and thus, by extension, on his credibility as a speaker. Like a diplomat, language is the tool of his trade, so it seems fair to hold him to a higher standard — particularly given how often he complains about being the object of linguistic indignities similar to the ones that he so freely dispenses. So fair enough: we will all look to maintain a very high linguistic bar, while also remembering that J. Bruce Harreld and a small group of co-conspirators actually did hijack a billion dollar research university.
J. Bruce Harreld: Transformer
While I certainly wouldn’t claim that the Harreld posts on this site are editorially neutral in any sense, for the most part I have tried to lean as heavily as possible on facts in evidence, and away from any latent desire to start screaming and typing words like !$%*#@ and *&!^#@. I adopted that reserved approach not only because I know that Governor Branstad, Regents President Bruce Rastetter, Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard, Harreld Mentor Jerre Stead, and J. Bruce Harreld himself are all exceedingly sensitive individuals, at least when it comes to their deep and abiding respect for professionalism, but because, again, I was more interested in what happened than why. Too, while it’s always fun to rant on a blog, or even in front of one of the people who really did just steal a billion-dollar research university in plain sight, acting like a loon does tend to make people feel uncomfortable, which then allows the sniveling perpetrators to portray themselves as victims of incivility.
Still, in watching J. Bruce Harreld over the past three months I have noticed an odd moment here and there. None of it proved anything — at least in terms of the actual fraud — but each stood out in its own way, like a misplayed note in the wrong key. I can’t even say I filed them away for later reference, but for one reason or another those discordant notes stayed with me, and as often as not I was reminded of them by something Harreld subsequently said.
Taken in sum, however, those moments of convergence not only demonstrated that Harreld seemed to be learning nothing on the job, I began to suspect that he might not have the temperament, or even the psychological facility, to preside over a large-scale institution of higher learning. Now, for the record, not only do I not have the temperament or psychological facility to helm a major research university, I would hope that if I ever lost my bearings and applied for such a position, that the search and selection committee would do its job and disqualify me at the earliest opportunity. Which is of course what should have happened with J. Bruce Harreld, but did not.
The first of what became many moments of concern about J. Bruce Harreld’s psyche occurred during his open forum, on September 1st. I don’t remember when I first watched that performance but I do remember one moment in particular that raised a red flag, fleeting as it was. It occurred during the question and answer session, in what seemed to be an otherwise innocuous exchange:
If you can’t play the video, there is a bit of back and forth with a questioner, at which point the questioner apologizes for having interrupted Harreld. The questioner then asks Harreld to continue about whatever he was going to say, but Harreld’s response is blunt and icy: “No. I’m done.” And from the look on Harreld’s face he clearly is not going to talk to that person any more.
While there are a lot of ways I could pick that response apart, including pointing out that the questioner is a woman and a staffer, even at the time I didn’t think gender or class bias was making itself momentarily known. Having now watched the entire video multiple times, I think my original response was right, which is that J. Bruce Harreld just doesn’t like being personally challenged. In his head he’s got a role he wants to play — that of the benevolent and learned great man, parachuting in from his chalet in the Rockies to help the rubes and yokels at Iowa transition from the agonizingly intolerable status quo of ‘great’ to the minimally acceptable bar of ‘greater’ — and any response that isn’t in tune with that needy self-image causes him trouble.
If you were to watch the entire ninety-plus minutes with that internal point of view in mind, I think you would see what I’m getting at. During the first 38 minutes or so, when Harreld is doing his lecture bit, he’s relaxed, engaged, and clearly on familiar ground. Yes, the whole ‘great to greater’ thing goes over like a lead balloon, but you can see that Harreld in his element — doling out information and exulting in being the messenger. As soon as the questioning starts, however, his entire demeanor changes. And if you think I’m joking, here is that transition:
In under ninety seconds Harreld goes from his jaunty hand-on-hip pose to having his arms folded across his chest. Open, to closed. And yes, I know the whole body-language thing is overblown, but still — that physical transition presages what then becomes a gradual mental transition from ‘benevolent Harreld’ to ‘beleaguered Harreld’. Instead of demonstrating the excellent listening skills that any professional academic administrator internalizes in their first few years on the job, Harreld starts making conversational and interpersonal assumptions which prove to be wrong, interjecting and cutting off questioners, and generally just trying to control or manage the conversation. Where he is loose and personable early, the questioning wears him down, and doesn’t handle it well.
To be clear, I’m sure some of what Harreld endured that day wasn’t fun, but when he summarily slammed the door on that staffer there was nothing crazy happening. In fact, for comparison, here’s the real train wreck from that day, which occurred toward the end of the Q&A:
(Don’t miss the ‘get me out of here’ offstage glance at 1:32:10.)
No matter how many times I watch that video I come away with the same impression. When J. Bruce Harreld gets to play business mentor or guru or visionary or whatever he thinks he’s all about, he’s fine. But the moment he actually has to demonstrate some diplomacy, or simply let something pass, he falters. He’s certainly up for a challenge, but as often as not in that off-putting way that people have when they think they’re the smartest person in the room. And all I can think when I’m watching him is that this is what you get when you pass on hiring a candidate steeped in academic administration, and instead choose a veteran of business environments in which there is almost always a clear authoritarian hierarchy, and an implicit threat that goes with it.
On that score there is a particularly revealing moment very earlier on, where Harreld talks about his ambivalence about taking the position, and about how others can’t quite figure out why he wants the job:
Not surprisingly, in explaining his tepid motivation for even considering the job, Harreld focuses on his past experience leading organizations through the spine-tingling gauntlet of transformational change. That is not only what he sees himself doing by profession, that is how he sees himself in terms of identity — as a transformational leader. The problem with that, which hearkens back to Harreld’s own undergraduate and graduate education, is that J. Bruce Harreld is, at root, a systems and processes guy. He is, by training, an engineer, and it is on that basis that he has twice been recognized with awards by his alma mater, Purdue.
Yes, all of life involves involves human dynamics, and when Harreld picked up his MBA he undoubtedly learned a great deal more about human interaction, but only as a means to a business end. In education, and particularly higher education, human dynamics are not only critical to teaching, they are the entire point of any campus culture, which, when carefully nurtured, then produces excellence as a byproduct. (To be fair, Harreld does point out at the 16:28 mark that he does not have a liberal arts education.)
It is tempting to think that Harreld betrays his system-and-process myopia here, when he talks about his passion for shared governance, because he actually gets the concept wrong twice — and that’s without taking into account his personal complicity in the evisceration of shared governance which occurred during his election:
First, Harreld references the ‘student body’ at IBM, when the correct analogy would be the ‘faculty body’, because of course students pay for their education. Second, in describing shared governance at IBM, what Harreld is actually describing is little more than market research, albeit gussied up to generate buy-in. Shared governance is literally that: shared control. It is not being listened to, being polled, being quizzed, or otherwise submitting feedback. (This very basic concept, again and again, seems to be a real problem for business people in academia, witness the remorseless betrayal perpetrated by the Rastetter-led Iowa Board of Regents during the final days of the election.)
The problem with asserting that Harreld simply doesn’t understand the concept of shared governance, however, is that later in the open forum he accurately explains the difference between feedback and governance to a student questioner:
How many of the rank and file employees at IBM, whom Harreld used in his example of shared governance, actually had a vote? Not a participatory role, whether real or shamtastic, but actual decision making power? And the answer is none. How many at Kraft Foods? None. How many at Boston Chicken/Market? None.
In the end, all of those businesses, while employing many people, were nothing more than complex systems and processes, and Harreld the business engineer tackled the challenges at those companies on a bottom-line, spreadsheet, quarterly profit basis. Unfortunately, as much as Harreld and other uninformed members of the business community would like to pretend otherwise, that is not what higher education is about, and that is not what shared governance is about.
The disconnect between Harreld’s two answers left me with a problem. How was he able to so clearly articulate the premise of governance, and thus shared governance, to a student, yet his long-winded example of that same process was flatly wrong? Was he being shifty in the first instance, perhaps preemptively selling some watered-down version of shared governance, or did he himself not even notice the disconnect?
J. Bruce Harreld: Savior
While I am usually disinterested in questions of motive, from time to time I have found myself wondering why Harreld wanted the Iowa job. Early on I favored the simplest possible motive, which was that he needed the money. As it turned out, however, not only did Harreld sell one multi-million-dollar mansion in the previous year, he sold two, netting himself a torrent of cash flow if nothing else. Even assuming that he then bought a house in Denver, if he didn’t already own one there as well, I do not now believe that Harreld’s Iowa salary of $4,000,000 over five years — which would demand considerably more effort than liquidating a few real estate holdings — was sufficient to get him to give up his feebly concealed retirement in Colorado.
My other theory was that Harreld simply missed being the center of attention in a dynamic institutional setting. Yes, he had been lecturing at Harvard for years, and doing some business consulting on the side, but this is a guy who, at IBM, was part of a great big machine during a time of transition, with all sorts of lesser machine parts under him. Even better, those lesser machine parts were contractually obligated to listen to him and do what he said, and I think some people never get over losing that kind of power and professional standing.
The problem with such emotional needs is that you may not handle it very well if you don’t get the response you’re looking for, which may even have been promised by your co-conspirators. If the people you’re leading — or worse, that you have fraudulently been elected to lead, in part by your own duplicitous hand — are not happy about your presence in their lives, you may have a hard time squaring their feedback with your own self-image. And if those people are not only damn smart in their own right, but they have been professionally trained to ask critical questions, you may not be able to skate by on your usual blather. Which is of course when you would fall back on your wealth of professional experience if you were actually qualified for the job, but oh well.
Too, there is all the usual testing that any outsider is subjected to, where the community tries to find out if you are serious about making the same commitment to, say, ideals like integrity, transparency and shared governance, which they themselves made long ago. Unfortunately, if you prove you’re not serious about any of those things before you even take office, it’s probably going to be hard to convince those people that they should listen to your whiz-bang genius ideas, let alone that they should bow to you while doing so.
One way to get around all that, of course — meaning inside your own head — is to assume that what you know is so valuable and important that you simply don’t have to be bothered with mundane pursuits like, say, proofreading your resume. Or checking it for accuracy. Or citing your co-authors. Because of course that kind of tedious, trivial stuff is for small people with small ideas — like, say, all of the faculty at the University of Iowa, who had no trouble doing all of those things.
Again, inside your own head that might work, but the rest of the world doesn’t live inside your head, and it’s not contractually obligated to do what you say, or even to listen to what you’re saying, particularly if what you’re saying is deluded nonsense or a lie. If, on top of that, the rest of the world finds out that you are sloppy or lazy or disinterested or unethical or unprincipled or complicit in your own fraudulent hire, it just might give you feedback that does not fit with your own sense of self-importance. At which point you will have a decision to make. You can either stay in touch with reality, or double down on your delusion.
If J. Bruce Harreld really does believe he is exempt from adhering to guiding principles that he expects everyone else to live by, which he is also deeply concerned about passing on to future generations, I think you would agree that such a disconnect is cause for concern. And yet here is J. Bruce Harreld, from his open forum three months ago, talking about the importance of transparency:
Not only is it a great question, it’s a great answer by Harreld. As he’s talking I genuinely believe that he believes what he’s saying. And yet this is the same guy who was censured for his resume before he took office. And the same guy who cannot — will not — detail his contacts with Jerre Stead in 2013, 2014 and 2015. And the same guy who, only moments after being elected, lied about how he came to the attention of the search committee. In fact, in this video you can actually see him screw up and tell the truth, then back up and deploy the lie that he will stick with until just before taking office:
Yes, indeed, when you sweep something under the rug you are sending the wrong message to the people you are mentoring and teaching. Yet if Harreld knows that why has he refused to come clean about his own fraudulent hire. Because doing so would be embarrassing? Are ideals only for show — like guest towels? Or does J. Bruce Harreld have one set of rules for really special, wonderful, talented people like himself, and another set of rules for everybody else? How do you passionately and convincingly speak to the importance of setting a good example, then turn around and set a bad example?
Right now, as you read this, other than Harreld’s co-conspirators, who are, like Harreld, legally obligated to perpetually insist that they did nothing wrong for fear of being charged with an actual crime, there is no one who believes that J. Bruce Harreld earned the position he now holds. He did not earn it by virtue of his professional experience, he did not earn it by garnering the support of faculty, staff and students, and he did not earn it by participating in a fair election. Every time you stand up and start talking, the first thought in the minds of the people you’re talking to is not that you’re a transformation leader, it’s that you’re a fraud — because you are a fraud.
So again, if you’re Harreld, how do you deal with that reality in your own head? If being censured didn’t make you flinch, and you had no trouble keeping secrets for your conspiratorial homies for months on end, and you’re still keeping secrets for those same homies, maybe it’s not a big deal to ask your psyche to ignore the fact that your presidency is inherently illegitimate. But is that kind of self-delusion actually of benefit to anyone else? If that’s how your mind works, should you really be running a large university, let alone making decisions that affect the health and well being of tens of thousands of young minds?
For the record, I am neither a clinical psychologist, therapist nor psychiatrist, but it seems to me that if you have the ability to violate your own belief system in order to manufacture a context in which you then expect to bask in adulation for professing those same beliefs, something might be wrong with more than your methodology. Too, by definition you will have to find some way of squaring that blatant hypocrisy in your own mind, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to require some sort of break with reality. Unless of course you’re lying about your beliefs, in which case your mental perspective would indeed be coherent, yet that mode of consciousness would probably still not be the best fit in terms of presiding over thirty thousand students.
[For Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld and Motive, click here.]
[This is Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld and Motive. For Part 1, click here.]
J. Bruce Harreld: Civilized Man
Assuming for the moment that J. Bruce Harreld isn’t lying about his fervent belief in mentoring, coaching and teaching students to become good and productive citizens, how can he square the reality of his own actions with his saintly view of himself? Well, obviously he can’t. Which is why he does the next best thing, over and over again.
Between his post-election speech at the beginning of September and taking office at the beginning of November, Harreld disappears from public view. He resurfaces in the press in spectacular fashion on the weekend before his first day on the job, introducing yet another origin story for his candidacy, which instantly lays waste to the reputations of multiple co-conspirators. During those two dark months, press reports make it incontrovertibly clear that J. Bruce Harreld did repeatedly receive preferential treatment during the search and selection process, which no other candidate received. To recap:
— Harreld participates in a secret off-campus meeting with Rastetter, Robillard and Peter Matthes in ‘early June’.
— Harreld is invited to speak at UIHC, then to dine with Rastetter, Robillard and two other members of the search committee, on July 8th. While Harreld is presenting his ideas and chowing down, Harreld’s wife is given a tour of the campus.
— Harreld participates in secret meetings with four regents — including two who are not on the search committee — at Rastetter’s personal place of business in Ames, on July 30th. Later that even Harreld also dines with ISU President Leath.
— Harreld receives a phone call from Governor Branstad, facilitated by Rastetter.
By the time J. Bruce Harreld is set to take office in early November, it has been established that Harreld was the only candidate afforded any or all of those critical opportunities to communicate with the power brokers who ensured his election. Yet on the weekend before taking office, in an interview with Vanessa Miller of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Harreld had this to say about the preferential treatment he received:
In the previous two-part post detailing Harreld’s complicity in his own fraudulent hire, we repeatedly considered two options regarding Harreld’s implausibly consistent behavior, which always seemed to protect the lies and malfeasance of his co-conspirators. In many of those instances, however, we had to take careful note of what Harreld was not saying.
Here, there is no need to take careful note. Harreld flatly asserts not only that he did not receive preferential treatment, capital-a — at all — period, but that any claim to the contrary is “bizarre”. Which is, by extension, also an assertion that everyone who acknowledges the blatantly preferential treatment that Harreld received — which is everyone who has even glanced at the Harreld hire — is delusional. And of course Harreld is being “really honest” about all that.
So what are our choices here? When someone tells you that black is white, and up is down, what are your options? With regard to Harreld’s specific contention that he did not receive preferential treatment during the hiring process, there are the only two:
1) J. Bruce Harreld is lying.
2) J. Bruce Harreld cannot come to terms with reality.
While being a liar is hardly a good thing, between those two choices I find myself reflexively hoping that Harreld is a garden-variety weasel, as opposed to being off his rocker. Given his self-preservational obligation to protect his co-conspirators, it does make sense that he might toss them an alibi even if doing so made a mockery of own credibility. Doing otherwise would not only throw Rastetter and Robillard under the bus, at which point they might turn on him, but would also be a personal acknowledgement that his presidency was illegitimate. So even if he looks like an idiot asserting that he did not get preferential treatment during the hiring process, doing so makes a kind of rational sense.
The other option — that Harreld is in fact living in a self-protective bubble of denial — is considerably more worrisome. While denial has its place in a crisis, and Harreld may indeed be in the midst of a psychological crisis, I think it’s also generally agreed that denial is not particularly healthy, let alone a cornerstone of effective leadership. And yet, time and again over the past month, the words that keep spilling unbidden from Harreld’s lips seem to betray not lies, but an almost perpetual state of denial.
The most jarring example I can think of appeared in a Daily Iowan op-ed which ran on November 2nd, Harreld’s first day in office. Here is the passage that not only caught my eye, but raised yet another red flag:
Wow…where to start? In characterizing the rhetoric surrounding his fraudulent hire as “personal”, it’s entirely possible that Harreld was simply aping Branstad, Rastetter and other badge-carrying members of the bureaucratic tone police, who have routinely tried to profit by shifting the dialogue away from their complicity in Harreld’s hire, and onto the emotional response of individuals who were appropriately outraged by their fraud. Again, clearly weaselly, but pretty much what you would expect from all involved at this point.
And yet look at the example that Harreld offers, immediately after insisting on “civilized discourse”. Metaphorically, we’re urged to bite Harreld on the nose instead of stabbing him in the back, which is wrong in so many ways it’s hard to keep track. First, with the whole nose-biting thing…ew. Second, I may be old fashioned, but I do think it is beneath the dignity of a university president to say ‘bite me’. Third, merely by calling for civilized discourse Harreld is implying that anyone who questions him is uncivilized, with is at minimum some pretty sly trolling, but also a sure-fire way to trigger charges of intolerance, bias and insensitivity, depending on who takes offense. Fourth, how is it that Harreld’s argument for “civilized discourse” involves two violent physical acts, one of which he actually argues for? Fifth, on the logical merits of his argument, note that once again the same man who conspired in his own fraudulent hire, and in so doing stabbed the taxpayers of Iowa in the back, to say nothing of the sincere and honest members of the search committee, the sincere and honest members of the Board of Regents, and all of the other candidates, is now insisting on civility.
And remember, this wasn’t an interview where Harreld was asked inconvenient, fact-based questions about the preferential treatment he clearly did receive during the election. In this instance there was no obligation on Harreld’s part to start talking about nose biting or back stabbing, yet somehow, inexplicably, when reaching for a way to explain civilized discourse, that’s where his mind went. (Insert hair-raising emoticon here.)
J. Bruce Harreld: Victim
As to Harreld’s actual charge that some of the rhetoric surrounding his illegitimate presidency has been uncivilized, that is flatly false for two completely separate reasons. First, even assuming that the charge of illegitimacy is wrong — and it is clearly not — what indignity has J. Bruce Harreld been subjected to? A few signs? Some theater on the steps of Old Capitol? Would Harreld characterize the hunger strike that led to the ouster of the president at Missouri as uncivilized? What constitutes civilized discourse in J. Bruce Harreld’s mind? Or is “civilized discourse” just another euphemism for “professionalism“?
Second, on the rather obvious point that his presidency is illegitimate, what in god’s name does the man expect? If you steal from me there is never going to be a day — nay, nary a minute — when I forget about the crime you committed against me. Even if I’m powerless to do anything about it, you are certainly not entitled to a “civilized discourse” when we meet, because you’re a thief.
While I can understand that J. Bruce Harreld might prefer not to go to work every day thinking about the fact that his presidency is illegitimate, it’s not my job or anyone else’s job to pretend otherwise. On that point, as you may know, there was an attempt recently to get Harreld to appear at an open forum with grad students. Instead, Harreld balked at that offer and participated in a session with the Graduate Student Senate, which included pre-screend questions that enabled Harreld to avoid questions that he does not want to answer.
At that gathering a number of protesters also appeared, and they respectfully challenged Harreld to appear elsewhere without preconditions. Yet even given the friendly nature of the appearance, in the aftermath of that scripted availability, Harreld’s own quotes proved that he is still oblivious to the reality of his presence on campus. From the Press-Citizen, on 11/19/15:
Again, where to start? First, he actually used the word “pittance” without irony. Second, notice that Harreld is once again particularly interested in the idea of giving back, and that in his mind doing so compensated for the “pittance” he was paid. Third, notice that the man urging people to take less money in order to do good works is being paid $4,000,000 over five years, plus housing at $2,000 a month until he moves back into the presidential residence, which is currently being renovated at the cost of millions of dollars. Fourth — and this seems to be the part that Harreld has trouble remembering — the man who is being paid more than a “pittance” to tell everyone else how to be good professional citizens did not earn the job he has.
But it gets better — or worse. From the same P-C article:
Whatever you may have thought at the time about Harreld’s open forum performance prior to the election, in the intervening three months virtually every concern expressed by the questioners on that day has proven true. Harreld’s hire really was a done-deal, he really did have a preexisting relationship with at least one member of the search committee, and he himself helped deceive the university community about his hire, thus helping gut shared governance in the process. And yet there Harreld is, once again portraying himself as a victim. A victim of what — the facts? Reality?
Again, it’s always risky trying to get inside someone’s head, particularly if they previously invited you to bite their nose. As much as it would be a relief to simply think of J. Bruce Harreld as a congenital liar — if only because that would make rational sense — what keeps coming to the fore is that the man really does seem to believe that the end promised by his transformational expertise justifies the means of his serial deceptions. Meaning that this is not all just some all-too-common example of transactional corruption, but that Harreld needs the university community to see him as a transformer, savior, civilized man and victim.
A fraud really was perpetrated against the university and the people of Iowa. And we know who committed that fraud. We may not be sure about their motives, but with Harreld at least we are limited to choosing between larceny and delusion. Either he knew what he was doing all along and is now simply perpetuating that line of deceit, which would obviously be bad enough, or he really does think he was legitimately elected, which is manifestly worse. By which I mean for the university community, and not necessarily him personally.
To be clear, I am not saying that all human beings make sense when you pop the hood. But most human beings — even the ones who really are little more than a facade — also usually have some self-awareness about such vulnerabilities. Plenty of people see themselves one way and act another, but what most of those people don’t do is get up on a stage and call everybody around to witness that hypocrisy. Which means even if the blind spot J. Bruce Harreld has about his own personal conduct is normal, that blind spot is precluding him from seeing the reality of his tenure as president, which he himself created by failing to honor the principles which he passionately espouses.
This is not something someone else did to him, and he is not a victim of anyone else’s uncivilized behavior. J. Bruce Harreld did this to himself. There are indeed victims in all this — a long list of people who were sincere about the search and selection process, including particularly the three finalists that the Board of Regents insulted in ways that will reverberate through academic circles for decades — but J Bruce Harreld is not one of them. He may be the victim of self-inflicted wounds, but nobody has done anything to him even remotely approaching the galling disrespect shown to the university community as a result of his done-deal, forced, corrupt, fraudulent and illegitimate hire. Which the community is nauseatingly reminded of every time he opens his mouth.
J. Bruce Harreld: Politician
What is clearly untenable is the idea that the university cannot move forward until everyone agrees with J. Bruce Harreld’s version of reality. If he is, in his own head, a transformative figure who never really received the respect and credit he felt he was due, and he’s come to Iowa to manufacture that respect, then at some point that neediness is going to prompt him to start making erratic, public-relations-driven decisions which are not in the best interest of the campus. Like, say, initiating a full-on press offensive about a “racial remark” on a bathroom door:
Once again, insulated by his own obliviousness J. Bruce Harreld takes to the moral high ground for blatantly self-serving reasons, trumpets an incident that should have been dealt with quietly so as not to precipitate a rash of copycat acts at two in the morning this coming weekend, then frames the self-generated media attention as an act of courage on his part. And yet, when it comes to his own illegitimate presidency, which is also an act offensive to the university community, and an act worthy of an aggressive investigation, J. Bruce Harreld remains impotent and mum.
This is what happens when you embody cognitive dissonance. Instead of leading by example, you’re reduced to opportunism and exploitation, like a politician on the ropes. You pander, and while doing so overlook inherent hypocrisy between your idealistic rhetoric and your secreted, compartmentalized deeds.
Speaking of which, if you read the article about Harreld’s recent appearance before the Graduate Student Senate you may have been encouraged by this, from the lede:
Is this Harreld rising to the challenge by meeting with a concerned constituency at the University of Iowa. Actually, no. That’s a politician trotting out his stump speech. From Harreld’s Iowa Press appearance the week before:
As Nick Johnson rightly pointed out, Harreld is a quick study:
So yes, like any good politician Harreld has gotten better at telling people what they want to hear, but that doesn’t actually solve the problem. Nor does implying that people at Iowa are or ever were embarrassed about being a classical liberal arts college. Under attack? Yes, but only from the likes of Harreld’s co-conspirator, Regents President Bruce Rastetter. Embarrassed? Yes, but not by being a liberal arts college. The University of Iowa is embarrassed by J. Bruce Harreld and how he was elected, and I don’t think the fact that Harreld just responded to that reality — perhaps subconsciously — by standing up and projecting imaginary embarrassment onto everyone else bodes well. By which I mean for all involved.
Having given this all a lot of thought, I still do not know how to make sense of the recurrent dissonance between J. Bruce Harreld’s high-minded ideals and his low-minded conduct. Which is usually my cue to accept what I’m seeing as reality even if I can’t explain it, and simply acknowledge that what I’m detecting — and what I hope I’ve documented above — really is a disconnect in J. Bruce Harreld’s psyche.
Along with Harreld swinging into action against bathroom graffiti on Monday of this week, on Tuesday you may have read that Harreld agreed to a regular series of more open and accessible interactions with the university community. From the lede of the Gazette coverage on 12/01/15:
While that admittedly sounds nice, note two key phrases. First, the term ‘public hearing’ is used, calling to mind the sham ‘public hearings’ offered by the Board of Regents, which is yet another group that cannot answer pointed questions about Harreld’s fraudulent hire without putting themselves at risk. Second, the fact that details have not been made public means that nothing was actually announced. What was floated was an idea — a blank canvas onto which everyone can paint their fantasies of transparency and accountability, while Harreld stalls for time in the hope that the still-seething outrage about his illegitimate election will eventually fade..
Unfortunately — meaning for the university, not for Harreld himself — even if Harreld starts making better political use of the media apparatus that is being paid to protect him, and he manages to avoid embarrassing himself any further, he still has to sit across the table from people who know that he was not legitimately elected, and I’m not sure he can ever come to terms with that in his own mind. Because nobody sitting on the other side of the table is going to adopt his version of reality. At least not without a major salary increase or a long-term contract for goods or services. (I got your back, Nolte!)
Which brings us full circle to why I don’t care much about motive. We could talk all day about what makes J. Bruce Harreld tick, and we could go back and forth about why he’s done the things he’s done, but at the end of the day the two options above are simply two sides of the same coin. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a liar or deluded — in neither case should you be in charge of the University of Iowa.
Even if J. Bruce Harreld comes to terms with the reality of the situation which he himself helped generate, that doesn’t solve the problem. Because by virtue of his inherent illegitimacy, J. Bruce Harreld is the problem, and will remain so for as long as he holds office. The only faint hope I see is that if Harreld genuinely believes in honesty, integrity and good citizenship, at some point he may have a moment of clarity about how he betrayed those ideals, and resign on the spot. While acknowledging that such transformational change is unlikely, I for one am rooting for the man.
Over the past three months, since J. Bruce Harreld was fraudulently elected to be the next president of the University of Iowa, one of the most fascinating portals into that fraud concerns the ever-evolving origin story of Harreld’s candidacy. What should have been a simple A-to-B-to-C narrative about how Harreld first learned of the job, has proven instead to be a convoluted trail of lies.
While much has been made of the fact that Harreld was a candidate until the moment of his election, and is thus somehow exempt from charges of co-conspiracy in the fraud that begat his hire — an argument we have summarily dispatched — there can be no doubt that on September 3rd, in the moment of his appointment, that J. Bruce Harreld transitioned from candidate to president-elect. Meaning whatever exemption from honesty or integrity anyone felt Harreld deserved as a candidate — and he deserved none — those mercenary exemptions expired at that time.
As recounted here on numerous occasions, I first learned of Harreld’s original origin story from reporting by Eric Kelderman for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Specifically, on September 3rd, only moments after being announced as the next president at Iowa, Harreld himself explained that his name had been floated to the search committee by the president of another university, after which the search committee then reached out to him. What I did not realize until only last week is that there is actually a video of Harreld making that statement.
After going dark for the following two months, at the tail end of October, in interviews with local press just prior to taking office, President-elect Harreld trots out a new origin story, which has also been previously discussed. In that version it is search committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter who first contacts Harreld in ‘late spring’, followed a week later by a beseeching phone call from search committee member, old friend and long-time mentor Jerre Stead. Stead then arranges, but does not attend, a secret meeting at Kirkwood Community College in ‘early June’, which is attended by Harreld, search committee member Rastetter, search chair and Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard, and ex-officio search committee staffer Peter Matthes.
What I also did not realize until last week, because my up-to-date version of Firefox insisted on displaying a clip as a simple image file, was that Harreld’s new origin story is also available on video. And in that second clip we can not only confirm the previous reporting of Harreld’s new origin story, we can add an interesting detail, which is how Rastetter got Harreld’s name and number to begin with.
While watching the following two videos, keep in mind that during the first video, taken just after Harreld is announced as the Iowa Board of Regents’ fait accompli, that even as Harreld is speaking he knows that he met with three members of the search committee in ‘early June’. (We’re assuming here, out of simple exhaustion, that the Kirkwood meeting is itself not a fabrication in whole or in part.)
The ‘President of a Major University’ origin story:
The ‘Boston Consulting’ origin story:
As you can see, in two short months the “president of a major university”, who supposedly brought Harreld to the attention of the search committee, no longer exists, and has been replaced by a tip from an anonymous individual at Boston Consulting. While I could obviously be missing something, to my mind it does seem that at least one of those origin stories must be a lie, and that Harreld must have known it was a lie when he was speaking. (Again, they could also both be lies.)
Interestingly, you would think that Harreld’s memory would be freshest at the moment of his election, but that appears not to be the case. Because after having had two months to reflect Harreld trots out a new origin story, while also incidentally disclosing the secret meeting at Kirkwood with three members of the search committee, which until that moment no one knew anything about. Note, however, that even with the addition of the Boston Consulting nugget, two things have not changed. First, Jerre Stead is still absolutely not the person who initially brought Harreld to the attention of the search committee, or who tipped Harreld off about the open Iowa job. Second, although we now have an anonymous person at Boston Consulting as the initiator of that contact, we don’t know who that person is, or why they thought Harreld would be a good fit, or how they knew to contact Rastetter about Harreld.
While obviously speculative, given that Harreld had just recently moved from Boston, where Boston Consulting is headquartered, to the Denver, Colorado area (Avon), where Jerre Stead — Harreld’s long-time friend, coach and mentor — had just recently returned as CEO of IHS, it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that either of those two men, who are both already on the record lying about Harreld’s origin story, might have used an intermediary at Boston Consulting to put Harreld’s name in play with Rastetter. And yet even leaving such shenanigans aside, we’re still left with a much more basic question. How is it that President-elect J. Bruce Harreld — as opposed to lawless, desperado Candidate Harreld — who is on video lying to the press on at least one occasion, actually became President Harreld?
Or is that just part of the whole run-it-as-a-business ethos? Because if it is, I guess I can see how hiring an unqualified businessperson instead of a qualified academic might give you a competitive advantage, given that the unqualified businessperson would then feel no moral or ethical obligation to play by the rules of the egghead ecosystem. If your only professional belief is that any abuse of power or even an outright crime is fine as long as it doesn’t lead to a conviction, then I can definitely see how cutting amoral if not immoral deals would allow you to extract power and money from higher education that might otherwise have been wasted on educating students. The same students who are, ironically, paying you to corrupt the very institution they attend.
Look at the two videos.
On video 1, at about 17:00, Harreld takes the mic to related the ‘president of another major university’ story. Watch his face and you will see a plethora, an epidemic of eye-blinks and eye deviations. Looks like someone who is stretching the truth or caught in a cover story. (BTW have you ever seen such pained participants at a press conference as the BOR in that video. Most are in the ‘hands over genitals’ stance, looking to ward off attacks or evil; Rastetter frankly looks like that evil)
On video two, almost from the beginning, Harreld is making a fist with his right hand, blinking and searching, which seems he does when discussing (or fabricating?) information that is distressing. Later you can see him relax. This is the ‘I don’t remember, as I recall someone from Boston Consulting’ moment.
I do not believe either story right now, although I can link Boston Consulting to Rastetter. I still do not trust any of these narratives. Someone is covering up or pulling something over on Iowans. And they damn well know it, looking at Harreld’s behavior.
Harreld has a habit of getting halfway into something, suddenly realizing that he’s supposed to be saying something different, then backing up and trying again. Yes, the sudden fit of eye blinks in the first video is almost painful to watch, as his mind recalls the narrative lie that he’s all too willing to put forward on behalf of the conspiracy that elected him.
As I noted in the latest post, the moment in the second video where he laments the fact that Stead bailed on the secret Kirkwood meeting is priceless. Adorable even, in the same way that it’s adorable when a kid with a cookie in his mouth swears he didn’t take any cookies.
You can even watch Harreld’s body language betray him in the open forum, when he has his ‘shame on me’ moment about getting caught with bad info on his resume. And this is the man that the Board of Regents just had to hire.
You may have been — or may not have been — surprised to read last week that the politically corrupt Iowa Board of Regents suddenly felt called on to rename the Iowa Children’s Hospital after a man who lied about his relationship with J. Bruce Harreld only one day after Harreld’s election as president of the University of Iowa. While I know very little about the nuts and bolts of such transactions, the Bleeding Heartland blog put up an excellent piece explaining the details, which are as nauseating as you would expect from the co-conspirators who fraudulently elected Harreld.
If you remember, Transparency Officer Lehman is also the same Senior Communications Officer Lehman who famously said, of J. Bruce Harreld’s disastrous resume, and I quote: “We’re not concerned about the resume.” Good times.
Anyway, as you might expect, all it took for the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents to agree to name the hospital after Stead was a big fat check, which apparently also washes away any lingering insults to everyone’s individual or collective credibility after having foisted Harreld on the University of Iowa. Then again, given that the regents themselves have no credibility, I guess that was probably an easy call for them to make. Particularly under the ever-watchful eye of the svelte and fierce Regents President Bruce Rastetter.
As Nick Johnson also noted, $25 million sounds like a lot, but when you factor in the total value of what’s being leased, it’s a pretty damn good bargain:
Although I’d never heard of Regents President Bruce Rastetter until three months ago, in looking at how he does business, I have to give him credit for being consistent. Where you or I would get hung up on issues like integrity of fairness — or trying to get the best price for an asset — Rastetter just sees endless opportunities for exploitation. Want a hospital named after you? Cut a deal with Bruce Rastetter. Want a cushy job paid for by the state, without having to endure the indignity of an application process? Cut a deal with Bruce Rastetter. Want to be president of the University of Iowa? Cut a deal with Bruce Rastetter. Want to be governor again, and go for a ride in Bruce’s plane? Cut a deal with Bruce Rastetter. Want to hire your own private sector employees to help you exploit higher education in Iowa? Cut a deal with yourself.
But enough cynicism. Whatever backroom deal was cut to make Jerre Stead’s longtime friend and mentee, J. Bruce Harreld, the new president of the University of Iowa, that has nothing to do with the entirely separate backroom deal that was cut to allow Stead to slap his family name on the new children’s hospital at UIHC. It seems like there must be some linkage because the same four people — Jerre Stead, Bruce Rastetter, Jean Robillard and J. Bruce Harreld — keep popping up over and over again, but really, those are two totally different bureaucratic acts of betrayal. Just because Jerre Stead now effectively controls the east side of campus with his puppet Harreld, and the west side of campus with his puppet Robillard, and all three of those men lied on the record during the search and selection process that resulted in Harreld’s election, that’s no reason to go off the deep end and start thinking that in the past three months, with Regents President Bruce Rastetter’s always-eager assistance, business whiz Jerre Stead just installed his own management team and took over the University of Iowa.
Update 12/09/15: In keeping with the general theme of metastatic political corruption emanating from the Governor’s mansion, through the Iowa Board of Regents, and into the body, mind and soul of the University of Iowa as an institution of higher learning, we now have this today from the AP’s Ryan J. Foley —
I look forward to J. Bruce Harreld, president of the university, rushing to put out a press releasing promising a full and complete investigation, as he did recently when racist graffiti was found on a bathroom door. I have no doubt that Harreld, who is a strong proponent of transparency, will want to get all of the relevant information out in a single go, rather than allow this issue to fester, as he has with regard to his own politically corrupt appointment to office.
Late update: Thanks to ‘VT’ in the comments, you can find the full version of Ryan’s story here.
Getting in bed with bosses like Bruce Rastetter and apparently Gov-for-Life Terry Branstad brings with it all kinds of corruption in action. No bid contracts, unadvertised jobs, backroom presidential searches, and huge Medicaid contracts under the table.
We all know about Rastetter’s ISU plunge: the jobs he places his people in (Joe Murphy at ISU, with a no-ad job), the research monies to study Rastetter cows, the energy $half million loans, and the horrible African Rastetter land-grab. In Nov, almost ex-GOP Speaker Kraig Paulson landed an unadvertised (? no show) job at ISU for 135,000.00. http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/higher-education/former-house-speaker-paulsen-lands-iowa-state-post-20151107
Add to this the Ron Paul debacle http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-former-ron-paul-campaign-aide-convicted-another-acquitted-1445561228, the frequent charges of crony GOP jobs http://www.radioiowa.com/2014/05/21/progress-iowa-charges-cronyism-between-branstad-his-campaign-donors/ , the non bid 700,000 Connection Iowa/Connected Nation contract (Board Member -surprise – political GOP crony Tom Talke) http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/state-of-iowa-pays-kentucky-firm-730000-in-no-bid-broadband-contract-20150531.
It also appears the corruption is reaching into the U of Iowa too. As discussed here the corrupt Bruce Harreld search/hire and now it appears crony GOP no-bid UIowa contracts. http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Documents-reveal-University-of-Iowa-deals-with-GOP-insider-361273811.html ; http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/college/2015/12/09/documents-reveal-ui-deals-gop-insider/77044042/
Former Iowa Republican Party chairman Matt Strawn conned $321,000 from U of Iowa in supplying no-bid contracts for internet surveys. U Iowa pawn spokeswoman Jeneane Bcck claimed Strawn could do things no one else could (cough cough, like internet surveys a freshman can do). Ummmm, Strawn SUBCONTRACTED the work, after skimming 15%. (when are we going to totally tire of Ms Beck’s crony excuses?).
And guess who is part of this story (from the PC): “UI vice president for external relations Peter Matthes, a former Iowa Senate Republican Caucus staff director…”
That’s right Peter Matthes, THE Peter Matthes who ran herd on the CR Airport/Kirkwood meeting with J Bruce Harreld, and Jean (the guillotine) Robillard..
When will the sleepy, drowsy at the wheel AG of Iowa, Tom Miller decide to investigate the corruption? When will a US attorney, decide enough political graft is enough? When will the voters recognize the cronyism that is destroying the state, and now the universities too?
With all this cronyism, and corruption and underhandedness the biggest may be the Iowa Medicaid Corruption http://iowastartingline.com/2015/12/02/gops-medicaid-mess-turns-into-a-scandal/
Let’s see how crony Bruce Harreld responds (and we can surmise that maybe seeing this come down the pike a fella like Matthes wants his boy as president to prevent consequences and to keep the university free money teat flowing, so he helps shepherd Harreld to the top).
At what point does all this corruption warrant impeachment of Branstad, Rastetter, and Harreld? With all this graft and corruption, it is becoming increasingly harder to tell the difference between Iowa and Illinois and New Jersey, and Louisiana these days.
I have to say, the amount of corruption that’s been exposed in all this is amazing to me. I mean, I get packing a board or committee with people who will move your plans along, but here you’ve just got naked political crimes turning tax dollars into cash flow for political cronies. And they’re so used to it that they’re stunned when anyone notices.
I still can’t get over Rastetter insisting that he had to give Harreld secret regent meetings, but then also deny those same meetings to anyone else. In what world is that not the definition of idiocy? (And of course J. Bruce steps up and tries to alibi Rastetter.)
I am sorely disappointed in the Iowa AG. When you can’t even be bothered to ask the obvious questions, that’s when you know you gave up.
I don’t really know what to do with everything I’ve learned, but it’s certainly had an effect. Not one I would have opted for, but in the end probably for the best.
Didn’t see your last paragraph, but you’re riffing on the same corruption story I am. Peter Matthes, step up, son, and ship out some dough to a crony.
The Harreld ‘graffiti in the bathroom’ is interesting. Some say it had been there for years. Others never saw it.
In ‘early June’ of 2015, three members of the University of Iowa Presidential Search and Selection committee met secretly with J. Bruce Harreld in a meeting room at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. That meeting was arranged by, but not attended by, a fourth member of the search committee: Jerre Stead, a longtime ‘investor’ in the University of Iowa, and a longtime friend and mentor to Harreld.
In a prior post we discussed in detail the logistics of that meeting, and the fact that it took place at Kirkwood instead of on the Iowa campus. The most recent iteration of J. Bruce Harreld’s origin story as a candidate leans heavily on a narrative in which he absolutely did not want the job, at all. At the same time, Regents President Bruce Rastetter would not take no for an answer, which makes it all the more incredible that after finally getting Harreld to take a meeting, as a direct result of Jerre Stead’s personal coaxing, that Rastetter, Matthes and Robillard would spend their time with Harreld in a small room only thirty minutes from campus, instead of showing Harreld the community and institution they hoped he would deign to rule.
Complicating matters, if Harreld was flying to Cedar Rapids on a commercial carrier, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to make a quick turnaround in the middle of the day, let alone fit his meeting time to a tight travel schedule. An alternative that would solve just about every logistical problem, however, would be flying on a business jet, which would render the entire excursion little more than a more than a taxi ride. As I later realized, however, despite the close proximity of the Kirkwood campus to the Cedar Rapids/Eastern Iowa Airport, it would have been just as easy for Harreld to land at Iowa City. (You can hear business jets coming and going before and after any home football game, so clearly such a flight would be possible.)
Which again raises the question — why Kirkwood? If you’re flying commercial, you’re probably on the ground long enough to suffer the drive to and from campus. If you’re flying corporate, you can just fly to Iowa City directly. So why fly to Cedar Rapids to have a meeting that you don’t want to participate in anyway — let alone one you could have had via conference call or video — yet stop short of actually visiting the school? Yes, in Iowa terms, Iowa City and the Cedar Rapids Airport are twenty miles apart, but in a big city like New York, Chicago or even Denver you can easily burn twice the amount of time traveling half the distance.
More importantly, from the perspective of Matthes, Robillard and particularly Rastetter, who is all over Harreld to apply for the job, why do you hole up in a conference room at Kirkwood when you’ve finally gotten the candidate of your dreams to come to Iowa? And the answer is — I don’t know! I’ve come at the question every way I can, and the only conclusion I’m left with is that I must be missing some information. Maybe the Iowa City airport can’t handle the jet Harreld was using on that day. Maybe he did fly commercial, and really did have a quick turnaround scheduled back to Denver. I don’t know, but I am genuinely perplexed.
Then again, though the previously unknown Kirkwood meeting is now the cornerstone of Harreld’s latest origin story, we still only have his word regarding the specifics. And given Harreld’s track record with the truth, it’s probably in our best interest to approach any statement by Harreld as dubious until proven otherwise. Was Harreld genuinely disinterested in the job at that time, or was he already abetting the conspiracy that led to his appointment?
After Harreld flies to Iowa for the Kirkwood meeting in ‘early June’, he also flies to Iowa a few weeks later, on July 8th, then again on July 30th, then to Chicago in mid-August for his “airport interview”, then to Iowa City again for his open forum on September 1st, and finally, for a sixth time, to his interviews with the Iowa Board of Regents on the day of the final vote in Des Moines. I mean, for a guy who insists that he didn’t want the Iowa job until he was about to be interviewed by the regents on September 3rd, J. Bruce Harreld racked up a lot of air miles coming to that conclusion. And those miles must have come with a hefty price tag if he chartered private jets to make all those trips.
The Stead Connection
So why is all this flying business important? Well, in a perfect world — or even the fantasy world in which Rastetter, Robillard, Stead and Harreld all live, or, more accurately, want the rest of us to live — it wouldn’t be an issue because we wouldn’t have any reason to believe that all four of those men are shifty, weaselly liars. Unfortunately, as the layers of ooze and slime have been scraped off the Harreld hire over the past three months, we’ve learned that none of those men can be trusted, which means we’re now obligated not only to double-check everything they’ve said and done, but to wonder about what they have left out or not yet admitted to.
The reason it’s important to find out how Harreld flew to the secret meeting at Kirkwood is that we don’t want to learn that he was ferried there either at Jerre Stead’s expense, or on Jerre Stead’s plane, or on a plane leased by Jerre Stead. The reason for our suspicion is that Jerre Stead was on the search committee when he brokered and arranged the secret Kirkwood meeting, yet the day after Harreld was elected Stead said that he first knew Harreld was a candidate when he saw Harreld’s name on a committee list. As it turns out, that statement literally could not be true — and Harreld’s latest origin story confirms that it could not have been true — which means the moment it came out of Stead’s mouth both Stead and Harreld knew he was lying.
Too, neither Stead nor Harreld have detailed their contacts prior to ‘late spring’, when Harreld now says Stead called him on Rastetter’s behalf. Why is that odd? Because apart from being longtime friends, and having a mentor/mentee relationship for decades, in 2014 Harreld moved to Avon, Colorado — a town near Denver, which is where Stead had not only been running IHS for ten years, but reinstalled himself as CEO in the summer of 2015. Yet the latest origin story from Harreld fails to account for any prior contact they might have had, including particularly during 2013, 2014 or early 2015. Instead, we simply get Jerre Stead popping back into Harreld’s life a week after Rastetter first makes contact. Which at the very least seems a little odd given their long history, and at the very most seems intentionally, persistently and consistently deceptive on both their parts.
Too, it’s not just one round-trip flight from Denver/Avon that we’re curious about, it’s six trips. Did Harreld pay for all of those himself, at the time? (We need to say ‘at the time’ because if Stead did provide transportation to Harreld during the search, it’s possible that at some later date Harreld and or Stead realized their exposure and Harreld reimbursed Stead, so Harreld and Stead would not be able to truthfully mislead anyone who asked the right question in the wrong way. And yes, that is indeed how weaselly these guys can be.)
The problem with finding out that Stead did provide transport for Harreld during the search is that it not only blows yet another origin story about Harreld’s candidacy to smithereens, it sharply increases the likelihood that Harreld and Stead were both in on his fraudulent hire from the get-go, meaning their machinations may even reach back prior to the convening of the search committee on 02/25/15. And if that’s the case, then the entire search — which was fraudulently administered by Rastetter and Robillard — really would constitute criminal fraud against the taxpayers of Iowa. You know, if any law enforcement at the state or national level actually investigated and prosecuted such things.
The problem with trying to get a straight answer out of a weasel, of course, is that weasels are by their very nature incapable of being upstanding citizens. They may look the part, and they may constantly scold others for a lack of professionalism, but all the while they’re really just lying their asses off. So in order to answer even the most basic question of how J. Bruce Harreld conveyed himself to any of the six face-to-face interactions with key decision makers noted above, we are compelled to look elsewhere for reliable information — which is, as you might imagine, in very short supply. Or at least it was until last week, when a useful morsel of information about J. Bruce Harreld’s flying habits actually did come to light.
The Regents Comply
In mid-November, on his FOIA site, Stephen Voyce posted the following item:
At the end of November the regents did indeed comply, releasing some of the sought-after information:
In the .zip from the regents there are two image files comprising a single letter from Regents’ Associate Council Tim Cook, explaining why that’s all Voyce is going to get, and four .pdf files:
Campus and Faculty Council Feedback.pdf
On Campus Visit Itineraries.pdf
In the days following the regents’ partial document dump you may have read press reports about the withering feedback Harreld received as a candidate, which the regents then summarily ignored in their headlong rush to demonstrate that the pledge of shared governance underpinning the entire search process was a premeditated lie. While those comments do indeed make for interesting reading, in looking over the documents released by the regents my eye was immediately drawn — for two completely different reasons — to the ‘On Campus Visit Itineraries’.
First, ever since I learned that Harreld and his wife had itineraries sent to them prior to their campus visit on July 8th, I’ve been curious about what such an itinerary might look like. Having never been presented with an itinerary myself, I was curious about how thorough and exacting such schedules would be. What I can now say, from having looked at the itineraries in the regents’ document dump, is that if the itineraries that Harreld and his wife received were anything like the itineraries that were sent to Harreld and the other four finalists for their on-campus visits, then they were indeed thorough and exacting.
For example, if you can’t (or don’t want to) open the .pdf, here’s a single thorough and exacting line-item from Harreld’s itinerary:
Note that the time specified is not 1:45 – 2:00, not 1:45 – 2:15, but 1:45 – 2:05, meaning there must be a great deal of experience and attention to detail driving that specificity. Clearly a lot of thought goes into the itineraries put out by the university, and as a result there is an expectation that all of the pertinent information will be contained therein. Which brings me to the second reason I was drawn to On Campus Visit Itineraries file, which is that I wondered if it might contain flight information for the arrival and departure of each candidate. And as it happens, it does.
What follows are the arrival and departure notes for each of the four finalists, presented in order of their appearance on campus. In looking at those line items, see if you can detect any difference in the arrival and departure information for one of the candidates:
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
4:08 p.m. Transportation from Cedar Rapids Airport to Hotel Vetro (arriving via DL 5193)
Friday, August 28, 2015
5:30 a.m. Transportation from Hotel Vetro to Cedar Rapids Airport (departing at 7:06 a.m. via DL 4139)
Thursday, August 27, 2015
3:53 p.m. Transportation from Cedar Rapids Airport to Hotel Vetro (arriving via DL 5068)
Saturday, August 29, 2015
4:30 a.m. Transportation from Hotel Vetro to Cedar Rapids Airport (departing @ 6:00 a.m. via DL 5230)
Sunday, August 30, 2015
3:05 p.m. Transportation from Cedar Rapids Airport to Hotel Vetro (arriving via UN 3682)
Saturday, August 29, 2015 [sic]
5:45 a.m. Transportation from Hotel Vetro to Cedar Rapids Airport (departing @ 7:19 a.m. via UN 3709)
[The incorrect date is apparently a cut-and past error. Steinmetz arrived on August 30th, spoke on August 31th, and departed early on the morning of September 1st]
J. Bruce Harreld
Monday, August 31, 2015
~ 5:00 p.m. Transportation from Cedar Rapids Airport to Hotel Vetro
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
6:25 p.m. Transportation from Hotel Vetro to Cedar Rapids Airport
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what in blazes happened to the quality control over at the University of Iowa Itinerary Plant? When they’re not getting the date wrong for Steinmetz they’re completely omitting J. Bruce Harreld’s critical flight numbers! And yet…I’m not sure that’s what happened.
Yes, the Steinmetz date is wrong, but it’s possible that J. Bruce Harreld’s mission-critical flight numbers were not simply omitted in an embarrassing display of clerical incompetence. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they weren’t included because there were no flight numbers. Instead of flying commercial like the three low-net-worth academics that the Board of Regents exploited in order to give their sham search the appearance of legitimacy, I think J. Bruce Harreld jetted in and out of Iowa City on a private carrier.
I also think flying on a private jet allowed Harreld to stay in town for only a little over twenty-four hours — as opposed to the other candidates, who stayed two nights — then to hit the trail only moments after bringing down the house with his GR8-2-GR8R presentation. I mean, why stay in town for another night, hobnobbing with the rabble, when you already know you’ve got the job in the bag?
Note also that Harreld is the only one of the four finalists with a tilde (~) in front of his arrival time. Everybody else is arriving at a time-specific, which can be checked by looking at the latest online arrival time for the particular flight number and carrier. Apparently, Harreld’s flight will not be tracked by a company that provides that sort of updated info, so whoever was picking Harreld up on that day needed to know that there might be some variability as to when Harreld’s plane touched down.
Assuming that Harreld was indeed on a private jet, however, it’s again unclear why he couldn’t have simply jetted himself to Iowa City, thus saving the drive-time to and from campus. Then again, you know what’s really neat about all this? We don’t have to go cyber-sleuthing for answers because J. Bruce Harreld is not only the honest and open sitting president of the University of Iowa, he’s a huge fan of integrity and setting a good example for young folks. And he’s particularly firm in his beliefs about transparency, which hinge on getting all available information out as soon as possible when there’s even a hint of controversy.
Sure, that probably seems a bit contradictory — if not riotously hypocritical — given how many times Harreld has changed his origin story as a candidate, and how many co-conspirators have gone down in flames lying about his origin story as a candidate, and how all of the information we now have about that origin story has come out in dribs and drabs, and usually only as a result of the press pulling teeth, but still – it’s not as if Harreld has lawyered-up like the Board of Regents in the face of the AAUP’s investigation. In fact, J. Bruce Harreld just announced his first public forum — albeit without any substantive details — so if he’s too busy to explain his flying habits for another three whole months, there’s always February 23rd sitting there, when anyone from the faculty or student body or staff or even the press can get J. Bruce Harreld on the record. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll tell the truth, but we have to start somewhere.)
Private Jet Economics
Because the arrival and departure information on J. Bruce Harreld’s itinerary does not contain flight numbers, it is reasonable to surmise that he may have arrived and departed on a private jet. Whose jet it might have been, and who might have eaten the cost of those flights, remains a mystery, but the idea that a private jet might have been in play on that trip raises obvious questions about the other five trips mentioned above.
Now, because J. Bruce Harreld sold two multi-million-dollar mansions in the year prior to being fraudulently elected by the Iowa Board of Regents, it’s safe to assume that he could have paid for private flights to any or all of those meetings himself. Assuming that each flight originated in or near Denver, which is served by multiple full-service charter services, he could have easily made all of the arrangements for each trip, and paid for each one out of his own pocket. And yet, the one thing that keeps getting in the way of that simplest-of-all-possible-scenarios is that J. Bruce Harreld has been consistently insistent about having no interest in the Iowa job until very late in the search timeline. In fact, Harreld remained ambivalent about the job until the last possible day, when he woke up on September 3rd — the day of the final interviews and vote by the regents in Des Moines. From the Gazette on 11/01/15:
Even assuming that J. Bruce Harreld has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it, does he really sink that much dough into six round trips to the Midwest (five to Iowa, one to Chicago) for a job he has no interest in? Well, what kind of money are we talking about? While I have no experience chartering jets, or anything else for that matter, in fiddling around on one website I came up with a price of $10K for a flight from Denver to Des Moines on a ‘small jet’, and I think that was one-way, not round trip. In either case, and as a non-millionaire, that seems completely crazy, but other generic flights of shorter duration seemed to be in the ballpark, so who knows?
Assuming that J. Bruce Harreld does hire a private jet for all six round trips, what are we looking at, conservatively? $20K? $30K? More? And all that for a job that Harreld is not interested in — at all — until the last minute?
Now ask yourself this question. If someone calls you up and begs you, as a friend, to take a meeting with people you have no interest in working with or for, are you eating the cost of saying yes? Whether it’s a hundred bucks or ten thousand clams, are you yourself paying to do favor for someone else, or is there an expectation that your costs are, at the very least, going to be recouped?
As it happens, that question came up months ago with regard to the trip that Harreld and his wife took to Iowa on July 8th. And in the reporting about that visit it was clear that nobody at the University of Iowa or Board of Regents reimbursed Harreld for his travel expenses. And on that occasion Harreld was presenting to forty or so administrators at UIHC, albeit under false pretenses — not just yakking with three duplicitous members of the search committee in a Kirkwood meeting room.
If it is hard for you to imagine that Harreld flies himself to that Kirkwood meeting and eats the cost himself, simply because he’s such a huge Jerre Stead fan, let’s consider an alternative scenario. Instead of Harreld paying for the round trip, Jerre Stead — who is wealthy times infinity compared to J. Bruce Harreld — either covers the cost of the trip, or loans a plane to Harreld that’s already under lease to, or owned by, Stead or IHS. Stead gets Harreld to Iowa, Harreld goes to Iowa as a favor to Stead, everybody’s happy. The guy with the deepest pockets, who is also the guy who asked for the favor, steps up, appropriately, and takes care of the trivial question of travel, allowing everyone else to get on with the very important business of converting the University of Iowa into a subsidiary of Jerre Stead Inc.
With that alternative scenario in mind, here are all the known trips that Harreld took in conjunction with the Iowa job:
Trip #1 — The Secret Kirkwood Meeting — ‘Early June’
Trip #2 — The “VIP Lunch” — July 8th
Trip #3 — The Secret Regent Meetings — July 30th
Trip #4 — The “Airport Interview” — August 12th
Trip #5 — The J. Bruce Harreld Open Forum — September 1st
Trip #6 — The Final Regent Interviews and Vote — September 3rd
Except for the first meeting at Kirkwood and the final vote, every two weeks or so Harreld is jumping on a plane to come to Iowa or the Midwest, for a job he has no interest in, at considerable expense even if he is stinking rich. Yet in looking at those six trips, what’s interesting about the whole ‘private jet’ question is not so much what it all costs but all the other questions that arise. For example, when Harreld ducks out on the evening of September 1st, after his show-stopping open forum, does he fly back to Denver? Because if he does he has to be back in Des Moines again on the 3rd, for the final regent interviews and vote.
In the quote above about that morning, Harreld says “into” instead of “to”, so maybe he’s already in Des Moines. But does that mean he flew from Iowa City to Des Moines and stayed there for two nights, or did he fly back to Denver, then return to Des Moines on the evening of the 2nd? Or does he actually fly back to Denver on the 1st, then return to Des Moines on the morning of the 3rd? Again, if he was flying commercial he would have had to leave Iowa City on the morning of the 2nd, which means he probably wouldn’t have returned to Denver before going to Des Moines. With a private jet, however, any schedule would be just a few more high-altitude hours out of Harreld’s busy jet-setting day.
While we’re on the subject, how do both J. Bruce Harreld and Jerre Stead get to the airport interviews in Chicago, in the middle of August? Harreld only has to be there on the second day, because by some miracle he not only gets to go last during the open forums, but the regents partial document dump also reveals that Harreld went last during the “airport interviews”. So not only does Harreld only need to be in town on the 12th, while Stead has to be in town on both days, but because Harreld won’t be interviewed until the afternoon of the 12th he could also make that a private-jet day trip and be home for dinner.
While Harreld and Stead could have caught a plane home to Denver after Harreld’s interview, it does seem unlikely that Harreld and Stead would have flown to Chicago together, because then Harreld would have had a whole day to kill in Illinois. Except, Harreld and Stead are not only old friends, but according to the timeline of interactions between the two men, Harreld’s airport interview is the first moment when J. Bruce and Jerre will be in the same room together since — well, nobody knows. What we do know, from J. Bruce Harreld himself, is that he really missed seeing Jerre, because when he found out at the last minute that Stead wasn’t attending the secret Kirkwood meeting in ‘early June’ Harreld was super bummed.
Sad J. Bruce and Peter Matthes
If we assume that J. Bruce used a private jet for the other five trips, as he seems to have done for his open forum on September 1st, then that puts him on a private jet as he’s winging his way to Cedar Rapids for the secret Kirkwood meeting in ‘early June’. We’re not sure whose plane it is, or who paid for the flight, but for the moment we’re assuming that J. Bruce is not flying commercial.
A couple of days ago I posted links to two videos taken two months apart, in which J. Bruce Harreld explained two different versions of his origin story as a candidate. In the second of those clips, which was shot while Harreld was meeting with local press just before taking office at the beginning of November, Harreld recounts in detail his arrival at the previously unknown Kirkwood meeting. If you have not seen the video it’s worth watching the first few minutes, because you’ll get a sense of just how sad J. Bruce was when he found out that Jerre Stead would not be attending.
(If you do watch the video, you’ll hear Harreld mention being taken to a hotel instead of to Kirkwood Community College. As it happens — and I did not know this until I looked it up — in the decades since I last visited Kirkwood the campus has turned into its own little village, and does indeed now include a hotel (34, lower left), which in turns features meeting spaces and food service.)
I don’t want to say that Harreld was crushed when he found out that Stead would not be attending, but what you see on camera is a serious lament. It’s then that Harreld also states that the only reason he agreed to come to Iowa was because he thought he would get to see Jerre in person — even though, again, he and Jerre only live a hundred miles apart in Colorado. Anyway, by his own account Harreld did not fly to Iowa to do Jerre a favor, or because he was helping Robillard, Rastetter and Matthes figure out how to conduct the best search possible, and he certainly did not make the trip because he was actually interested in the Iowa job. The only reason Harreld agreed to attend the secret Kirkwood meeting was because he thought he was going to get face time with his old friend and mentor, Jerre Stead.
Now, while I think we can all sympathize with Harreld’s disappointment on that day, it’s worth considering that last-minute development in some detail. Because when you think about it, it’s kind of a jerk move on Stead’s part. You call Harreld up, you beg him to take a meeting with people he doesn’t want to talk to, you arrange said meeting yourself, you tell Harreld you’re going to be there, then you ditch him at the last minute. I mean, what kind of friendship or mentoring is that? And if we’re assuming that Harreld is paying for his chartered jet himself, that also means Stead is sticking Harreld with, at the very least, a multi-thousand-dollar tab for a trip he would otherwise never have made.
Too, notice the specific details that Harreld provides. He lands in Cedar Rapids, but only when Peter Matthes picks him up does Harreld learn — from Matthes — that Stead won’t be attending the meeting. Really? Jerre Stead ducks out on Harreld, but Stead doesn’t have the courtesy to let Harreld know himself? Yet somehow Stead has the ability to get word to Harreld via Matthes? How does that work?
Even if we assume that Harreld can’t get any messages in-flight, when he lands anything from Stead should come through. And if Stead was planning on attending and only changed plans at the last minute, Stead should have been able to get a message to Harreld whenever he managed to notify Matthes. If we assume that Stead was coming from somewhere other than Denver — which makes sense because otherwise Harreld would have noticed that Stead wasn’t on the plane with him — then there’s still no reason that Stead can’t get a message to Harreld after he lands. In fact, if Stead was coming from his other home in Scottsdale, Arizona — which is another hour or so distant in flight time — then by the time Stead knows he’s not making the trip he can probably get a message to Harreld before Harreld’s plane even takes off. Assuming of course that Stead has Harreld’s number.
So, did Jerre Stead have Harreld’s number? Why yes, he did. As part of Harreld’s newest and very detailed origin story, Harreld clearly says that Stead ‘pinged’ him a week after Rastetter first called about the Iowa job. And he doesn’t make it sound like that was the first time he’d heard from Jerre in ages, either. He just says “…Jerre Stead pings me…”, as you would if someone got in touch that you were used to talking to or hearing from. Which means, among other things, that when Stead is getting a message to Harreld through Matthes, Stead already know how to contact Harreld directly. Maybe via text, maybe via phone, but Stead can get in touch with Harreld if he wants to, so why doesn’t he have the courtesy to do so on that occasion — when he clearly does take the time to convey the exact same message to someone else?
Again, I have no idea. Every time I try to play out J. Bruce Harreld’s latest origin story I get stuck on all of those questions and more. And that’s before I try to imagine Harreld paying for six round trips on private jets out of his own pocket, for a job he didn’t even want until the morning of September 3rd. And that’s all before I start wondering if J. Bruce Harreld made some or all of those trips on planes owned by, leased by, or paid for by Jerre Stead — which would make the lack of direct communication between those two men in ‘early June’ even more inexplicable.
Now, as confusing and frustrating as all that is, the reason it’s important to find out who paid for J. Bruce Harreld to take that ‘early June’ trip — plus the other five trips that Harreld took during the search — is because Harreld’s current origin story has him sinking thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars of his own money into a job that he does not want. And even if J. Bruce Harreld is a free-spending millionaire, that narrative doesn’t make any sense to me — unless someone else was covering his expenses. Maybe even a certain someone who wanted Harreld to attend that secret Kirkwood meeting so badly that he called Harreld up and personally begged him to attend, who then also made the arrangements for that meeting himself, who was also a member of the search committee. And if that is the case, then J. Bruce Harreld — the sitting president of the University of Iowa — is still lying to the press about his origin story.
Somewhat unrelated to this post, but it’s interesting (?) that one of the University of Iowa interview questions is
18. What is your vision of “good to great” for the University of Iowa?
Am I right that those questions were presented by the Board of Regents to the four finalists on September 3rd?
Because if those questions were prepared prior to September 1st somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.
In any case, yes — why are other candidates being asked a questions that quite literally comes from another candidates sales pitch?
But wait…19 says “what questions do you have for us as a committee?
Does that mean Harreld was pitching his ‘good/great to greater’ line earlier in the search process, and they incorporated it into the questions?
I am definitely now very curious about this.
(Thank you as always, Paula.)
I believe that Harreld said that he stayed in Iowa between the campus visit and the interviews in Des Moines. I can’t find the information, but I think it was published at the time of the interviews.
I had the same feeling, but then I thought maybe I manufactured that impression from the quote where Harreld and his wife are talking the morning of the final interviews and vote. In any case, thanks for taking the time to write, because you have spurred me to dig a little deeper and see if I can’t turn up the information we may both be recalling.
(If Harreld did stay in Iowa, that raises more interesting questions, including whether he got additional face time — or even phone time — with any of the regents prior to the official interviews and vote.)
If you’ve been following the bureaucratic perversion that was perpetrated when the Iowa Board of Regents hired J. Bruce Harreld to be the president of the University of Iowa, you already know that on Thursday the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released the results of a two-month investigation into that debacle. While there is a lot of information in the full report, and we’ll work through it all in a future post, here I want to highlight an important aspect of the AAUP’s conclusion that is easy to overlook. To be clear, the AAUP is not a regulatory body, and as such its investigation only concerned whether the search and selection process that led to Harreld’s appointment was in violation of shared governance. That does not mean, however, that the conclusion the AAUP reached is of no relevance in any other context.
From the final report:
Again, from the point of view of the AAUP — which was clear at the outset that its investigation would be narrow in scope — the only question was whether the search was fair to the other candidates and the faculty who participated in the search, and consistent with the claims of shared governance professed by the regents. And the AAUP concluded that the search was not fair in any aspect.
As a result, the question of possible sanctions will now be considered. From the Gazette, on 12/10/15:
Because the AAUP’s authority is limited, it’s tempting to see their conclusion only in that narrow context. The regents said they were going to run a fair search, but instead they pulled a fast one and chose an unqualified carpetbagging dilettante over three eminently qualified academic candidates. Ugly stuff, to be sure, and yes, sanctions will hurt, but Harreld still gets his $4,000,000 over five years, plus housing and free run on the university, while the other co-conspirators remain in power as well.
Yet look again at what the AAUP concluded:
Now imagine that exact same line appearing at the end of a report prepared by an investigator working for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, or a federal prosecutor with jurisdiction over such things. Relative to the AAUP those words speak only to the duplicitous bureaucratic maneuvering that took place. In a criminal context, however, those exact same words prove that criminal fraud was committed, because at a minimum more than $300,000 in state funds was spent on the search.
Now, as it happens, the AAUP report is the third instance in which a reasoned look at the regents has led to that same conclusion. The first, collectively, occurred in a series of staff editorials by the state’s major papers. The most recent, from the Press-Citizen about a month ago, said this:
Nobody in the Iowa press believes that the regents ran a fair or transparent search. And not just because a number of the key co-conspirators lied to the press during and after the election, in order to obscure the fraud. Paper after paper looked at the way the regents ran the search and concluded that it was unfair.
The second instance occurred here on Ditchwalk. While I am obviously not an impartial observer, I do try hard to be fair, and after looking closely at the facts the only conclusion I was able to reach was that the regents defrauded the state by running a sham search.
With the AAUP report, not only do we have yet another confirmation that the search was fraudulent, but the AAUP was still able to reach that conclusion despite being stonewalled by the perpetrators every step of the way. Again, from the AAUP report:
Now imagine instead that a member of law enforcement, with subpoena power and the ability to indict and convict, approaches those same individuals. Either they’re going to lawyer up forrealz, in which case that investigative body is going to tighten the screws, or they’re going to start yapping like one of those hysterical little dogs that you can’t calm down no matter what you do — because they want to be first in line to cut a deal.
Even a disinterested prosecutor presenting the same facts that the press has seen, you’ve seen, I’ve seen and the AAUP has seen, would be able to get indictments from a grand jury. Right now, today, without any other information coming to light, the fraud itself is so obvious that I cannot imagine a judge or jury failing to convict. Add in the disclosure of whatever details the key co-conspirators are desperately trying to keep secret — including particularly the meeting where they agreed that Harreld would be their puppet candidate — and they would be crushed by the evidence against them.
So where is that investigation? If the AAUP, the press, and a disillusioned alum (me) have all reached the same conclusion, why haven’t the people who are responsible for making sure that state funds are used appropriately asked even the most basic questions? Where is the investigation of the actual crime that was committed? Who has standing to file suit on behalf of Iowa taxpayers, and why hasn’t some enterprising attorney already done so? If there are political aspects to the lack of investigative inquiry, where are the politicians, or would-be candidates in this election season, who could be using this abuse of power against any and every part of the corrupt Branstad-Rastetter political machine? What crime could more egregiously betray the state’s long and proud commitment to education as a sacred trust?
I don’t get it — and when I say I don’t get it I mean I really don’t get it. The people who authorized and perpetrated the sham search that produced J. Bruce Harreld, at state expense, committed criminal fraud. And yes, that includes J. Bruce Harreld himself.
In a post on the Chronicle for Higher Education site, about the AAUP report, Eric Kelderman wrote:
Indeed, if you’ve been following the Harreld hire closely there may be nothing new, but that’s the point. The Iowa Board of Regents, a government agency charged with overseeing the state’s institutions of higher learning, took hundreds of thousands of dollars of state money and spent it not on a fair search, but on a sham. Yet unlike the verdict reached by the impartial press, or a highly partial alum (me), the AAUP verdict comes from a body that knows more about how things are supposed to work in higher education than any organization you can name. And based on that long experience, including experience with exactly this type of malfeasance, they have concluded that the Harreld hire stinks.
If you think you have a counterfeit painting, you consult an art expert. If you do have a counterfeit, and you paid for it, you can report that crime to the police, and it will be investigated. If you think you have counterfeit currency, all you have to do is consult a bank. If your money is counterfeit the bank will alert the U.S. Treasury, and your counterfeit currency will be investigated.
So it stands to reason that if you thought you had a counterfeit university election on your hands, you might seek out the opinion of the AAUP not because they’re academically inclined, but because they are experts. Which is why anyone in law enforcement who’s been on the fence about whether the people of Iowa really were ripped off should now be taking that concern seriously. Because not only were the people of Iowa defrauded of, at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars, but most of the people who committed that fraud work for the state.