A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
05/31/16 — A Few Thoughts about the Tuition Hikes and UNI’s Interim Prez.
05/29/16 — J. Bruce Harreld, Leadership and Sexual Assault.
05/24/16 — Gaming out the Iowa Regents’ Presidential Search at UNI. Updated.
05/21/16 — J. Bruce Harreld, Pollock’s ‘Mural’ and the UI Museum of Art. Part 1. Part 2.
05/20/16 — J. Bruce Harreld, Boston Chicken and the 7547 Partners Lawsuit.
05/19/16 — UNI President Ruud announced that he’s leaving to take a job at a much smaller school. In typical passive-aggressive fashion, the Rastetter-led Board of Regents left Ruud hanging without a contract extension. I expect a closed search predicated on lies told by Rastetter and Robillard after they got caught running the fraudulent search for J. Bruce Harreld at Iowa. There’s no conscience in any of this, and no concern for the students.
05/17/16 — J. Bruce Harreld and the Marcus Owens Case.
05/16/16 — J. Bruce Harreld and the Local Business Community.
05/15/16 — The four candidates for Director of Public Safety at the University of Iowa have been named, and three have visited campus. On that subject, the Des Moines Register gave that department a ‘thorn’ today for the way in which it initially bungled the Marcus Owens case. (Remember when J. Bruce Harreld said there was “no there, there“? Good times.)
05/13/16 — A few thoughts about this weekend’s UI graduation ceremony. Updated.
05/11/16 — J. Bruce Harreld and Collaborative Budgeting.
05/08/16 — J. Bruce Harreld and the Question of Trust.
05/06/16 — Mike Richards Appointed to the Iowa Board of Regents.
05/06/16 — On Wednesday, Brad Pector put up a well-argued and well-sourced post on J. Bruce Harreld, right into the teeth of a media storm. If you missed it, it’s worth a read for the insight it gives into Harreld’s obliviousness.
05/04/16 — J. Bruce Harreld at Six Months.
05/03/16 — J. Bruce Harreld: Hate Speech Victim.
05/01/16 — J. Bruce Harreld, Misogyny and UI Athletics.
04/29/16 — Updating the Andringa Resignation and the Strategic Planning Debacle.
04/28/16 — A few notes on the resignation of Regent Mary Andringa. Updated.
04/27/16 — J. Bruce Harreld Pulls a Fast One.
04/24/16 — J. Bruce Harreld and the Gartner Plan. Updated.
In an interview with the Daily Iowan one week ago, the fraudulently appointed president of the University of Iowa, J. Bruce Harreld, addressed a number of pressing issues on campus. As noted in a previous post about that interview, the issue which garnered the most attention on social media and in the press had to do with Harreld’s proposal to divert profits from the athletic department in support of academics. There are a lot of things wrong with that idea, which we will get to in this post, but the first observation that needs to be made is that this is not, in fact, even a remotely original idea.
The decision to keep the academic ledger and the athletics ledger separate seems to date back to 2007. If you know anything about the history of the University of Iowa, you also know that the previous presidential search disaster also occurred in 2007, under the auspices of then-regents president Michael Gartner — who, by every account I have read, was a colossal pain in the ass. I do not know what prompted Iowa (or the Board of Regents) to segregate athletics from academics, but only four years later, when he was no longer a regent, Gartner proposed a series of radical changes to higher education in Iowa, including demolishing what was the academic equivalent of the Glass-Steagall Act.
From a post by Nick Johnson, quoting Gartner:
Fraudulently appointing a businessman with no prior experience in academic administration was a disastrous decision by the small cabal of co-conspirators who engineered his sham hire, and regurgitating bad ideas from Michael Gartner hardly undoes that injustice. And if you’re wondering, yes, 2011 was also the year in which current Regents President Bruce Rastetter was first appointed to the board, only to later fix the election in Harreld’s favor, at which point Harreld then reintroduced Gartner’s plan within the first six months of his presidency. Having said that, however, it is not at all surprising that the Gartner Plan received most of the attention after Harreld’s interview was published.
Many if not most of the people on any college campus — to say nothing of people in the surrounding communities, and alums scattered far and wide — have a more impassioned relationship with college athletics than they do with the academic mission ostensibly underpinning their favorite teams. By the same token, however, selling people who are pro-athletics, if not also apathetic or even openly hostile to academics, on the pilfering of athletic department revenue, will not be easy. In fact, where many Iowans think nothing of passionately rooting for various Hawkeye athletic teams, they simultaneously despising the community and campus which those teams call home, meaning they would undoubtedly prefer that any siphoning of funds went the other way.
As you might imagine, then, some people are going to be extremely unhappy that Harreld has resurrected the Gartner Plan, which will take money ‘earned’ by the athletic department and give it to the eggheads and radicals on campus, where it will undoubtedly be wasted on learning and research instead of recruiting the next great running back or point guard. And as far as that goes, they can actually make a fairly compelling case for their position. From Seth Merenbloom at CampusPressbox.com:
As you can probably imagine, there’s going to be more of the same from boosters at Iowa, who may rightly feel that the money they’ve raised or intend to donate should not be used to offset a cash grab by Harreld. (One donor who will not be making that argument, however, is Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who has loudly and proudly touted a $5M pledge that he made to Iowa athletics in 2008, yet only donated $1.5M over the past eight years.)
From an academic perspective there always is, as there also is with athletics, a desire if not a need for more revenue. So from an academic point of view Harreld’s resurrection of the Gartner Plan may seem like an idea that is all upside and no downside, but that is not at all what Harreld has proposed. In fact, nowhere in the past week, let alone in prior reports regarding Gartner’s original proposal, have I ever read that athletics would pass surplus funds to academics, but academics would not then be obligated to cover athletic losses. If that is what Harreld is proposing — that academics be allowed to take profits, but have no commensurate obligation to athletics — then Harreld needs to clarify that point. At which time those Hawkeyes who love them some sports will chase Harreld out of town with pitchforks, which is yet another reason why it’s unlikely that Harreld is proposing anything different than what Gartner proposed in 2011, which is that all monies at the University of Iowa should be pooled regardless of their source.
So — is the Gartner Plan itself a good idea or a bad idea? The answer is that it is not simply a bad idea, it is a potentially disastrous idea that business genius J. Bruce Harreld could not have proposed at a worse possible time in the entire history of collegiate athletics. Even if we assume relatively calm seas ahead in higher education, Harreld is piggybacking on Gartner’s simplistic if not deceptive premise that “all university revenue should come into one pot, and every department should have to justify its spending.” Because once you mingle athletics dollars with academic dollars, you’re never going to know — unless you have the authority to audit the books — which dollars are going where.
As it stands now, athletics has to contain and account for its own costs. If athletics is co-mingled with academics, then cost overruns or unexpected expenses in the athletics department will directly impact academics, and vice versa. Other than some theoretical flexibility in allocating funds from a larger communal pot, there is literally no advantage to exposing academics and athletics to risks which are unique to each. If you don’t want your entire institution vulnerable to a sudden bout of market or segment flu, you segregate the departments financially, and as a former executive at IBM — to say nothing of being the guy who drove two companies into bankruptcy — J. Bruce Harreld knows that.
For that reason, it’s entirely possible that Harreld’s eagerness to take money from athletics is actually a backdoor plan to provide the athletic department with much greater borrowing power based on the full faith and credit of the entire university. If the AD wants — or needs — to write big checks that athletics can’t cover alone, being part of a single big pot will make those checks viable. And that includes selling ‘improvements’ and ‘initiatives’ internally, which ‘promise’ a return on that investment.
While I was working on this post over the weekend, the Press-Citizen editorial board posted an op-ed about the Gartner Plan, titled “Our View: Harreld hints at intriguing financial change“:
Still, Harreld should be commended for considering such broad changes. Faculty members who were concerned by the president’s reputation as a product of the bottom-line corporate world might take solace in such a proposal, as moving funds from a reliably profitable program to subsidize academics isn’t characteristic of that line of thinking. Being open to trend-setting in the name of preserving the university’s high standards is a welcome outlook, and one that most probably didn’t see coming.
One obvious concern, of course, particularly regarding Harreld and visionary promises, has to do with the track record that has already been established in that regard, including the fact that Harreld’s first act as president-elect was to lie to the press, the people of Iowa and the university community in order to protect the co-conspirators who engineered his hire. In that context, here is the Press-Citizen editorial board from back in June of 2015, when the idea of a ‘non-traditional’ (meaning business oriented) president was being pushed by co-conspirators Bruce Rastetter and Jean Robillard:
And here is the P-C editorial board from mid-November of 2015, two weeks after Harreld took office:
In keeping with that spirit of journalistic vigilance, one obvious question that the Press-Citizen and other news outlets should be asking about the Gartner Plan is just how much money the UI Athletic Department actually generates each year. As was reported on the exact same day that Harreld proposed resurrecting the Gartner plan in the DI interview, and as was noted in the P-C op-ed this past weekend, the UI Athletic Department actually lost money last year. Whether it lost money ‘only on paper’, or whether it made some money this year but lost money last year, or will lose money next year, the fact remains that Harreld has not opened the UI Athletic Department books so people have an idea of the possible annual benefit to academics and cost to athletics. (Whether numbers provided by the University of Iowa could be independently verified is of course another important question.)
For reasons that will be made clear in a moment, it would also be particularly useful to know how much money the football program consumes and generates each year, and what percentage of any profit (or loss) is the result of football alone. Because the truth is that when Harreld talks about taking profits from the athletic department, he’s almost exclusively talking about taking profits from football, which is by far the single biggest revenue generator (and sports-related cost) on any college campus.
Which brings us now to an issue that should already be front and center in public debate about the Gartner Plan, and one you would think a forward-looking business genius would have already considered. And that issue is risk. What are the risks associated with exposing academics and athletics to each other financially?
If you know anything about current events at the University of Iowa, you know that the athletic department is currently the target not only of multiple civil lawsuits alleging discrimination, but also the focus of a federal civil rights probe. I do not know what the maximum potential liability is for all of those legal challenges, but I’m pretty sure they’re not going to lead to windfall profits even if the AD and the department escape unscathed. So why isn’t anyone talking about that downside risk in the context of the Gartner Plan?
Oh, wait — someone is, but it’s not business genius J. Bruce Harreld. From a Gazette report by Vanessa Miller, on 04/21/16:
Why business genius J. Bruce Harreld would be oblivious to such risks, while good ol’ North Carolina hillbilly Steven Leath is clearly aware of them, is a question I can’t answer. One admittedly cynical answer, of course, is that J. Bruce Harreld is trying to position the academic side of the ledger to cushion any hit that the athletic department takes from all of those pending lawsuits and investigations. In fact, given that Harreld just gave AD Gary Barta a massive new contract extension and pay increase there’s good reason to believe that he might be looking out for Barta’s best interest, including how costs associated with the department’s serial misogyny might hurt its ability to put a great product on the football field or basketball court or ball diamond. But mostly the football field.
If you’re still haven’t decided whether J. Bruce Harreld is a straight shooter or a snake on this or any other issue, it might be particularly useful to visit the part of the DI interview where Harreld voiced his support for the Gartner Plan. Because in doing so Harreld characterized Iowa’s current standing in a way that most people would find deceptive, and I would call a flat-out lie — which was also ably abetted by either lies or incoherence from Provost Butler:
Note specifically the part where Harreld claims that Iowa is “at the bottom of this list”. There is no sense in which being at the bottom of any list is considered a good thing, and Harreld knows that. Yet he not only uses that phrase once in a deceptive manner, he returns to it.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you which article Harreld is referring to specifically, and it’s possible that he’s actually referencing the wrong publication in the quote above. In any case, however, what I can tell you is that many if not most colleges and universities subsidize, if not openly fund, their athletic departments out of academic dollars, but Iowa is one of the few schools that does so minimally if at all, while also mandating that the two ledgers be kept separate. So when Harred claims that Iowa is “at the bottom of the list”, the list he’s actually talking about is the list of schools that have to take money out of academics in order to keep athletics afloat. In fact, as you can see from Harreld’s own quote, that is the point that he’s making.
The interview continues:
In the second-to-last comment from Butler, I believe the word ‘academics’ at the end should be ‘athletics’. I have read that sentence and that section of the interview repeatedly, and that is the only way that the conversation makes sense. Whether that error is a transcription error or reflects a brain cramp on the part of Butler I do not know, but in this post I am assuming that Butler either said or meant to say that students on other campuses wonder why money they are paying for their education is being diverted to, or used as a subsidy for, athletics. And as far as it goes, I think that’s a fair question.
If there’s one particular line in the entire section which deserves attention, however, it’s this, from Harreld:
Again, as a businessman, Harreld knows to factor in every conceivable risk in any decision he makes, and as a Harvard MBA I’m willing to bet that he was trained to do so. Which makes it all the more incredible that Harreld would not only consider opening up the academic side of the UI ledger to near-term risks associated with pending lawsuits, but that he would also do so with regard to obvious long-term risks associated with the “machine” of football itself.
That “machine” — that revenue engine — which Harreld wants to use to provide money for academics at Iowa, is actually at considerable risk, if not at risk of collapse. Because while there has been a lot of talk about concussion and CTE over the past year or so, most of that conversation is currently focused on either the professional game or youth sports. Yet for reasons detailed today in a related post, I believe the financial risks inherent in football will initially become manifest in the college ranks.
Whether you read that post or not, and whether you agree with me or not about the risks that the game itself faces from a financial perspective, I don’t think anyone reading this post would argue against the premise that football as a revenue-generating sport is facing the most uncertainty it has ever faced. And yet at exactly that historical moment J. Bruce Harreld wants to co-mingle the athletics ledger and the academics ledger, and again the question is why. Why does a business genius propose steering the University of Iowa face-first into all of that financial uncertainty, when the most prudent decision would be, at the very least, to take a wait-and-see approach?
At exactly the moment in history when college and university presidents should be doing everything possible to wall off academics from the rapidly growing uncertainties associated with football as a sport, and with Iowa having already separated the athletic and academic ledgers, J. Bruce Harreld is proposing that academics be exposed to all of that uncertainty, and I can see only two possible reasons for that. Either J. Bruce Harreld is an idiot, or he is driving that change precisely to provide the athletic department with the resources to weather a potentially catastrophic financial hit.
Looking at the big picture, at exactly the moment when America is trying to come to terms with the linkage between concussion and CTE, and thus between football and CTE, J. Bruce Harreld is effectively proposing that the University of Iowa make up for shortfalls in funding which have been engineered by politicians hostile to education, by taking revenue from the one sport that we now know does brain damage to people who play it. People like former Hawkeye Tyler Sash, who died of an accidental overdose last year at the age of 27, and whose brain was subsequently found to be riddled with CTE.
Leaving aside the illegitimacy of Harreld’s presidency, the justification put forward by the people who administered his sham hire is that only a business person could steer the University of Iowa through the treacherous waters ahead. Yet even in this post we can see that while Steven Leath at ISU gets it, J. Bruce Harreld is either oblivious to or lying about the risks inherent in the Gartner plan. Much worse, however, is that if there is a real looming threat to higher education it is the fact that football as a revenue producing “machine” has suddenly become the equivalent of asbestos or tobacco.
We didn’t know that to a medical certainty only a few years ago, but now we do. There is no safe number of concussions or blows to the head, and concussions and blows to the head are inherent in the game of football. Until the cultural and financial fallout from that undeniable medical truth has been resolved, Harreld’s embrace of the Gartner Plan can only be seen as reckless folly or intentionally deceptive.
Update: Another small wrinkle in all this is that a couple of months back a state senator introduced a bill to have UI and ISU cover some of UNI’s athletic expenses, because UNI doesn’t belong to a conference with a rich TV deal:
There was no subsequent news about the bill, so I assume it died as predicted, but it’s also clear that this may come up again. Obvously, if it passed, it would be a whole lot easier to defray that hit if that money came out of the greater UI budget, rather than out of UI athletics.
You can read the actual bill here.
You may recall that one of the first things Harreld did when he got here was to go to a game and pose around with the footballers. The guy’s in love with college football. My bet is that this deal is already worked out with Barta: athletics (taking the money from something disposable, let the feds yell about Title IX) writes a check, then the university writes a much larger check to football, because, I mean, they’re real swell guys (ne’ mind the criminal charges), they’ll help us out in a pinch so. I’m guessing there’s some particular oblong tossy-thing prize he’s got his heart set on.
Why hasn’t this series turned into a regular LV feature, btw?
In a number of posts about the Harreld Hire we have talked about the penchant that fraudulently appointed University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld has fordeception and manipulation. We have also talked about how Harreld is temperamentally unsuited to be a university president, because his instinct is always to divide and conquer, not to build genuine consensus. Harreld may say the right things when he is orchestrating events, but when you look at how he administers moments of supposed inclusion, the choices he makes actively discourage people from participating.
Currently there is no better example of all that than the blitz-like effort underway to plow through multiple “planning forums” prior to the production of the university’s new strategic plan a few months down the road. Yet merely by forcing that compressed sequence of meetings on the university, Harreld has managed to change the conversation away from the inherent insincerity of that administrative act, to how best to respond to his dictated terms. And that’s leaving aside the insincerity of the notice that was given about that accelerated and compressed schedule, which only appeared in the press a week ago. From a report by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, on 04/21/16:
The obvious question is why the new president, who is purportedly a business genius of the first order, decided, after only six months on the job, to buck twenty years of precedent predicated on meaningful inclusion, and instead jam the entire outreach process into a short ten-day window, which was itself announced only a week earlier. The equally obvious answer, of course, is that J. Bruce Harreld and his crack team of autocratic shared-governance destroyers want to suppress the number of people who will show up, ask questions, and offer their thoughts on the future of the university — including in particular those who would have used sufficient advance notice to build consensus.
As it happens, however, Harreld recently signaled that the strategic plan itself is little more than a charade because of the decision making criteria which Harreld announced two weeks ago. Described at the time as the “filters” which will determine how resources are allocated going forward, Harreld has effectively slaved the strategic plan to those criteria. Again, from Miller’s piece:
As noted in a recent post, in practice those four principles devolve to only one principle: improving the university’s national rank in publications such as U.S. News & World Report. As such there is no reason to believe that anything which is discussed in the “planning forums” will override that goal, and in fact the filtering criteria make that impossible regardless of the potential benefit to the school or the students. Predictably, Regents President Bruce Rastetter chimed in with Orwellian support not only for Harreld’s sham criteria, but for the compressed planning schedule:
While I have no basis to dispute Rastetter’s claims, as idiotic as they sound, there is no doubt that Harreld intentionally compressed the schedule and announced those meetings at a very late date so as to decrease participate. We know this because in scheduling his first town hall back in February, Harreld also did everything he could to decrease turnout. From a post on the town hall by Nick Johnson:
Again, note Harreld’s instinct. Instead of making it easy for people to participate, he made it harder. Now, with the strategic planning meetings, Harreld is selling a larger number of meetings than normal, while ignoring the fact that the timing of the meetings at the end of the semester, and the compressing of the meetings into a small window, decreases the likelihood of turnout. Taken in sum with the likelihood that any ideas expressed in the planning meetings will be ignored by Harreld and his team, it is understandable that the university community is itself divided on how to respond.
From a follow-up story on the first meeting, also by Vanessa Miller, on 04/25/16:
The basis for the protest?
The problem with refusing to participate in the sham planning forums is that opting out allows Harreld and his team of invalidators to claim that no one was interested. Which is exactly why some people have decided to show up and make their concerns known. From the Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson, in his report on the initial planning meetings:
The problem with participating, of course, is that it allows Harreld and his team to claim that there was significant buy-in, when in fact everyone who participated or choose not to participate was hostage to Harreld’s administrative abuse. You can even see the effect of Harreld’s deft gift for sowing confusion and resentment in the ranks in the headlines which accompanied the stories by Miller and Charis-Carlson, respectively. Here is the headline from the Gazette story:
And here is the headline from the Press-Citizen:
So was turnout at the first meeting good or bad? The answer is that turnout was incidental to the real point, which is that the president of the University of Iowa intentionally engineered a situation in which people of good conscience had to decide whether they should participate or not. And the hell of it is, there is no right answer. If people don’t show up, Harreld can claim license to do whatever he wants. If people show up in droves Harreld will thank them and throw their input in the trash, just as the Iowa Board of Regents did during the fraudulent search and selection process which led to his illegitimate hire. And of course if the meetings are protested or became hostile, there will be a new round of sanctimony as Harreld and Rastetter decry the lack of professionalism shown by the hostages.
To paraphrase an oft-repeated line from a science fiction television show, participation is futile. And yet it is also necessary if Harreld is to be held accountable. More voices in opposition to Harreld’s rankings-obsessed agenda, and in support of concrete goals which improve the school, do have value, but encouraging people to take the time to participate in the sham planning forums is also a big ask.
Still, if people of conscience do want to draw attention to an important issue during the remaining planning meetings, one way to go about it is to talk about the inherent linkage between the strategic plan and Harreld’s rankings-driven resource allocation criteria. Because as noted above, J. Bruce Harreld has committed the school to allocating its increasingly scarce resources based not on what’s best for the school, but in order to please third-party, for-profit publications which rank institutions of higher learning. And as we learned in a post about those rankings, the only reason Harreld is doing that is because doing so will make him look good to those who are least informed.
As is true in Congress, the only thing that matters in administrating the University of Iowa is whether there are funds available or not. Without money, nothing happens, no matter how laudable a particular goal might be. Because Harreld has already tipped his hand about the filters he will use to determine how resources are allocated, he has also effectively tipped his hand about which aspects of any strategic plan will actually be implemented:
The University of Iowa does not need more students, and college rankings are primarily of value in terms of marketing. For that reason, any time and money that Harreld spends trying to raise Iowa’s rankings — particularly for reasons of vanity and self-interest — would be administrative malpractice. What the University of Iowa desperately needs is a leader who brings the community together and focuses on the educational and research missions from which all else derives. Unfortunately, until J. Bruce Harreld leaves and that person arrives, the best we can hope to accomplish is to minimize the damage he intends to do, and challenging his wholesale commitment to gaming the school’s national ranking may be the best way to achieve that goal.
Harrell doesn’t know squat about being a university president, and therefor doesn’t really want input that may actually educate him. His targets are simply broad generalizations prolly taken from Wiki somewhere. This fraud is going to seriously damage the university.
I get the idea Rastetter and Harreld would be behind VW type software to falsify data to gain US News status.
The news yesterday that Regent Mary Andringa will resign on April 30th, after serving only one year on the job, was certainly unexpected. (Because regents serve six year terms it can be assumed that both Governor Terry Branstad, who appointed her, and Andringa herself, gave a great deal of thought to whether she would be able to serve the full term before the appointment was offered and accepted.) While Andringa’s resignation will not change the balance of power on the board — whose nonpolitical mission has been thoroughly corrupted by Branstad’s unabashedly political appointments — there are some interesting dynamics in play.
By statute, the nine-member board can have no more than five members from any one political party. While that used to mean balancing Democrats and Republicans, Governor Branstad obliterated the spirit of the law not only by appointing several independents, but by gaming the issue of political affiliation itself:
Indeed, in March of 2015 it was noted that Branstad’s new slate of appointments to the board — which included Andringa — would leave only one Democrat. Currently there are 5 Republicans on the board (Rastetter, Dakovich, McKibben, Cownie and Andringa), 2 Independents (Bates, Sahai), 1 Democrat (Mulholland), and one with no political affiliation (Johnson). With Andringa’s resignation there will only be 4 Republicans on the board, meaning Branstad can simply grab the nearest Republican loyalist and plug them in to the vacant slot.
The board must also be balanced by gender, but because there are currently five women on the board, Andringa’s resignation means that Branstad can now appoint either a man or woman.
As noted by the Press Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson, the timing of the appointment also matters:
Because Democrats control the Iowa Senate, Branstad may prefer to wait until the current legislative session ends before making the appointment, thus avoiding a hearing until the next session, when the new regent would be significantly harder to dislodge. While Downer and Evans are certainly both qualified, I am not happy that Downer chose to lend credence to former search committee chair Jean Robillard’s false claim that the search process was confusing when Robillard himself administered a sham search. I don’t know anything about Evans.
In sum, both the Iowa Code and Branstad’s political ruthlessness mean he will have complete flexibility in appointing the next regent. Which is why I have every confidence that when the name is finally announced, Branstad’s pick will be yet another finger in the eye of the University of Iowa community. How that appointment will impact J. Bruce Harreld and his administration, however, is an interesting question, particularly given how hard Branstad and his hand-picked fixer on the board — Regents President Bruce Rastetter — worked to fraudulently appoint Harreld.
Update: A couple of days before Regent Mary Andringa announced her resignation from the board, I flagged a story by DMR/P-C reporter Jeff Charis-Carlson about yet another no-bid contract which was recently awarded by UI administration:
The story about the no-bid furniture contract received little attention, even as it fit within a larger established narrative of the Iowa Board of Regents and the University of Iowa awarding no-bid contracts and unadvertised jobs to cronies. Several days later, as noted above, Regent Mary Andringa announced her surprise resignation from the board.
Today, the other shoe dropped:
As if that isn’t damning enough, we can now pull back and plug this new information into the fraudulent search which led to the illegitimate appointment of J. Bruce Harreld as president of the University of Iowa. Because as regular readers know, Mary Andringa was one of two regents who were not on the search committee, who met in secret with Harreld on July 30th, at Regents President Rastetter’s place of business in Ames.
I have not seen the specific date when Andringa became chair of the committee overseeing the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, but during the 08/05/16 meeting there is this, from the minutes [bold mine]:
The timing of those committee assignments is particularly interesting because it was only six days earlier that Andringa was invited to meet in secret with candidate J. Bruce Harreld at Rastetter’s private place of business. Even if Andringa did steer millions to a company that she was employed by, she could not have given herself the chair of the committee which perpetrated that fraud, meaning either the appointment was one of pure chance (1 in 9), or a deal was cut between Rastetter and Andringa, and conceivably also Jean Robillard, who was, at the time, the chair of the search committee.
Did Mary Andringa broker support for Harreld in exchange for the chair of the UIHC committee? If so, was that quid pro quo memorialized on July 30th, when Andringa was one of four regents who met with Harreld in two meetings of two? Not only do we still not know where Bruce Rastetter was on that day, we don’t know whether Jean Robillard was aware that those secret meetings were taking place. And how does Harreld himself factor into all this, since he’s now the head of the UI administration which approved Andringa’s crony contract?
And as long as we’re asking questions, when is someone in a position of investigative authority going to get off their ass and start digging into the endemic sleaze that is the Iowa Board of Regents? When is the Iowa legislature going to weigh in with more than a shrug? And when will someone point the finger at Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who appointed Andringa and Rastetter, and who is now poised to name yet another political crony to the board?
A person in investigative authority.
Well, given that Jeff, nice guy though he may be, is employed by an advertising outfit with no desire to make waves, and that Little Village, the only independent voice in the area, doesn’t seem to know how to do this sort of thing and prefers to stick to reviews of bands nobody cares about, and that bulldoggish as Ryan can be, this won’t be top of the pops for AP until it’s past being a story, I’d say that means that you-are-it. At least until our local statehouse crew decides to start issuing some statements to the press. It’s a good question, incidentally, why they haven’t yet. Why not, Joe? I mean medical pot’s a very nice thing but this is perhaps more important.
Which is also why this ongoing series needs a more visible platform, even though I’m sure you’ve seen quite a spike in traffic in the last few months.
As for the Andringa story: the other thing that strikes me here is the Herman Miller contract. Herman Miller, for those who don’t pay attention to furniture, is ******* expensive furniture. That’s the baseline you’ve-arrived furniture you see if you visit, say, the Moens. The Noguchi coffee table. The Aeron office chairs. The kind of stuff where a thousand-dollar discount is useless and still leaves you spending hundreds or thousands on a chair.
Why, pray tell, is the lean-state-school peanut butter clumping up around expensive office furniture? Especially given that we have such simple, salt-of-earth types as B. Rastetter running things?
If I had investigative authority there probably wouldn’t be much left of state government, so maybe it’s for the best that I just have this blog as an outlet for my cranky disposition. 🙂
I have no complaints about the work that Jeff, Vanessa and Ryan are doing (and others), and as I’ve mentioned before I’m entirely beholden to them for the information they turn up. There’s nothing original here, except maybe a lot of grousing and whining. I know that reporters work within constraints, but given those constraints I’ve seen no let-up in anyone, and that certainly could have been mandated at the editorial level.
One thing that’s easy to forget is that Rastetter, Robillard and Harreld (among others) all lied to the press, including these reporters. I don’t know a lot of people in journalism, but the ones I do know and have known don’t like being used as patsies. They know they’re going to be lied to constantly, but once they figure out that they’ve been used to pass false information to the public, it’s hard to get them to go back to garden-variety cynicism.
It’s also worth noting that some things simply take time. Harreld himself was put on notice by the Press-Citizen, which was remarkable at the time. Everyone expects a certain amount of sleaze in government, but with Andringa’s sudden resignation you can bet that ears are perking up and people are revisiting the events of the past year or so — including Harreld’s fraudulent hire.
As for the Herman Miller question you raised, I had the same thought. That’s not your usual industrial-grade furniture, yet UI/UIHC committed to buying it without compelling a bid, which they could have done. Not a good look for all involved, and potentially one which may end up being litigated. (Let’s hope.)
Wonder if there’s a group of people willing to serve as litigants as it becomes interesting to do so. Must be more emeriti around not getting their RDA of fight.
On the anniversary of American Psycho I love this post.
Katie Mulholland is a democrat? She and husband are Republican donors.
In the previous two posts we took a look at the ludicrously accelerated schedule for developing the University of Iowa’s five-year strategic plan, then at the sudden announcement by Regent Mary Andringa, three days ago, that she would be resigning from the board as of tomorrow. Over the past forty-eight hours both stories have evolved, with the magnitude of additional disclosures about Andringa’s hasty departure obscuring an important development on the strategic planning front. In this post we will attempt to catch up on both stories.
Regarding Andringa’s resignation, in an update yesterday I linked to an AP piece which connected Andringa to a Herman Miller contract recently awarded by UIHC. As is often the case with AP stories, the paper of record not only edited (or brutalized) the story for length, but removed the byline of the reporter — who not surprisingly turned out to be Ryan Foley. You can read Ryan’s entire piece here, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of his report is the certainty and immediacy of the denials coming from both the Iowa Board of Regents and the Governor’s office:
Given that Andringa was in the employ of Herman Miller at the time, it is not actually possible for Josh Lehman or anyone else at the Board of Regents, or anyone in the governor’s office, to know what Andringa did or did not know about the UIHC/Herman Miller contract. They could assert that she did not have any administrative oversight of the contract through Iowa’s governmental offices, but they cannot claim that Herman Miller did not inform Andringa in whole or in part about that pending dea. And yet the quotes above are absolute. Both the regents and the governor are claiming, as a fact, that Mary Andringa did not know about the Herman Miller contract with UIHC.
The assertion by the Governor’s spokesman, in particular, is idiocy. While rules and policies may have been followed, there is clearly an “appearance of conflict” in the basic facts of the story, to say nothing of the damning details. Andringa first failed to note her employment by Herman Miller in the required disclosure forms, then presided over the regents’ committee which oversees UIHC when the Herman Miller contract was signed.
As tempting as it is to speculate further, however, it seems to me that there will be more coming out about all of this, despite the unambiguous denials by the governor’s office and the Board of Regents. At the very least, however, the suddenness of Andringa’s resignation following the initial reporting about the Herman Miller contract, by the Register’s Jeff Charis-Carlson, suggests exactly the “appearance of conflict” that the governor’s office is determined to deny.
The Herman Miller Question
When I initially read Jeff Charis-Carlson’s piece about the no-bid contract awarded to a local distributor for Herman Miller, my immediate reaction was the same as that of ‘dormouse’ in a recent comment:
As it happens, I am myself the owner of an Aeron chair, and have been for over seventeen years. In fact, I once wrote a post about my Aeron chair, titled, oddly enough, My Aeron Chair, in which I noted that it was darned expensive even back in the day. In fact, in current dollars I don’t think I could afford to replace it, which is why I’m glad it’s built like a truck and doesn’t seem to show any signs of appreciable wear despite heavy use for close to two decades.
While it’s always a good idea to pay a little more for something that will last a long time, one of the more interesting aspects of the Aeron chair is that it has no upholstery. Instead, the seating is a kind of mesh, which, again, seems to be almost impervious to wear. Whether all Herman Miller products have the same construction or not, it’s one thing to own something yourself, and quite another to purchase equipment for the general public to use and abuse, let alone in a hospital setting.
Were Mary Andringa not in the employ of Herman Miller, the usual route to such an ostentatious purchase would involve snobs on a committee or board who refused to lower their own personal trust-fund, golden-parachute or crony political standards simply because they were spending state money. One minute UIHC would have a pressing need for furniture by the boatload, the next minute they would be getting the best of the best in a chic new palette that would prove outdated before the furniture was actually delivered.
With Mary Andringa even remotely in the picture, however, that normal calculus changes, and what we end up with is not only the “appearance of conflict”, but actual, real conflict regarding the expenditure of a large amount of state money on a non-competitive basis. Whether Andringa was involved in the Herman Miller contract or not, how can anyone claim that avoiding a bidding process was in the best financial interest of the University of Iowa, or of the taxpayers in the state? (Particularly after we just went through this with Peter Matthes and the Strawn contracts.)
J. Bruce Harreld’s Strategic Plan
On the strategic planning front, Vanessa Miller of the Gazette reported late Wednesday on an important if not unprecedented development, which was overlooked on Thursday in the aftermath of revelations about Andringa’s resignation:
While these changes represent a belated and obvious step in the right direction, the most important aspect of the revisions to the planning timetable is that they happened at all. As far as I can tell, this is the first instance in which one of J. Bruce Harreld administrative manipulations has failed, and that in itself is a positive sign. Instead of simply dictating terms, Harreld and his administration are having to change course, which suggests that other course changes may also be possible.
Whether the changes reported by Miller had anything to do with the boycott that was called, or whether they were solely due to the inability of people to attend, I think the bottom line is that Harreld’s naked attempt to discourage participation actually proved too successful:
Not for one minute do I believe that the announced changes to the planning schedule will produce a different plan, or that any amount of input will be respected by Harreld. Low turnout is forcing these changes not because low turnout has limited input, but because the virtually non-existent turnout has gutted any pretense of validity in whatever strategic plan Harreld puts forward. Still, whatever the actual reason for the “dismal” turnout, Harreld’s Machiavellian calculations and autocratic instincts have proven fallible, and in its own way I think that is as noteworthy as the resignation of Regent Andringa.
I repeat, the leadership of the U of Iowa must be huge fans of American Psycho. I believe I saw one in an Armoni coat over a Cerruti jacket with matching gabardine slacks, brooks bros tie and Calvin Klein belt and shoes.
Now Branstad adheres to Fight Club rules: first rule of Branstad govt is to not talk about Branstad govt.
You know what should be fun? The turnout for Skorton when he shows at Hancher. I thought they used to make Towers for conflicts like that.
You mean Tower of London? Heads hanging from thr Iowa River bridge?
In writing posts about the Harreld Hire I have tried, as much as possible, to lag behind disclosures in the press until I am reasonably sure there isn’t more to come. Any issue can blow up again (and again), of course — as we just learned with the UIHC Herman Miller contract, and the rapidly evolving revelations about Regent Mary Andringa’s resignation — but particularly in the age of social media I think there is real value in taking a deep breath and counting at least to five. Only after any initial righteous indignation and ridicule has played out is it possible to see some events as they really are, let alone understand them in the larger cultural context.
By the same token, however, I have also tried to highlight issues which deserve a second look, including items in the news which may have received little notice because there were more important or entertaining stories in play. For example, on 04/25/16, the Gazette’s Mike Hlas wrote a column about the music that was playing at Kinnick Stadium during the University of Iowa’s recent spring football game. It’s a funny piece, and I identified with Mike’s struggle not to be “that guy”, but Mike also called attention to an issue that hopefully transcends generations:
Now, whatever you think about the lyrics to that song — or whether you even care enough to click over and read them — I want to make clear that I don’t care who writes what in any song. Free speech wins out, always, no matter how loathsome the end result may be. The question here is not who wrote the song or why, but why that particular song with those particular lyrics came out of a sound system owned and operated by the University of Iowa. Because it’s one thing to listen to whatever you want in privacy of your own home, and quite another for a governmental institution to broadcast a particular song or lyric in the performance of its duties.
Here are the four lines of verse which end in the text quoted by Hlas:
Again, whatever you think about that verse, I am not arguing that the artist who wrote those lyrics has anything to apologize for as an artist. I am also not trying to blow what was a fleeting moment out of proportion in the context of the spring football game. The obvious problem with those lyrics, however, is not only that they run pointedly counter to some of the most basic ethical obligations of the University of Iowa as an extension of state and federal government, but that they call to mind an already established pattern of misogyny in the UI athletic department’s administrative leadership. That is in turn of particular concern given that the UI athletic department oversees women’s sports and all of the female scholar-athletes on campus.
Before we dig into all that, however, a few notes on the verse quoted above. If you don’t know who Ray Rice is, he’s a former NFL football player who punched his fiance in the head and knocked her unconscious. When reports of that abuse first appeared in the press it wasn’t exactly clear what happened, but it turned out that the incident had been caught on surveillance video, making the violence undeniable to all. True to form the NFL first tried to whitewash the incident, as it has many such acts in the past, but eventually Rice was driven out of the league, while the NFL was forced to pretend that it cared about domestic violence in order to protect its profits.
As to the actual narrative in the quoted verse, we first learn that a man (“that’s him”) is feeling put upon by the dark side of his celebrity (“Paparazzi”). In response to that stress the man turns to drink (“pour that gin”) and tries to peaceably tune out the world (“tryna do right”). The man also warns a third party (a “hater”), however, that if he’s pushed too far by a treacherous woman (“she bad”), he may have to punch her in the head and knock her unconscious (“like Ray Rice”).
In the context of art and free speech I believe that the author of those lyrics has the right to write whatever he wants. I don’t have to like the words myself, I don’t have to agree with the philosophy, and most importantly I don’t have to listen to them if I don’t want to. Unless of course I happened to be one of the 18,000 people at the University of Iowa spring football game, during which those lyrics were reportedly broadcast to the crowd.
Had the University of Iowa used that song in a course for the purpose of studying it as art — whether prefaced with content or trigger warnings or not — that would also be different, but the annual spring football game is clearly not part of the school’s academic mission. Even if the music was meant merely as a backing track or mood music for the play on the field, that particular song may have offended some of the people in attendance, and on that basis alone should have been excluded. On the other hand, if that particular song was intentionally employed as a recruiting tool, that would be of considerably greater concern because those lyrics are antithetical to the way we expect people to resolve interpersonal conflicts.
Even if you’re fatigued by your own fame and slightly drunk, and you’re feeling hassled by another human being, the proper response to someone who makes you unhappy or uncomfortable is to remove yourself from that situation, not to punch that person in the head. Yes, if you’re concerned about your physical safety you may conceivably have to resort to violence as a means of making your escape, but there is nothing in the quoted verse to suggest that the narrator felt physically threatened. For that reason I think the University of Iowa should not have broadcast that particular misogynistic problem-solving strategy to the general public.
Now, as you may or may not know, the University of Iowa athletic department is currently facing multiple lawsuits charging gender discrimination, and also just hosted a team of federal investigators looking into similar concerns. Despite all of those question marks (if not warning signs), however, the University of Iowa’s new and fraudulently appointed president, J. Bruce Harreld, recently gave Athletic Director Gary Barta a massive pay raise and contract extension, even as Barta was and is the nexus of all of those gender-related legal concerns. In fact, to truly underscore the degree to which gender issues are routinely trivialized by men in positions of power at Iowa, consider that in a recent interview with the school newspaper, the Daily Iowan, both Harreld and UI Provost P. Barry Butler repeatedly characterized that same federal investigation into possible violations of federal law as little more than an opportunity to get a third-party perspective on operations, as happens during the normal accreditation process.
To be clear, I do not believe AD Barta ordered a misogynistic song that condones the most infamous act of domestic violence in this century to be played at the spring game as a means of enticing recruits to sign with Iowa. Having said that, from all of the above I think it is self-evident that somebody in the athletic department screwed up. To be equally clear I do not want Barta to now hang some lowly staffer out to dry in order to demonstrate that the athletic department is committed to gender equity, particularly when Barta’s own administrative duplicity proves that is not the case. That also does not mean, however, that AD Barta or anyone else in the athletic department supports violence against women.
Those two misogynistic issues should not be conflated, because using administrative authority to deny women their rights under the law is a decidedly different misogynistic act than punching a woman in the head. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem right to ignore the playing of that song altogether, particularly in light of how the issues of gender equity and violence against women have been handled in the past by the University of Iowa and the Iowa Board of Regents. As noted in several previous posts, only a little over two years ago former UI President Sally Mason found herself in the middle of a media storm after a comment she made about campus sexual assault. In that instance Mason’s words did not advocate for violence against women, but simply acknowledged the difficulty of ending that violence. Unfortunately, Mason’s language seemed to betray a less-than-zero-tolerance attitude to that problem, and for that she was not only taken to task on campus and in the media, but by the current leadership of the Board of Regents. That experience in turn prompted Mason to initiate the recently completed six-point plan to combat campus sexual assault, which — as also noted in a recent post — J. Bruce Harreld not only ignored until compelled to acknowledge that milestone by the Daily Iowan, he then took personal credit for the completion of that plan, even though he himself derided the exact same plan during his candidate forum.
Mason’s mistake was magnified because she was the leader of the university. While J. Bruce Harreld did not specify which music should be played at the spring game, his silence following disclosure of the lyrics quoted above speaks volumes about his priorities, and the degree to which he himself has abdicated leadership on gender issues. At the same time, there has also been no comment from the Iowa Board of Regents regarding Hlas’s report, when they had no problem piling on Mason after her gaffe. And of course there has also been nothing from the athletic department.
As also noted in multiple prior posts, J. Bruce Harreld’s own plan to combat campus sexual assault — which he floated the day after his fraudulent appointment — was actually to enlist the football team to combat the problem. Is it now any wonder why that plan produced dismay at the time, or why it raised serious concerns about Harreld’s competence as a leader? More to the point, given such abject idiocy, together with his unwillingness to confront the “Ray Rice” incident, why has there never been a moment of convergence in which Harreld — a man — has been held to the same standard that was invoked when Mason was taken to task? If you’re the president of the university and you drop the ball on an issue like sexual assault or violence against women, shouldn’t you be held accountable for that mistake regardless of your gender?
To be fair to Harreld, as cultural problems go misogyny can be hard to get a handle on if you’re not a woman. I’m not a woman, and I don’t pretend to speak for women, or to truly understand what it’s like to be a woman, but as a man I also implicitly believe I can do a not-terrible job of mansplaining the problem of misogyny to other non-women. Which brings us back to Mike Hlas’s article, and the muted and limited response that it received on Twitter.
If you click here you’ll see the tweet Mike put out about his column, and the responses to that tweet. (As of this writing, there were nine total, from five different people, including Mike.) Of the people who responded to Mike, the person most offended by the lyrics to that song was also the only female to comment. (One of the accounts was anonymous.) Among the male respondents, concern about the “Ray Rice” verse ranged from serious to minimal, while two other concerns seemed to trump that issue. Not only was there the problem of the volume of the music, but there were concerns about whether or not foul language had been scrubbed from the songs. (By all accounts it had.)
Now, if I were to ask you which of the following you found most distressing — loud music, foul language, or a woman being punched in the head and knocked unconscious — I think you would say the woman being punched in the head. And yet when you read those tweets that’s not the case, albeit perhaps because the woman being punched in the head is not actually being punched in the head, but is instead a hypothetical based on a historical victim of domestic violence. Still, compared to a misogynistic lyric as a lyric, concerns about foul language and volume seem to have won out — but again, only among the men who commented. (There was some additional commentary here.)
I been reading Mike Hlas as long as he’s been writing about Hawkeye sports, and I included a link to one of his columns in my recent post about The End of Football. From his column it’s clear that Mike recognized the misogyny in the quoted lyrics as soon as he heard that song at the spring game. I also know that Pat Harty — another longtime Iowa sportswriter, who commented in Mike’s Twitter thread — has had experience with the issue of campus sexual assault, particularly in the context of UI athletics. I know that because years ago Pat wrote one of the more gripping columns I’ve read about Hawkeye sports, which divulged his personal connection to the Pierre Pierce disaster during basketball coach Steve Alford’s tenure. (You can see the original links to that story in articles here and here, but I was unable to find the actual column.)
Even armed with all of that experience, however, to say nothing of all of the things they’ve learned that they were never able to report, in the end both Mike and Pat and several other commenters in the Twitter thread did not have the same level of negative reaction to the “Ray Rice” lyrics that the sole female respondent exhibited. And I think the reason for that, given that Mike and Pat seem to be decent people, is that if you’re a man you can never really comprehend the extent to which misogyny is baked into just about every aspect of every culture on the planet. In fact, at some point in your life you may have debated which group among all others has suffered the most in human history, yet in doing so you almost inevitably ended up engaging in an unintentionally misogynistic dialogue.
To see what I mean — and stipulating that none of what follows diminishes anyone else’s suffering — consider how you might rank the abuses suffered down through the ages by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, African-Americans, Africans, all native peoples, and any other groups you care to include. Because no matter which groups you add to your list and how you rank them, the most abused group of human beings in the entire history of the world is women. Across almost every culture, race and nationality you can think of, including cultures, races and nationalities which have themselves been horribly victimized, women have been, and in some cases still are, deemed to be nothing more than second-class citizens.
Women are half or more of the human population, yet even today hundreds of millions of women are treated as subordinate to the men in their cultures, and many more are treated as little more than objects, and at times disposably so. In fact, right now there are probably tens of millions of women who actually believe they are inferior to men for reasons that would meet the clinical diagnosis of Stockholm syndrome. (If you are an American, and all of this seems foreign to you, remember that in the United States women were only assured of the right to vote in 1920. That change took place after the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, which occurred fifty-five years after the end of the Civil War.)
To see how entrenched misogyny is even in modern American culture, consider that in the post I wrote about The End of Football, I repeatedly talked about CTE and how it was caused by blows to the head. Only while writing this post, however, did I realize that Ray Rice’s fiance may have also suffered irreversible brain damage when she was knocked unconscious, either from the blow itself, from her head hitting the floor of the elevator she was in, or both. Which of course leads to the larger question of how many serially abused wives (and children) might also show evidence of CTE if their brains were examined. Even in apportioning sympathy for victims of CTE, then, we reflexively favor men, and particularly men who entertain us with daring-do, while simultaneously ignoring women who have had the same physical forces imparted to their bodies as a result of actual crimes.
With regard to J. Bruce Harreld and the sham search that led to his appointment, it was noted by many at the time that the four finalists for the presidency were all men. In explaining that lack of diversity it was also noted in various reports that there were simply no female applicants of equivalent caliber or experience. Whether those claims are true or not, they ignore another possibility, which is that women of considerable professional experience may not have applied for the Iowa job because the school and the Board of Regents have a reputation for misogyny.
In replacing Mason, not only did the regents go out of their way to rig Harreld’s election, and not only did they hire a cultural imbecile with regard to multiple issues which are critical on any college campus — and particularly so on the ‘party school’ campus at Iowa, including multiple issues related to gender — but in his candidate forum Harreld swore that there would be a zero-tolerance policy regarding campus sexual assault, and made it abundantly clear that he would pursue the issue into the athletic department if there was a problem there. Yet now, only eight months later, Harreld and his academic administrators have remained completely mum following the publication of Mike Hlas’s column, even though the incident at issue is simply one of judgment, not actual abuse.
Is it any wonder that at some point women stop believing that any man will ever take gender issues seriously? Or is Harreld so enamored of his new sports buddies that he’s unwilling or unable to call them out, even over what everyone would agree was an administrative error in judgment? Then again, Iowa is coming off a phenomenal season on the gridiron, so maybe Harreld doesn’t want to upset the athletic department by discouraging recruits, or boosters, or the current players, or any of the people who are ripping into him for his recently announced support of the Gartner Plan, which would shift money away from athletics to academics.
Again, this incident is not the end of the world. But if the lyrics to a song that was broadcast by the University of Iowa are such that a reporter will not quote them in his own column for fear of social repercussions, let alone the possibility that he might lose his job, it seems to me that there must be some validity to concerns about that incident. More to the point, as a matter of institutional policy — which Harreld is still obliged to enforce, even if he would really rather not — the question of what to do in this instance was settled when Sally Mason was taken to task for her comments. The policy of the University of Iowa regarding such matters is that there will be ZERO TOLERANCE. Not 6% tolerance, or 0.4% tolerance, and not zero tolerance unless the athletic department is involved, but zero tolerance in all instances.
In fact, if you’ve been following J. Bruce Harreld’s presidency you might think he would be particularly keen to take the lead on issues like diversity and sexual assault, what with having indicated two-and-a-half months ago that his next town hall would focus on those important topics:
Unfortunately, despite J. Bruce Harreld’s awareness that engagement is a “critical part of the process”, and that his own leadership is critical to driving engagement, he seems to be backing out of his commitment to hold a minimum of three town halls per year, or at least any more during this academic term. From the Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson, on Friday:
I don’t know why J. Bruce Harreld is reneging on his commitment to hold more town halls — including particularly a town hall focused on the critical issues of diversity and sexual assault — but I do know he’s a very busy man. For example, instead of attending the Take Back the Night rally a couple of days ago, Harreld was forced to hobnob and schmooze at a reception for the esteemed former University of Iowa President Sandy Boyd.
Fortuitously, however, as noted by Jeneane Beck, Harreld will be appearing in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol on Monday, May 2nd, at 4:30 p.m., as part of Iowa’s “Just Living” social justice semester. While I don’t know if there will be an official question-and-answer session at that event, I am confident that in the spirit of the gathering J. Bruce Harreld would be happy to explain why the misogynistic lyrics that were piped through the athletic department’s speakers during the spring game have so far elicited neither comment nor apology from any member of his administration, despite having been reported in the press, and having been heard by some or all of the 18,000 or so Hawkeye fans in attendance.
Who’s the investigator in charge of the Title IX investigation? Because playing songs like that is the living, breathing definition of “hostile workplace.” Please post the name, if you have it, so I can send this column.
Also, you can stop bending the knee to free speech absolutism anytime. I know the idea makes the blood of well-protected white men run cold, but there are good reasons for hate speech laws, and marginalizing hate speech, even criminalizing it if the media refuse to marginalize it on their own, is remarkably effective in enforcing civility, if not genuine tolerance, as a social norm. There’s a reason, incidentally, why it’s mostly a bunch of white guys running around defending freedom of hate speech to the death.
The only name I’ve ever seen regarding the most recent federal investigation is Jeffrey Turnbull, who is the “team leader” from the Office of Civil Rights. If you want to email him, I found an address that looks like it might still be good at the end of this doc:
(I’m not posting the address because I don’t want it scraped from this site.)
The issue of free speech is interesting. In the post I wanted to stay away from tangential issues, thus the declaration. Having visited Germany several times, however, I can see the benefit of their laws outlawing various symbols, etc.
Still, as we saw recently with the Confederate flag, I think there’s something to be said for allowing democracy to quash symbols apart from government edict. If free speech could simply be disallowed on a case-by-case basis, I think America would have already gone down that road multiple times, and always to its own detriment.
Speaking of federal investigations, I missed this the first time around:
So that’s two civil lawsuits AND two federal investigations. Good thing J. Bruce Harreld didn’t back up the truck and dump millions on Gary Barta’s head. (Oh…wait.)
Also, I continue to be truly amazed at the cavalier attitude Harreld and Butler displayed in the DI interview, regarding the federal investigation. They came off as if they were trying to convince themselves that the investigation was no big deal, yet they held that little confab in public by virtue of dictating it to the press. Are these people genuinely stupid?
Finally, I thought this was funny, from a follow-up report today by Vanessa Miller, on Harreld backing out of his town hall commitment:
Yes, ironic indeed.
Yup. Corrupt hiring process, also something about a guy who played axman for IBM back in the bad old days when IBM led industry in laying off workers by the tens of thousands, firebombing the economy of an entire region for what turned out to be relatively fleeting corporate gains.
Anyway. Thanks for the OCR info.
Speaking of civility, and also the issue of free speech as noted in a prior exchange, I pruned your reply above out of simple decency to the deceased. I won’t pretend that my mind has not gone down a few dark alleys because of the abuses at the heart of the Harreld hire, but I have tried to come back to the light before posting.
No problem. The UI stuff is really not worth that kind of thinking, anyway. Not a patch on what went on during those IBM years. To get a sense of how that sort of behavior affected people you really have to go back to Roger & Me.
Which, incidentally, should be kept in mind when covering J. Bruce. Respected Elder though he may be, he had no problem at all with the kind of mass layoffs that produced that kind of devastation, real devastation, in a great many lives. The contempt you note towards Title IX was also in evidence in at least one interview then. I see no reason to believe he’s a different man now.
Didn’t Carly (baby girl voice singer) Fiorina make IBM look like social workers w her HP layoffs?
Carly was late to the party, though she did manage a spectacular jobs plague for Lucent, too. IBM eventually canned something like a quarter of its employees, and that doesn’t say anything about how it restructured its other jobs — for all I know, they still behave this way, but the MO used to be that they’d hire and fire in these massive waves. Tens of thousands of people at a time.
Generationally, it was a disaster — it meant you had all these young people in the 90s who had been trained to think of, you know, careers suddenly turned into disposable labor for life. No benefits, no being on your parents’ insurance till 26. So they’d actually do dumbass things like try to start adult lives, have kids, and listen to corporate high-ups who told them to go get training in this or that. They’d go back to school, go into debt for it. Then they’d come back all ready to have a career and find that they were absolutely screwed, and that whatever “career” they thought they were being hired for was going to evaporate as soon as someone like Harreld got tired of looking at it, too bad about that house, your kids’ school, those non-covered medical bills, etc. You repeat that six or seven times and you’ve got an entire generation screwed from both ends (let’s see what tuition is next year!) and very, very tired, also very unprepared for old age. But hey, J. Bruce came out good, didn’t he?
The J. Bruces of the world like to claim that the Chainsaw moves were necessary surgery. 25 years on I’m unimpressed by the claim. Handling the American “la la la I can’t hear you” global management strategy of the early 1980s by going berserk, firing everybody in sight, and slashing corporate taxes just meant that entire regional economies bled to death. To this day, the only thing propping up the Northeast is the fantasy financial industry, and 2008 gave us a nice view of what happens when that dream ends; nothing’s propping up the western rust belt at all. And did it save those companies — because that’s what it was all about, saving the companies — well, some of them, kinda. In the end they’re companies, not economies, and companies don’t live forever. IBM used to be a household name. I doubt that if you polled a random sample of 6th-graders today, half of them would ever have heard it. Kodak might ring a bell. Maybe Xerox. Nobody under 40 knows what the hell a Lucent was. I have to dig around in the memory to find the Enron and the Global Crossing. Good luck finding a college student who’s heard of the A&P or Ma Bell. Nobody’s built like a Mack Truck anymore, either.
But you can still hear that disastrous ’90s “save the brand, at all costs save the brand” attitude in how J. Bruce talks about contingent faculty — these are the same guys who pissed on the people they’d fired by insisting that they didn’t work fast food because that was for kids, so no need to raise the minimum wage. Adjuncting, lecturing, that’s for daisy-sniffers, you know. They should pay us. Unbelievably shortsighted, unbelievably selfish.
What? Harreld can’t lead a social justice platform – rich multimillionaire retiree who leaned on big multi-millionaire contributors and Agribusiness Koch-supporting land barons for his fraud ? Isn’t Putin a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner?
About the mass layoffs at IBM, when I was learning about Harreld last fall (after his appointment), I ran across a story that always bothered me. Harreld himself said that “public hanging of non-performers and culture change resistors was done in order to send a message, but this was done sparingly”.
So at the very least we know that not only were people at IBM worried about losing their jobs because of the economic factors in play, we also know that management at IBM was using termination as a tool — goading people into compliance out of fear.
In that context, then, consider this anecdote:
I have never been able to read that last line from Harreld without imagining that he found the situation funny. The very fact that he comments on what Adkins was thinking at the time — which Adkins had every reason to believe was the case, based on punitive measures which Harreld and other IBM execs implemented — speaks to a lack of empathy. You manufacture a situation in which someone feels threatened, and then you mock them for feeling threatened?
Ironic that Harreld is now characterizing the outrage that people still feel over his sham appointment as ‘hatred’ directed at him.
EMPATHY?! Man, if I wasn’t sick, that’d be my laugh of the day. Yeah, no, empathy was not what these guys were hired for. Have you noticed, incidentally, that actual tough guys aren’t really much for tough talk?
That thing though about using fear as a tool back then — that wasn’t just Harreld. They all did it. I don’t think the Iowa City region has ever experienced the kind of pervasive economic fear that large chunks of the country felt in those years, not even during the 80s, not with tax money rolling in. You really couldn’t get a job for love or money, and the environment was not kind and forgiving to poverty the way it is here. (Yes, really, by comparison, it is.) And if brass had any brains they were terrified, too, because there were hundreds lined up outside the door waiting to take that desk. And hungry for it. One big screwup on your watch was really all it took, but a great way to keep your job, apart from not screwing up, was to show absolute willingess to massacre on command. Even to come up with the idea yourself.
But no, there’s no way a decent human being could’ve survived in one of those top jobs at the time. Your job involved destroying people. Many, many, many people. Destroying their careers, their families, their children’s prospects. If you gave even the least bit of a goddamn about people you’d have a breakdown in one of those jobs. And actually that happened to a lot of the older guys at the time, guys who’d come up in a system where companies took care of their employees and you expected to work someplace for three, four decades. Their job was suddenly to destroy people by the gross and they couldn’t do it, and they had actual breakdowns and were replaced by guys like J. Bruce, who didn’t mind it at all. I mean that was the test: here’s a whole truckful of pink slips, go deliver them.
There’s a reason why after a few years they started hiring rent-a-cops to do the job. I expect to see that at UI, too.
Oh, incidentally, we can certainly run a simulation to leave you more sensitive to how women get treated.
1) Send me 21% of your income every week. Doesn’t matter if it’s not much. But 21%, in an envelope, to me, just because. Not because you’re a good guy participating in a simulation, but because you have to now. No, there is no justice to it, and that doesn’t matter. Money in the envelope, to me. I might return it at the end but I ain’t making promises. Now and then I’ll ask you if you’ve managed to save any money and when you say “no, I send it all to you” I’ll tell you not to blame others for your own shortcomings and warn you about old age. Might even tell you the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.
2) Set up a second twitter account with a woman’s name and a photo of an ordinary-looking middle-aged woman, then tweet as you normally do. Also, change your profile here to someone named, oh, Marissa, and say you like eBaying and have three great boys whom you’re raising on your own. If asked you can say their dad died.
3) I’ll get a couple other people to stop by now and then and mansplain at you, with gratuitous remarks about what you look like and how undatable/un******** you sound thrown in.
That’s a pretty good start. I’d say take on about two years of that and you’ll begin to get an idea of how it is for relatively privileged white women.
Yeah but 90% of what they Hillary got was playing the woman card.
Hey this is just the UIowa getting out ahead of the herd for when President Trump says Mike Tyson is his Sec of Defense and Ray Rice Sec of Homeland Security.
In looking at the overall cultural, even political context of these on-going Harreld/no bid contracts/secret public meeting shinanagans at the U of Iowa one should look at the 60s, 70s and so on. Philip Roth would be at home writing about Terry and the gang as much as he wrote about Tricky and his gang. Reviewing these turbulent 60s for instance one notes that colleges and universities were hotbeds or unrest, protest, and telling truth to power. Now however, universities and colleges are ‘run like businesses ‘ with political or business leaders as presidents and BOR members . IBM has to be the diametric pole to political protest.
One even notes the ‘double speak’ seen in covert operations: public meetings are private; shared governance means autocratic fraudulent fixed presidential searches; efficient use of state funds means no bid inside contracts, grants to the BOR president, obvious business conflicts conflicts of interest aa ‘cost savings’, and privatization of public health insurance (Iowa Medicaid).
Just as Harreld’s illicit appointment was a middle finger to shared governance and liberal faculty in Johnson CO, the liberal resistance colleges presented to corrupt righty schemes has been neutered, Brilliant!
One can see a a day when a liberal college will be as defunded as Planned Parenthood, when students will be programmed to hate gays, minorities, immigrants, transgendered people , and Christian (according to Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee) classes taught by faculty who took loyalty pledges to God, state, and party.
I am still reeling from news reports of J. Bruce Harreld’s appearance yesterday at a JustLiving event in the Old Capitol. I am not sure exactly why Harreld froze, but there is an excellent post up at Bleeding Heartland today which echoes my concerns about Harreld’s capacity for leadership. Concerns which transitioned today to an entirely different level following the publication of another Daily Iowan interview with Harreld.
What is hate speech? What combination of words, intent and context qualifies as hate speech, and what is not hate speech? Is there any assemblage of words which, in all instances, is hate speech?
I am neither an attorney nor judge, nor familiar with the legal system to any real degree, but I know that these questions are complicated. I also know that they are important and not to be trivialized. Which brings us to a genuinely disturbing assertion by the fraudulently elected president of the University of Iowa, J. Bruce Harreld.
From a Daily Iowan interview, published on 05/03/16 (today):
Now, I don’t know what your definition of hate speech is, and I’m not sure I could come up with an iron-clad definition myself, but I do know what hate speech is not. And whatever J. Bruce Harreld has been subjected to in his entire six-month tenure as the demonstrably illegitimate president of the University of Iowa does not remotely approximate hate speech. And that includes however upset his wife may have been while her husband was dealing with blowback from his own sham appointment, which he himself had no problem abetting or profiting from.
So was this a slip of the tongue? Did Harreld get confused, or conflate two issues — free speech and hate speech — in some way? Or is he genuinely asserting that he has been a victim of hate speech, in the same way that anyone else might make that claim?
The answer to those questions is that J. Bruce Harreld is indeed drawing equivalence between what he has been subjected to on campus as a result of betraying the university community, and what others have been subjected to in their own lives as a result of being different or in a minority. And we know that because this is actually the second time that J. Bruce Harreld has made such a claim, and from the first instance we can now see that he also revealed his definition of what hate speech is.
From a Little Village report on Harreld’s first town hall, on 02/24/16:
In characterizing the above quote from Harreld in a prior post, I noted that such a thin-skinned response was below the dignity of any university president, even if that president did feel insulted. What I did not comprehend, however, was that Harreld would actually draw an equivalence between insulting speech and hate speech, yet that is clearly what Harreld did in his most recent interview with the Daily Iowan. Because Harreld feels that he has been insulted, and because his wife has sensed animosity toward her husband, Harreld believes that he “could argue that a lot of [that speech] has been hateful to me.”
In no sense has J. Bruce Harreld ever been a victim of hate speech on the University of Iowa campus. Maybe Harreld was a victim of hate speech at some other point in his life, but the very fact that he feels comfortable equating hate speech with feeling insulted would suggest that J. Bruce Harreld has no conception of what it’s like to be truly victimized by hate speech.
And I honestly don’t know what to say about that. If you’re J. Bruce Harreld and you’re even remotely self-aware, you do not claim to have been a victim of hate speech simply because you believe you were insulted. Even if you really were insulted, you do not make that rhetorical leap out of basic decency and respect for those who have been subjected — sometimes for decades — to true horrors.
And yet here we are:
Leaving aside the fact that J. Bruce Harreld has held only one town hall — singular, not plural — it is alarming that this man is the president of a university, and thus responsible for advocating for diversity for tens of thousands of other human beings. If you believe that mere insults are the equivalent of hate speech, or that your wife sensing animosity is the standard by which hate speech should be judged, then you will inevitably trivialize hate speech when it actually occurs.
I cannot think of a single reported interaction between Harreld and any other human being which rises to the level of hate speech. I cannot think of any interaction that would be close, or any that would fall outside of the kind of contentious ritual exchange to be expected on a college campus. And yet here we are, with J. Bruce Harreld, the president of the University of Iowa, asserting that he “could argue” that “a lot of” speech directed at him has been “hateful”.
I am speechless.
How dare these bumpkins from Iowa throw insults at the great J Bruce Harreld, the man who single handedly resurrected IBM from the depths of failure.
When you have made millions, when you have altered the course of American history with Boston Chicken and IBM, you and your wife should never be subjected to anything like calls of resignation.
This ‘breath of fresh air’ has little idea what to do in his new retirement job. Apparently he will be helping move the university in a new direction. Although he has ever held high level faculty or administrative positions in academia, he will be leading the U of Iowa boldly into the next ?decade.
With liars in charge of the UIHC, and the U of Iowa overall, faculty, students, parents, and associates should be assured that this is now a long running comedy that will continue to entertain those who hate academia, and will continue to antagonize those who don’t.
The U of Iowa, reflects the trend emerging in the middle of the decade, to elevate businessmen, and others without qualifications to leadership positions. Apparently a great number of people believe that it takes no experience, no training, no prior achievements in academia, in state government, and even in the presidency to serve as leadership in these institutions.
About one year ago, who would have imagined that this fraud would emerge as the President of the Univ of Iowa. And who would also have imagined that another fraud, another businessman without experience for the position, and without understanding of the workings of domestic and international governing, would emerge as a presidential candidate of the Republican party.
You wonder when the unruly mob took over decision making processes, replacing logic and deliberation with hatred, prejudice, lies, distortions, insults, and bullying tactics.
Poor J Bruce Harreld the first, the unworthy, is the victim of people who do not understand his innate goodness and brilliance. He played the ‘victim card’; which card comes next?
Harreld’s reflexive tendency to play the victim card is becoming one of my biggest concerns. He literally cannot stop whining, and that bodes terribly for the students because it means Harreld really does have little or no capacity to empathize with them as human beings.
Without speculating about the psychological roots of that reflex, it should be self-evident to Harreld — even if he doesn’t feel any empathy — that talking about how he himself feels insulted or hated betrays an almost delusional level of what it means to be a leader, particularly if you also happen to be failing at that job. If you are a university president you are responsible for everything and you take the heat for everything. That’s the job.
In the past six months Harreld could have taken a number of meaningful steps to bridge the trust gap that existed after his fraudulent hire. Instead, his only thought was to ignore and out-wait those who were angered by the sham nature of his appointment, and now that that’s not working he’s not only refusing to take responsibility for that mistake, he’s sulking.
So I’m guessing the news that Robillard and Rastetter will be deposed in the next few weeks probably won’t cheer him up.
I am kinda feeling sorry for Harreld. Does he know he was a tool in the great Univ of Iowa flip off by Rastetter/Branstad? That he may be expected to look the other way as say a Peter Matthes doles out sweetheart contacts, or say a Mary Andringa forgets she is on the board of Howard Miller, a major vendor to almost all colleges/institutions in the USA?
I would not be a tool for those people (include Robillard in there) for anything less than 1,000,000 a year…what does JBH make again?
That deposition is very very interesting! http://www.kcci.com/news/university-of-iowa-presidential-search-leaders-to-be-deposed/39363950
Every time you feel sorry for Harreld, remember that he not only lied to cover up the conspiracy that led to his appointment, but he ignored the clear warning signs from the community that his candidacy and conduct would never be accepted as legitimate. And yet he took the job anyway.
(It still blows my mind that he was censured before taking office, yet even that didn’t give him second thoughts.)
Well…it’s really time for J. Bruce to come right out and say he doesn’t think that “hate speech” is a thing, and that he believes everyone already has equal rights and just needs to bootstrap on up and quit bellyaching. And it’s time for him to do that so that prospective faculty can quit wasting time kidding themselves about the environment at UI, stop looking at how things used to be, and look elsewhere. Also so that the writing and arts programs can get the message loud and clear and get serious about looking for new homes.
I was about to say that if what the monkey wrench gang are really after here is a great-greater-greatest B-school, hospital, football team, and good ol’ boy club, that’s pretty much what they’ll be left with — except there’s a problem with the hospital part of it. You can’t actually ignore things like minority and women’s issues anymore in medical/STEM fields and keep on getting money from the feds. It’s getting difficult even to get away with lip service. They’re actually requiring people to step up and take this **** seriously. So I don’t think that the medical-research stuff will survive this kind of nuts-hoisting attitude.
B-school, football team, and good ol’ boy club, I guess. They’ll have to put in another golf course. You can’t have just one golf course in an environment like that, you have to have the good one and the public one. Also a sweet dry-out clinic.
The more Harreld talks, the clearer it is that his complete lack of experience in academic administration is crippling the school. Harreld himself will blunder on, ever-confused about why the world doesn’t understand all the great things he’s trying to accomplish, but for the school itself his blindness is a genuine disaster.
I wrote in an earlier post that Harreld was a “systems and processes” guy, and you can see that in almost every utterance. He has a schematic (and often wrong) view of how things are and how they should be, and he’s trying to flow-chart his way to an optimal solution. Unfortunately, he has no capacity to ‘engineer’ (Purdue joke) a solution which accounts for human factors, because he spent almost his entire working life in the private sector, where the title on your door determines your authority. People do what you say because you’re the boss — not because you actually know what the hell you’re talking about.
Harreld cannot comprehend that he has no moral authority to preside over the University of Iowa. He was given — by fraudulent means — the office he now holds, and while he does indeed have a great deal of authority as a result, the idea that he might be held responsible for his past behavior is literally foreign to him.
Having said that, I think his most recent interview with the Daily Iowan betrays considerable stress, not the least of which can be seen in the exchange where he actually picks a fight about the definition of ‘off campus’. So desperate is he to prop up his own ego that he instigates a pointless argument with one of the school’s reporters. (Alternatively, if he’s going to insist on precisely defining every term, he should feel free to go back and define what the hell ‘greater’ means.)
I think that’s how consultants work, generally. They don’t actually have any idea which end is up in a given industry or business; they don’t have any experience that would tell them this. But they do genuinely believe that they don’t have to have any idea. And that’s why I’m not a consultant.
The thin-skinnedness really is a problem, but not a surprising one once you get a glimpse of him in the flesh. It’s what makes him dangerous. And the more I listen to him the more I think that man, he’s really in the wrong place, and that this is a very bad match all around. I kind of get the impression that he never was a very good engineer, but that by sliding over to the business side he could be a smart guy — and he actually did get the smart-guy label for a decade or so. And if you take a look at how he viewed the IBM engineers, there’s considerable contempt, which is about what you’d expect if a thin-skinned guy who wasn’t such a hot engineer was suddenly in charge of some of the best engineers in the world. And then he got the big Smart Guy stamp by adjuncting at Harvard, where they have actual smart guys, and where he “co-wrote” papers…but that didn’t last too long and he was talking mostly to students, and if you’re unfamiliar with academic politeness, you might really believe that they think you’re very very smart indeed, as an adjunct.
And now here he is, landed up in a whole nest of smart people, some of whom actually know something, all of whom are aware of the smarts difference between him and, say, Hunter Rawling, who’s just been invited back to run Cornell for the third time, and who’s a bona-fide smart guy — and it’s true, he can’t just go firing at will. The ranking system matters much less to him than personal insult does, which is a seriously bad position to get into — I mean look at that interview, he’s still nursing a wound over the untenured-librarian thing.
So I guess it’s do or die for him with this process engineering thing and I guess I know what comes next, too: he hasn’t any clue how this place works — it takes even a seasoned smart-guy academic administrator more than a year to figure out a university — but in his world that shouldn’t matter, and he’s about to find out it does. Which will be a personal disaster for him, which he’ll take personally, and all will be urged to put up banners declaring success. The weird thing is that if he’d just shut up — academia’s first lesson — he’s already got a process solution to lean on, and can be a hero by making small, sensible tweaks to it. The university’s been busy with this TIER nonsense for years now, the gift of other know-nothing consultants, and all he has to do is stroll over, change a couple of the more asinine recommendations, and voila, hero. (I feel relatively confident that he won’t read this because this is all very very long and there’s such a lot of text.) But instead he has to put his personal brand on this. And besides I guess he’s been sent here to raise tuition and chop things that aren’t football, a hospital, or a business school.
Which kind of has to leave the deans feeling put out. UI’s had some perfectly good axmen for a long time, well-feared, all that.
Good practice for the reporters, though, if they’re wise enough to pick up on what’s going on. Bet they caught hell for yesterday’s paper.
The more I learn about Harreld and what he’s trying to do — and why he thinks he should do it — the more harrowing this whole debacle becomes. It’s not just loony, it’s unstable, like nitro. All of it teetering on some wish-fulfillment about transformational change, which should be just a front for raiding the public coffers, but damned if these two-dimensional bottom-line thinkers don’t seem to really believe they’re doing something magical.
That latest DI interview, on Monday, left me shaking my head. I don’t know whether the guy’s glue is melting or he’s just tired, but there are a couple of times where he starts talking, and by the time he’s done he’s contradicted something he just said a couple of minutes earlier.
I think alcohol consumption must have gone up quite a bit among the admins over the past semester and a half. Or tranquilizer prescriptions. Or maybe both.
On November 2nd, 2015, J. Bruce Harreld officially took office as president of the University of Iowa. Now, six months later, as the spring semester comes to a close, we have our first opportunity to gauge the performance and effectiveness of the transformative visionary and business genius who so impressed the Iowa Board of Regents that they ran a fraudulent search and sham election in order to appoint him. In limiting ourselves to Harreld’s tenure as president we will ignore the abuses he committed in abetting his own illegitimate hire; the warning signs about his pugnacious temperament and utter lack of qualifications for the position, particularly as demonstrated during his infamous candidate forum; the blatant lie that he told immediately after being appointed, in order to obscure the machinations of his co-conspirators; and the wreckage Harreld wrought when he finally came semi-clean about the corrupt origins of his candidacy. Instead, we will consider only those moments over the past six months which highlight what the people of Iowa are getting for the $800,000 that Harreld is making each year ($200,000 in deferred compensation), as well as how the students, faculty and staff at the University of Iowa are profiting from his keen and incisive leadership, despite Harreld having absolutely no experience in academic administration.
* Only days after taking office, Harreld promises to make “faculty vitality” (meaning, in Harreld’s limited conception of that term, pay) a centerpiece of his new administration. His ability to deliver on that promise will be contingent on receiving $4.5M in supplemental funding from the Iowa legislature, which is facing a tough budget cycle.
* After Harreld has been on the job for one week, news breaks that the president of the Missouri System — a Harvard grad like Harreld, who also had no prior experience in academic administration — has resigned over systemic racial problems on campus. One week after the resignation in Missouri, Harreld announces a full investigation into a possible “hate crime” involving racist graffiti on a bathroom door.
* Also after one week on the job, and in concert with pushing for increased faculty pay, Harreld draws attention to Iowa’s national college ranking, particularly as judged by U.S. News & World Report. After citing a drop in Iowa’s ranking over more than a decade, Harreld asserts the need to “get to work” on improving Iowa’s rank. This focus on raising Iowa’s college ranking will recur throughout the first six months of Harreld’s tenure, and become the de facto centerpiece of his transformative vision for the school.
* In early December, after having had no open and transparent interactions with the greater university community, and after having been repeatedly challenged to do so by groups and individuals frustrated by his fraudulent hire, J. Bruce Harreld announces that he will hold a forum at the end of February, three months later. Harreld also commits at that time to holding three such meetings per year, in fall, winter and spring.
* In early December it is reported that J. Bruce Harreld — formerly the head of global marketing for IBM — has hired a “private media consultant” to help him both “personally and professionally“.
* In mid-December, an “unfortunate off-the-cuff” remark explodes into national news when it is reported that Harreld said “unprepared teachers should be shot“. After initially pressuring a staffer to change her story about the comment, Harreld finally apologizes.
* In mid-December it is revealed that prior to Harreld’s appointment, several UI polling contracts were awarded to crony political operatives instead of being put out for bid. While the contracts technically meet the school’s procedural criteria, they do so only because UI administrator Peter Matthes intentionally structures them so as to avoid the spirit of University of Iowa regulations. Several days later the president of the Board of Regents confirms that the contracts should have been bid. Matthes is neither terminated, suspended nor reprimanded for his deceit.
* In mid-December the policy for investigating hate crimes on campus is clarified, but no follow-up report on Harreld’s “full investigation” into the bathroom graffiti is released. A number of faculty and staff express concern about the opportunistic manner in which the incident was publicized by Harreld.
* In late December the Executive Director of the Freedom of Information Council writes to J. Bruce Harreld requesting the release of the polling data and questions from the crony contracts which were administered by Matthes. The letter remains unanswered for two weeks, at which point UI administrators claim that they simply forgot to open the mail until the middle of January. (The University of Iowa never releases the polling data or questions.)
* In early January, J. Bruce Harreld rewards Athletic Director Gary Barta with a massive increase in pay and multi-year contract extension, despite the fact that Barta and the athletic department are facing multiple lawsuits and investigations about systemic gender bias. Initial public response to the new contract is muted because Harreld never actually announces the deal, and only admits to it when it is uncovered and reported by the AP a month and a half later.
* In mid-January, J. Bruce Harreld announces his cabinet, which includes several notable changes. Despite prior gaffes and messaging issues, not only is the currently vacant position of VP for Strategic Communications eliminated, and the consultant currently handling that role terminated, but the entire Office of Strategic Communications now reports to Peter Matthes, whose own title changes from Interim Chief of Staff to Senior Adviser to the President. As a result, the one person most central to the no-bid crony contracts now oversees all of the messaging for J. Bruce Harreld’s administration.
* In mid-February, with only a few days’ notice, J. Bruce Harreld removes Debra Schwinn as Dean of the College of Medicine and replaces her with Jean Robillard, who already holds the titles of Vice President for Medical Affairs and head of UI Healthcare. That this decision concentrates the entire healthcare leadership of the University of Iowa in one individual of advanced age not only elicits no commentary about the wisdom or prudence of the move, the decision — which should have been cleared with the Iowa Board of Regents beforehand — receives retroactive and adulatory approval from that body. (Jean Robillard is also the former chair of the search committee, and one of the co-conspirators who engineered Harreld’s fraudulent hire. The president of the Board of Regents, Bruce Rastetter, is a former member of Robillard’s search committee, and another of Harreld’s co-conspirators.)
* In late February Harreld finally takes the stage at his first public forum, which, in the interim, has morphed into a town hall focused not on resolving outstanding issues, but an administrative update featuring multiple administrators reporting on subjects of little or no interest to the assembled audience. Not only is this town hall four months in the making, but it is scheduled so as to decrease turnout and organized so as to provoke hostility. Predictably, this passive-aggressive trolling of the university community is not well received.
* At the end of February it is revealed that the University of Iowa’s interim Public Safety Director was involved in a scrape with local law enforcement the previous summer, prior to Harreld’s appointment. After considering all of the facts and drawing on his long experience as a business executive, Harreld declares that “there’s no there, there“, and retains the interim director. Two days later, after it becomes obvious to everyone else that the situation in untenable, the interim director steps down.
* At the beginning of March, J. Bruce Harreld and his administrative team fan out across the state to drive media coverage for the University of Iowa’s new partnership with start-up Raise.me. In order to corner the market on Raise.me in Iowa, Harreld’s administration also pays a fee to make the app exclusive to UI among the three state universities for one year. Almost immediately concerns are raised in the press about claims being made by Raise.me.
* Sometime in March, Raise.me scrubs reference to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from its ‘About’ page, and restates its association with that charity in its FAQ.
* In mid-March, citing cost concerns, J. Bruce Harreld summarily cancels a public-private partnership that was years in the making, which would have produced a new University of Iowa Art Museum. In so doing the cost-conscious Harreld flushes $2M down the toilet. (A post looking at the purported justifications for abandoning the public-private partnership is in the works.)
* In mid-March, during an interview with the Des Moines Register, the president of the Iowa Board of Regents says that Harreld is “‘doing the exact right things‘ to win over the hearts and minds of the university community”. During that interview, the board president also lauds Harreld for his recent town hall, and his ongoing commitment to “open, transparent meetings” and to “[talking] about the future of the university” [19:35].
* In late March, after having radically changed the budgeting process, and insisting that future resource allocations meet three criteria — advancing student outcomes, improving national rankings, and protecting core values — Harreld asserts that the University of Iowa can become a top-ten research institution during his tenure. While it is not clear which specific ranking Harreld is referencing, the most likely suspect is the U.S. News & World Report ranking of Top Public Universities, which currently has Iowa ranked 34th in 2016. (As noted in an extensive look at how college rankings are gamed, raising Iowa’s national rank from 34th to 10th in five years would take an almost single-minded devotion of resources to that purpose.)
* In mid-April the Iowa state legislature approves $1.3M of the $4.5M formally requested by the Iowa Board of Regents for the University of Iowa, not only killing Harreld’s plans for “faculty vitality”, but also forcing tuition increases at the school.
* In mid-April, in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Iowan, J. Bruce Harreld (accompanied by Provost P. Barry Butler) conveys the following information. First, in a follow-up to prior prodding by the DI, Harreld not only acknowledges that the six-point plan to combat campus sexual — which he himself derided during his candidate forum — has been completed, he takes personal credit for that institutional accomplishment. Second, regarding the criteria which will be used to allocate resources, there are now four instead of three: values, rankings, student outcomes, and the future. (What Harreld does not explain is that in practice all of those criteria devolve to testing the effect of any resource allocation against the potential benefit to the school’s ranking.) Third, Harreld throws his full support behind the Gartner Plan, which would shift profits from athletics to academics. Later that same day the Des Moines Register reports that the athletic department lost money in 2015. Fourth, while acknowledging the pressing need for more mental health services for students, Harreld insists that nothing can be done in the near term because there aren’t enough “high-quality” hires available in a city teeming with counselors, therapists and physicians. (This fixation on quality means that anxious, depressed and perhaps even suicidal students must wait weeks to be seen by qualified personnel.) Fifth, in discussing the ongoing federal investigations into the athletic department, Harreld and Butler both agree that the possible violations of federal law driving the inquiry are a great opportunity for the university to get feedback on its operations.
* One week later, at a meeting of the Iowa Board of Regents, J. Bruce Harreld restates the filtering criteria for resource allocations for the third time. Instead of values, student outcomes, rankings and the future, the filters are now values, student success, quality indicators and the future. Even though the university’s college rank will be the overriding factor in all resource allocations going forward, Harreld has scrubbed the word ‘ranking’ from the criteria that will be used to implement that policy.
* In late April Harreld announces that the normally sedate planning process for the university’s five-year strategic plan has been hyper-accelerated into a ten-day window which begins only a few days later. One week later, after calls for a boycott and charges that Harreld scheduled the end-of-the-semester meetings in order to decrease turnout, the administration reverses course and extends the planning timeline.
* At the end of April, and despite having previously committed to investigating “racially motivated, gender or hate-related remarks, epithets or symbols“, Harreld and his administration have no response to a press report of misogynistic lyrics being broadcast to the fans at the annual Iowa spring football game.
* At the beginning of May, with the end of the spring semester only days away, J. Bruce Harreld backs out of his pledge to hold a second town hall before the end of the term, and instead folds that commitment into a smaller event which is scheduled for the busy week at the end of the semester. At that event, which is dedicated to social justice and the theme semester of “Just Living”, the conversation which Harreld is there to moderate goes off the rails when Harreld himself refuses to answer a question related to social justice. (Write-ups here, here, here, here and here.)
* One day after the “Just Living” discussion, the University of Iowa’s newspaper, the Daily Iowan, publishes an interview with Harreld which was conducted prior to that event. In that interview, Harreld not only announces that he will be holding a town hall during the summer — when most of the students and faculty are gone — but he equates feeling insulted with having been victimized by hate. And no, I am not kidding.
* One day later, on the night before this posting, a story about an African-American UI student who was attacked the previous weekend breaks on a Chicago news website, and is then communicated to the UI student body via social media. The victim, who lost two front teeth in the attack, initially tried to report the attack to the UI Department of Public Safety the following Monday, but was turned away and told to report the incident to Iowa City Police. This morning, according to the victim’s uncle, J. Bruce Harreld initiated a call to the victim, set up appointments for him, and accompanied him to the dentist.
In thinking about the events enumerated above, it appears some are not either related to Harreld actions or inactions. The story on the Art Museum doesn’t discuss ramifications of that decision, or actual reasons why it as made.
What does appear obvious is that Harreld has no clue about his role as president; he has not written or led any visionary paths to a new and ‘greater’ future. In other words, Harreld is up the creek without a paddle.
I suppose someone appointed president, who falsified his CV, who was basically in retirement, and who fleetingly flirted with academia at times but was never an academic muse, should not be expected to develop a Pulitzer winning academic plan for a large public university. The shame there is on Rastetter, Robillard, the BOR, and Gov Branstad.
I do not believe the state legislature, nor the general public wish to screw over the Univ of Iowa. But Rastetter, Branstad, and certain belligerent anti-academic operatives do wish to flip off the liberal institution in Johnson CO.
I do not think the inept J Bruce Harreld wants to defame the Univ of Iowa. However by his utter incompetence, his is now complicit in what appears to be a rudderless, leaderless, every-man(woman) for himself environment.
I really think this is like the Tea Party strategy of government destruction: Government is impotent and inept so therefor we will wedge our way into government positions then try to screw things up, or shut down government to further prove that it is dysfunctional.
Big critics of the Univ of Iowa enact this strategy by appointing an inexperienced, inept President who by his bungling essentially proves that the liberal professors and staff are impotent and lazy, do nothing, and suck money off hard-working taxpayers and parents.
For example: VP Rod Lehnertz said he would not honor JoCo minimum wage standards (check out his salary) at the U of Iowa. Multimillionaire Harreld is silent. Well, there is social justice for you (middle finger to everyday workers earning below an amount for a family to survive).
Those students, workers, minorities, women, faculty always asking for free stuff, right? If you don’t want to be flipped off, you pull a Robillard and go with the Rastetter/Branstad flow.
Thanks for the reminder about the art museum. I had intended to add a note that a longer post on that issue will be forthcoming, but I forget. (It’s been added.)
As for Harreld, your point that he has no clue is horrifyingly true. Every time I read an interview he’s given, I can almost feel the gears turning in his head as he tries to say the right things. And then there’s the whole passive-aggressive victim card, which he can’t stop playing.
As I noted in a comment below, it’s impossible to know which of the co-conspirators scammed the others the most, but I would bet anything there are some serious divisions between them all now. Harreld spends most of his days with egg on his face, trying to manufacture micro-success that will allow him to stay in office long enough to game the UI rankings and declare victory. Rastetter comes out like clockwork, cleaning up the messes, and declaring every successful sneeze by Harreld to be transformative.
It would be hilariously pathetic if there weren’t so many lives being negatively affected by the farce of their rudderless leadership. It doesn’t look like a crime, but it’s a crime. There are victims, and despite his incessant whining Harreld isn’t one of them.
After six months my impression is that Jere Stead somehow convinced his friend Bruce that he could gild his professional lily with a brief stint as an academic leader and in that process prove that conservative principles could reform the decadent state of academia. Stead apparently did not communicate the decades-long psychopathology of Bransted and Rastetter’s relationship with Johnson County. As you have shown Harreld was not prepared for the reality of academic leadership or the pathologies of this particular political conflict.
But today the ground has shifted beneath his feet as the party of his patrons is now led by a xenophobic populist with no allegiance to the ideology of conservatism. Bransted, Grassley, Ernst, King and Young have all indicated their own dedication to those principles were cynical and that they will support Trump. I would suspect that Rastetter also supports Trump since his horse, Chris Christie, is now in Trump’s stable. The covert and coded racism and misogyny of his political cohort is now overt and explicit. As a University President he has enough sense to know that he cannot go there even though the rabble that elevated Trump to the leadership of his party will demand it. He is up a creek without a paddle and Bransted and Rastetter could care less. Happy surfing Bruce.
I still go back and forth about who sold what to whom. So much so that I eventually have to give up, because it seems like every one of them — Harreld, Stead, Rastetter and Robillard — was playing an angle.
About the only thing I’m sure of is that Harreld and Stead talked much earlier than they’ve ever let on. That’s the one possible connection that has always been radioactive, and the one they’ve tried to stay away from entirely — even to the point of exposing all of the lies they told earlier. (I still marvel at the wreckage caused by the interview Harreld gave just before assuming command.)
Speaking of those four, when I was trying to figure out all the comings and goings during the search, and I realized that all four were only in the same room once — at least as far as we know — I had a funny thought. That particular moment of convergence occurred during the second day of the “airport interviews” in Chicago, when Harreld got his shot at the end of the day. Each time I imagine it I’m absolutely convinced that each one of the them — Harreld, Stead, Rastetter and Robillard — was certain he was the smartest guy in the room.
But that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that they were all wrong.
As for the political angle, the new regent that Branstad just announced supports your theory. (He was one of the guys who backed Christie, along with Rastetter.)
When Mary Andringa abruptly resigned from the Iowa Board of Regents last week, it was already a given that the board was nothing more than a patronage program for the corrupt political machine headed by Governor Terry Branstad. So it should come as no surprise that the equally sudden appointment of Mike Richards ticks off all the boxes one would expect. Large donations to Branstad, political connections to Regents President Bruce Rastetter, and an abiding interest in business, business, business.
What struck me most about the stated rationale for Richard’s appointment, however, was the degree to which there was barely a pretense of an association with education. From a Press Citizen piece by Jeff Charis-Carlson, on 05/06/16 (today):
Does that sound like someone being appointed to the board that oversees Iowa’s public universities? Or does it sound like someone being appointed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or maybe the board of Bechtel or Halliburton? Is that what the Iowa Board of Regents is about now — “advancing opportunities” for “multiple disciplines and sectors”?
What happened to the students? What happened to the Iowa Board of Regents as a non-partisan body dedicated to education? Only a day or so removed from a visceral reminder on the University of Iowa campus that the health and welfare of the students is central to the regents mission, the governor appoints a man who used to run a casino? Really?
Exactly what sort of far-reaching vision of higher education does one develop in the casino business? Or are Iowa, ISU and UNI about to start cranking out dealers and pit bosses, thus fulfilling Regent Mulholland’s dream of training every graduate for a job? As for the constant financial struggle facing all of the state’s schools, maybe the solution is to put slot machines in all of the dorms, and a craps table in each classroom.
I don’t know what kind of doctor goes on to run a casino company, but to my mind that’s kind of like a physician transitioning into the tobacco business. If you were in medicine to help people in the first place — instead of making out like a two-armed bandit — you probably don’t make that career choice. Then again, you also probably don’t accept an appointment from a governor who sells the powers of his office to the highest bidder.
I asked a question on Twitter the other day, but no answer was forthcoming:
One possible reason why no one responded is that my antipathy toward J. Bruce Harreld’s illegitimate presidency may have translated the tweet into snark, but the question was not intended as a joke. I was and still am genuinely perplexed by the phrasing that Harreld used in an official statement to the University of Iowa community, and in this post I hope to do a better job of explaining why. Right after the following brief history lesson.
On this past Monday, 05/02/16, J. Bruce Harreld — and, apparently, a few other UI administrators — sat down for an extended interview with the Daily Iowan. Later that same day Harreld moderated a discussion on social justice at the Old Capitol, which did not go well. On Tuesday, 05/03/16, the Daily Iowan published the full transcript of their interview with Harreld et al. Late Tuesday night and into early Wednesday, news of a racially motivated attack against a University of Iowa student the previous weekend made its way to the UI student body via social media. On Wednesday the administrators at Iowa caught up with the story, culminating in the following official statement from President Harreld:
As you can see, there are two instances in Harreld’s official statement where he elects to say “racist actions” instead of ‘racism’: in the headline, and also at the close. Having stapled a few words together in my day, I have developed an ear for phrasing and verbiage, and all I can say is that “racist actions” clanks in my head, particularly when the word ‘racism’ seems perfectly suited to the cause. Had I been asked to write something similar I would have come close, but never in a million years would I have written “racist actions”, because that phrasing seems needlessly specific.
Now, as I noted in my tweet, one possible answer for Harreld’s oddly specific phrasing is that he wanted to avoid the whole issue of hate speech, including consequently saddling the university with the obligation of policing that much more murky problem. As to why that concern may have been on his mind this past Thursday, we have only to turn to the interview which Harreld gave on Monday to see the potential connection:
Having already dealt with Harreld’s nauseating insinuation that he himself has been a victim of hate speech on campus, we’re going to set that aside and consider only his general attitude about hate speech. And on that point he could not have been clearer:
The “line” that Harreld is talking about is illegality — an actual criminal offense. But of course free speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution, meaning pretty much any speech is allowed even if it is undeniably hostile or hateful. So J. Bruce Harreld is being very clear that short of illegal speech — such as shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater — the University of Iowa will take no policy stand against hateful speech.
Again, in Harreld words, “…sometimes hate speech for one person is love speech for somebody else”, so apparently that would be true even if neo-Nazi or KKK rhetoric was being spewed at the students, faculty or staff on the Iowa campus. In fact, Harreld’s tolerance of racist rhetoric is perfectly in keeping with his oddly specific phrasing about deploring “racist actions”. Tormenting others with words is okay, “violence is unacceptable”.
Now, you may think I’m being unfair in my reading of Harreld’s various statements, and as a (hopefully) rational person I have to allow for the possibility that I have gotten some or all of that wrong. Before we pursue such questions further, however, we are going to step back and look at the broader question of Harreld’s credibility and integrity, and whether he means what he says. Fortuitously, Harreld broached that very subject himself in his recent Daily Iowan interview, albeit unintentionally.
To begin, consider the following question from the DI regarding the town halls that Harreld promised to host each year, and Harreld’s rambling response:
As you can see, there’s a lot to take in, including Harreld’s initial call for “decorum” and “better manners”, followed by his threat to refuse to hold any more town halls, which he punctuates with a very weird comment about how, apparently, much of the university community cannot “walk and chew gum at the same time”. So there’s that.
There’s also the part about how Harreld himself forced the hyper-compressed strategic planning schedule on the university community, and forced a radically new budgeting process on the university, yet his take on all that is that he himself has “gotten so much pressure around the strategic planning and a budgeting process”. So there’s also that.
Finally, there’s the part where Harreld talks about how all of the strategic planning meetings — which he himself jammed into a ten-day window at the busy end of the semester — somehow made it impossible to hold the second promised town hall. Harreld then follows that claim with the novel assertion that the social justice discussion he will be moderating that afternoon, which he was not scheduled to participate in until after he bailed on a second town hall, is itself another reason why he couldn’t schedule a second town hall. So there’s that as well.
And yet the real problem with Harreld’s response is what transpires next:
As a factual matter the initial question the Daily Iowan asked about the town halls was incorrect. Harreld never promised to conduct three town halls per semester. As an equally factual matter, however, both Beck’s summarized response and Harreld’s follow-up are also incorrect, and there is no conceivable scenario in which either Beck or Harreld could have gotten their answers wrong unless they are so utterly incompetent as to warrant immediate dismissal from their jobs.
What J. Bruce Harreld committed to was not “three per semester” or “three per year”, but three town halls over the course of the fall and spring semesters — meaning one during fall, one during winter, and one during spring. And there can be no dispute about that because that’s exactly what it says on the president’s official website, on the page dedicated to Harreld’s town halls:
The question here is not whether Harreld was telling the truth in the DI interview, but why he clearly failed to tell the truth. By pushing the next town hall past the end of the spring term Harreld backed out of his stated commitment, yet neither he nor Beck could acknowledge that simple and obvious fact. Why? Again, either Harreld was lying to the Daily Iowan, and by extension to the university community, or he had no idea what he had actually committed to even though it’s right on his presidential website.
Fortunately, in the same interview Harreld himself resolves this conundrum only moments later, while talking about the strategic plan:
So there you go. The only way Harreld could possibly make that “technical” distinction would be if he knew he had committed to holding another town hall in the spring semester. Which in turn means not only that Harreld initially lied to the DI about when he promised to hold the town halls — perhaps taking opportunistic advantage of the DI’s own confusion — but Harreld then betrayed that lie by attempting to benevolently grant himself a new and more plastic definition of what a “year” means relative to the traditional academic calendar.
As to Harreld’s use of the word “technically”, if that rings a bell you’re right — we’ve heard that from Harreld before. The first time was in an interview on the weekend before taking office, when Harreld used that word to excuse a whopper of a lie that he told during his candidate forum. If you click this link you’ll see a question being put to Harreld during that forum, about conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest, and specifically whether he had ever worked for any members of the search committee.
Harreld’s immediate, forceful and unequivocal response to that question was: “No”. Only three days later, however — meaning only one day after Harreld’s appointment by the Iowa Board of Regents — former search committee member and fellow Coloradan Jerre Stead said the following in a story by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller:
As regular readers know, that statement by Jerre Stead, about when he first learned that Harreld was applying for the Iowa job, is also a lie, but for the purposes of this post we’ll press on. Subsequent to Harreld’s forceful and unequivocal denial of any potential conflict of interest during his candidate forum, how did he explain the fact that he not only knew Jerre Stead from decades before, but knew him in a business context? Well, here’s J. Bruce Harreld fully two months later, on the weekend before taking office, during an interview with the Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson:
As you can see, when it comes to words and what they mean, J. Bruce Harreld is a very ‘technical’ guy. Where he was absolutely firm during his candidate forum that there were no possible conflicts of interest between him and anyone on the search committee, “technically” there were blatant conflicts of interest. And where he was absolutely firm in his commitment to hold three town halls during the regular fall/spring academic year, “technically” he has now backed out of that commitment.
All of which brings us back to my original question, which is what J. Bruce Harreld ‘technically’ meant by the oddly specific term “racist actions”. And my answer is that I have no idea. At first I thought his phraseology might be legalese, but when I looked for that phrase online I didn’t find anything noteworthy. Is that just how J. Bruce Harreld talks, or was there a more ‘technical’ intent behind that wording?
It’s also possible that those aren’t Harreld’s words at all. Maybe someone else wrote that statement, or the “racist actions” term was inserted by the Office of General Counsel in order to avoid committing the university to zero tolerance about hate speech. Although that would be a little odd, given that the university already has pretty strong protections in place for sexual assault, which is often perpetrated through speech. Then again, when Harreld said he believes that “sometimes hate speech for one person is love speech for somebody else”, perhaps he also believes that verbal sexual assault can be “love speech” for someone else — including, say, a higher-up sexually harassing a subordinate, a professor sexually harassing a student, or maybe even a stalker relentlessly harassing someone out of a deluded sense of romance. (Such a belief would obviously put prosecutions of sexual harassment on tenuous footing at the university, so perhaps someone should get a clarification from Harreld on that point.)
Given that Harreld himself just took personal credit for the implementation of Sally Mason’s six-point plan to combat campus sexual assault, however, which is predicated in part on the university’s sexual harassment policy, which includes prohibitions regarding physical assault, physical contact, speech, and even staring, I tend to think that’s probably not what he meant. And yet if Harreld is willing to allow for policies which prohibit some speech in the context of sexual harassment, it’s not clear why he would be unwilling to allow some prohibitions with regard to race or matters of diversity. (If there is a great irony in all this, it is that the second town hall that Harreld just reneged on was purportedly going to be about diversity and campus sexual assault.)
When you’re the president of a university your personal credibility is the currency of your office. People may disagree with you about policy, perhaps even in ways you find insulting, but that’s entirely different from being thought a liar. Admittedly, judging from Harreld’s comments in the recent DI interview he would dismiss all of the above as the ravings of someone who is “just maybe looking for something to complain about”, but even that gratuitous taunt was beneath the dignity of Harreld’s office.
The question with J. Bruce Harreld is whether he has the capacity for genuine leadership. His implication that there is nothing valid to complain about is false on its face, particularly given the recent racially motivated attack of a university student, and the school’s bumbling response when initially notified of that crime. As to whether you think the concerns raised in this post are fair or unfair, I hope the facts speak for themselves, but there may be a simpler means by which you can make your own determination.
Do you trust this man?
After paying close attention to what J. Bruce Harreld has said and done during his first six months in office, as well as the two months before that, and having taken a close look at what happened during the fraudulent search that begat his appointment, my own conclusion, based solely on the facts, is that J. Bruce Harreld is, technically, a serial liar. Yet even if I forget all that, and limit myself only to the interview that Harreld gave to the DI less than a week ago, I end up reaching the same conclusion. Where Harreld’s words should engender confidence in his leadership, they consistently reveal a man who cannot be trusted.
Damn, that’s a shifty-looking guy in that picture.
Anyway. Yes, the language is on purpose, because in the religion of free speech, which is really just a sect within the church of “I should be able to do whatever the hell I damn well please”, one should be free as a bird to be racist. The only recognized harms are to person, physically, and property. At which point you can really throw away anything to do with racism anyhow and talk either about rudeness or criminality. You will no more hear J. Bruce talk about racism than you’ll hear him talk about sexism. Both are such utterly remote phenomena that they exist only in fairylands somewhere else.
The problem, of course — apart from the obvious — is that this is not being a particularly successful strategy on campuses recently, and I would bet any money that this is a factor in the hiring of the new public safety honcho. How would he handle a situation. All the better if he’s a minority himself (what kind doesn’t matter; they all, ah, look the same).
But it’s the walk-and-chew-gum and the Jeneane and the semester things that really caught my ear. J. Bruce literally has no idea how an academic year goes and what staff and faculty are doing at the end of the year. None. Which says to me that whatever he was “teaching” as an adjunct, it involved not teaching so much as holding forth as a handsomely paid guest. He wasn’t busy marking papers all semester and mentoring students and helping them through at the end while they’re falling apart, having medical emergencies and breakdowns, all the rest. I would bet, too, that he regards that kind of work as bull**** and has a good deal of contempt for the people who do actually do it.
He doesn’t know, either, the difference between a year and a semester. He’s not operating in university time at all, and doesn’t believe that this matters. And it’s bad enough that they have to send the top handler out with him when he goes to talk to the student reporter who barely knows up from down, but might write down anything.
I agree there is a lot that Harreld is woefully ignorant of when it comes to running a university. But look again at the post, and at the interview. On the specific point of what a ‘semester’ is and what an academic ‘year’ is, Harreld’s “technically” comment betrays the fact that in that instance he does know. He knows that he committed to three over the course of the fall and spring terms, and that he has now backed out of that commitment.
It’s genuinely incredible watching both Harreld and Beck correct the DI for their mistake, yet neither Harreld nor Beck then follows up and simply acknowledges the obvious — that Harreld committed to three town halls per year in fall, winter and spring. They can’t do it — they can’t just tell the truth. Beck can’t tell the truth because that would reveal her boss to be a liar, and Harreld can’t tell the truth because it would reveal himself to be a liar.
Incredibly, however, Harreld then wants credit for blowing off the next town hall! He hyper-compresses the strategic planning schedule, he unilaterally saddles the faculty and staff leadership with budgeting obligations that are new to them, then he wants credit for “taking pressure off of the system” by putting off the town hall, when he’s the person who created all of that unnecessary pressure in the first place.
But he’s not done yet! Harreld then characterizes the small gathering and group discussion at Old Capitol as yet another reason why the town hall had to be put off, as if there aren’t similar such events on campus all the time. He actually volunteers himself into that event after bailing on the second town hall, then characterizes his voluntary participation in that event as a reason why the town hall had to be put off.
Again, there’s a lot that Harreld doesn’t know about running a university, but on the question of what a traditional academic year is, he clearly does know. It was just to his advantage to lie about it, so he did what he always does. He lied about it, to the press.
That seems to me a usual frat move, Mark, the “take credit for solving the problem you caused even if your solution isn’t actually a solution” thing.
I think you’re giving him more credit than he’s due on the “what’s a semester” thing — I don’t really think he gives a good goddamn about what seasons the people who actually live and work at the university have (though I bet he’s fully apprised of the football schedule). And I bet he has no idea what’s on that website and also doesn’t care. If you listen to the scurrying around there with Harreld and Beck, they’re trying not to admit they don’t actually know what the schedule’s supposed to be. Harreld’s talking about semesters all of a sudden because the DI reporter brought it up and he’s just bull****ing his way around, base-and-ass-covering.
I’m increasingly curious about what Jeneane’s doing, exactly, why she’s doing this job. I remember when she was a reporter, and while spin control pays better, there are jobs you really don’t have to take.
It’s funny that you mentioned the “usual frat move”. I’ve seen a lot of pictures of Harreld over the last eight months or so, some official, some unofficial. In many if not most Harreld didn’t look particularly comfortable or at ease, but okay — not everybody likes having their picture taken.
Then one day the following image appeared on Twitter:
That’s Harreld hanging with the BTP’s, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen him looking happier or more contented. He’s got a whole campus to run, and all kinds of constituencies to answer to and take care of, but put him in a frat house and he just starts beaming. (I like to imagine that one of the bro’s tipped the picture frame just to make the moment “Animal House” perfect.)
In second place, but fully in keeping with Harreld’s affinity for bro culture, there’s this:
Ferentz can’t believe how the season turned out, Barta can’t believe he got everything he asked for in his new contract despite all the lawsuits and investigations he’s triggered, and Bro Harreld can’t believe the jocks are letting him touch the trophy. Adorable.
Funny thing, actually — I’ve known a lot of rich white guys that age, and I’ve known a lot of frat boys, but I haven’t met too many rich white frat boys that age. He’s 67? And he’s Sigma Chi, and graduated in 1972. That had meaning, being in a fraternity in 1972…and howdy do, his composite’s online…oh, and that is some significant dorkitude. I’m looking at the rest of the guys, and he’s by far the dorkiest. The rest look exactly like what you’d expect, only with the long side-part bangs, moustaches, the whole deal. They look like frat-boy ******** who’ll do nicely unless they get caught up in some fraud lawsuit or something, but you can see every one of them but one saying, “Chicks.” That one looks like he had to play piano a lot at church.
He was the pledge trainer. I don’t know if y’all are familiar with what pledge trainers do, but it’s basically an exercise in sadism borrowed from Lord of the Flies, and it’s got everything to do with position and the willingness to be a sadist. Sound familiar?
I think those other Sigs knew their man. There is a reason why he’s been so quick to tell that librarian that he’ll never be good enough to be acceptable to her lot.
Okay. So what we know is that so far, James B. Harreld has been willing, having found the cool-kid crew that will accept him, to do whatever the **** it takes to maintain that acceptance, to whomever they tell him to do it to. Sigma Chi, IBM, who knows who else. I guess we also know why the staff surrounding him will get the axe, when they do.
Tell you what, Jeneane is earning that money.
The thing is, though, the guy’s 67 years old. I guess I just haven’t met enough guys like that who’re that age, but the ones I have aren’t really less exquisitely sensitive. If anything they’re very nervous about the impending has-been status, and find it very, very difficult to adjust to current realities. The world they’re good at, that has to be the world that exists. Like they’ll toy intellectually with the existence of the real world, but they see it as an enemy. Which could be a pretty incendiary mixture given the current realities.
Not too surprising then that he found hanging with the frat boys a happy thing. I bet, though, that even there, he’s not too interested in today.
Incidentally, in that composite of his, there are of course no…well, I will refrain from using the rude words that crew would’ve used at the time. Today we say POCs. I don’t see so much as an Eye-talian in there, no sir. We are a Northern European crew in that composite. Even though, in 1972 in electrical engineering, even at Purdue, if you wanted to hang around with smart people, you’d be hanging with people with all kinds of long funny names. Jim was apparently not interested in this, though. Just out of curiosity, who on his team is not white, Christian, and of Northern European descent? And is not the diversity person?
Truncate or delete at will, of course.
Maybe it is just me, but it seems people do not give one damn about truth anymore. Walter Kronkite has long been retired. Beginning with Reagan and continuing thru years of Fox BS we all live in some fantasy world where media superstars make **** up, as gullible ppl believe it.
Don’t want to stop polluting the world? Deny the damage to the climate. Hate Muslims ? Or blacks? Make up crap to ban or exclude them.
Harreld fits right in. BS your resume. Lie about your path to the job. Inflate your Boston Chicken and ‘BM’ career. Take credit for stuff your didn’t do. Pretend their is an open democratic budget process meanwhile your are carrying out the Branstad, Rastetter, Matthes, Lehnertz! Robbillard agenda.
Flaunt your power, take your money, crush your enemies . Fits in with our new experiment in Fascism (Trump).
One of the things that amazed me most after Harreld’s appointment was the degree to which Rastetter, Robillard and Harreld all genuinely believed that the people who opposed Harreld’s sham hire were OBLIGATED to move on because they had been successfully cheated. It wasn’t even as if they were debating the question of Harreld’s sham hire. Instead, they simply asserted the right to rule precisely because their conspiracy was successful.
That seems to be the new definition of governance these days. If you can get away with it, then you’re doing your job.
In the previous post I quoted J. Bruce Harreld, the fraudulently appointed president of the University of Iowa, using the ongoing institutional budgeting process as an excuse for backing out of a town hall he promised to hold before the end of the current semester. In the same recent Daily Iowan interview which contained that prior quote, Harreld also talked about the university’s budgeting process in the context of the strategic plan, and particularly with regard to the allocation of resources:
As regular readers know, only a few weeks ago Harreld suddenly announced that the normally sedate and protracted process of developing the school’s five-year strategic plan would be crammed into a ten-day window at the busy end of the semester. Having encountered push-back on that precipitate scheduling from the university community — despite disingenuously selling that schedule as having more meetings than ever before — Harreld has backed off of that timetable, but the strategic plan is still slated to be completed in less than one third the time when compared with similar plans over the past twenty years.
At about the same time that Harreld announced the hyper-compressed schedule for developing the strategic plan, he floated the third iteration of his criteria for resource allocations, and in so doing finally scrubbed any reference to his personal fixation on gaming Iowa’s college rank:
Having previously detailed how Harreld plans to manipulate Iowa’s ranking through resource allocations, in this post we will focus on the new “collaborative budgeting” plan which Harreld also unilaterally imposed on the university. Initially announced only a few days before the hyper-compressed strategic planning schedule, the “collaborative budgeting” model purports to cede control of resource allocations to individual department heads and unit leaders:
Momentarily setting aside the intent behind Harreld’s budgeting edict, it should be clear that the new collaborative budgeting model shifts workload from UI administrators to department heads. While some of those individuals may indeed welcome the increased workload in exchange for greater autonomy in allocating departmental resources, the fact remains that the people who have all of the institutional experience making such decisions now have less to do, while the people who have little or no experience making those decisions must not only crunch numbers, they must deal with all of the politicking and administrative intrigue that accompanies such appropriations.
Previously, with UI administrators taking a more active or ‘non-collaborative’ role in budgeting, department heads were sheltered from those administrative pressures, allowing them to focus on issues like teaching and research instead of score-settling and interdepartmental feuds. Now, with the new “collaborative” model, Harreld and the UI admins not only have less work to do, but in purportedly ceding authority they also grant themselves plausible deniability on those same points, meaning they will no longer be perceived as responsible for budgetary resentments at the departmental level. Less work for Harreld and his team, less accountability for Harreld and his team — what’s not to love?
Now, were Harreld and his administrative henchmen serious about granting authority to go with the budgetary responsibility they have imposed on the school’s unit leaders, that would be one thing, but as noted in an earlier Daily Iowan interview, that’s not actually the case. Yes, departmental leaders will be on the hook for the decisions they make, but they won’t actually have the unilateral right to make whatever decisions they think best. Instead, unit leaders will have to justify their resource allocations relative to the four “filters” that Harreld has imposed on the school, which are only one filter in practice:
Note the part about meeting “individually with each unit [to] see how they’ve made the choices against those four filters.” If you have to justify your resource allocations relative to criteria that were imposed on you — which are a sham in themselves — that’s not a collaborative budgeting process. Instead, what the university’s unit leaders are getting for their faux budgetary autonomy is 100% of the responsibility with 0% of the final say. If, after making their resource allocations, some of the unit leaders fail to meet the filtering criteria — as solely determined by Harreld and his team — then those departments will have to go back to the drawing board, or they may find themselves with less money.
How can we be sure that’s what Harreld intends? Because he said so:
To review, then, here’s how Harreld’s collaborative budgeting model actually works. If you’ve already been targeted for cuts you’re going to get less money, which you can then divvy up as you please, as long as you make gaming the school’s national college rank your first priority. In exchange for that autonomy, you as the unit leader will take all of the heat for the decrease in departmental revenues. If you’re on the fence in terms of “enhanc[ing] UI’s sustainability”, your department will get more money if you go all-in on gaming the school’s ranking, but by definition that additional money will provide your department with no new resources. Conversely, if you refuse to play along you will face cuts, leading to the previously articulated predicament. If you’re one of the school’s darlings you will fare better than other departments, but you will still need to demonstrate loyalty to Harreld and his inquisitors by allocating resources in a way that improves the school’s ranking.
As has been true from the beginning, J. Bruce Harreld continues to work tirelessly to feign inclusion as a means of distancing himself from responsibility and accountability. It was Harreld who decided to jam the strategic planning process into an impossibly small time frame, it was Harreld who decided what the four filters for resource allocation would be and what they would be called, and it was Harreld who decided to force the “collaborative budgeting” process on departmental leaders. At each purportedly inclusive step Harreld constrained and controlled the decision making process while reserving the final say, but of course that’s not what you hear from Harreld or his on-message minder at the Iowa Board of Regents:
Even without a program it would only take a few minutes to identify the “several deans and faculty leaders” who are purportedly high on Harreld’s plans. As attested to by Provost P. Barry Butler, however, there are 40 unit leaders who have been saddled with a budgetary responsibility that has no real authority, and as of this writing they only have a few weeks to prove they’re on board with Harreld’s transformative vision. (As to why we haven’t heard from any disgruntled deans or faculty leaders, they may be reluctant to speak up for fear of getting even less money.)
In sum, there will be no community-defined strategic plan no matter how many meetings are held, there is no collaborative budgeting taking place on campus, and the four criteria which will be used to filter all resource allocations are really only one filter devoted to maximizing the school’s college ranking. J. Bruce Harreld imposed all of those sham administrative processes on the university community because they distance him from personal accountability if things go wrong, while perfectly positioning him to take credit for any snap-back in the school’s recently depressed rankings.
This is what transformational change looks like when you hire a business executive with no experience in academic administration to run a billion dollar research university. It looks like a narrow-minded, Machiavellian bureaucrat out to save his own skin.
WTF does any of this mean? Is it all BS to distract people meanwhile administrators (Harreld, Lehnertz) collect fat paycheck so, ready to get out of town when resources are drained.
This is what leaders who have idea about their organization BS their way through.
It’s startling, isn’t it? The more I read that interview, and the one a week or two earlier, the more concerned I am about the basic premise of Harreld’s leadership. He very much seems like a person who likes to play with toy trains, and maybe he’s even good at that. But he’s terrible at communicating, and he’s even terrible about lying. (The number of times that he contradicts or undercuts something that he said earlier is amazing to me, but of course that goes back to the saga of his ever-changing origin story.)
Yes, this is “consulting”.
This is also just round one. The unit heads are supposed to be competing for favor, and I would not be surprised if they’ve been told that this is musical chairs. Fail to produce and your unit goes away. And something tells me that James B., pledge master, learned this technique during his fraternity days. It must’ve been a real thrill to see people jump. I bet they hadn’t done that for him before.
It’s also no different from what did at IBM, but there’s a bit of a twist here. Things fall apart at the department-head level, because departments run collaboratively, nobody can be fired, it’s the faculty (not the Colleges) who choose the chairs, and the chairs have powerful disincentives to play ball: they’re going to stop being chair in a a few years and go back to being plain old faculty, and someone else will step in. The nuclear option is “we will kill your department or subsume it into another one”, but that’s actually rather hard to do and takes considerable time, and you run into problems with parents and alumni and lawyers, and if you’re going to advertise yourself as a university, there are certain departments you actually have to have. Faculty in the subsuming departments also fight such things. And I think the clock will run out before Roger makes this roll.
This is, I suppose, part of the reason for the compressed timeline for the plan, which already exists anyway. But I think AAUP and the individual faculty had better be lining up the lawyers.
The thing is that if he can’t make it go, he looks real bad. This is what he’s been hired to do. And I bet he is one sullen, ugly sumbitch if he’s in the spotlight looking bad in front of his buddies who gave him the job.
The other thing to do, incidentally, is to begin speaking frankly to parents and donors about what’s going on. A lot of the parents will be snowable on the subject by the Regents; a lot of the donors will not. They don’t want to give to Phoenix U. The lovely thing, of course, is that the university’s pretty careful about thanking its major donors publicly, so it’s not a secret who they are. And there’s a large swath of them who’ve graduated between, oh, the 80s and the 00s, who’d be shocked by what’s going on now.
Oh, and on the writing end, I see the jumping has begun, with Marilynne, who’s had to talk with Harreld’s wife in her audience for the last several weeks, I guess. She sure doesn’t have to stay here and I guess she’s not. I wonder who or what is next.
Harreld’s administrative moves seem almost reflexive, but they all hinge on dynamics found in the private sector. If you’re the boss, the people under you have to do what you tell them to do. As you point out, however, that’s not so in academia, and for good reason.
The fact that he’s taking credit for “taking the pressure off the system” is laughable, given that he built all that pressure up himself, but it’s still a setback. And I have to think there will be more as he tries to jam his agenda down the throats of the UI community.
I don’t know how many allies he started with back in September, but I also can’t imagine the list has grown since then.
In a Press-Citizen article by Jeff Charis-Carlson regarding the upcoming UI graduation, I ran across a small Facebook group suggesting that students refuse to shake J. Bruce Harreld’s hand when receiving their degrees. At first that seemed like an appropriate symbolic act, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it’s more than that.
Each of the students graduating this weekend worked hard for four, five, maybe even six years, and many of them also worked part-time — and in some cases full-time — on top of their studies. To walk across a stage and accept a degree representing all that hard work from a mope who had his appointment greased by a cabal of co-conspirators is an indignity. That J. Bruce Harreld is currently making over a half a million dollars a year while spouting solemn words about the tough road ahead is an affront.
The bottom line is that Harreld didn’t earn the right to shake any student’s hand on Saturday, because he didn’t earn the presidency at Iowa. And yet get a load of this, from the P-C, on 05/12/16:
Every one of those words is an insult. J. Bruce Harreld is as illegitimate as a puppet dictator, yet this Saturday he will stand before the University of Iowa community and present degrees to students who not only earned the right to be on that stage, they paid for that degree. I can’t imagine a greater insult than having to take my degree from J. Bruce Harreld, except having to shake his hand.
If J. Bruce Harreld truly wanted to make the world a better place, he would resign.
Update: More here from Katelyn Weisbrod of the Daily Iowan:
It would be very easy for the students who are graduating to simply exhale and pantomime a wipe of their foreheads — both because they’re done, and because they won’t have to suffer from Harreld’s reign any more. But they’re not doing that. They’re taking a stand, and that’s an important moment of solidarity with the students who will be back in the fall.
The Facebook comments to Katelyn Weisbrod’s DI piece (click here) contained a number of misleading statements about J. Bruce Harreld’s presidency. As I do not have a Facebook account I am correcting the record here. If you have a Facebook account, feel free to paste the following into that thread:
J. Bruce Harreld’s election as president of the University of Iowa was the antithesis of free market dynamics. He was appointed by a small cabal of co-conspirators, rendering the remainder of the search process not simply a sham, but fraud at taxpayer expense. While there is no evidence that Harreld paid for his job — and no one has ever implied as much — as a factual matter J. Bruce Harreld lied to the press, the people of Iowa and the university community on the day of his appointment, and did so with the intent of covering up the machinations of his co-conspirators.
If any student feels comfortable shaking the hand of a man who lied his way into the job he now holds — both on his resume and during his candidacy — then I support that student’s decision. To condemn any student who refuses to shake Harreld’s hand, however, is to betray ignorance of the deception which led to Harreld’s hire, including Harreld’s participation in that deception.
J. Bruce Harreld is not an honest man, he is not an innocent, and he did not earn the position he holds on the merits of his candidacy and experience. If that means nothing to you I certainly question your priorities, but it seems inevitable that there will be some individuals who are unwilling to look the other way simply to preserve decorum.
Two weeks ago today the illegitimate president of the University of Iowa, J. Bruce Harreld, participated in a social justice discussion group at Old Capital, in lieu of a town hall on diversity and campus sexual assault that he had promised to hold before the end of the semester. During that event, Harreld was asked why the university was not matching Johnson County’s previously announced, stepped increase in the local minimum wage, to which Harreld reportedly had no intelligible response.
From Adam Burke, writing for Little Village, on 05/03/16:
Toward the end of a recent related post I noted that Harreld’s evasiveness was documented by every member of the press in attendance at the event. Making his silence ironic was the fact that the event itself was about social justice, yet the real problem with Harreld’s inability to respond was that the university’s decision not to match the minimum wage being paid in the surrounding community was also being actively covered in the local press at the time.
From the Press-Citizen’s Stephen Gruber-Miller, on 04/29/16:
There is no conceivable scenario in which J. Bruce Harreld, whose unqualified and fraudulent appointment was justified on the basis of his experience as a business executive, could not have known that the issue of the local minimum wage was in play. Yet when the question inevitably came up — from an elected county official no less — Harreld froze. As DesMoinesDem at Bleeding Heartland noted in a subsequent post, that was not the kind of leadership the university community was promised when Harreld was jammed into office.
As to the specifics of why the University of Iowa chose not to match the county’s increase in the local minimum wage, Harreld deserves a bit of a break because it was clearly not his decision. Rather, that policy was telegraphed well in advance by one of his minders at the Board of Regents — in this case former state senator and current political crony Larry McKibben. From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, back on 02/26/16:
The reason that Johnson County is “out of step with the rest of Iowa”, of course, is that Johnson County — which has one of the highest costs of living in the entire state — believes in paying workers a living wage. Most of the rest of Iowa, which is cheaper to live in, and also dominated by Governor Terry Branstad and crony minions like McKibben, believes in abusing citizens for profit whenever possible, including suppressing labor costs to advantage business. As it happens, however, not only did the regents subsequently have to approve the increases to room and board that McKibben opposed back in February, but that necessity came about not because of increases in the local minimum wage at UI, but because McKibben’s cronies at the statehouse and in the governor’s office stiffed the regents on their supplemental appropriations. (So much so that even the need for tuition increases was resolved without debate.)
The real head-scratcher in all of this, however, is that only a few days after the dust-up in late February about the increase in Johnson County’s minimum wage, a University of Iowa administrator laid out the timetable by which the university would be increasing its own minimum wage, and the difference between the two schedules was only a couple of months. From the Des Moines Register’s Jeff Charis-Carlson and Kevin Hardy, on 02/29/16:
Now, maybe the announced increase to “$9.50 per hour by June” has been rescinded, but I couldn’t find any such notice in the press. Which means all Harreld had to do during the social justice discussion was point out that the university’s minimum wage would actually be ten cents higher than the county minimum in a couple of months. So what happened? How did the university president who was hired because of his business genius fall down on that reply — assuming that the $9.50 UI increase is still in the works? And the answer is: I don’t have the slightest idea.
Setting the regents’ ritual hatred of Johnson County and Iowa City aside, McKibben’s promise to oppose the most recent increase in the local minimum wage clearly held sway with Harreld. While that gives us no insight into what Harreld’s own preference might have been on the subject, it does tell us that Harreld is a good little puppet, which is useful to know in other administrative contexts. Of genuine concern, however, is the fact that Harreld was apparently unable to articulate the most obvious defense for the regents’ imposition of that policy on the school and surrounding community. From a Gazette editorial one week ago, on 05/09/16:
Nowhere in the entire editorial is there any mention of an upcoming increase in UI”s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, so again, maybe that plan was abandoned. Even assuming that there might only be a notable disparity between the county and UI minimum wages for several months, however, the potential impact of such a disparity should be obvious to anyone familiar with the concept of supply and demand. Not only would students make more money working off-campus — which, as noted by UI’s Lehnertz, decreases the number of workers available on campus — those higher wages would also be reflected in higher prices for goods, or lower profits, for local businesses. Conversely, while students would make less working for the University of Iowa, the school could then use that decrease in labor costs to price goods below market value, or, alternatively, keep prices competitive and bank the difference.
Whatever Harreld himself would do about UI’s minimum wage if he wasn’t a rubber stamp for the Board of Regents, the fact remains that the local business community has to compete with a massive state-funded economic machine that does not have to play by the same market rules. Because the campus and downtown Iowa City border on each other, it’s actually possible for students to work at higher rates of pay off-campus, then take those wages back across the ‘border’ and spend them on lower-cost goods on campus. (It is theoretically possible that local citizens could also purchase lower-cost goods on campus, but it is unlikely many would do so because of the interminable effort required to find parking.)
In fact, suppressing prices was clearly part of Regent McKibben’s master plan back in February, which may be why the administrative leadership of the university was keen to disavow that intent. From Roger Riley, writing for WHO-TV.com, back on 02/25/16:
In the context of his administrative duties it makes sense that Rod Lehnertz would have commented on the details of the proposed minimum wage increases, and in particular that he would have disavowed any responsibility to match the local changes. Yet it is also important to note that as a UI administrator, Lehnertz, like Harreld, needs to maintain a healthy working relationship with many businesses and individuals in the surrounding community. In fact, by happy accident we saw that practical need on full display during an event which took place several weeks after J. Bruce Harreld took office in early November. While Harreld was originally slated to appear before a group of local business leaders, he was apparently taken ill and replaced at the last minute by Lehnertz, who proceeded to ingratiate himself by taking a giant rhetorical crap on the University of Iowa itself.
From an 11/20/15 article by the Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson, titled Business leaders apologize to new UI president:
Now, I’m not sure what world Rod Lehnertz lives in, but in the world I live in, if the people who know the most about you are repulsed by your conduct, while the people who know the least about you think you’re a great guy, the odds are you’re not a great guy. Then there’s Lehnertz’ assertion that by not participating in protests all of the other members of the university community were signalling support for Harreld, which was patently false. And of course there’s the “chin up” remark, which would have been appropriate had the University of Iowa actually been at war, but oh well.
Whatever the local business community was looking forward to after the regents fraudulently appointed a purported business genius to run the dominant economic entity in the county, I’m pretty sure that state-funded price competition and confused leadership were not on the list. Which not so coincidentally brings us to a much bigger insult that Harreld perpetrated against the local business community, only two weeks after Regent McKibben came out in opposition to matching increases in Johnson County’s minimum wage. Because that’s when J. Bruce Harreld announced that a previously planned public-private partnership (P3) to build a new UI art museum on a downtown parcel of land was being abandoned.
From a report by Jeff Charis-Carlson in the Press-Citizen, on 03/11/15:
All of the reporting I have read about the abandonment of the P3 museum project concerns the implications for the University of Iowa and its orphaned art collection. That narrative bias is understandable given that, as a state institution, the University of Iowa has an obligation to explain why it decided to flush $2M down the toilet. In an upcoming post we will take a detailed look at the rationales put forward for abandoning the P3 project, but here I want to point out that nowhere has there been any accounting for the implications of Harreld’s decision on the local business community.
No matter where the new UI art museum is eventually located, blowing up the previous project has a cascading effect on local businesses. There may be some advantages to non-university actors down the line, but relative to what was on the drawing board it’s all bad. I also don’t know whether the private partners had any warning prior to early March that they were about to be left at the easel, but even if they did I can’t imagine that the conveyance of that information was anything but disruptive.
In a historical context, downtown Iowa City business owners — including the Hieronymous family, which owns that parcel of land — have been trying to push across Burlington Street for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, because Burlington is a four-lane main drag, and handles the majority of east-west traffic passing by both downtown Iowa City and the main university campus, that thoroughfare has proven difficult to bridge.
That dynamic changed, however, when the university itself started walking buildings up the hill on the south side of Burlington, replacing what used to be open lots and gas stations first with the school’s new recreation building, then, more recently, with a brand new music building just across Clinton Street from where the P3 art museum was planned. So despite some of the rhetoric offered by UI officials after Harreld cancelled the project, you can see why it made sense to relocate the school’s art collection to that location, which also abuts a downtown community that is heavily invested in the arts.
Harreld isn’t being paid to think about the local business community when he makes decisions, but it would be naive to think that such considerations do not matter, both to the school and to Harreld himself. It would also be naive to think that Harreld doesn’t recognize the advantage of having a good working relationship with the local business community, given that one of his first official acts after taking office was to agree to be a tri-chair of a local economic strategy group which is formulating a five-year plan. Unfortunately, not only were the private partners in the P3 museum project negatively impacted when the university pulled out, but any other business entity which had positioned itself to take advantage of the new museum also had to write off its plans.
I don’t know how many similar UI projects have been abandoned that far into development, but I don’t think there are many. Which means it may not have occurred to anyone in the local business community that the new university president would suddenly decide to back out of the deal. While the private developers can recoup some of their sunk costs from the university’s kill fee, all future profits from that project have been lost, but that’s not the worst of it.
If the new UI art museum is built on campus instead of expanding the campus, and thus farther from downtown, even if only a few blocks from the previous location, it will also be that much harder for downtown businesses to profit from that siting. And yet the one person solely responsible for that sudden, radical, negative change in the local business community is the same guy that local business leaders apologized to back in November, in the hope that they might foster a profitable working relationship. Instead, J. Bruce Harreld almost immediately turned his vaunted business experience to the cause of exploiting the university’s economic advantage as a state-funding institution, which may in turn mean that support for Harreld 5 feet off campus is no longer what it was only six months ago.
Steve Bollinger says
And the art museum cancellation is the one time where Bruce Rastetter publicly praised Harreld for “changing the culture.”
It’s like a Firesign Theater skit.
There’s almost a ‘tell’ between Rastetter and Harreld. Any time Rastetter pipes up and says Harreld is doing a great job, you know Harreld is up to something. In this instance, however, it’s even worse, because Rastetter can’t resist taking yet another shot at Sally Mason.
Late yesterday evening the Iowa City Police Department released the results of its investigation into a University of Iowa student’s claim that he was the victim of a racially motivated attack. From a Press-Citizen report by Stephen Gruber-Miller, on 05/16/16:
I encourage you to read the entire article, particularly as a counterbalance to the online trolling and recriminations which are sure to follow. My concern, as was the case when the story first broke via a Chicago televisions news website, remains how ill-prepared the University of Iowa was to handle Owens’ original complaint. However anyone interprets what happened and why, the fact remains that when the Office of Public Safety told Owens to go to ICPD to make his complaint, it failed to field a serious allegation in a manner that could have either mitigated or prevented what has turned into a highly visible, multi-stage debacle.
It’s a given that some college students are going to lie when they get in trouble. As campus police, the Office of Public Safety is obligated — as the ICPD were obligated — to take every report of a crime seriously. That’s what investigations are for: to get the facts of a case and make the necessary determinations. By passing Owens’ case off to ICPD not only did the Office of Public Safety miss an opportunity to alert university administrators about the nature of the allegation, they appeared callous.
As I have mentioned multiple times in other posts, my original concern about J. Bruce Harreld’s appointment by the Iowa Board of Regents had to do with the fact that Harreld had absolutely no experience in academic administration. At a time when I felt that the cultural issues of alcohol abuse and sexual assault needed to be front and center on everyone’s radar, the Board of Regents selected a literal imbecile with regard to those issues — who himself had no problem happily taking the job. All of which now brings us to Harreld’s initial handling of the Marcus Owens case, which is about to blow up in his face for the second time.
Only a few weeks into his rocky tenure as the fraudulently appointed and utterly illegitimate president of the University of Iowa, racial tensions boiled over in Missouri and caused the business-oriented president of the Missouri System to resign. Shortly after that, Harreld overreacted to racist graffiti in a bathroom stall on campus, proving himself to be opportunistically reactive instead of administratively proactive. Several months later Harreld declared the previous Director of Public Safety to be perfectly fit for office despite his own scrape with local law enforcement — at which point that director stepped down two days later. Several months after that — and in the middle of the search for a new Director of Public Safety — along came the Marcus Owens case, rife with racial overtones.
Now, one of the reasons why major research universities tend to hire presidents steeped in academic administration is that those people have experience with issues like gender, diversity, and, perhaps most importantly, college students. They know that they must be responsive to student concerns, but not overly reactive, because every campus derives its sense of community and safety from the steadiness of the school’s leadership. Unfortunately, when the Marcus Owens story blew up on the UI administration several days after the alleged attack, J. Bruce Harreld was calling the shots — in part because he previously dispensed with the position of Vice President of Communications, while also making the entire university media apparatus subordinate to a crony administrator with no experience handling such crises.
It is of course true that false statements by Marcus Owens triggered everything that followed. It is also true, however, that as the adults in the room both the Office of Public Safety and J. Bruce Harreld himself could have been prepared for such a possibility in ways that would have mitigated damaged to everyone’s reputation. (Marcus Owens will have to live with what he did, and particularly with how his actions have made it more difficult for students to come forward who feel discriminated against or threatened because of their race.)
The default response of all law enforcement must be that each complaint will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. There will inevitably be people who lie for all sorts of reasons, and on a college campus it’s a given that some kids are going to try to cover up for their own mistakes by blaming someone else. Most of the time that’s not going to be front page news, but when allegations of a racially motivated attack are involved there is going to be — appropriately — heightened concern.
Where was the planning for that potentiality? Where was the awareness at the Office of Public Safety that Marcus Owens’ complaint needed to be taken seriously by the university, rather than passed off to ICPD? That single decision was the administrative event which triggered concern in the student body, who could not understand why such an allegation was not only not investigated by the school itself, but seemed to be dismissed out of hand.
By the same token, when the story finally broke on campus, where was J. Bruce Harreld’s measured response when the administration realized it was behind the story and needed to help the campus catch up? Instead of leading the entire community, Harreld spent part of that day with Owens and his family, as if trying to inoculate himself from criticism by providing personal attention. And yes, that’s not a very nice thing to say, but given Harreld’s prior over-reaction to a report of racist graffiti in a bathroom stall, that’s also perfectly in keeping with his political instincts.
When J. Bruce Harreld was hired to work at IBM, various news stories reported surprise in the business community that a “chicken man” (from Boston Chicken) had been hired to help run a large tech company. While that may indeed have seemed surprising inside the narrow confines of the business world, if IBM had really wanted to turn heads it would have hired a completely inexperience academic administrator to do Harreld’s job. But of course IBM didn’t do that because nobody in their right mind would hire anyone into a high-level position if that individual had no idea what they were doing.
The Marcus Owens case is yet another reason why you should always hire people who actually know what they’re doing. Because qualified people tend not to make panic moves when the heat’s on, or to forget that their first obligation is to lead instead of save their own skin. J. Bruce Harreld didn’t tell Marcus Owens to embellish the scrapes he got into in order to explain how his front teeth got chipped and his lip got busted, but the Iowa Board of Regents did hire Harreld to lead a complex and potentially volatile community, and Harreld blithely accepted that job.
Which brings us to today, and what would probably be the single greatest test of Harreld’s leadership to date if the school hadn’t just let out for the summer. Even given that fortuitous happenstance, however, the results of the ICPD investigation need to be addressed so that the campus can regain its equilibrium. If you know anyone who’s qualified to address such complex issues, please encourage them to contact J. Bruce Harreld.
This incident is a reminder for anybody outside of a college community that university life is primarily organized around the fact that the human animal matures morally between the ages of 18 and 22. Students experiment on a daily basis in the hazardous playground between moral absolutism and moral relativism. In that process they make mistakes, they learn various lessons from those mistakes and their moral sense congeals into a particular perspective that may determine to a significant extent how they navigate the rest of their life.
Are there any more important priorities for the administration of the institution than to structure that process of development to minimize the damage from those mistakes without trying to ignore them or cover them up, to learn balanced and reasonable lessons from those mistakes and to provide students some modest but fundamental incentives to find a place on that moral spectrum that benefits both themselves and the society at large?
Much of the sturm and drang around “political correctness” comes from those outside the college community who benefit from the status quo. They need to divide those who do not benefit from the status quo on the basis of race, that is how income inequality has increased in the last 30 years. They cannot tolerate any criticism from academia that undermines the moral justifications for their established privilege. I would not be surprised if the followers of Donald Trump will try to promote this incident nationally as “proof” that racism is just an artifact of a delusional academic influence on young minds.
What moral lessons did J. Bruce Harreld learn from his experience at Purdue? How did he apply those lessons in his business career? What lessons would he have students learn from this incident? In the context of Trump’s growing influence in our national culture the implications for our community of Harreld’s experience and judgement are frightening to say the least.
Thank you for your continued focus on alcohol abuse and sexual assault, they are indeed issues at the very center of the University’s mission.
Agree completely about the biological FACT that college students — while legal adults — are still transitioning through literal stages of brain development. (I have long considered 26 years old the true mark of adulthood for that reason.) Keeping a campus safe means taking that ongoing development into account, not pretending otherwise.
While there are indeed continuing issues in society with regard to race and other types of discrimination, I’ve found it useful in any given incident to see whether the individuals involved are dealt with as individuals or as a ‘type’ or ‘class’. Over the past few decades I’ve been heartened to see more and more examples of women or people of color or people of varying sexual orientations being talked about and reported on with regard to the merits of their actions/choices, as opposed to any labels.
Again, because it’s summer there’s little buzz on social media about what’s happening on campus, but so far there seems to be a general awareness that Marcus Owens did a ‘dumb kid’ thing instead of something politically motivated. I see that as progress.
Well, I think that’s kind of ********, Mark. I didn’t comment earlier because the episode smelled a little funny — yes, we have racism up the wazoo here, but that’s not usually how it goes. And I see no reason to pat young Marcus on his not-fully-formed head and say there-there unless we’re also going to pat violent 20-year-old racists on their not-fully-formed heads and say there-there.
I’m uninterested in protecting young men who go around beating the **** out of each other regardless of their race, and even less interested in protecting people who’ll abuse and damage serious efforts at fighting racism in order to shift blame. And I have yet to meet someone who’ll shift blame in some jawdropping manner like that and won’t also cheat and lie lots of other ways, too.
Totally not interested in “boys will be boys” here.
If you think I should have been harder on Marcus, that’s fine. But you won’t find any statements here or on twitter exonerating him or even excusing him from whatever comes his way as a result of his lies.
From the time of the first reports of his ‘assault’ until the conclusion of the investigation I made no comments about the veracity of Owens’ statements precisely because people do lie about such things. My concern then as now was with the process, including the process by which UI handles such complaints — which was clearly lacking.
So yes, I could pile on Marcus, but to what end? The culpability seems clear, yet in the bigger picture it also explains why protocols need to be put in place in advance to trap such issues as soon as possible. Harreld’s over-reaction was damaging in its own way, and what’s his excuse? He’s sixty-plus and apparently wise to the ways of the world, as opposed to drunk.
Agreed there. If it had actually happened as advertised, UI’s reaction would’ve been wholly inadequate.
I’ve had many conversations over the years about this problem — of racism, of a miminal tolerance rather than inclusivity and genuine acceptance — and the most open responses I’ve gotten have also been, to me, the weirdest. I feel sure that I’m missing code for something in them. They come down to “change is scary.” But this is absolutely a bizarre statement. Everyone old enough to turn up on that campus has already lived through tremendous changes — personal, social — and lived. I suspect the real meaning is “doing something new socially is work and I don’t want to do it, and nobody is telling me precisely what to do, so I’m going to pretend I don’t know what ‘friendly’ means and that there’s simply no way I could possibly understand those other people.” But it’s a weirdly dated approach: change is here. Iowa City’s schools are 1/3 nonwhite and the kids speak dozens of languages at home. Something like a fifth of the student population at UI are Asian nationals. I can’t think offhand of a non-Asian restaurant at Old Cap. But there really is tremendous resistance, a rigidity and pretense that none of this is really happening, and I still don’t understand where it comes from.
In putting forward the narrative of his experience as a business executive during his candidacy for president at the University of Iowa, J. Bruce Harreld cited two particular successes. First, there was his tenure at IBM, during which he variously claimed to have helped avert a “near death experience“, or helped “chart the organization’s transformation from near bankruptcy“. In reality, the worst that would have befallen IBM was Chapter 11 (reorganizational) bankruptcy, not Chapter 7 (liquidation).
Second, there was Harreld’s tenure at Boston Chicken, which became known as Boston Market just after Harreld left the company. In both his resume and online presidential bio, Harreld claims that he and “five other partners led the organization from 20 stores in the Boston area to over 1100 stores nationally.” What Harreld omits is that after that period of explosive growth, Boston Chicken/Market filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because the business practices that Harreld and his partners used to fuel that growth were unsustainable, if not fraudulent.
From the Motley Fool website, on 10/18/98, just after the collapse:
As the president of Boston Chicken, Harreld was apparently smart enough to see the writing on the wall and abandon ship in the middle of 1995, two years after the initial public offering, and roughly three years before the company’s unsustainable business model wiped out equity investors, along with investors in subsidiary Einstein/Noah Bagel. While Harreld could have profited from the sale of his Boston Chicken shares prior to that collapse, that’s not what the 7547 Partners’ lawsuit alleged. Instead, that suit claimed that Harreld and his Boston Chicken partners illegally profited from the IPO, which Harreld also touted in the Boston Market Company section of his resume:
From the appeal of the original 7547 Partners’ lawsuit:
The case was initially dismissed for lack of standing because the plaintiffs were not — by the very nature of the alleged fraud — stockholders at the time the fraud would have been committed. On appeal several years later the facts of the case were restated, but the essential problem remained:
As you can see, it was impossible for the plaintiffs to prove they had standing because nobody owned shares when the fraud was allegedly perpetrated. For that reason, the case was again dismissed, but that also means no determination was ever made as to whether J. Bruce Harreld and his Boston Chicken/Market partners actually did what they were alleged to have done. All we can say is that in order to pull of such a scheme, Harreld and his Boston Chicken partners would have had to get together, in advance of the IPO, and conspire to rip off all the other investors.
While I certainly encourage you to reach your own conclusions, for me personally, every time I try to imagine J. Bruce Harreld and the other Boston Chicken partners negotiating in secret to cheat others by administrative means, my mind immediately goes to June 19th, 2015, when J. Bruce Harreld flew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa on a private jet, and met in secret at a hotel on the Kirkwood Community College campus with presidential search committee chair and interim University of Iowa President Jean Robillard, search committee member and Regents President Bruce Rastetter, and search committee member (ex officio) Peter “Crony Contracts” Matthes — for a three or four hour meeting that was set up by Hawkeye alumnus and search committee member Jerre Stead, who himself bailed on the gathering at the last minute. Because as it turns out, no other candidate received that kind of access, to say nothing of the preferential treatment that Harreld received thereafter, including presenting his ideas to UIHC administrators while his wife received a tour of the campus on July 8th (during a visit in which Robillard personally chauffeured the Harreld’s to and from their private jet), and later meeting in secret with members of the Iowa Board of regents on July 30th, including two board members who weren’t even on the search committee. And unlike the allegations in the 7547 Partners’ lawsuit, we know all of those facts to be true.
So in all of this I wonder increasingly about Harreld’s wife — Mary, is it? — who appears to have decided not to notice anything going on ever.
Anyway. I remember Boston Market and Boston Chicken, and whichever one it was at the time was wildly, wildly popular. Everybody and his goddamned aunt suddenly had to go eat the chicken in this revolutionary restauranty place. (I remember it, in fact, because my mother insisted on going there with the family, and her fiancé, who was rotund, got wedged in, rather, by the table, like Winnie-the-Pooh. And still wanted biscuits. Mostly I remember that you could have 17 varieties of starch with your chicken.) It was the Olive Garden of its day. So yes, I can see that $20 would have been a ridiculously timid IPO. Netscape had its IPO the same year at $28, but you have to remember that most of America still didn’t have a computer at home, that people without computers were buying Win95, and that this was still mainly the territory of boys who might cause trouble at NORAD. I’m curious about what the judge had to say.
The interesting thing is that people all of a sudden had to go to this restaurant the same way all of a sudden everyone was talking about that scholarship scheme thing from a few months back. Praise, Raise, whatever. And there were gushing newspaper reviews and news stories and all kinds of things. It’s a kind of marketing that’s fairly ordinary now, but if you want to applaud someone on that team for selling cheap rotisserie chicken and 74 varieties of mashed potatoes as a revolutionary dining experience, I’d say it was the marketing and restaurant design guys, not the “have everything on a screen” guy. (Man, it’s terrible what’s still lodged in my memory. As I recall, they were selling this as “real food”. Fast but real. You stop on your way home from work and instead of whatever **** Burger King’s selling on a highly processed bun, you’ve got home cooking. Part of that nifty cycle where you’d guilt the hell out of the working moms for not being home to cook, then sell them a solution with cheap lousy food dressed up as healthy stuff. For some reason I think they tried doing regional “cuisines”, too, variations for different areas of the country.)
Thanks for posting about it.
So all the judge said was that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue, not that there was no insider criminality going on. Stanford likes to use the case in a securities course, apparently. Pretty good reading here about all the lies:
If you dig into this a little further, you find that Harreld’s really an outsider in this crew. The CEO was (excuse me for finding this funny) a Waste Management, Inc. scion — WM’s had its share of legal difficulties too, btw — and is now full of God. Runs some sort of family ministries thing with his wife. Elmer Gantry never gets old in this country, does it. Anyway. The CEO had some other buddies, and they were the main guys in this thing. I wonder how they met Bruce, and how he ended up named in that lawsuit.
Okay. So I think to get your head around all this you have to go back to about 1979, 1980, when the breath of Reagan was spring-scented and everybody who wasn’t an ******* was going to make a million bucks in the market because Milton Friedman, and there was something about the word “semiconductor” that gave 50-year-old men heart attacks at their desks. Plastics they could handle; semiconductors, no.
This was also the age of the management consultant, an outgrowth of the engineering consultants who brought us wonders like the RAND Corporation and Robert MacNamara. The idea was that you were an idiot about your own business, couldn’t see the new, stuck in your ways, the Japanese were going to kill you, etc. And these bright young men (yes, men) were going to show up in their tan suits and analyze things — you know, things — and use their methods and semiconductors to tell you, the aging and stagflation-battered idiot, what to do, because what the hell could you lose at that point. Chiropractors of the business world, only you’d pay them a lot more. I bet anything there’s a Bob Newhart show involving consultants.
In order for this to work in a sustained fashion, two parties had to buy into substantial ********: the clients and the consultants. The clients had to believe magic could happen, and the consultants had to believe that they could walk into an industry not knowing ass from elbow, but bearing analytical methods, and see the future and make sense. And that part wasn’t new, that was just postwar scientism talking. But they really did buy it. And the thing is that yeah, plenty of people in business really do have no idea what’s going on outside their walls or why things are happening. They’re too busy running the shop and their view’s distorted with all kinds of misinformation. So there’s some basic heads-up that consultants can legitimately sell.
All else is ********, though, because to get anything more sophisticated or insightful than that you actually have to understand the industry and its customers, which is something you don’t get without working in it and then assiduously maintaining your contacts, keeping one foot in. Otherwise, as a consultant, either you’re a moron who believes he actually does not have to know these things, or you’re a straight-up crook who knows he doesn’t know but is going to pretend and charge a. lot. of. money for it.
If you’re not either of these, and you don’t really know the business, you go find more honest work to do.
So Bruce had nothing going on careerwise till he went back to school, went to Harvard for that MBA, and then used his fraternity lessons and shook hands and stepped into a consulting job at Boston Consulting, which was a big deal at the time. And after that he just climbed the ladder. Companies would go buy consulting talent, such as it was, and install it in VP-type positions, and that’s really all he did from that point on. The thing is that I’m sure that here and there he really did find some obvious stupid things the people he was working for were doing, and they couldn’t see it because they’d been lost in their own world for 17 years. So they’d get a big boost from fixing that thing and they’d say “well he’s not such an idiot after all”. Except he actually was, because that’s the nature of those jobs unless, as I said, you actually understand the industry and its customers. And that’s not a thing he sees as being important.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether he’s a delusional moron or a crook or both. What matters is that he thinks he’s justified and someone in power finds him useful. And that is continuing bad news, because this country has lots of Bruces rolling around. We specialize in this kind of thing. He goes, we recruit five more. So until there’s someone elected governor in this state who has a soft spot in his heart for the five-foot shelf of books, I really do not think that anything will turn around.
I’m waiting for the Jesus to appear, incidentally. Usually you have to cover pillaging on this scale with a good deal of Jesus. Maybe football’s enough on its own, I don’t know. I don’t consult on these matters.
I would add to this the laughable ‘get out of jail free’ card that business has granted itself in the internet age, which is that all failure equals future excess. Nobody ever burns through a bunch of capital and costs people their livelihoods anymore — they just learn important lesson that will be valuable for the next venture.
Harreld seems to enjoy being the point man or front, and I think that’s because he has a bit of the performer in him. He likes the stage, if not needs it, which you can also see in the way he personalizes everything. If it’s not about him, it’s not important.
I just have no experience with bro culture, but Harreld seems to be the perfect specimen. Needy, ethically pliable, and eager to please.
Interesting discussion about consultants and such. Always thought it looked like good work — one pontificates to those still awake at meetings, produces a BS report (that will be ignored) then leaves town alot richer (this was back in the days when an expert was ‘an out of town guy with slides’).
J Bruce Harreld strikes me as the ultimate consultant. He is an engineer who never really worked as an engineer. He sold chicken, taught at NU, then sold big blue computers. He made alot of money with homes in Mass, Colorado, Florida, Conn, and maybe Oregon. Retired early, apparently before the big crash. Not bad to be a career consultant who can afford multiple multi-million dollar homes in desirable locations.
His retirement included a Harvard lectureship where he proselytized a couple business ideas – like periodic punctuated change, which must mean something because it is on the lips of people like Bill Gates….right?
Here is a guy who wanted to really be somebody, who really was a consultant albeit a well paid one (reminds me of the line in The Patriot when Cornwallis commenting on his new general robe says ‘It is still a horse-blanket’). His retirement gig ended, so Hell Yes, I will be president of university of Idaho or Ohio or Wherever.
He rushes together a BS resume with tons of (funny) typos, pulls out some old lecture, and bingo, the people in Iowa think he is am expert (out of town guy with slides). The Board of Regents people really buy into the ‘guy who saved IBM’ cause after all folk like Mary Andringa don’t have the time to do their homework, or maybe she was busy selling Howard Miller furniture to the UIHC.
So Harreld fits everyone’s needs (at least the big power players) because he really doesn’t know **** about academics, or being a president: thus Branstad and Rastetter can really stick it to the U of Iowa/ Johnson Co liberals; budget conservatives get a lackey who will take the scraps they send him; Robillard gets a rubber stamp who knows nothing about health care management meaning he will not interfere with the Robillard Empire of UIHC; the AD gets a fellow who thinks football players will keep the campus safe from sexual assault; and Jerre Stead gets his Bro a new nice gig with benefits. Everyone wins.
Everyone wins except the students who think the university president should be an expert on academics and their future; the faculty, some of whom continue to believe in an academic mission; the taxpayers who want a vibrant and innovative university; and Iowa which in general looks like a bunch of hicks hiring a ‘has-been’ consultant who worked for BM and falsified his resume.
It angers me that:
1. The BOR and Robillard did not bother vetting this dude who can’t perform the basic steps of applying for an academic position; further, they gamed the system undermining the real search and those who were qualified for the job;
2. Iowans accept anyone who lived near Armonk NY, and worked at IBM as a visionary smart guy
3. Newspapers who report ‘business expert’ interviewing at Uiowa for presidency, when that is like a small town high school welcoming Robert James Waller as the best writer since Hemingway
4. No one with legal authority does anything about the lies, fraud, under-the-table deals, malfeasance, misrepresentation, and utter incompetence of those hired, elected or professed to represent student’s & Iowan’s interests.
In prior posts about the Harreld hire I recounted how my ongoing interest in the fraudulent appointment of J. Bruce Harreld as president of the University of Iowa was initially galvanized by the realization that the Iowa Board of Regents callously chose to ignore the safety and welfare of the student body when making that hire. On other campuses around the country the cultural issues of alcohol abuse and sexual assault might have been less important, but for far too long the University of Iowa has been known as a party school to the detriment of all. Having given lip service to the safety of the campus for years, the conspiracy to hire the completely ignorant and unqualified J. Bruce Harreld revealed prior condemnations of former UI President Sally Mason by the board’s leadership to be nothing more than cheap, opportunistic politics.
At the actual instant when I learned that J. Bruce Harreld had been appointed, however, that was not the first thought that entered my mind. At the time I knew nothing about the administrative deceit that Harreld and his co-conspirators had committed in engineering his sham hire. All I knew was that against the overwhelming will of the university community, the regents had elected a business executive with no prior experience in academic administration, no prior experience in the public sector, and no ties to the school or the state.
On that basis, my immediate response to Harreld’s hire was that whatever else the corrupt leadership of the regents intended him to do, they had jammed that carpetbagging dilettante into the president’s office to finally force the sale of Jackson Pollock’s Mural. And after watching J. Bruce Harreld during his first six months in office I still thought that was the case until a few days ago — when, by wonderful coincidence, Harreld himself addressed that very point while I was writing this post. From an interview with KCRG-TV, on 05/17/16:
So there you go. The selling of Pollock’s Mural is apparently off the table as long as J. Bruce Harreld is in town, and I for one am relieved. That doesn’t necessarily mean Harreld wasn’t hired to force the sale, of course, or that he won’t set the wheels in motion prior to leaving office, but simply that he may have decided for the time being that ordering the sale himself is not a viable move. In any event, I’m glad he took the time to belittle anyone who doubts his deeply questionable motives, although that’s not actually the same as flatly stating that he is opposed to the sale of Mural. And yes, I know what you’re thinking….
You’re thinking that J. Bruce Harreld is a proven liar, and that he would certainly lie about not selling Pollock’s Mural — particularly if he really was planning to put it on the market after pleading poverty for several years, or forcing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to choose between their own programs and salaries and an old painting. Well, given Harreld’s history as a business executive I have no basis to argue against any of that, because Harreld’s credibility is zero. While Harreld’s non-denial denial about selling Mural makes it harder for him to walk back that non-promise without alienating or angering those who took him at his supposed word, what Harreld has actually done with regard to the UI art collection only increases the likelihood that a sale will eventually be compelled.
In fact, Harreld faces a similar problem with the upcoming UI budget, which voids his claim that he has somehow already proven he is not the “slash and burn” type. As a factual matter, Harreld has proven nothing because he has yet to make any substantive budget proposals. What he has said is that he is determined to cut funding and potentially whole programs which do not improve the school’s national rank. Having recently killed the public-private partnership (P3) to build a new UI Museum of Art it should be clear that Harreld is not afraid to pull the trigger, though as we’ll see in this post the reasoning behind that decision turns out to be significantly less compelling than advertised.
Just as we cannot know in advance whether Harreld intends to orchestrate the sale of Mural, we cannot know whether Harreld is the “slash and burn” type because he has yet to put forward any funding specifics, or to explain why cuts need to be made. In fact, not too long ago Harreld asserted that he was determined to fight for the school’s liberal arts programs, if not the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as a whole, meaning any proposed funding and program cuts will now certainly seem like a betrayal.
A Brief History of Jackson Pollock’s Mural at Iowa
In 1943 Peggy Guggenehim commissioned Jackson Pollock to paint a mural for her townhouse. The painting Pollock produced, now simply called Mural, was eight feet tall and twenty feet long. In 1946 or ’47, Guggenheim moved back to Venice and no longer had space to display the work, so she offered to donate it to the University of Iowa if the school would cover the cost of shipping. The school agreed.
The decades passed as decades do, and from time to time Pollock’s increasing fame and value in the marketplace came to the attention of otherwise anti-art forces in the state, who thought the economic value of Mural might be put to better use. Training their sights on Mural in the hope that it might be flipped for cold hard cash — albeit often in the guise of various benevolent programs which would never have been given the necessary oversight to ensure they were actually implemented — bureaucratic wheels were put in motion to determine just how hard it would be to force a sale. Where you might think that such forces would first martial themselves outside the gates of academe, however, it will come as no surprise to regular readers that the most recent attempts to sell Pollock’s Mural originated with none other than Michael Gartner, in 2008, when he was president of the Iowa Board of Regents:
Yes, that’s the same Michael Gartner who, three years later, when he was no longer on the board, also proposed tearing down the accounting wall between athletics and academics at the state’s institution of higher learning. (By odd coincidence, not only did J. Bruce Harreld recently propose the exact same idea, but in typical Harreld fashion he also took credit for the idea himself.) To be fair, 2008 was a critical year for two reasons. First, that’s when devastating floods hit the UI campus, wiping out numerous buildings at a cost well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. So you can imagine that the Board of Regents was looking for money wherever they could find it. Second, that’s also when the business geniuses running the country flooded the world economy with bad debt, precipitating what would turn out to be a self-inflicted decade of economic strife. So you can again imagine that the Board of Regents was scrambling for money wherever it could be found.
The report prepared by the University of Iowa in response to Gartner’s inquiry is instructive, including particularly this question and reply:
On the basis of Harreld’s fraudulent hire we know that neither the current president of the Iowa Board of Regents nor J. Bruce Harreld himself cares anything about ethics. If you’re willing to run a sham search at taxpayer expense, to fix an election, and to lie to the press, to the people of Iowa and to the university community in order to cover up your abuses, at best you think of ethics as just another poker chip. (Rastetter and Harreld care about the AAMD and AAM as much as they care about shared governance, which is to say not at all.)
While Harreld was obviously not around in 2008, by 2011 the regents were evolving from a Gartner-led disaster to what would eventually become a Rastetter-led disaster. In early February of 2011 a state legislator named Scott Raecker submitted a bill to authorize the sale of Pollock’s Mural:
If you’ve never heard of Urbandale before, it’s a suburb northwest of Des Moines proper. By odd coincidence, it also happens to be the home of the Iowa Board of Regents. By even greater coincidence, on 05/01/2011, Bruce Rastetter had finally donated enough money to Governor Terry Branstad to get himself appointed to that very same board.
Raecker’s bill quickly died, partly because of the local and national backlash, but also because of the unconditional response of the American Association of Museums to his bill:
And yet, as was later evidenced with Harreld’s sham hire, the only thing these people really care about is whether they can be hauled into court or not, which is why this is particularly important:
When you get right down to it, then, as a purely legal matter the regents or the state legislature could try to force the sale. They might get bloodied in the process in terms of public relations, but they would also stand a good chance of convincing the rest of the state that the sale of Mural was a good thing. Yes, that would probably also cost the UI Art Museum its accreditation, but how concerned do you think most Iowans would be about that if they were told they could lay their hands on $150M that was desperately, desperately needed? Particularly given that the same forces which have repeatedly tried to sell Mural also spent the past decade or more cutting taxes to corporations so they could then cut government services to citizens?
Jackson Pollock’s Mural: a Painting Without A Home
The flooding in 2008 forced the evacuation of the university’s art collection from the old museum. While the collection itself was safe, and the building was not condemned by FEMA — meaning, unfortunately, that no federal funds would be forthcoming to erect a new museum on another site — the question of what to do with the collection itself evolved over time. In particular, because of its massive size and economic and historical value, what to do with Pollock’s Mural was an ongoing concern apart from attempts by regents and legislators to liquidate that asset.
By 2011, however — in between Raecker’s attempted money grab and Rastetter’s appointment — the new director of the UI Art Museum, Sean O’Harrow, seemed to find his footing:
On the specific question of selling Pollock’s Mural, O’Harrow was blunt:
Between 2011 and today, Pollock’s Mural has traveled far and wide, including to the Getty in California for a much-needed restoration, as well as to museums in Europe. What Mural still lacks is a permanent home on the Iowa campus.
The Public-Private Partnership for a New UI Art Museum
As might be expected following both the crippling of the American economy and the flooding on campus — including particularly the determination by FEMA that the old art museum would not be condemned — the public-private partnership to build a new art museum seems to have been embraced primarily for financial reasons. Had the university or the regents had cash on hand, or the will to borrow, they could have simply proceeded apace. That’s not what happened, however, and still does not seem destined to happen despite the fact that Harreld just blew up the P3 and sent the project back to square one.
In April of 2010, at President Sally Mason’s request, a report was produced by the UI Museum of Art Envisioning Committee. From a news release on 04/01/10:
While perfectly sensible, none of that seems to square with where the P3 art museum ended up, or what the P3 design was intended to accomplish. Again the most likely reason for that variance — indeed, for the public-private partnership itself — is that the university simply did not have the funds available to build the museum they wanted to build. Yet even in the committee’s original report we can see the seeds of the eventual P3 project, particularly with regard to visitors from outside the university.
As a practical matter, it is physically impossible to build any structure at the University of Iowa which is both in the middle of campus and easily accessible to outsiders. As anyone can attest who has had an appointment at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on the west side of the river, or has tried to stop in one of the university’s buildings on the east side, there is nothing convenient about visiting the university. So at least on the question of external accessibility the downtown P3 location met that goal because of the parking garages nearby.
The current director of the UI Museum of Art, Sean O’Harrow, was hired shortly after the release of the committee’s report, and took office in November of 2010. While O’Harrow and the art museum staff worked to keep the university’s art both visible and safe, President Sally Mason tried to find a way to replace the damaged building. With FEMA putting its foot down and refusing to fund a new building, all options were on the table in early spring of 2014, when the regents approved the planning process:
In the fall of 2014 a P3 deal was announced with H+H Development Group:
In February of 2015 an architect was announced for the P3 art museum:
Relative to the original committee criteria, the P3 project was not ideal. It put the new museum on the southern periphery of the east campus, rather than locating it centrally, and it involved compromises inherent in a mixed-use building. On the other hand, the P3 seems to have trumped every other option for the simple reason that it was economically viable. Had there been piles of donor money or regent money looking for a home, I have no doubt that the P3 project would have never gotten off the ground, yet there doesn’t seem to have been any economic alternative.
Almost exactly one year later, during which the P3 planning and design process ground on behind the scenes, the new and fraudulently appointed president at Iowa, J. Bruce Harreld, suddenly announced that the P3 was being abandoned at a cost of $2M to the school. Importantly, not only was there no new site specified at the time, but there was no new funding announced that would allow the school to proceed without private-party support. The P3 project was simply dead.
The UI Justification for Abandoning the P3 Art Museum
The university’s abandonment of the P3 museum was first reported in the press on 03/09/16. Not surprisingly, the stated justification for backing out was financial, but on closer inspection that rationale proved wanting. From the Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson:
(As a historical footnote, although J. Bruce Harreld was appointed in early September, he did not actually take office until early November. If “late fall” in the above quote is a seasonal reference, that would match up quite well. If “late fall” is a calendar reference, then cost concerns about the P3 museum bubbled up a month or so later. In either case, however, those cost concerns dovetail with Harreld taking office.)
Vanessa Miller of the Gazette reported on the kibosh of the P3 project the next day:
From a follow-up piece by Charis-Carlson, also on 03/10/16:
From a Daily Iowan report by Macey Spensley the day after that, on 03/11/16:
From the reporting it is clear that the reason the university backed out of the P3 project is because it could not afford the $80M cost of the building. Yet given that the project was a public-private partnership, and the reporting also mentions a “long-term lease agreement” and “real-estate taxes”, it is equally evident that the private contribution to the P3 is missing from the university’s characterization of the deal. In effect, in multiple reports by multiple reporters, the university seems to justify the abandonment of the project on the basis of the total cost plus the cost of a long-term lease, which obviously makes no sense. If the university was on the hook for the whole $80M, then it would have owned the building outright and had no need to sign a long-term lease. On the other hand, if the private partners were picking up some or all of the cost of construction — along with, apparently, throwing in the land — then the university would not be on the hook for some or all of the $80M figure which was repeatedly cited as justification for backing out.
The main reason I haven’t written about this subject until now is that I spent the past couple of months looking everywhere for an explanation of the P3 deal, but until recently I came up dry. And on that point it’s worth noting there is no possible way that the explanation for abandoning the project was confused in-house. Somehow, all of the UI administrators interviewed by multiple reporters about the abandonment of the P3 art museum managed to obfuscate the rationale in exactly the same way.
Despite a consistent inability to clearly articulate the economic basis for abandoning the P3 deal, however, Harreld and his crack communications team wasted no time in extolling the virtues of his business genius — imperceptible as it may have been to anyone who looked past the headlines. For example, here’s Director O’Harrow, who either volunteered for, or was enlisted in, such laudatory rhetoric:
Yes, that’s the beleaguered director of the university’s once-again homeless art collection, employing the exact same verbiage that was used by a big-name donor back when Harreld’s sham appointment was first announced. From a Gazette report by Miller on 09/30/15:
While blowing up the P3 deal certainty qualifies as looking “at the university in a different way”, failing to explain the economic basis for backing out of the deal fails to meet the “metric” test. As for O’Harrow’s adulation of Harreld, I can only surmise what the poor man must have gone through when he was once again told that the art museum was being put off yet again, eight years after the flood. But it wasn’t only O’Harrow who saw the genius in Harreld’s bold move.
Here’s UI Business Manager David Kieft, also going out of his way to credit Harreld:
Not to be outdone was Harreld’s minder at the Iowa Board of Regents, who not only lauded Harreld for his vision, but once again went way out of his way to take another cheap, petty, vindictive shot at former UI President Sally Mason. From a report at the end of March, by the Press-Citizen’s Charis-Carlson:
Note again the clear financial linkage, even weeks later. The project would have required “spending $80 million on the new art museum downtown”, but because of J. Bruce Harreld executive mettle he saved the regents all that dough. Curiously, during the exact same meeting when the regents officially gave the University of Iowa permission to plan for a new museum, they also elected Rastetter president, and at the time he doesn’t seem to have voiced any concerns about a possible public-private partnership. From the Daily Iowan, on 06/10/13:
(You can see the overall museum project progress through the regents here, then here, then see Rastetter vote on advancing the project here, and read the 2014 RFQ here.)
As for Harreld changing the culture of the university, as already noted there were and are valid arguments against the P3 project. But in order for those arguments to prove compelling we would have to know A) what the actual P3 deal was, B) where the new museum will eventually be sited, C) what the total cost of the new project will be, and D) how the new location and design square with the Envisioning Committee’s original criteria. Unfortunately, on the day of the announcement that the P3 project was being abandoned, and for days afterward, we learned none of that. All we learned was that J. Bruce Harreld was a super-smart guy for flushing $2M down the drain, while proposing no specifics about how and when the UI art collection would find a new home.
For Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld, Pollock’s ‘Mural’ and the UI Museum of Art, click here.
This is Part 2 of J. Bruce Harreld, Pollock’s ‘Mural’ and the UI Museum of Art. For Part 1, click here.
The Other UI Justifications for Abandoning the P3 Art Museum
Given that the economic rationale for backing out of the P3 deal was crystal clear from the get-go — as long as nobody stopped to think about it — the original reports about the abandonment of the project contained a surprising number of ancillary justifications. For example, from Charis-Carlson’s initial report on 03/09/16:
So $80M is a ton for that square footage…but there are also “certain parameters” that must be met to maintain accreditation and protect the collection.
From Miller’s report on 03/10/16:
On its face that all seems to make sense. You don’t want your art collection being burgled or rotting in the August humidity, so you have to take precautions, and precautions cost money. Except those justifications for abandoning the P3 also seem to justify the high per-square-foot cost of the P3 project, and those costs will necessarily carry over to the new site and design no matter where the museum is located.
At the same time the administration also took pains to explain how the $2M that Harreld was lighting on fire wasn’t really being wasted. From the Charis-Carlson piece linked just above:
From the Miller piece just above:
So here’s the deal on that $2M. It’s gone, and it’s never coming back. If the university is lucky, $25,000 in billable hours or studies will be transferable to the new site and project, which will require its own planning and design phase. And that’s particularly certain after Harreld and his crack team explained at length how the P3 project was entirely wrong and the new museum needed to be entirely different.
Shortly after killing the P3 deal, the university announced that the museum staff — but not the art — would be returning to the old building. Toward the end of the month the university also announced that it would call its far-flung art collection home, even though a site for the new museum had not yet been selected. In that reporting by the Gazette’s Miller, the total cost of the abandoned P3 project had also ballooned:
Okay — so it wasn’t $80M the university was on the hook for, it was $107M, which is obviously worse. And somehow that $107M would also have been for a lease for an unspecified amount of time, plus a “buyout proposal”, which also sounds sketchy. But where did that $107M figure suddenly come from, weeks after the P3 deal was dead?
My guess is that the new $107M figure included interest payments, in much the same way that buying a house with a mortgage increases the total cost versus paying cash. If you buy a home with a market value of $500,000, using a 30-year mortgage at 4%, then your total cost is actually $860,000. Nobody considers the total cost when talking about such a purchase, of course, because some of the increase can be offset through deductions or early repayment, but in the case of the P3 it was clearly to Harreld’s advantage to make the total cost as great as possible, so they went ahead and did so even if the number itself was deceptive.
As to where the university might put the museum, Harreld had a genius-grade flash of insight on that subject as well, and came up with an idea that apparently nobody in the entire history of the university had ever thought of before:
So to recap — the P3 project was going to cost the university as much as $107M, and it was going to be built far from the center of campus, and the university was going to have to sign a lease for the project, and pay property taxes, but because he’s a business genius J. Bruce Harreld saved the school from all of that. Then, in his spare time, Harreld also realized that the university might already own land that a museum could be built on, which turned out to be true. And yet even with all of that, there was still no clear explanation of the P3 deal, and no new site for the museum.
The Old New UI Art Museum Site
Whether you’re the new president of a multi-national conglomerate or a book club, it’s pretty arrogant to imply that the people who came before you — and the people who are still involved with your organization — had no idea what to do until you showed up. But that’s the narrative Harreld painted after hew blew up the P3 project, both in his own words and through proxies. Not only was Harreld a genius for killing the deal, but he alone was smart enough to realize that there might actually be buildable land on campus.
The reality, of course, is much different. At a minimum at least one individual, if not an entire department, is paid to keep track of all of the university’s property and what it’s being used for. There isn’t a square foot that isn’t accounted for, if not cross-referenced with two or seven or twelve possible future uses. That’s what organizations do — they organize, and the University of Iowa is no different.
Chief among the criteria constraining the location of the new UI Art Museum is the insistence by the university’s insurer — Lloyds of London — that the collection be housed somewhere safe. And given the flooding in 2008, that obviously makes sense:
That concern is also why the old museum can no longer house the school’s art, even though the building was not condemned by FEMA, and the space is now being used administratively:
When FEMA denied Iowa’s appeal it probably seemed like a good idea to locate the new museum on top of a hill on Burlington St. — right across from the new music building, which was also overwhelmed by the flood. That doesn’t mean the rest of the P3 deal made sense, obviously — whatever the deal actually was — but at least the buildings would no longer risk inundation. And that was critical not only in terms of insurance, but in terms of FEMA as well:
All of which makes it all the more confusing that three weeks after Harreld blew up the high-and-dry P3 museum deal in a masterstroke of executive insight, the university announced that it had selected a new on-campus location for the art museum, just a stone’s throw from the river.
blockquote>Less than a month after pulling out of a public-private partnership, University of Iowa officials have proposed a new location for a new building to house the UI Museum of Art: a few blocks down Burlington Street from the site in the previous proposal.
Sean O’Harrow, executive director of the museum, made the announcement during an event Saturday night. He followed the news Sunday in letters sent to museum supporters.
“We announced new plans for the UIMA facilities, including the proposed site next to Gibson (Square) on Burlington Street,” the letter states. “The plan is to connect the new museum to the (UI) Main Library southern section. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
Now, if you’re not familiar with the University of Iowa campus, here’s a map not only showing Gibson Square, but also the prior location of the P3 project at the intersection of Burlington and Clinton. What you cannot tell from that map, however, is the elevation of those two locations. For a street view glimpse, click here. To the left you’ll see the north side of the university’s new music building. To the right, behind the parking ramp (and an attached mall) is the vast majority of the east-side campus. Ahead you are looking down Burlington to the river valley and the west-side campus on the horizon. If you scoot down the hill you will see Gibson Square on the right when you reach the bottom, and two blocks after that you’ll find yourself crossing the Iowa River.
Because J. Bruce Harreld is a business genius he obviously foresaw the problem of building a flood-displaced museum back in the exact same floodplain:
We know that the new museum has to be protected from flooding in order to be insured by Lloyds of London, so raising the museum makes sense. Any implication that moving the museum three blocks down Burlington materially positions the museum closer to the heart of campus, however, is not true. In fact, although Gibson Square is at a choke point when crossing the Burlington St. Bridge, many students take busses past Gibson Square as opposed to hiking through it. While a new building in that location will definitely see foot traffic, in summer that will consist mostly of people passing through to stay cool, while in winter people will pass through to stay warm. (The same annual dynamics plays out at the Main Library, which is just behind Gibson Square.)
While providing parking under the new museum will increase accessibility to visitors, it’s a given that elevating any building costs more because otherwise that would be done routinely for the cost savings alone. So even if the Gibson Square site is cheaper overall than the P3, it has its own unique costs, which again suggests that the university won’t be recovering much if any of the $2M it already sank into the project. Too, without a basement many of the building’s services will have to be elevated as well, increasing the amount of above-ground square footage needed for the entire structure.
While I like the idea of connecting to the Main Library at the Gibson Square site, by the same token the museum could have been connected to the new music building at the P3 location. And of course at the P3 site a local developer — who probably never thought for a minute that the university would back out on the deal — had already begun building a hotel nearby, in anticipation of providing lodging for people with business at either of those locations.
On the insurance front the Gibson Square site is interesting because it sits next to a working rail line, which means not only possible hazardous materials and derailments, but also vibration from each train. Gibson Square is also right across the street from the predominantly coal-fired power plant that the trains feed, and next to the university’s water plant. Even proximity to the river might be an issue in terms of stability, given that the force of the river makes the west-bound bridge bounce up and down. While it’s reasonable to assume that Lloyds has already signed off on the Gibson Square site if the risk of flooding is mitigated, the annual cost of insuring the collection at the Gibson Square location may actually be higher than it would have been at the P3 site.
Having said all that, J. Bruce Harreld does deserve credit for finding a new location for the art museum in fairly short order, particularly given that it took him a whopping four months just to schedule his first town hall. Or rather Harreld would deserve credit, except once again the claim that he performed some powerful feat of executive wizardry in choosing the new site turns out to be an egregious exaggeration, if not an outright lie.
From a Daily Iowan article by Grace Savides, on 04/02/10, detailing the conclusions of the UI Museum of Art Envisioning Committee:
The IMU is the Iowa Memorial Union, and it sits at the center of campus. It also sits right along the river, and the land across from the IMU is close to where the old art museum was flooded. Burlington and Clinton is of course the location of the abandoned P3, meaning we now also know that the idea of a public-private partnership was not joined late, but early in the design process — even before Rastetter was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2011.
That leaves us with “next to the Lindquist Center”. If you click here you’ll see that the Lindquist Center is at the bottom of the same Burlington St. hill you looked at in street view, and that the only open parcel of land nearby happens to be — wait for it! — Gibson Square. Meaning J. Bruce Harreld’s brilliant insight about relocating the museum to Gibson Square is not so much his idea, but someone else’s idea that he’s now taking credit for six years after the fact. (Taking credit for other people’s work seems to be a thing for J. Bruce Harreld.)
Let’s Make a New UI Art Museum Deal
Factoring all of the above into your calculation, take a moment and ballpark the total cost of the P3 project to the University of Iowa. Was it $70M? $80M? $107M? More?
We know that Harreld was willing to eat $2M just to get away from the deal, so there had to be some significant savings in doing so. Yet as repeatedly noted, even after Harreld touted the new (old) Gibson Square plan as another example of his unparalleled business acumen, there were still no hard details about the private-party contribution to the P3, except for the plot of land owned by the Hieronymus family. That fog finally lifted, however, on 04/18/16, more than a month after the abandonment of the P3 project, during a Daily Iowan interview with J. Bruce Harreld and Provost P. Barry Butler:
First, the idea that the room was “really quiet” because Harreld and his administrative team were looking at “really, really large numbers”, is really, really, really hilarious. The new studio arts building cost close to $80M, the new music building cost $150M, and the new Hancher Auditorium cost $175M. But okay — J. Bruce Harreld loves himself some drama.
Second, note also the dramatic claim that the Gibson Square site was determined by a heady mix of keen insight and exhaustive diligence on the part of Harreld and his team, as opposed to simply pulling out the list of sites that the Envisioning Committee proposed six years ago. Harreld’s claim that they only realized the museum could be and should be built at Gibson Square when they “started getting closer and closer to it” is a lie.
Third, there’s a lot more in the DI interview about the art museum, including Harreld’s response to Rastetter’s claim that Harreld was finally changing the culture at Iowa by blowing up the P3 deal, before dusting off someone else’s six-year-old plan and taking credit for it himself. Then again, if everyone used to be meticulously honest under former President Sally Mason, that would technically make Rastetter’s comment true.
As to the nagging question of what the private parties were contributing to the P3 project, however, this little nugget probably caught your attention:
That’s the P3 deal. The university was obligated to invest little to nothing up front, other than the $2M that Harreld wrote off to get away from the project. The university was also not obligated to put up money for development, which was a huge draw given the cash crush on campus. Yet until Harreld vomited all of that information forth during the DI interview, the overwhelming impression from Harreld, Rastetter and others was that the university would have to shell out a minimum of $80M in terms of construction costs, like any other building project on campus.
Even knowing the parameters of the full P3 deal I can see arguments for and against. One of the things Harreld accomplished by blowing up the P3 deal, however, is that he wiped the cost of that long-term lease off the books, and for the time being he’s replaced it with nothing. Instead of having to go to the Board of Regents a few weeks later and ask them to sign off on that deal, the project is now nothing more than an idea — albeit one that was originally proposed by someone else six years ago.
When all is said and done, it’s also not clear how much cheaper the Gibson Square museum will be for UI, given the requirements insisted on by the insurers, by FEMA, and by the school’s accrediting agencies:
All of which brings us back to what should be a fairly obvious point by now. Questions about caring for and securing the university’s art collection inevitably devolve to questions about caring for and securing Pollock’s Mural. Yes, Iowa owns other important and valuable pieces, but nothing close to the size and $150M value of that work. So in a sense any conception of what the university’s new museum will be like, and what its requirements are, starts with housing that piece — which is yet another reason why some might prefer to sell it, so they could build a cheaper museum and pocket the difference.
Given the prohibitions against monetizing Mural, however, and the fact that the director of the museum would have to agree to the sale (see #15 here), the only viable option would seem to be converting that single work into a number of smaller works of equal value. While that might also decrease the cost of the new museum some amount, it would also decrease the attractiveness of the UI Museum of Art as a destination for people outside the school, which would in turn decrease spending on campus if not also in the surrounding area. And that’s all before taking into account any negative effect on the donor class, to say nothing of antagonizing defenders of the arts.
That in turn brings us to another important point, which is that neither J. Bruce Harreld nor Regents President Rastetter will ever open the university’s books so people inside and outside the community can see the big picture. That’s important because every attempt to portray Harreld as a visionary agent of transformational change is predicted on the fact that nobody really knows what money is being spent where. The UI budget is so huge, even excluding athletics, that it operates like its own slush fund, meaning everything Harreld does takes place behind a fiscal curtain that he can step out from behind whenever he wants to take a bow.
The old art museum was flooded in 2008, along with a number of other buildings. Fundraising for those buildings began immediately, even before the floodwaters receded, and long before any determinations by FEMA. There was general fundraising, of course, but people undoubtedly gave to specific projects, and that may have been particularly true for the art museum after FEMA refused to bail out the school. Yet nowhere can I find any amount of already-donated money that was and still is targeted to building a new UI Museum of Art.
The UI Foundation launched a massive fundraising campaign in 2008 which has so far raised $1.7B — as in billion — yet there is still no new art museum. Last September UIHC blew through its budget for the new Children’s Hospital by $68M, yet only a few months later the hospital’s bond rating improved, even though there was never any explanation of how that 23% cost-overrun was covered.
Three weeks after Harreld killed the P3 project one of the bond agencies again raised UIHC’s bond rating. Coincidence? How would anyone ever know?
Jackson Pollock’s Mural and the New UI Art Museum
So where does that leaves us? Or, rather, where does it leave Director O’Harrow and his orphaned art collection? Well, the latest assessment I could find comes from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, back on 04/06/14, when the new (old) Gibson Square site was announced:
The project was also addressed at the most recent meeting of the Iowa Board of Regents, thrilling at least one of the five members who fraudulently elected Harreld to office. From Cindy Garcia of the Daily Iowan, on 04/20/16:
So no money, no plans, no budget, and no timeline, yet it’s a win-win for everybody — including beleaguered Director O’Harrow, who ought to get a medal for putting up with this crap. Again, from the Miller piece above:
Four or five years. Meaning four or five years in addition to the eight already gone.
I don’t have the foggiest idea how the university is going to secure and care for a $150M painting without an art museum to go around it. And yes, people really do steal art in the Midwest. Fortunately, from late September to January of 2017, Pollock’s Mural will hang in London as part of an unprecedented exhibit, further extending the reach of university’s cultural brand.
While the floods were a literal disaster, it would be pretty easy to make the case that Mural’s value as a work of art has never been higher because of its restoration and world tour. While that will further convince the stone-age lot that Mural should be sold, the record-shattering interest in Mural should likewise convince those in positions of power that Mural is a phenomenal asset. The kind of asset that you would particularly go out of your way to protect, promote and exploit if you were an inveterate snob with an unhealthy fixation on excellence.
One of the first things you learn in business is that you should buy low and sell high. One of the other first things you learn in business is that you should exploit markets that are artificially depressed. While Mural may be worth a lot, I’m also guessing — what with the purge-like determination of business-centric academic administrators to turn colleges and universities into nothing more than trade schools for STEM careers — that the national market for both faculty and staff in the arts is depressed. On a state-wide basis there’s no question that the University of Iowa leads in the arts, but it is also well-positioned to do so on a regional basis, including Chicago and the great state of Wisconsin, which just recently decided to turn its own institutions of higher learning into a wasteland. And yet after close to a decade the only thing that the business genius who was fraudulently appointed by the Iowa Board of Regents can offer is to kick the museum can down the road another four or five years.
Jackson Pollock’s Mural should be the centerpiece of a renewed commitment to the arts by the University of Iowa, not simply for the sake of art, but as a predatory move to dominate that academic space. For his patience and dedication Director O’Harrow should also be given the money and support necessary to build a “museum for the 21st century”. All of the pieces are in place, the university itself has a great history in the visual arts, and the surrounding community is wholly supportive. Yet everywhere you look the people who are in charge of making decisions can’t seem to get a new art museum built, even as more than half a billion dollars in new facilities is being erected on campus.
One of the problems with coming to terms with J. Bruce Harreld as president is that it’s difficult to keep the monstrosity of his betrayal of the university in focus. The carpetbagging dilettante who now dictates terms to the university community really did conspire with a small cabal of insiders to defraud the taxpayers of Iowa and fix the search in his favor. Which is why back in September I wrote this, in a post titled Trust and the Harreld Hire:
What J. Bruce Harreld has implied is that he won’t sell Pollock’s Mural. What he has said about a new UI Art Museum is that it is deserved and needed. What he has said about the old P3 deal is that it was too expensive and too far from the center of campus. And what he has said about the new (old) Gibson Square site is that it is more affordable and better for the students.
Now look at what J. Bruce Harreld has actually done, apart from his words. He took a project that was well underway and he killed it. He then moved that project to a new site — which will require a brand new development process — and in so doing doubled the time it will take to build a new home for Pollock’s Mural and the rest of the UI art collection.
For the record, I think the Gibson Square site is a little better than the downtown P3 site, but not sufficiently so to warrant keeping the entire UI art collection in limbo for an extra two or three years. I’m also guessing that the people who originally identified both of those sites back in 2010 probably felt the same way, and elected to go with the P3 project because there wasn’t any money for Gibson Square. So what changed?
As far as I can tell, nothing. The only thing J. Bruce Harreld actually did by blowing up the steadily advancing P3 project was to push the completion of a new UI Art Museum out even farther, which gives the forces arrayed against Pollock’s Mural that much more time to change the administrative rules and compel a sale. If J. Bruce Harreld himself is true to form that will happen a year or two after he’s gone, but he will have engineered that outcome by killing the P3 deal and leaving Pollock’s Mural without a home.
I mean all of this in the nicest way, and with no disrespect at all intended toward anyone who works for or with UIMA, or for the devoted and generous patrons who’ve kept it going.
It’s not that good a collection. There has never been serious money going into this thing. (If there was, it was criminally misspent.) I love art museums, and for years I tried to find reasons to keep going to this one, the way I’ve always gone to museums routinely wherever I’ve lived. But I stopped because..well, I’m sorry, and I know this violates the cardinal rule of Iowa, which is: everything here is good enough for anyone, and one must under no circumstances suggest that anything elsewhere puts Iowa in the shade. But there wasn’t a reason to keep going.
I never saw art students hanging out in there. Never saw people sketching. I used to sketch sometimes and it made the guard very nervous; they weren’t used to it.
Let me see if I can remember the big pieces perennially on display, since I haven’t visited them since ’08: The Pollock, of course, which is no Autumn Rhythm, but is important historically. A few undistinguished European 20th-c pieces — Beckmann, Matisse, one of eighty billion red-sun Rauschenbergs. Some smaller Grant Wood. Some lovely Marvin Cone. There’s an Ellsworth Kelly floating around somewhere. I’m remembering one of those mottled-blue-dead-body Lucien Freuds, but maybe I’m thinking of somewhere else. Some faculty work, incl. Joe Patrick. A lot of African masks and sculptures I know nothing about, so if those are important, my apologies. The old museum was also rather small, so it’s not the sort of place you go to learn about various movements and schools (as the Cedar Rapids museum can be). I remember some awkwardly cordoned-off attempts at that.
Better collections nearby: The one at the little museum in Des Moines — that one’s actually very nice, those are some really good pieces — a good Frankenthaler, a good Hopper, surprisingly bearable Gaugin, some other good stuff too. I don’t recall being particularly impressed by the Figge — I’m remembering a lot of Americana probably most interesting to period scholars. The donated collection at Madison is the best I know in the upper Midwest outside the Walker and the Art Institute — that’s a large, fine collection with genuinely interesting contemporary art, too. Cedar Rapids has more Grant Wood and Cone and some other regionalists. (Who has the Benton? I can’t remember which of the three local ones it is.)
I am not surprised by how UIMA compares, nor do I consider it a failing. A serious collection requires not just tremendous amounts of cash over decades but the willingness to spend big money on small bits of canvas. Iowa is nothing if not a practical place, and there is nothing particularly practical about throwing money around in the art market. Iowa has done extremely well with less expensive forms of art, craft, and scholarship: writing, relatively inexpensive forms of performance, printmaking, conservatorship, the humanities — although we never have been willing to maintain the sort of libraries the humanities really need, those are expensive. Sitting and reading and thinking and writing and talking: we’re very very good at those, or have been.
But art — painting, sculpture — is a rich people’s game. And to be frank, if we’re going to spend $80M on art, I’d rather we put it in a travel fund to send students — any students, doesn’t have to be art students — to Chicago and Minneapolis and New York and LA, so they can see bombshell art, rather than training them to be impressed by the fact of being inside a slate-floor building called a museum where they can see a relatively weak Beckmann. At 2% a year, $80M yields a ludicrous amount of money for that sort of thing, you could put kids up at the Plaza. Buy a couple of nice tour buses and have them going back and forth to Chicago all the time. (In advance: I’m not at all impressed by arguments for “less intimidating” art. If someone wants to donate $80M for a house for cozy art that makes the not-very-ambitious-and/or-talented feel that they’re allowed to paint too, that’s fine, but I don’t want to contribute to it.)
Again, no disrespect intended towards anyone connected to UIMA, but I don’t think it’s smart to have a museum just to have a museum. Frankly, I’d have preferred to have built an exhibition room into the new Art building and hung the better pieces there permanently, with another gallery in another high-traffic area as a meditative space, perhaps actually inside Main Library. I do believe very strongly in making it possible for people to go to where the powerful art is and see it, and I’d be happy to see us spend money on that.
I wasn’t able to find it, but a year or two ago (I think) there was an interesting article in (I think) a local publication about how the university had art squirreled away all over campus because it simply didn’t have the space to display it all, or even store it all adequately. There was an effort going on to catalog it all, perhaps in anticipation of finally getting a new space.
You’re not wrong to see the UI Museum of Art through your own lens, but I think it’s also fair to say that an individual’s perspective is fairly narrow. If you go to any museum regularly, you’ll wear it out. Even the grand museums have permanent collections, which they supplement with new shows. It’s much harder, as you note, for small museums to compete on that basis — to keep things fresh, like a channel with new programming — but there’s also another way to look at the entire museum experience.
Instead of rotating the art, you can rotate the visitors, and that’s what happens in most places. People go once, maybe twice, and that’s it. But because there are lots of people, and new people being made all the time, newness is still the currency of the experience. (The same holds for college campuses, which have a new crop of students each year.)
I first saw ‘Mural’ when I was growing up in IC. I don’t remember how old I was, but when I stood in front of that wild wall of paint I was mesmerized. And I had been to some of the great art museums out east by then too.
There’s also the benefit of having art locally, so kids (of all ages) feel that it’s part of their place. Yes, you can hoard great collections and send people to see them in other locations, but there’s something to having art in your own community. A Picasso, a Pollock — it has an effect.
Building a new UI Museum of Art should already have been done. We’re not talking about a palace, or anything other than something fitting for the school, yet it keeps being put off. There was a museum, the museum was flooded, we need a new one, let’s get it done. It’s close to a decade now.
As for the price, everything dollar amount sounds nuts to me, but it’s worth noting that at the same time the UI was balking at $80M, the state was trying to throw $80M at the state history museum for dubious reasons:
Yes, the building needs fixing, but there’s a bunch of money in there to make it an event space as well, as opposed to focusing on the core mission:
Adding to the irony, the director of the Department of Cultural Affairs is Mary Cownie, who is the sister-in-law of Regent Patricia Cownie. Meaning of course that the UI Museum is crazy expensive, while the money for the state museum is just fine.
And of course Mary Cownie is married to state-rep Peter Cownie, who also happens to be the guy who just killed the autism insurance bill:
Into all this comes J. Bruce Harreld, business genius, blowing up the P3 deal, replacing it with nothing, all for a pat on the head from Rastetter.
1. The Rastetter remarks about ‘changing culture’ are stupidly ludicrous. The only thing to change was the bigwigs in the room.
2. Agree with Ditchwalk above. Much of the historic and valued art is dispersed in places at the Univ, no one knows about.
Several trailblazers have died from the UIowa art dept, including professors of printmaking. From sources I know that very very valuable pieces are sitting in closets, on secretaries walls, etc because no one really knows about the stuff.
3. A bus to another city isn’t going excite artists, art students, parents, donors etc. However I do like Dormouse’s other ideas on sites.
Art is taking on more than just old European masters. Art is getting into digital media, 3D visualization etc. Many schools have learned that big business sometimes sends creative people to MFA art programs because they actually learn to think creatively rather than come up with the same old ‘Boston Chicken Kiosk’. A trend to jump on is the interactions between art, art history, design, and business. Days of mass produced furniture and woodworking are giving way to handcraft projects.
Stores in Boston sell cherry/maple tables at 15,000 a crack (so to speak). Iowa has wood, Iowa has tradition (Amana woodworkers) so why not feature Iowa traditions? I am tired of going to American museums to look at stolen European art. Why not feature American Indian, or NA endogenous art? Or hardwood Maloof-like ‘art’ (having said this I admit that the book ‘Art for Dummies’ goes way over my head)
4. Harreld taking credit for the obvious must presume we are all stupid, and were all born yesterday. What other sites are available to the UIowa? There is the park next to the union, the aforementioned Gibson SQ (never knew it had a name), and……um….I thought maybe Harreld would throw some easels in the laser lab or the old Univ High and call it a museum.
5. The comment about 80 million being way too much for a 75,000 – sq foot building is interesting. Arent commercial buildings about $100 for a sq foot? I see college buildings cost more… http://evstudio.com/cost-per-square-foot-of-college-building-types-by-region/
Even museum costs are 1/2 of the proposed UIowa building. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/museum/policy/upload/DOI-Museum-Cost-Estimates-2013.pdf
If the building were to cost 85 million at 75,000 sq ft that is 1,100 per sq foot. At 107 million that is like 1400 per sq foot. Maybe I am off on the math but…..
If the new design is going to put parking on the ground floor, considering the potential flood plain, and the piers/pylons cannot be cheap.
This site quotes prices on museum construction. They came up with 400 per sq foot. http://discussions.mnhs.org/mnlocalhistory/blog/2010/07/28/museums-cost-how-much/
So a 75,000 sq foot art museum, should run around 30 million. I wonder if some Univ Iowa official made a very bad deal for this building??? I wonder if this wasnt the U backing out of a bad deal?
5. I wonder how much of this is a refutation of the Hieronymus family? I am not an insider to politics but could UIowa people like Lehnertz be in fights with the formers?
Artists and art students, if they’re at all serious about what they’re doing, would be very much interested in free trips to where the good stuff is. Parents of art students would be, too. Parents of other students don’t care. (We haven’t had a museum in nearly a decade; I haven’t heard complaints. About the loss of Hancher, yes, even though it’s meant some very good musical discoveries at Opstad and Riverside. Curiously, I don’t hear many people mourning Voxman, which had such a beautiful recital hall.) Donors, sure, you might have trouble there, but my guess is most of their affections could be transferred fairly readily.
You’re right about digital etc. art — the art world calls it “contemporary art” — but that doesn’t mean you can order up a few big-screen Macs and decide you’re in business. That’s the same mistake as believing any five-year-old can be an AbEx master. There are some very good contemporary art collections, but again, they aren’t here. It’d be another collections issue. If you’re in Boston sometime, have a look at the ICA to see what people are doing when they’re good. The Walker, in Minneapolis, often has strong contemporary exhibits, too.
There isn’t any good MFA program taking business out-of-box travelers. It’s not what MFA programs are for.
I really don’t know anything about the value of the African items.
As for the dispersed items: if they’re that terrific, I’m pretty sure they’d have been up on the wall at UIMA. We’ve got what I hear is an excellent printmaking program; I have prints made by a couple of its grads up on the wall next to me. I like ’em, but museum-quality they are not.
“It’s good because it’s ours” is not, I think, a healthy tendency. That is a crabbed tendency born of impoverishment. But we are not impoverished and there’s a pretty terrific museum a manageable, quiet bus ride away. And it’s yours as soon as you walk past the ticket-taker and respond to something on the wall: that’s the miracle of a good museum.
It won’t happen, but if it did, I bet those buses would be full.
I have no problem imagining that the P3 museum got out of control, and that the final vision/deal no longer reflected UI’s priorities. Having said that, we still don’t know what the final deal was — only that Harreld walked away. Were we buying the whole mixed-use building on layaway, or just the museum component? I can imagine UI not wanting to be a landlord to tenants or local businesses, but then the university did buy out the Athletic Club (now called the University Club).
Like I said in the post, Gibson Square is probably a little better locations, but that’s right now. Down the line I can also imagine UI buying out the Old Capitol Mall and razing it, making it the perfect location for an art museum, a new dorm, and may some third facility that creates a disciplinary cluster in the area that serves that dorm, as we west-side dorms serve the jocks and Robillard’s future medical warrior entrepreneurs.
We’ll never have visibility to why things were actually done, but we can say with certainty that the narrative that Harreld sold is false. There’s no visionary decision making here — no culture change — just putting the museum off for another two or three years, and locating it at a site that was first proposed over six years ago.
I’m an old alum who thoroughly enjoys the information, explanations, and arguments on this site.
Forgive if these observations have already been made…
–If the “private” part of the P3 involved IC businesses, then I can see why Hier Sq was selected. Much easier for visitors to walk across the street after appreciating the art than to walk up the hill.
–If the purpose of relocating the main entrance to the library to the Mad St side was to reorient that vast, ugly bldg toward the rest of the campus, won’t building on the Gibson site have the effect of pulling the library away?
–To the person who commented on the African masks and other things Africana in the collection: Wasn’t all that “acquired” by Roy J. Carver on his travels to Africa and then given to UIMA? If the Mural goes, then let’s be consistent and return those pieces to their rightful owners and designated trustees. It would be rather ethnocentric of the good people of Iowa to believe we’re better off if we ditch just white man’s art.
–I just cannot believe that such a semi-astute and partly-accomplished businessperson as JBH is not advocating for the sale of the Mural. Is this how he builds up his humanities street cred? There are easier ways. He could emulate former UI Prez Hunter Rawlings III and return to the classroom during his tenure as prez and teach ancient Greek. Okay, maybe not that, but I’ll bet the University Photographer can watch and wait for him to crack open a book, take a snap, then call a press conference.
–I was sure proud of the works of art I could enjoy as an undergrad just by walking down the hill from Currier and taking the footbridge (or swimming the river, as I stupidly did, once) across to the arts campus. My bubble was kind of burst, though, after reading a damning-by-faint-praise comment from a visitor who had obviously seen more of the world thanI had. He wrote just 3 words: “Very coherent collection.”
–Finally, if the UI is forced to ditch the Mural, it should do what it can to reclaim the Grant Wood murals that currently reside in Parks Library, ISU campus. Grant Wood was on the UI faculty as a professor of art AND the murals were painted in Iowa City!
Hey, nothing wrong with coherent collections. That was nice praise for the curator(s).
Again i admit I am an art idiot. So take this for what it isn’t worth.
My daughter has a degree in art. Her program claimed they had business ppl getting MFAs. IDK. She got about 1.00 an hour as an artist. One would have to hustle like crazy to make a living. But then again artists are stubborn and peculiar…..like not finishing things, or doing the opposite of suggestions. I suppose like the U of Iowa museum it takes decades to realize potential.
My wife scolded me that the uiowa museum does contain American art, very very little European….told you i am an idiot (i thought the dutch masters on display at the Natl Gallery in DC, were lazy cause they paint dumb hats, and bearded baby jesuses; everyone rolled on the floor laughing at me). She says the Pollock is stunning, breath taking when you first see it. (i called it a Pollard, which again caused everyone to convulse)
It may be JBH did a good thing in asking ppl to reconsider the site. I get the idea we have no idea about internal politics any more…it’s hardly open to the public.
It was interesting that when my friends were saving documents from the flood they were astonished at the hidden stuff (like PhD theses in the main library from great authors). Why isn’t all this on display?
Maybe there isn’t an issue here but seems the UIowa could copy Dubuque with their Mississippi River Museum. That museum appears to do a good job with limited resources. Maybe i dont know where to look but the UIowa has a good history in many areas, however it seems to be hidden.
Wouldn’t promoting uiowa graduate artists, writers, doctors, engineers, physicists, biologists, geologists, etc etc help in rankings, esteem, and interest? There are so many unknown fascinating stories around small town iowa, uiowa etc. The athletic hall of fame looks deserted (bad location, etc); would not exhibits on steve allen, black hawk, johnny carson, gw carver, cody, bud day, earp, estes, halston, harry hopkins, van allen, noyes, etc etc be more interesting? Could one plan bigger combining a multifunctional museum?
I think we probably tend to overlook the systemic shock that the flooding represented to the university’s system. Looking back, it was truly devastating, and the school is still recovering.
That Harreld was hired to narrow the school’s focus to only those pursuits which serve the school’s rankings or its potential as an economic engine is another systemic shock at the worst possible time, but I have to hope that the institutional knowledge at the school will survive him. Unless he really does just start cleaning house, including at the staff level, which gets very little discussion.
Branstad, Rastetter, and Harreld are the wrong people at the wrong time. Iowa is never going to attract residents or visitors by great scenic oceans, or mountains, or tropical weather every day. We are not going to have the amenities of the big metro areas.
What Iowa can have is an honest, no BS culture, where innovation and hard work can trump the natural disadvantages a flat highly fertile plain brings. Iowa needs to be the Athens, the jewel that people come to, to raise families etc. Where creativity is rewarded, and innovation is treasured.
Unfortunately the business-political culture mentioned above only sees exploitation, not innovation. Race to the bottom, austerity, starve the beast. Where has that gotten Kansas recently?
We can’t even have an open honest presidential search at one of the bastions of liberal public education. Good lord! Just sell the university to Walmart or AT&T and simply go cheap on everything.
Thanks for your note. Harreld is such a polarizing figure that it’s hard to remember the history and continuity over time that the school itself represents. It’s such an important time for the school to regain its stability, both post-flood and post-recession, and yet along comes the business genius determined to transform his way to rankings success.
So much history, and so much of it a part of both Iowa City and the state.
And yes — anyone reading this: do no swim in or across the Iowa River.
Has anyone referenced the book _Good to Great_, by Jim Collins in these discussions?
I don’t see JBH’s name anywhere on or in the book (and so far as I know, he hasn’t taken credit for any of the ideas or research found within), but this reader found some bits of text that might help illuminate the uncertain path ahead.
Collins comes up with an (acknowledged) appropriation of Isaiah Berlin’s hedgehog analogy. Here’s this gem on page 91: “…the hedgehogs aren’t simpletons; they have a piercing insight that allows them to see through complexity and discern underlying patterns. Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest.”
A stale, but palatable reading of Berlin. The launching point for the “good to great” (business) argument comes soon after. Walgreens share prices have, apparently, been outperforming the likes of Intel, GE, Coca-Cola, and Merck.
A bystander (with or without roots in academia) might be flabbergasted by this news. Whatever could be the reason for results so counter-intuitive? Could it be that Walgreens developed some amazing, new, supply-chain technology-on-sreroids? Did they fire their PharmD.’s and hire a bunch of high school kids to wear white coats and dispense pills so they could pay minimum wage?
No, and no. Here’s what: “In classic hedgehog style, Walgreens took this simple concept [the best, most convenient drugstores, with high profit per customer visit] and implemented it with fanatical consistency.” (Collins, p. 92)
High-level meetings at Oakdale notwithstanding, JBH had the “simple” part for UI figured out long before he was a twinkle in the eyes of Jere, Bruce, and Terry.
Same (simple) consultations, same (simple) dog-and-pony show.
So…next up…the fanaticism part!
Look for displays of awkward body language, pearls of fashionable & alliterative golden nuggets of wisdom, and a quiver full of self-referential nonsense.
But this is no joke. In a place where the discovery and knowledge of everything are the hallmarks of the communities and individuals who inhabit this place, someone has come along (in bad faith, as we now know) to insist that he be followed on a path that is narrow and dull, and leading nowhere.
A comment about river swimming : don’t do it.. Don’t ever attempt a swim across the Iowa river. Unless, of course, that’s the only way you get to see the Mural before it reaches the Sotheby’s auction block.
I know my use of pearl/ nugget may only serve to obfuscate my main point. However, it may also serve as an example of the kind of untethered, mixed-up business-speak that is now so common everywhere.
Don’t fall for it.
The Press-Citizen’s Jeff Charis-Carlson published a smart piece yesterday looking at the relationship between the Iowa Board of Regents’ fraudulent appointment (my words) of J. Bruce Harreld at the University of Iowa, and the regents’ upcoming search for a new president at the University of Northern Iowa. Chief among Charis-Carslon’s observations was the fact that the AAUP is still considering sanctions against the University of Iowa for the abuses of shared governance which occurred during the Harreld search:
In my own view the harshest possible AAUP sanctions are clearly warranted. Whatever the AAUP decides today, however, the fact remains that in order to appoint their own puppet at Iowa, a majority of the Iowa Board of Regents intentionally fixed the outcome of what was supposed to be an open and transparent search. If the AAUP votes not to call for sanctions today, UNI can give up any hope of having an honest search. If the AAUP does vote to recommend considering sanctions in mid-June, that threat may convince the board to remain idle on the UNI search until the extent of those sanctions is known.
Another interesting aspect of the Charis-Carlson piece, however, is the assertion that “the association’s policies allow for only the sanctioning of institutions, not regent systems.” The impression I was left with last year, after the AAUP conducted its investigation, was almost the opposite: that the AAUP could sanction the regents, but not the university. Yet as Charis-Carlson points out in his report, the AAUP’s current sanctions are all against individual schools.
While the AAUP may be unable to sanction the regents as a body, it seems clear that sanctions against the University of Iowa will taint the regents as well. Having said that, sanctions against the University of Iowa itself are not only warranted, they are crucial to highlighting the egregious betrayal committed by Jean Robillard in his role as both chair of the search committee and interim president. While the regents initiated and concluded the sham search process, they also placed Robillard in key positions of administrative control, meaning the betrayal of shared governance at Iowa was also an inside job.
That the traitorous Robillard was not only not terminated for his flagrant deceit, but allowed to consolidate power over the medical-educational pipeline at Iowa by making himself dean of the College of Medicine, is a clear indication that the University of Iowa has lost its way under the control of the Iowa Board or Regents. Anything that the AAUP can do to warn prospective faculty and staff, and even students, about the corruption at the highest levels of administration at Iowa, should be considered a civic duty, if not an ethical obligation.
Open or Closed
The most obvious question facing the Iowa Board of Regents is whether to have an open and transparent search process, or a fully closed search. Both Regents President Rastetter and Vice President for Medical Affairs Robillard have repeatedly laid the groundwork for closed searches going forward, in large part because of the naked way in which they were exposed as co-conspirators in Harreld’s hire.
One problem with imposing a closed search on UNI, however, is that after the abuses during the Harreld hire were exposed, it became obvious to everyone that the people involved simply cannot be trusted. Given that those people are the same people who will be directing the search at UNI, it seems obvious that a closed search will never be viewed as fair or legitimate by members of the UNI community. Interestingly, however, as Charis-Carlson points out, there is at least one voice in support of an open search that might not have been anticipated:
While Regent McKibben’s support of an open search at UNI is welcome, it must be remembered that McKibben was also one of the regents who met with Harreld in secret on July 30th, during meetings at Rastetter’s private place of business in Ames. McKibben has also shown no reluctance to belittle the University of Iowa community on multiple occasions, in support of Rastetter’s abuses, so his statements about UNI cannot be taken at face value.
Whether McKibben is sincere in his support of an open search at UNI, or simply giving the board cover before Rastetter imposes his will, remains to be seen. As Charis-Carlson notes, however, others including a state senator and faculty representatives are already signaling that anything less than an open and transparent process will be unacceptable.
A Solution in Search of a Problem
While Ruud’s resignation means the Board of Regents must hire a new president, as Charis-Carlson points out, nobody is quite sure why Ruud resigned. Ruud himself has taken the high road and insists that it was his decision to leave, but his explanation doesn’t really make sense. In fact, the most obvious answer seems to be that the regents refused to offer Ruud a contract extension, even though, by every apparent measure, he performed admirably during a difficult time.
The board’s contractual cold-shouldering of Ruud seems to be standard practice under Rastetter, as was the case with Sally Mason. In order to shove Mason out the door the board refused to sign her to a multi-year contract extension, instead employing her year-to-year. The board even declared that it would not offer five-year deals to any president as an excuse for leaving Mason hanging, then almost immediately betrayed that policy by offering Stephen Leath a five-year deal at Iowa State. And of course that was followed by the five year deal that J. Bruce Harreld was given at the same exact institution which Mason previously led.
The implications in all this are clear. If you are a suck-up and do what the board tells you to do — and particularly if you make it clear that you are taking the job of university president in order to be a tool of the board — then you will get paid. If you do not agree to be a puppet, and instead evidence any independence or concern for your school as a distinct community, you will be neglected until you get the hint that it’s time to leave.
That the regents now need to hire a new president at UNI is self-evident. Yet in looking at Ruud’s qualifications and performance over the past three years it’s hard to imagine the board finding someone more qualified and more proven, which suggests that neither of those criteria will have much if anything to do with determining the next hire at UNI. And of course that was clearly the case with Harreld’s hire at the University of Iowa. Instead of hiring any of three fully qualified candidates for that job, the regents hired a carpetbagging dilettante with no experience in academic administration and no experience in the public sector.
The Mechanics of the UNI Search
As led by political crony Bruce Rastetter, it is clear that the Iowa Board of Regents has no interest in conducting an open search. If Rastetter believes he has the political capital necessary to impose a closed search and appoint his man (of either gender), then that’s what he’s going to do regardless of the blowback. If Rastetter does not believe he has the juice to impose a new president on UNI, then the board will authorize an open search, but that doesn’t mean the search will be honest or fair.
Signs that the board intends to corrupt the UNI search, however, should be obvious. First, the board will place its own members on the search committee. Second, the board will limit faculty members to a minority of the committee. Third, the board will install a traitorous member of the UNI administration as search chair. (The most likely suspect will be the interim president appointed by the board.) Forth, the board will hire Parker Executive Search to provide administrative plausible deniability under mutually beneficial assurances of confidentiality.
The next question is whether Rastetter already has the person he wants to hire in mind, or whether he intends to use the search process to first identify, then appoint, the most pliable candidate. If the next UNI president has already been identified by Rastetter, and an open search is initiated, then the entire search process will be a fraud perpetrated at taxpayer expense simply to avoid taking the hit of a closed search. If Rastetter has not yet identified the candidate he intends to hire, the search process will initially be used to identify that person, at which point the rest of the process will serve as a front. (At this late date it is still not clear whether Harreld was selected by Rastetter prior to the commencement of the search at Iowa, but there is evidence in favor of both theories.)
The final consideration for Rastetter is just how important the presidency at UNI actually is to his plans. The fraudulent appointment of J. Bruce Harreld at the University of Iowa was important because Rastetter and his political minders had never been able to install their own puppet at the state’s flagship school. UNI, on the other hand, is the state’s smallest school by far, although it also predominantly serves Iowa students, to which Rastetter perpetually gives lip service.
Is controlling the office of president at UNI important enough for Rastetter to impose a closed search, or to risk rigging another open search? Because if the answer is no, it’s not clear why the board didn’t simply give Ruud a contract extension, and even a pay raise to keep him in place. Searches cost money, they destabilize the institution in question, and they distract from ongoing projects. Whatever else happens at UNI, over the next six months or so there are a lot of initiatives that will fall idle until a new president is appointed.
One possibility, however, is that Rastetter has no over-arching master plan. Instead, he may simply represent ego run amok, and have refused to extend Ruud’s contract because Ruud refused to bow down to Rastetter’s corrupt rule. If that’s the case I think we’ll know soon enough, because Rastetter will insist on a closed search, then appoint whomever he chooses whether that person is currently known to him or not.
Update: Shortly after posting, the Board of Regents released a statement about the upcoming search at UNI. From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller:
If you’re not familiar with Rastetter’s complicity in the fraudulent Harreld hire, you won’t know that the phrase “best possible candidate” is a dog-whistle term which Rastetter, Robillard and others have been using in anticipation of the next presidential search. The phrasing is specifically intended to validate the pursuit of closed searches, as you can see in Rastetter’s own words here.
In that video clip Rastetter also asserts that it has been “well-established” that closed searches produce better candidates. That is in fact not true. It has never been shown by anyone that closed searches produce better candidates, even as that is a claim perpetuated by executive search firms. Governing boards prefer private searches precisely because they do not have to show their work or demonstrate fairness.
For example, Margaret Spellings was recently hired as president of the University of North Carolina following a closed if not corrupt search. Whatever you think of Spellings and her fitness for that office, there is no evidence that any other candidates were seriously considered, meaning the governing board in that instance may have simply handed her the job for reasons of their own.
I expect Rastetter to pursue a closed search until forced to do otherwise. What I find particularly galling about that prospect, however, is that Rastetter — along with the traitor Robillard — has already signaled that he intends to use his own unacknowledged abuses of power and his trolling of the University of Iowa community subsequent to those abuses as justification for now conducting entirely closed searches. Because so few voices in the press or in government were willing to call Rastetter on the carpet for his abuses last year, it’s entirely possible that he will be able to convince people the he himself was not responsible for initiating and engineering the fraudulent search process which led to the appointment of J. Bruce Harreld.
Rudd announced he is leaving on about May 16th. Interesting.
College president jobs are not listed for 4 days in the classifieds or cars.com. (presidents.com?)
So prolly about Jan 15 Marietta started a search for a president. Their old president Joseph Bruno (aged 61) resigned after the college cute a bunch of academic positions.
MC decided to forgoe ‘interim president’ in leu of a search right now. So from Jan 15 to May 15 they conducted a search for the position. In four months they found a guy who is really qualified to lead them.
Marietta looks like is would be a Coe College sort of place So going from a school of 13,000 students, including graduate students and D1 athletics, Ruud is headed out to preside over a school where fame is in petro engineering, athletic training, and a PA program. It is D3 in sports.
This isn’t even a lateral move. This is an anger move. an FU Iowa move. And he made it after watching Rastetter and the BOR hire an unqualified business consultant at 3 times the salary and benefits of Ruud. Not having a contract this is a ‘get out of Dodge ASAP.
Ruud is 63, the old president is 61. Guess Marietta is going with a youth movement.
This is ridiculous beyond real. To let a fellow with a weak academic career – Rastetter attended Drake Law a little before dropping out -run state universities is criminal. And to let him crap on future teachers, writers, engineers, doctors, vets etc etc is criminal. I mean who would crap on the heads of those responsible for the future of the state in all spheres? Terry and Bruce would.
Everyone in Iowa will suffer. I think there is evidence that faculty retention is abysmal. Under Robillard, ‘World Class’ means paying less than other academic centers and running the place with clinical staff, not clinical researchers. What at the ratings of liberal arts? Gawd…
Of course people with as much respect for academics (and expertise) as Rastetter and Branstad would hire some consultant for Boston Chicken as UIowa president. Make sure the wings are spicy and give out coupons.
No disrespect meant, but how much you want to bet the next president of UNI will have served as an fingernail designer until settling into a career as a human resources manager at Chipotle.
On this past Tuesday, Chase Carson, a student at Iowa, put up a post on Bleeding Heartland titled The Reality of Sexual Assault Within The University of Iowa. It’s a good post and deserves your time, and I agree with Chase’s conclusion:
There are a lot of complexities to the issue of campus crimes and on-campus adjudication, and as the unfolding abuses at Baylor show, students can just as easily (if not more easily) be exposed and injured by school administrators as supported and protected. Still, there is no question that the University of Iowa is doing a much better job than it used to — in part, as Chase notes, because of its own institutional history of botched and self-serving investigations — and a much better job than most campuses around the country. As the Baylor revelations make clear, even in 2016 there are still schools where victims are treated like traitors and perpetrators are reflexively excused. (Some of the football players charged with actual crimes at Baylor were originally cut by other programs for similar abuses.)
As regular readers know, the failure of the Iowa Board of Regents to hire a president experienced with the twin cultural issues of alcohol abuse and sexual assault was the original basis for my belief that J. Bruce Harreld was unfit for the position he now holds. That does not mean the school has not made important gains, particularly in the final years of Sally Mason’s tenure as president. It does mean, however, that at the exact historical moment when those hard-won gains should be capitalized on, the Iowa Board of Regents decided to hire a cultural imbecile to run the school.
As Chase noted, immediately after his appointment, J. Bruce Harreld set about demonstrating his incapacity for leadership on the issue:
As Chase also noted, Mason herself made mistakes, and that included her administration’s failed response to the rape case that involved two players from Kirk Ferentz’s football team. Following Steve Alford’s debacle with Pierre Pierce, Alford eventually left. While Ferentz took a hit for the case against his players, subsequent to that botched attempt at administrative justice Feretnz seems to have run a taught ship, despite the misogynistic leanings of his athletic director.
As for Mason, her second gaffe — noted also by Chase — seems to have led to the decision to develop the recently finalized six-point plan to combat campus sexual assault. Now here is Harreld’s own leadership history with regard to that plan and campus sexual asault, along with other pertinent events from the past eight months:
* At his candidate forum Harreld ridicules Mason’s six-point plan, then proposes his own N-O plan to combat campus sexual assault.
* Three days later, on the day after being appointed, Harreld deputizes the football team to “do something” if the players “see something”.
* A week after taking office in early November, Harreld doubles-down on his recruitment of the football team, saying they were “eyes on” during his pep talk. (Another explanation for their rapt attention was incredulity at the loon who had been hired to run the school.)
* The director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, who was in office only 18 months, leaves office in mid-January after announcing her resignation in December. (I can find no follow-up stories on the search for a replacement.)
* Between the time of the RVAP director’s announcement and departure, J. Bruce Harreld gives the athletic director a massive contract extension and pay raise, despite the fact that the athletic department is facing gender discrimination lawsuits and federal Title IX investigations.
* When Mason’s six point plan is finally completed, reflecting hard work by multiple individuals throughout the school and community, Harreld and his administration bury the accomplishment until it is highlighted in reporting by the school’s newspaper, the Daily Iowan.
* When questioned about the six-point plan in a subsequent interview, Harreld takes credit for the plan’s completion, after having derided the plan six months earlier.
* Also in that subsequent interview, both J. Bruce Harreld and Provost P. Barry Butler trivialize an ongoing, on-site federal investigation into allegations of systemic gender discrimination, characterizing it as an opportunity to get useful feedback about the school from a third party. (Had Baylor not been subject to Title IX, and only recently attempted to come into compliance, few if any of the abuses at that private school would ever have seen the light of day, let alone led to administrative changes.)
* Having promised to hold a second town hall before the end of the spring term, and having previously indicated that the subject matter would include diversity and sexual assault, Harreld renegs on his commitment.
While the departure of the RVAP director does not seem to have been triggered by Harreld’s hire, each of the above items shows that Iowa is currently headed in the wrong direction in terms of leadership on the issue of sexual assault. There is a vacuum at RVAP, and Harreld himself is a vacuum because he brought with him no prior experience with sexual assault, alcohol abuse or any other aspect of campus culture. (No one with any experience dealing with sexual assault at an institution of higher learning would have made the b-movie speech that Harreld made to the football team.)
Here is just one beneficial aspect of Mason’s six point plan, which Harreld derided before taking credit for it himself:
That’s the goal — zero tolerance. Unfortunately, as J. Bruce Harreld has ably demonstrated, rah-rah rhetoric is not enough. No school will ever eradicate sexual assault because there will always be a new crop of perpetrators and predators to deal with each year, which is why informed and experienced leadership is critical. Instead of following through on that responsibility, however, the Iowa Board of Regents hired J. Bruce Harreld, and his record to date only proves the folly of that decision.
Speaking of which, it’s important to remember that not only was Harreld an egregiously bad hire, but key conspirators on the search committee had to resort to a sham search because it was not possible to appoint him on the merits of his candidacy. That’s how badly the regents’ leadership wanted him, and how little they cared about the students. Hopefully Iowa’s institutional ability to combat campus sexual assault will weather these leadership voids and failings, but preventing slippage at the hands of an incompetent president is not what everyone should be hoping for right now.
“Cultural imbecile ” that was fantastic….I am still chuckling.
Doesn’t matter though, the CI still get around a million a year compensation considering benefits.
New book: “How a Cultural Imbecile, went from luxurious retiree to Bull**** University President without trying”
I knew a leader who, if he didn’t like a person’s work, would promote that person to other jobs thus getting rid of the problem without actually firing him.
The TSA is having major problems that only a brilliant person with incredible skills (say worked at IBM). J Bruce Harreld would be perfect for that agency. He can promote periodic punctuated change (whatever he does), thus helping millions and millions stranded airport passengers. The U of Iowa would reluctantly give hin up for a greater good.
It was reported today that University of Northern Iowa Provost Jim Wohlpart will be the interim president at UNI until a new president is appointed by the board. Interestingly, it turns out that Wohlpart was only hired into the job last spring, from a position at Florida Gulf Coast University. Wohlpart’s hiring was announced in early March, his appointment was approved by the regents in early March, and he officially took office on 05/31/15, exactly one year ago today.
Assuming that a search was not conducted to hire Wohlpart, in one year he’s gone from being appointed provost to being appointed interim president. While it’s entirely possible that former President Ruud’s recent resignation was not a foregone conclusion, it’s also likely that by spring of last year the leadership at the Iowa Board of Regents had some inkling that they were not going to give Ruud a contract extension. At that same time, the regents were also getting their sham search at the University of Iowa underway, which means, in retrospect, that two of the three presidents at the state’s universities have effectively been replaced by the board in the past calendar year.
I don’t know if Wohlpart will be a candidate for the presidency at UNI, but it’s worth remembering that one of the things interim president Jean Robillard accomplished during his stint at Iowa was to conspire with the regents to hire J. Bruce Harreld, thus betraying shared governance with the faculty and the trust of the greater university community. As just noted, Wohlpart has no history with UNI other than having worked there for a year.
It was also reported today that tuition will be going up at all of the state’s schools, pending approval by the regents. While the amounts will vary, the total hit per school year for UI resident undergrads will be $500 (including a $200 increase approved earlier), and at ISU the resident undergrads will pay an additional $300.
Other than the actual burden of the increased costs, the most interesting aspect of the increases is the degree to which in-state kids are taking the biggest hit at ISU:
Each ISU resident undergrad will be out an extra $300, while everybody else will pay $100 at most. That’s particularly interesting given that there has been no more sanctimonious duo on the question of in-state students than Regents President Bruce Rastetter and his uber-bro in Ames, ISU President Steven Leath. Between the two of them, they can’t stop crapping on the University of Iowa directly and indirectly, while constantly touting the large number of in-state students at ISU.
In truth, ISU is being run more like an in-state undergraduate confinement operation than anything else, and the cost of all that gloating is suddenly catching up to Leath:
I don’t know how I’d feel if I was a student at UI, but if I was an in-state student at ISU, and I’d just been told I was taking a 3x tuition hit compared to anyone else because I was from Iowa, someone would be hearing about that. Which may be why the brave souls at the Iowa Board of Regents pushed the tuition hikes out after the end of the spring term, when no one was around.
So there you go, Iowa families with students at Iowa State University. Bruce Rastetter and Steve Leath love you. Big hug!
Wow, lots of accounting gyrations, huh.
It still remains in-state tuition at the 3 state schools is a relative bargain. Iowa’s costs are usually Big Ten bottom in-state, with a bit more gouging of out-of-state students. Considering private school costs, not bad.
Harreld’s remark about ‘world class’ are inane, because Iowa is big ten class, not world class. Indicates he simply repeated marketing.
Leath’s remarks are interesting in that he seems to think he is responsible for the rapid growth of ISU. Appears to me that growth correlates with growth in the Des Moines metro.
Still bothers me these schools beg off private donations when money goes to bloated salaries of arrogant fools like Harreld. Or money goes to no-compete contracts for GOP operatives. I would not donate to a school who pays a unqualified BSer, about 1,000,000 a year to be a sitting president, following a fraudulent search.
Leath is a real jackass to his colleagues. Saying he should get more state funding because his undergraduates total more Iowans (30,000 x 61 percent; Iowa is 23,500 x 55%; UNI must be ~ 13,000 x 95%)
So he wants to be rewarded for less diversity, less achievement ( ISU SAT = 1145; Iowa = 1232), and fewer grad students.
Although educating Iowans is fine, maybe he should consider diversity, graduate education, supplying professionals, exposing Iowa to out-of state people and foreign students, and awards, grants, publications.
Funding should not be based on the accident of location near Iowa’s largest metro area.
UNIfy for Education says
There was a search for Provost when Wohlpert was selected. It was a somewhat “open” search, with the final candidates visiting campus and holding forums. It just wasn’t a particularly “public” search in that information on the candidates, their visits to campus, and their forums were not made readily available outside of the university. Updates on the search were made through university communications and only those with university logins could access the search webpage.
Not a “closed” search, but certainly not a truly “open” search and definitely not transparent.
Awesome — thanks for that!
I also ran across a tweet from JCC which confirms that Wohlpart is NOT precluded from running for president simply because he’s acting in an interim capacity. (And I have no problem with that.)
It will of course be very interesting to see who the regents pack on the search committee. In 2012 there were three regents among the 19 members, including Katie Mulholland:
(That page will probably be overwritten by the upcoming search.)