A new threaded post on this topic can be found here. For previous posts about the Harreld hire, click the tag below.
08/16/20 — Having your suburban homestead blasted by a derecho has a certain clarifying effect on the mind. No electrical power for 70 hours, no internet for 85 hours, yet I know I am one of the lucky ones. In Iowa City/Johnson County I had no damage to structures or trees, and only lost a little food after securing most of the frozen goods offsite. Meanwhile, Cedar-Rapids/Linn County just to the north was obliterated, and going on six days now tens of thousands are still without power and a thousand homes have been deemed unsafe for human habitation until repairs are made. (Which will now bring out the con artists by the score, fleecing people when they are in most in need, and when law enforcement is otherwise occupied.)
The most interesting mental aspect of the power outage was that even though I was witness to the storm, I had no information about the storm. It also became clear as days passed, and as I picked up a little news here and there, that most of the country was oblivious to what happened. A landed hurricane launched a sneak attack on the Midwest, yet both coasts and the Sun Belt cared not a whit. Yes, the pandemic accounted for some of that, but I also lay blame squarely on Iowa’s demon governor and the leadership in Linn County, which failed utterly to provide for its dazed citizenry and to communicate to the outside world the severity of the damage. (As I have said many times, if this had happened on the East Coast, and particularly around New York City, it would have received wall-to-wall coverage for days.)
Having said all that, for three days I didn’t think about the idiot president of the United States or the idiots at the Iowa Board of Regents. I did think about the illegitimate idiot in the president’s office at the University of Iowa, and about the idiot in the athletic director’s office at UI, because I heard that the Big Ten finally cancelled its football season. But even then the only substantive thought I had was that it’s a real problem that we keep electing and appointing idiots to important leadership positions.
* The decision to cancel Big Ten fall sports was correct. Anyone who voted otherwise was not only incorrect on the medical merits but has a cavalier disregard for the health and welfare of other human beings — which of course brings us to J. Bruce Harreld, the previously mentioned illegitimate president of the University of Iowa. There is nothing that needs be said except that Harreld, for reasons of both toadyism and opportunistic self-aggrandizement, was one of two B1G presidents (the other at Nebraska) who voted to play football in a global pandemic. Having previously linked to Harreld’s servile support of the UI football team this was not a surprising vote on his part, but it does permanently cement his legacy as an emotionally needy and soulless cog in a corrupt machine.
It is also not surprising that AD Gary Barta and Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz are massively bummed, because the loss of revenue will be crushing to the UI sports programs overall. Fortunately, in years past someone had the foresight to segregate UI’s athletic department from academics, so the jocks won’t be able to fund themselves by having the Iowa Board of Regents raise tuition on the student body. I don’t honestly know how the economics will play out, but again, the correct choice was made, and the fact that it is not the choice Barta or Ferentz would have made tells you everything you need to know about them as well.
Despite all of the whining and wailing at UI, however, there was some good news, which is that the overwhelming majority of conference presidents in the Big Ten valued reason and science over their own toxic ego needs and co-dependent administrative alliances. From the Daily Iowan’s Isaac Goffin: Big Ten postpones fall 2020 sports.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in a release. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Back in April, when the B1G announced the formation of the Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, I was concerned that it would be used to give the appearance of scientific validity to a greed-driven decision to play sports during the pandemic. And that was particularly worrisome because Dr. Edith Parker, the dean of the UI College of Public Health (COPH), was Iowa’s member on that committee, at the same time that Iowa’s demon governor was trying to co-opt that college in a similar way. (There are a lot of smart and conscientious people at the COPH, which is precisely why political bad actors rushed in to control and exploit their science-based messaging.)
It may very well be that the real decision makers were the Big Ten lawyers, at both the conference level and the individual schools, who explained that playing fall sports would be fraught with legal peril. In that context the medical experts on the task force may still have been used to gloss over what was, at root, a business decision — but if that’s the case I’m fine with that. Despite the moral cowardice of Harreld, Barta and Ferentz, the Big Ten got the answer right, and will not be exposing players, staff and fans to COVID-19 in exchange for television and gate revenue.
* As a footnote to the Big Ten’s decision, note that parents who have no problem with a liar and a cheat in the president’s office at UI, or a serial discriminator in the AD’s office at UI, or even the recent disclosure that Kirk Ferentz ran a racist program for well over a decade, are suddenly up in arms about the fact that the Big Ten elected not to allow their children to function as a distribution pipeline for a potentially lethal virus. From Robert Read at the Daily Iowan: Iowa football parents asking for transparency from Big Ten. The only transparency these people need is a mirror.
* When we last checked in on the academic side of the UI campus there was a great deal of pushback, on multiple fronts, regarding plans for in-person classes when the fall term officially begins on August 24th. Because of Harreld’s insane decision not to test returning resident students, it was clear even before the Big Ten’s decision on fall sports last Tuesday that the university would have to say more about why it was adopting an obviously reckless course of action, after promising for months that it was holding endless deliberative meetings about how to keep the campus safe. In that context, by Monday the administrators at UI seem to have realized which way the wind was blowing on athletics, so they rushed out a press conference on Monday morning to defend decisions which would only seem all the more incomprehensible a scant twenty-four hours later, when sports were ruled out.
Even though I pay close attention to the University of Iowa, I am not a reporter or a citizen journalist, so I don’t receive press releases or other official notifications in my inbox. For that reason, this past Monday morning I did not know that UI administrators were holding a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to discuss and answer questions about plans for the fall term. Even around noon, when the derecho blew through and power was knocked out I did not know that such a meeting had taken place, and only learned about it four days later when power was restored.
Fortunately, later that same Monday the university posted a video of the thirty-minute press conference, which you can view on the UI COVID-19 website or on YouTube. As to who appeared at the press conference, the more interesting question is who didn’t appear, and here we have both an obvious absence and one that is curious given recent history at UI. The obvious missing attendee, of course, was the illegitimate president of the University of Iowa, who — even though he is determined to bring students and teachers together for face-to-face instruction in nine days — has still not been reported on the UI campus since last March. (That doesn’t mean Harreld has not slipped in and out, but all indications are that he spent the vast majority of the past six months at one of his multi-million-dollar homes, instead of living in the multi-million-dollar Presidential Residence that the university provides.)
Also missing from the press conference, and more broadly from most of the messaging and communications about the COVID-19 pandemic over the past half year, was UI Vice President for Medical Affairs J. Brooks Jackson, who has generally made himself as scarce as possible despite the obvious applicability of his title to a global pandemic. In fact, compared to Jackson’s predecessor — the infamous Jean Robillard, who conducted himself like a medical Mussolini through much of his tenure at UI, and was a critical cog in the corrupt 2015 presidential search that installed J. Bruce Harreld in office — Jackson has been all but invisible at a time when one would imagine that the critical administrative link between UIHC and the UI College of Medicine would take on a more public-facing role, if only to instill confidence in the UI community.
Instead, while those two titans of leadership were off working on their tans, four administrators appeared before the assembled media, only two of whim I recognized without a program. First, there was central-administration front man and Harreld loyalist Rod Lehnertz, who has an official UI title that I can’t ever remember because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with his routine appearance as UI’s bureaucratic disk jockey. (In the entire history of higher-ed, no man ever got more mileage out of a voice.) Also in attendance was newly-minuted interim provost-for-life and Harreld loyalist Kevin Kregel, who, from time to time, looked like it might finally be dawning on him why Harreld was happy to throw a massive amount of cash at him in exchange for taking the heat for Harreld’s scams and brain cramps.
One of the people I didn’t recognize was identified by Lehnertz during the press, and that was Dr. Dan Fick, who was wearing a white doctor smock so you could tell he was a real doctor and an expert just by looking at him. I don’t know where large bureaucracies find people like Dan Fick — who I never heard of before watching that video, but is apparently the UI Campus Health Officer — but for the duration of this post you can think of him as J. Bruce Harreld’s version of Dr. Birx. (Someone willing to come forward and say whatever they’re told to say, even if it makes no logical sense.)
The fourth attendee was never identified during the thirty-minute video, but from reporting the next day by the Daily Iowan’s Natalie Dunlap — which I would not see for another two days because of the power outages — I now know her to be UI VP for Student Life Sarah Hansen, who was promoted from within by Harreld after her predecessor left the university unexpectedly. So there you go. A powerhouse quartet of Harreld appointees, all professionally obligated to protect Bro Bruce because of their state-funded paychecks. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be hilariously pathetic.
As to the substance of the press conference, there was very little. Lehnertz continued his practice of reading what sound like texts that have been heavily vetted by the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Strategic Communications, and otherwise repeating information from those texts when asked a direct question. As the panel’s white-smock man, Fick had the unenviable task of defending Harreld’s decision not to test returning resident students, and did so poorly. That included unintentionally supporting a theory I floated recently, which is that Harreld’s decision not to test was simply financial, and intended to save money while shifting risks and costs either to the UIHC budget or to Iowa City/Johnson County.
Campus Health Officer Fick said the cost [of a PCR test] is about $100 per test.
“Even tests that are very good, when the incidence of the disease is very small, you run the risk of having a large number of false positives,” Fick said.
“And then there are consequences to that.”
Having already detailed why this kind of thinking is beneath the dignity of anyone who can read (see the 08/05/20 entry below), here I will simply point out that Iowa State found the money and is processing their tests in roughly twenty-four hours, as opposed to the extended turn-around time that Fick referenced to support his deeply disturbing argument that testing would not only be pointless, but injurious. Again, on the same day that UI announced that it would not be testing returning resident students, here is was Dr. Anthony Fauci — the world’s foremost infections disease expert, and a white-smock wearer himself — had to say about the subject:
On college campuses, Fauci said testing will be the key to reopening. Plans should include testing people before they arrive on campus, when they arrive and quarantining them for 14 days.
Objectively, Fick and his tortured rationales were wrong and Iowa State and Fauci are correct, and that in turn raises the question of why the University of Iowa does not want to know which returning resident students may already be spreading COVID-19 on the UI campus. (Hold that thought.)
Fortunately, during the press conference someone pressed Fick on that very point, and his answer was revealing:
When asked what makes UI different from Iowa State University — which is testing all its residence hall students and found 66 positive cases in its first week of move-in, allowing the campus to isolate, contact trace, and quarantine those affected — UI administrators said no two schools are the same.
“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong,” Fick said. “There’s no two institutions that are using the same exact strategies.”
As just explained there is a right or wrong, and using all available resources to determine who is carrying COVID-19 — so they can be quarantined, and contact tracing can take place — is unarguably the right course of action. (Listening to someone in a white smock say otherwise is the epitome of the institutional corruption and administrative collapse that J. Bruce Harreld has brought to the University of Iowa.) That Dr. Dan Fick intentionally framed UI’s response in the most feeble terms, instead of noting that there are plenty of healthcare workers at UIHC who could administer the tests, is to his discredit. The larger point that should not be missed, however, is that even Fick could not say UI was doing it the “right” way, even after Harreld and others in central administration blathered endlessly about how they have thought everything through to the last detail.
So what exactly is about to happen on the University of Iowa campus? Well, when you go to a restaurant one way you can infer what is happening in the kitchen is to look at your fork to see if it’s clean. By the same token, if you want to know if UI can pull off its pandemic plan — flawed as it is — one way to do that would be to look at this particular thirty-minute press conference in all of its ass-covering and disingenuous glory. Unfortunately, instead of practiced efficiency we find veteran administrators who failed to introduce themselves when they first spoke, and failed to make sure questions were either audibly recorded or restated by the person answering each question. Like failing to clean a utensil in a restaurant, UI bungled basic press-conference competencies, and that in turn suggests that the university’s COVID-19 response will be a veritable symphony of incompetence.
If I had to pick one highlight from the lowlights it would be Dr. Fick’s response to an inaudible question, which subsequent reporting revealed to be about the specific conditions that will compel a return online-only learning. In responding, Fick said the university is still developing those metrics, but will make them available to the public when they have been finalized. That initially struck me as funny because the state is already obscuring and corrupting its own decision-making metrics in order to compel compliance with its policies, but on second thought it also struck me as revealing. (Also funny was Lehnertz insisting that J. Bruce Harreld is totally engaged even though he’s never around.)
It may be that J. Bruce Harreld does not want to test returning resident students because he’s cheap, but relative to the millions Harreld has pissed away as a matter of administrative routine — let alone to the university’s $4B annual operating budget — it would cost less than $1M to test all returning campus residents. To a sane person it seems irresponsible not to test because it is irresponsible not to test, but we don’t have any conclusive evidence that J. Bruce Harreld thinks like a sane person. In fact, given his recent rants about the COVID-19 virus being different in different states and in different parts of Iowa, we have evidence to the contrary.
What we can say about not testing returning resident students is that failing to do so will delay our understanding of the amount of infection on the UI campus. We could know if resident students, or even off-campus students, are infected, but not testing delays that awareness until we learn about any infections indirectly, as a result of outbreaks with or without hospitalizations and death. In the idea of delay, however — which, again, seems antithetical to the goal of fighting the pandemic — we find synergy with the fact that the metrics for going online are also not complete.
The obvious question is whether there might be some advantage to Harreld in delaying testing, and delaying the publication of those critical metrics. He clearly wants the students back on campus, yet just as clearly he doesn’t want to know if they’re sick, and he’s not letting on how the determination will be made that students have to return to online-only learning. As to why Harreld wants the students to return that’s obvious — he wants as much revenue as he can generate from tuition and fees, and opening the campus helps shore up enrollment. As to why Harreld might want to delay testing, or other aspects of an effective and ethical response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including shifting back to online-only learning, our first thought should likewise be about how that might impact revenue from tuition and fees. And that brings us to these important dates from the UI Academic Calendar:
Aug 24, 2020 to Aug 30, 2020
Withdrawal of entire registration — student held to 10% of tuition and mandatory fees
Aug 31, 2020 to Sep 6, 2020
Withdrawal of entire registration — student held to 25% of tuition and mandatory fees
Sep 7, 2020 to Sep 13, 2020
Withdrawal of entire registration — student held to 50% of tuition and mandatory fees
Sep 14, 2020 to Sep 20, 2020
Withdrawal of entire registration — student held to 75% of tuition and mandatory fees
Sep 21, 2020
Withdrawal of entire registration — student held to 100% of tuition and mandatory fees
If we assume that enrollment, and thus revenue, will fall off if UI administrator announced that classes will be online-only — whether they make that announcement now or in the coming four weeks or so — then it would make financial sense for them to insist that in-person classes are safe until September 21st. On that specific date every UI student will be locked into paying full tuition and fees no matter how courses are delivered, where students live, or whether students decide to bail on the semester. Meaning all Harreld and his executive team have to do is keep the roof from caving in for a little less than a month — from August 24th to September 21st — and after that, who cares? Even if students quit or die, they owe full freight.
And of course one way to make sure they can stretch in-person classes over those critical four weeks is to know as little as possible about the number of infections on campus, which J. Bruce Harreld has guaranteed by making sure testing will only be done on a symptomatic or contact basis. Add in the fact that UI Campus Health Officer Dan Fick is talking about using the slowest-possible methods for such testing, instead of the rapid testing at Iowa State, or at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and that one or two week delay helps make the critical stretch into mid-September.
* During the UI presser there was a protest by members of the UI community regarding the safety of opening the campus, and some of that reporting was folded into reports mentioned above from the Gazette’s Miller and the DI’s Dunlap. To that we can add reporting about the press conference and protests from Zachary Oren Smith at the Press Citizen, which also ties in with an interesting fact-check that Smith did about Harreld’s email exchange with a concerned student earlier in the week.
* Friday was the start of move-in at the University of Iowa. Not surprisingly, the university’s propaganda organ — the Iowa Now website — omitted any mention of the fact that UI will not be testing returning resident students to determine if they are infected with COVID-19. Having detailed in this very post why that should be a crime, we won’t belabor the obviousness of J. Bruce Harreld’s malice, but will instead update the testing that has so far taken place at Iowa State.
From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, this past Friday: Iowa State finds another 75 students with COVID-19 upon move-in.
Iowa State, which is expecting more than 9,000 on-campus residents this fall, began its expanded move-in process July 31 and will continue through Sunday.
Of the total 6,509 students tested through Thursday, 141 were positive and 6,368 were negative — maintaining an overall positivity rate of 2.2 percent.
Based on the current positivity rate, we can expect Iowa State to identify about 198 COVID-19-positive students before those students are able to spend an extended period of time on the ISU campus. Extrapolated to the overall enrolled population of about 35,000 students, that means there will be another 572 or so off-campus students in the Ames community who are also positive, but who escape detection.
Assuming the same 2.2% positivity rate for the 32K students at the University of Iowa, that means approximately 704 COVID-19-infected students will return to the UI campus and greater Iowa City/Johnson County community. Of those, UI will be completely blind to roughly 176 COVID-19-positive students who live on campus, and who will begin triggering outbreaks in the dorms and commons before classes even begin. (This is what lawyers will later describe as willful negligence on the part of the University of Iowa, and they will be right.)
* If you’re curious how all of this in-person-but-socially-distanced campus interaction is going to work, consider this otherwise mundane note from an update on the UI COVID-19 website this past Wednesday:
ITS Help Desk to open for in-person appointments
The ITS Help Desk at University Capitol Centre (UCC) will open to limited walk-in service starting Thursday, Aug. 20. Appointments are required—contact the Help Desk to schedule.
Please wear a face covering when visiting the Help Desk at 2800 UCC.
Would you want to work that help desk? Do you think Bro Bruce Harreld would work that help desk? (Spoiler: Harreld prefers leading from behind.)
08/14/20 — There was a lot of news in the previous update, and there has obviously been a lot of news in the intervening days. We will catch up to recent events shortly, but I want to highlight two stories that I held out of the previous update precisely so they wouldn’t get lost.
* From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller on 08/07/20: University of Iowa spent hundreds of thousands on searches for recently departed leaders.
This may seem like an obscure story, but it’s also a reminder why beat reporters are so important. I follow the news about UI as close or closer than most of the people in th UI community, but I missed this connection. And yes, in an organization with an annual budget over $4B, maybe the amounts involved here are relatively small, but they’re not small in absolute dollars — and particularly not when the illegitimate president of the school, J. Bruce Harreld, is perpetually whining about funding cuts and a lack of state support. (Harreld pisses away more money than I can keep track of, and this is yet another example of ever-growing cost of his incompetence.)
* From Zachary Oren Smith at the Iowa City Press-Citizen, also on 08/07/20: Family files lawsuit against University of Iowa after 18-year-old found unresponsive during January 2019’s polar vortex. Along with its $4B budget, the University of Iowa is a massive physical operation. Most of the time, when there’s a problem or a glitch, the worst that happens is a little inconvenience. In this instance, however, the university’s incapacity to respond to a meteorological threat may have cost someone their life.
According to the lawsuit, the university locked exterior doors to the building where Belz lived, preventing anyone from entering the building’s vestibules without their student ID, and failing to alert residents of the change or post personnel at the entrances who might have rendered aid.
Keep this case in mind when you’re listening to the university brass — and in particular illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld — talk about how they can keep people safe from COVID-19. If you can’t keep a kid from freezing to death, what confidence should anyone have that you can respond to a legal global pandemic? (More here from the Gazette’s Miller: Lawsuit sheds light on moments before University of Iowa student froze to death.)
08/10/20 — The big rumor yesterday evening was that the Big Ten was ready to pull the plug on either A) the college football season or B) all fall sports. Inevitably, that rumor set off a wave of speculation, recriminations and panic, to say nothing of prompting the kind of embarrassing hot takes that you can only find in the sports world. (Over 160K Americans dead from COVID-19, and now the sporting press is upset.)
I don’t have a fix on whether the Big Ten is trying to ease its way into that decision, or using the threat of no football to compel concessions of some kind, but we will find out soon enough. What I am certain of is that if J. Bruce Harreld heard anyone at UI talking about calling off fall football, he would slap that person across the face and call them a coward. At which point Dwight Eisenhower would make Harreld issue an apology to the entire UI community from the steps of the Old Capital.
* A few days ago I ranted about how Iowa State was doing a staged move-in over two weeks, and would be conducting compulsory COVID-19 testing of resident students at that time. I also noted that the University of Iowa would not be testing any students, including those living in the UI dorms, and on that basis I assumed UI would simply plow ahead with it’s normal mass-move-in the weekend before the first day of classes. In retrospect, the reason I made that assumption was because it seemed inconceivable that UI would also use a pandemic-driven, staged move-in process, yet elect not to take advantage of that opportunity to test resident students.
Because the University of Iowa is being run by a maniac, however, it turns out that assumption was wrong. From the UI COVID-19 website, this past Friday:
Fall 2020 Move-in Begins Aug. 14
University Housing and Dining is committed to providing an organized move-in experience for students and families that limit the potential for exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
To aid in social distancing, buildings will have only eight to 20 students move-in per hour based on pre-selected time slots. The move-in schedule — which begins Aug. 14 with a drop-and-go move-in option — is intended to allow for appropriate social distancing, which is critical to limit the spread of COVID-19.
If you click the relevant links it turns out the various UI move-in dates and times span ten days, starting August 14th and ending August 23rd, which is the day before classes begin. While the university is clearly focused on a social-distancing protocol for mitigation, and social distancing is critical, the fact that no testing will be done despite ample healthcare staff, protective equipment, test kits and laboratory capacity — or even offered on an elective basis to students who would like to know their own status — borders on the criminal. Speaking of which….
* From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Iowa State finds 66 students with COVID-19 upon move-in.
Of the more than 3,000 students Iowa State University has tested for COVID-19 in its first week of residence hall move-in, 66 have tested positive — half of whom are isolating in reserved space on campus and half of whom opted to return home to complete their period of isolation.
Iowa State is making all of the 9,000-some students planning to live in its residence halls or campus apartments get a COVID-19 test before moving in — with results processed in the campus-based Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and coming back within 24 hours.
This week’s 66 positive cases represent 2.2 percent of the 3,037 students tested at Lied Recreation Center before getting their room keys and moving into either a residence hall or campus apartment.
If 2% of all ISU resident students eventually test positive, that’s 180 out of 9,000 students. While identifying those individual cases is important, in terms of campuswide outbreaks those 180 students will not be spreading the COVID-19 virus throughout the ISU community over the next week or two.
If we do the same math for the University of Iowa — which has about 8,000 resident students — that means 160 COVID-19 carriers will move onto the UI campus between the 14th and 23rd. But because the maniac in the president’s office refuses to test any of the UI students, those 160 carriers will be spreading the virus at UI from day one. Meaning we should expect more and earlier outbreaks on the UI campus, even though ISU has about 4K more students overall than UI.
* As to what will happen off-campus in the surrounding Iowa City community, which is where roughly 75% of UI students live, we have this from Hillary Ojeda at the Iowa City Press-Citizen: Johnson County Public Health Department to nearly double contact tracing team.
The Johnson County Public Health Department is working to nearly double its temporary team of contact-tracers to help track and prevent coronavirus spread as schools — including the University of Iowa — prepare to reopen this month.
Department officials are currently hiring their third full-time disease prevention specialist and hope to add about 23 more temporary contact tracers to its current team of 27.
Why has Johnson County suddenly decided to spend a lot more money to hire additional contract tracers? Well, apparently that’s because the University of Iowa will soon be hosting 32K college students for regular, in-person classes, for the first time since the pandemic began back in March.
In a July 21 letter signed by the department’s director, Dave Koch, Koch wrote that department officials “strongly believe” the county will experience a surge in COVID-19 cases as University of Iowa students return to school this month.
The letter was sent with the Iowa City Community School District’s request to the state seeking a waiver to begin the school year online-only.
The letter says a surge in cases in the county in July was “started in and propagated by the young adult (18-24) population” and that their investigations into the new cases have led them to believe the county will experience “another, larger surge” as even more students return to the area.
As if it isn’t enough that illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Hatred refuses to test returning Iowa students, per an earlier update he is also shifting the risks and costs of UI outbreaks onto other state, local and even UI budgets. If there is a widespread outbreak — either on campus or in the surrounding community — the conniving Harreld is counting on University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and its hostage administrators and staff to bail him out, thus putting the financial and literal health of that organization at risk. Likewise, Iowa City and Johnson County will have to spend millions responding to outbreaks that Harreld could have prevented with responsible testing, but he won’t shell out the money because he would rather gamble. (Also, by refusing to test any UI students, Harreld makes it harder to conclude where outbreaks come from, so he’s effectively abetting the COVID-19 virus itself.)
* A while back it was noted that the University of Iowa, and specifically the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, went nuts and fired fifteen faculty for reasons that made little sense. The amount of money saved was trivial relative to the amount of money that central administration pisses away by the day, many of the faculty were good and some were even beloved, and of course no administrators were let go, which would have saved substantially more.
Well, along with the CLAS dean being demoted recently, it turns out that five of the fifteen faculty were rehired. From Josie Fischels at the Daily Iowan: Five of 15 faculty reinstated within College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Following further review, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has renewed the contracts of five of the 15 instructional track faculty whose appointments had not been renewed due to budget constraints. These positions reflect student enrollment demands and will allow CLAS to offer a robust curriculum this fall,” said UI Assistant Vice President for External Relations Jeneane Beck in an email to The Daily Iowan.
As if we needed more evidence that the University of Iowa is in a state of administrative collapse, we have chaos in the school’s largest college being waved away with a reference to “further review”. Firing faculty, canning the dean, and then hiring some of those faculty back, was not simply a clerical error. More here from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: University of Iowa rehires five of 15 laid-off lecturers.
* While illegitimate University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld pushes ahead with his plan to jam 32K students back into classes on August 24th, oddly enough the people who will teach those classes still have concerns about how that might turn out for them. I don’t know if the following group in particular was motivated in whole or in part by Harreld’s indefensible decision not to test returning resident students, but in any case a significant number of UI faculty are expressing alarm. From Natalie Dunlap at the Daily Iowan: 280 UI instructors advocate for online classes, pledge to teach online-only instruction.
Nearly 300 instructors at the University of Iowa have signed a pledge to “further the education of our students and protect the health and safety of our campus and community by devoting ourselves to planning for the safest, highest-quality online experience for our students in the Fall 2020 Semester.”
The pledge cites ineffective state and national responses to COVID-19, the entwined relationship between campus health and safety and the local community health and safety, and in-person classes falling on non-tenure and faculty and graduate instructors as reasons classes should widely take place online in the upcoming semester.
You can see and sign the pledge here. More from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Scores of University of Iowa educators urge reversal of in-person instruction.
* In reporting about the pledge it was also noted that a Johnson County supervisor echoed faculty concerns. From the Gazette’s Miller: Seconding University of Iowa instructor concerns, local leader airs fears over 30,000-person influx.
“It scares the hell out of me to see 30,000-plus students coming back,” Supervisor Royceann Porter said about UI plans for a hybrid fall semester that prioritizes in-person instruction and reopens the campus, including residence halls.
“When we think about the university saying, ‘We’re going to give them the kits, we’re going to give them the masks, and it’s mandatory that they wear all this to class,’ that’s fine and dandy,” Porter said. “But as soon as they step across the street and go into the restaurants, and the bars, and the bar crawls, and the frat parties … we know that there’s going to be lots of people engaging, and they’re not going to have masks on.
“We can’t depend on the behavior of the students to do the right thing.”
In the entire history of higher education, I doubt there has ever been a greater mass capitulation of integrity than the legion of bloodless, straight-faced administrators who insist that college students will suddenly put safety first because of a lethal pandemic. In truth, the only thing those administrators care about is generating revenue from those students, and they’re willing to lie to themselves and everyone else to get that money. For everlasting shame.
* Adding to the outcry at UI, this past week the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) issued a joint letter to illegitimate president J. Bruce Harreld, and his new, hand-picked, toady provost.
We cannot, in good conscience, support in-person classroom learning and full opening1of residence halls in the Fall 2020 semester amid our current environment. A return to in-person learning, as planned, even using a blended learning strategy, acts as an invasive choice constraint given that three out of every four UI students are concerned about contracting COVID-19 on campus this semester.
Again, I don’t know if Harreld’s reckless decision not to test returning resident students has anything to do with the campuswide pushback against his insane plans, but one group we haven’t heard from yet are the resident assistants (RA’s) who will actually be living with those students. Oh, wait….
* From Rachel Shilke at the Daily Iowan: University of Iowa resident assistants demand more transparency from campus administration.
“We’re scared,” the letter stated. “Not only are we risking our lives to support students in your residence halls during a pandemic, but the question looms on whether we would even become reasonably compensated for such duties.”
Resident assistants who penned the letter added that many of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have family members who are at high risk for contracting COVID-19, and said they wanted clear answers as to how the UI would assist students who depend upon the stipends and amenities provided by the position.
There are always political and financial tensions on any college campus, but one of the main reasons the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents installed Harreld at UI was because that immediately turned every employee into a hostage. Now, during the lethal COVID-19 pandemic, we see the administrative advantage of having soulless leadership in charge of tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff. All Harreld has to do is pin them between their lives and livelihoods, and in so doing he forces them to make choices that no human being should ever have to make. And if they get sick or die, that’s on them. (More from the Gazette’s Miller: It’s a ‘whole different’ fall for dorm advisers in Iowa.)
* It was only ten days ago that Gary Barta absolved Kirk Ferentz of any responsibility for running an abusive and racist football program for well over a decade, at which point Ferentz announced that there would be no additional changes to his coaching staff even though a number of his coaches were implicated by an outside investigation. While Barta and Ferentz are already down the road, chatting it up about the upcoming schedule fall, a few local reporters have lingered on the damning final report.
From Mark Emmert at HawkCentral: One major name missing in inquiry into Iowa football: Brian Ferentz.
Brian Ferentz’s name does not appear in the 28-page investigation of the Iowa football program that was released Thursday.
Neither his father, Kirk Ferentz, nor his boss, Gary Barta, were eager to discuss Brian Ferentz at a subsequent news conference, either.
Between central administration and the athletic department, leadership at the University of Iowa is a constant embarrassment. (Even if you are a fan of mendacious administrators, these specific leaders are still an embarrassment.) So many good and talented people at UI, all being led by unethical trash.
* One of the many reports last week from Daily Iowan Sports Editor Robert Read came as a bit of a surprise, and a bit of a tell about what UI actually expects in the coming months: Iowa limiting capacity at Kinnick Stadium for 2020 home football games.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta wrote in a letter sent to football season ticket holders Thursday that capacity will be reduced to 10,000-15,000 seats per game at Kinnick Stadium in 2020 and that there will be no season tickets.
If Iowa plays its five scheduled home game, and if fans are permitted to attend at the time of those games, tickets will be sold for single games only.
If you’re not familiar with Kinnick Stadium, it seats about 70K — meaning the stadium will only be at about 15% to 20% capacity for home games. To be fair to Barta, however, that’s about right given six-foot social-distancing requirements, and because AD’s across the country are in a panic over revenue I was surprised that UI is showing such restraint. As noted in prior updates, Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard was pushing very hard for 50% seating back in the spring, which was self-evidently idiotic even then. (I don’t know what ISU plans to do, but hopefully Pollard found someone who can draw six-foot circles on the seating plan for Jack Trice Stadium.)
As for Barta and Kinnick, in the details of the plan it was also made clear that distancing restrictions apply to both “main stand and premium seating”, so they won’t allow a group of people who claim to know each other to pile into a section of the bleachers or a sky box. (Also interesting was the fact that although there was plenty of talk about parking in the plan, there was absolutely no reference to tailgating, which Barta previously promised in no uncertain terms.)
* Also from Robert Read at the DI: Big Ten football players form unity group, express concerns about upcoming season.
Football players from the Big Ten followed the lead of Pac-12 players in forming a unity group and publishing a list of demands related to the COVID-19 pandemic and player safety.
College athletes are hostages in the best of times. Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and we now have college athletes caught between a desire to secure practice reps and playing time, and concerns about their immediate and long-term health. Needless to say, this not only gives the schools that exploit them even more power, but drastically magnifies the inherent conflicts of interest in that uneven power dynamic. (Which, at UI, also factored into the magical resolution of charges of racism in Kirk Ferentz’s program, where current players had to weigh the risk to on-the-field opportunities in telling the truth.)
* And more from Read at the DI: Iowa Athletics Department reports latest COVID-19 testing results. The Iowa men’s basketball team now has three players who have tested positive, and the entire team is officially in quarantine. (What quarantine means to a bunch of young male college athletes is anybody’s guess.)
* Rachel Shilke at the Daily Iowan: University of Iowa international students dismayed by U.S. response to COVID-19. We look like colossal idiots because we are colossal idiots.
08/07/20 — There is nothing more determinative in any aspect of human society than leadership. That in turn explains why there is often so much intrigue, corruption, and at times even violence associated with determining who shall lead. Case in point, were it not for the malignant leadership of the Iowa Board of Regents in 2015, that body would not have used a rigged presidential search — at taxpayer expense, no less — to impose the equally malignant leadership of J. Bruce Harreld on the University of Iowa. Now, almost five years later, the current corrupt board recently voted to keep the illegitimate Harreld in place, despite a series of documented administrative blunders and abuses of power on his part, so for the time being that question has been settled — albeit corruptly.
Truly, when the history of the Harreld hire is written, and the resulting carnage documented incident by incident, quote by quote, it will be abundantly clear that the unifying theme of the Harreld presidency was failed leadership at multiple levels. The problem with failed leadership, unfortunately, is that it not only stains the leaders, it permeates every aspect of the organizations being led. It is not just that the Board of Regents is corrupt, negligent and derelict, though that, or that Harreld is a blithering idiot and a liar, though that, or even that his tenure has damaged the school in ways that may prove irreversible, though that. It is that precisely because the regents and Harreld are demonstrable administrative stains themselves, we not only have valid justification for questioning the integrity of subordinate leaders as well — as was just pointedly proven with regard to the UI athletic department — but we would be fools not to question the basis for any decision which was made at the school.
For example, having authorized a review of the UI football program by outside counsel, and having received a report which documented systemic racial discrimination and abuses covering more than a decade to present day, the corrupt J. Bruce Harreld elected not to impose any penalty of any kind on either AD Gary Barta or Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz. That some of this documented racial discrimination occurred while Harreld was also demoting the administrative position responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion from his presidential cabinet, and kicking that role out of the president’s office entirely, and cycling multiple persons of color through that position on a temporary basis — only to then finally hire a permanent replacement who lasted all of six weeks, before resigning under both mysterious and lucrative circumstances — should make clear that the University of Iowa under J. Bruce Harreld is hostile to racial diversity. And yet, because the entirely white Board of Regents still has Caucasian faith in the equally white Harreld, Barta and Ferentz, they are all still gainfully employed in critical leadership positions at UI.
Inevitably, such a glaring lack of accountability has a corrosive effect not only on how the institution is viewed as a whole, but how individual administrative decisions are viewed through the prism of overt and covert discrimination. And that in turn leads us to an uncomfortable reality, which is that some of the people who are negatively impacted by this vortex of failed leadership are not merely innocent bystanders, but persons of color who are trying to improve the situation at UI. When leaders embody integrity and aspire to organizational equity they pave the way for persons from marginalized groups to advance on the merits. Unfortunately, when leadership is corrupt — to say nothing of racist — opportunities to aid in advancing the causes of diversity, equity and inclusion can become clouded with the specter of exploitation.
I mention all of this because yesterday the University of Iowa announced that it had finally figured out how to appoint an interim Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (AVP-DEW), after Harreld failed to do so for close to an entire year. And to be explicit — yes, the only reason Harreld is doing this now is because his ass is exposed, and he knows it. Were it not for internal and external pressures, the ongoing search for a permanent AVP-DEI would either be loping along or idle, and the AVP-DEI role would have remained vacant until that search was concluded. (Write-ups about today’s announcement here from Katie Ann McCarver at the Daily Iowan, and here from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller.)
Also included in yesterday’s press release was news that another UI employee has been promoted to interim director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment (CDE), replacing Nadine Petty who recently left the school. Notably, these two appointments were not announced by Harreld in central administration, but by another white male named Kevin Kregel, who was recently installed, by Harreld, as the interim provost. As a factual matter I don’t know whether Kregel made those appointments himself, or — more likely — he was instructed to do so, but the fact that neither Harreld nor Barta are quoted speaks volumes about their intent to distance themselves.
Were the University of Iowa an honorable institution, we would simply pass on the names of the two appointees and celebrate their interim promotions. Unfortunately, because UI is not an honorable institution — at least as led by Harreld — we are obligated, uncomfortably, to point out that both of the interim appointees are women of color. And the reason we are obligated to do so is because Harreld has a long history of hiring and promoting persons of color into DEI positions, while simultaneously undercutting the efforts of those employees. That has in fact directly led to the current situation, where the three most-powerful people on campus are all white, the five people previously charged with advancing DEI at UI were all persons of color (see the 06/22/20 entry here), and the two new appointees are the sixth and seventh persons of color in key DEI roles during Harreld’s four-plus years in office.
Of course the only reason those two interim appointments seem like good news, or symbolic, or a relief — as opposed to what they should seem like, which is routine business — is that following the departure of former Chief Diversity Officer Georgina Dodge in the summer of 2017, J. Bruce Harreld spent three years demoting and devaluing DEI. That in turn reveals yesterday’s press release to be the administrative equivalent of taking credit for slapping a few bandages on wounds which, in this historical moment, Harreld, Barta and Ferentz caused in the first place. But of course the dishonorable university knows all that, so its messaging is not only designed to impress the campus with what should have been reflexive and mundane administrative decisions, but to distract the UI campus from that very duplicity.
Having said all that, however toxic the failed leadership at UI looks from the outside, what it is doing to people on the inside is significantly worse. To see why, imagine that you are a person of color on the UI campus. After watching Harreld intentionally erode and sideline DEI for years, and having just watched the university acknowledge that its football program has been racist for more than a decade, you are asked by Boss Harreld, Underboss Barta or newly-minted Consigliere Kregel — the three most-powerful administrators on the UI campus, all of them white — to fill one of two vacant DEI leadership positions on an interim basis. What do you say to that request?
You would almost certainly suspect that part of the reason you were being given that opportunity was because those white leaders needed political cover, and your skin color solved that problem for them. On the other hand, you would probably also want to help the university move in a positive direction, even if that incidentally advantaged leaders who were part of the problem. And of course there’s also the fear of reprisals if you turn the opportunity down. Any administrator who helped lead the university to its current sorry state — either intentionally or by neglect — couldn’t be trusted to do the honorable thing in other circumstances, so you would have to accept the possibility that saying no might cost you opportunities in the future.
This doubt and fear is why it is absolutely critical to have good leaders, and particularly so at a public institution of higher learning. We don’t want people to be conflicted about anything other than the professional decision at hand. Is it right for them at this moment? Is it something they have a passion about? Instead, the same administration that keeps taking DEI hostage gets to turn around and ask subordinate persons of color if they want to be part of the rescue party. And that’s all because of J. Bruce Harreld’s failed leadership, which treats diversity, equity and inclusion as an administrative burden to be minimized and a political shield to be maximized.
In this specific instance it was only a week ago yesterday that both the president of the university and the athletic director excused documented abuses in the Iowa football program without levying even a slap on the wrist against the Great White Legacy running the team. There was literally no professional price paid, despite an outside investigation which documented recurrent racial discrimination, and these two appointments by Kregel must necessarily be seen in that context. (Whatever grace period Kregel was due as Harreld’s hand-picked interim provost, that’s over. He’s a full-on partner now, just as Sue Curry was during her two-year stint in that office.)
To underscore how corrosive failed leadership is, and how deeply it reaches into the University of Iowa, note the weasel words in this sentence from the UI press release:
[The appointee] will begin her new, full-time role on Aug. 17 and will continue to engage with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics as part of her new responsibilities.
I don’t know what “continue to engage with” means, but the very fact that I had to stop and think about it means someone got clever with that wording, for a reason. The new appointment is a “full-time role”, but of course it’s also temporary so it makes sense that the appointee would return to her current job, which does not seem to be being filled on an interim basis. On the other hand, we also have good cause to wonder if this temporary shift might involve split responsibilities between academics and athletics, because AD Barta won’t want a gaping hole in his own org chart while Harreld uses one of Barta’s administrators to cover his own exposed ass.
I don’t know if this appointee will be working unofficial hours for the AD’s office or not, while officially working full-time as the interim AVP-DEI, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. After Georgina Dodge moved on, and her interim replacement, Lena Hill, followed her out the door less than a year later, Harreld once again faced the choice of hiring a permanent AVP-DEI or appointing yet another interim. In that instance Harreld decided that his VP for Student Life, Melissa Shivers — a stellar administrator, and a woman of color — would take on both roles, thus also reducing her effectiveness in either position. Now, here we are a year and a half later, and once again J. Bruce Harreld may be trying to solve administrative problems that he created for himself by asking a woman of color do two jobs, when he can’t even do one.
08/05/20 — Once again I am reminded that I am endlessly naive. Having watched the University of Iowa demote the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for an ethics violation just last week, while on the same day giving the head football coach a big bro hug for having run a racist program for well over a decade, I assumed that the school could not exceed that embarrassment before the fall term kicks off on August 24th. Per the update I posted two days ago, however, not only do I now know that assessment was in error, but what really hurts is that I forgot that as long as J. Bruce Harreld is serving as the illegitimate president of the university, things can always — always — get worse.
Having said that, as a result of this most recent turn of events I can say that for the first time in a long time we have new information about the bureaucratic dynamics between the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents and Iowa’s public universities. We don’t know why the board is acting the way it is in this instance, but clearly my long-held assumption that the board is working toward administrative homogeneity across all three campuses has been incorrect — or is at least incorrect in this one, specific, critical instance. Instead of compelling the state schools to adopt the same mitigation protocols in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board, for unknown reasons, has allowed the campuses to diverge wildly, even recklessly, in responding to that potentially lethal threat.
To recap Monday’s bombshell — which, on Sunday, I would have deemed preposterous — the University of Iowa announced, in an otherwise routine email and website update, that the school would not be testing any of its returning resident students for COVID-19. That announcement was not only jarring, it was in diametric opposition to recent reporting about Iowa State, which began a staged, two-week move-in process on Monday, including mandatory testing for all resident students. (The University of Northern Iowa, which is significantly smaller than ISU or UI, will be following the same staged move-in schedule and start date as ISU, but, like UI, will not be testing students when they move in to the dorms.)
I have no insight into how all three state schools arrived at their divergent plans. What I do know is that I would not have predicted that the all-seeing, all-controlling Iowa Board of Regents would sit back and allow its universities to come up with plans which offered — objectively — different levels of protection from COVID-19. And yet, even as I was typing that last sentence it occurred to me that once again I was being endlessly naive. While it’s certainly true that the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents influences the state schools on a case-by-case basis, presumably for the benefit of political and business cronies in Iowa, by the same token the board wants absolutely no responsibility if anything goes wrong. And of course during a lethal global pandemic, things are going to go wrong even if everyone has the best of intentions.
Interestingly, this abdication of responsibility by the regents leaves us with a distinct test-case at each of the three state schools. Meaning we should get some useful data depending on which of the campuses blows up first, and how bad the resulting outbreaks are relative to the size of the institution. (At least a few years ago the population density for resident students at Iowa State was obscene, so I can understand why testing would be a priory on that campus.)
ISU — Staged move-in | Testing resident students: YES | YES
UNI — Staged move-in | Testing resident students: YES | NO
UI — Staged move-in | Testing resident students: NO | NO
Having had thirty-six hours to think about the implications of Iowa’s indefensible decision not to test resident students when they return to campus, the most obvious point to make is that not only did no administrator attach their name to that momentous failure of leadership, but all of the key healthcare administrators, faculty and staff at UI are noticeably silent. Whether people have been told to keep their mouths shut if they are contacted by the press, or they are avoiding the press on their own, as far as I can tell no one has stepped up in support of this apparently spontaneous bureaucratic act, and that includes illegitimate president J. Bruce Harreld. This is unquestionably Harreld’s decision, yet instead of taking the lead and owning what may very well turn out to be a lethal mistake, he has, as is his wont, made himself scarce, leaving the university to speak to the UI community with an anonymous voice.
In thinking about how Harreld arrived at his flawed decision, I was once again reminded of two live video presentations that Harreld gave to the UI community in late June. Although I recently linked to a short clip from the second of those presentations, in thinking about this particular decision I found myself thinking more about the first day, and particularly about Harreld’s infamous “lemmings” rant. (If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch the video at this cued link. Pay particular attention to Harreld’s arrogant and belligerent attitude, and to his furtive, beady-eyed glances, as he insists that he has personally figured out the safest way to open the UI campus in the fall)
Specifically, at the start of that clip, a cocksure Bro Bruce says:
When you hear me talk, you’re thinking — all of you — thinking about, what’s the evidence? How truthful is it, and how accurate it is? And then we also go through the process of…of…collecting data, and exploring possible options, and go through a very specific, rigorous process…of thinking, and deciding things critically.
For the record, when I hear Harreld talk that’s not at all what I think, because I know he lies all the time. Setting that aside, however, and talking Harreld’s comments at face value, we still have to account for the fact that the answer Harreld came up with about testing returning students — following a “very specific, rigorous process” — is the opposite of the answer that Iowa State came up with, following whatever decision-making methodology they use in Ames. So what does the “evidence” say? Is Harreld being “truthful” and “accurate”?
There are two answers here — one damning, the other brutish in its finality. In each instance, however, the decision announced yesterday by the University of Iowa is indefensibly wrong, and calls into question the basic humanity of high-ranking UI administrators, of the regents, and of the CEO/Executive Director of the board, hiding out over there in Urbandale. Because this is not just another corrupt crony scam we’re talking about, this is about protecting the lives of over one hundred thousand human beings across the three state campuses.
As to whether UI or ISU is correct about testing returning resident students, we begin with this text from Monday’s UI email and website update:
As we prepare to return to campus, some students and families have asked if the University of Iowa will require students to be tested for COVID-19 before moving into the residence halls. We recognize this may provide some comfort for families, but it is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the following reasons:
• One-time testing only provides data for a specific point in time and can miss cases in the early stages of infection, giving students a false sense of security.
• One-time testing requires significant resources, including trained staff to conduct the tests, personal protective equipment, and physical space for conducting testing safely and ensuring privacy.
Poorly administered mass testing can result in damaged or inconclusive results and excessive false negatives. For this reason, the university is focusing its resources on CDC recommended infection prevention measures including:
• Reducing campus density
• Modifying classrooms and facilities to promote social distancing
• Providing and mandating cloth face coverings
• Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
While repeated mention of the CDC certainly seems compelling — provided we ignore the fact that under the current administration the CDC has been corrupted — consider what happens when we follow the first link above to the source text. From the CDC website, here is the text from which the UI copy above is derived, not quoted from directly:
Testing asymptomatic individuals without known exposure to a person with COVID-19
Testing of all students, faculty and staff for COVID-19 before allowing campus entry (entry testing) has not been systematically studied. It is unknown if entry testing in IHEs provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, cloth face covering, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection). Therefore, CDC does not recommend entry testing of all returning students, faculty, and staff.
It would be one thing if the CDC said it had conclusive evidence that the testing of returning students was not useful — which is the impression the UI copy leaves — but that is not what the CDC text says. Instead, the CDC says that because no systematic studies have been done to resolve that question, they cannot recommend entry testing because there is no evidence to support such a recommendation. That is of course not only an intrinsic problem with evidence-based decision making, but because COVID-19 is a new disease, even in theory no one could have conducted the kind of systematic study that the CDC deems requisite for a recommendation to test. But it gets worse.
After another short paragraph and a set of bullet points explaining the potential complexities if one decided to conduct entry testing anyway, we get this — again from the CDC:
In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission where resources allow, local health officials and IHEs may consider testing some or all asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff who have no known exposure (e.g., students in congregate housing such as residence halls) to identify outbreaks and inform control measures.
On the linked page in that quote there is a confusing table which talks vaguely about various grades of community transmission. However one might assess the current situation in Iowa, and specifically Johnson County and Iowa City, the case can easily be made that the home of the UI campus is having moderate to substantial community spread. (As of Sunday, “Johnson County’s 14-day rolling average” was 7.13% — and that’s before 32K untested and potentially infectious Hawkeye students return in two and a half weeks.)
What is clear from that paragraph of CDC text, however — as one might reasonably expect given the recency of the pandemic — is that IHE’s (institutions of higher education) “may consider testing some or all asymptomatic students, faculty and staff who have no known exposure (e.g. students in congregate housing such as residence halls)….” So why did the “truthful” and “accurate” University of Iowa omit that important caveat, after citing that page not merely as a justification for not testing returning resident students, but as proof that such testing would provide no benefit?
The question, of course, answers itself. Harreld and UI do not want to conduct even minimal targeted testing of returning resident students, so instead they made repeated mention of CDC recommendations which do not actually support the university’s decision. As damning as that is, however, the question of whether ISU or UI is correct was definitively settled on Monday — the same day UI made its announcement. And here there is not only no wiggle room, but even Iowa State falls below the gold standard for reopening a college campus.
From Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Amir Vera at CNN: K-12 schools and colleges can reopen, but safety should come first, Fauci says.
On college campuses, Fauci said testing will be the key to reopening. Plans should include testing people before they arrive on campus, when they arrive and quarantining them for 14 days.
Whatever damage has been done to Antony Fauci’s reputation over the past six months, including by Fauci himself, he is still the world’s foremost infectious disease expert. So however smart you think J. Bruce Harred is at Iowa, and however smart you think people are at the CDC, if we have to choose between Harreld, the CDC and Fauci, we’re going with Fauci every time. And what Dr. Fauci said colleges should do to open up safely is the exact opposite of what the University of Iowa is doing.
Where Fauci said testing should be conducted even before people return to campus — meaning, presumably, for students, faculty and staff — the University of Iowa is testing no one. Where Fauci said everyone should be tested when they arrive on campus, the University of Iowa is testing no one. Where Fauci said everyone should be quarantined for 14 days, the University of Iowa is kicking off the fall term as usual, on time, with no change in start date or in the move-in schedule.
Incredibly, thanks to the super-genius in the president’s office, and his “very specific, rigorous process…of thinking, and deciding things critically” the University of Iowa is conducting business as usual, as if the COVID-19 pandemic does not even exist. And that in turn gives us our answer on the narrow question of whether Iowa State or the University of Iowa is correct in its testing policy for returning resident students. Objectively, Iowa State’s policy is the right policy both in terms of mitigating the pandemic generally, and for the current conditions in Iowa City and Johnson County specifically.
As for Harreld, the one question we are left with is why he went out of his way not only to make the wrong decision, but to mislead the UI community about the basis for that decision. Why put people on the UI campus needlessly at risk? And the only answer I can come up with is that J. Bruce Harreld simply doesn’t want to spend the money on testing.
Given the choice between more sick people or even a couple of deaths, and cash on hand, the former senior business executive seems more concerned about available funds. And yet, on multiple fronts, even that despicable rationale would be shortsighted. The one thing that could easily lead to additional costs in the millions or even tens of millions of dollars would be an uncontrolled outbreak on the UI campus, yet as of today Harreld is determined to allow the potential origins of such an outbreak to take up residence untested.
Were that the end of the story we could just shake our heads in disgust, as we are often given cause to do here at Ditchwalk, but there is an even darker side to Harreld’s willingness to expose the UI campus to infection. As you may or may not know, a sizable portion of the UI campus is given over to a massive medical complex which has few peers even around the world. Indeed, in the state of Iowa there is nothing close to the sprawling University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), and UIHC is also the only Level One Trauma Center in Iowa.
There are two big and related concerns with Harreld exposing the UI campus to increased risk of infection from COVID-19, and the first should be obvious. By increasing the risk of outbreaks at the university, Harreld is increasing the risk of significant stress on UIHC. Yes it’s a big operation, and yes, UIHC got through the first wave okay, but before the first wave hit the university kicked all 32K students off campus. What Harreld is about to do — with no testing — has no precedent in this pandemic, yet Harreld is acting like it’s a sure thing.
The second and genuinely dark concern about Harreld’s decision not to test returning resident students, is that he is necessarily counting on UIHC to handle any resulting outbreaks. Not only is that a luxury most towns and counties don’t have, but assuming that UIHC will clean up your mess if you make a bad bet is the definition of callous disregard. Instead of taking advantage of the army of UIHC healthcare workers to administer tests to returning resident students, and advantage of the State Hygienics Lab at UI to run the tests, Harreld is taking them for granted and using them as a backstop if his reckless decision making blows up in his face. (Iowa State, which has a larger enrollment but no on-campus medical facility — at least for human beings — will still manage to conduct thousands of tests over the next two weeks.)
All of which brings us back to the Iowa Board of Regents, who are not just political cronies. Among their statutory duties is serving as trustees for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, meaning they have a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to do what is in the best interest of that organization apart from the university itself. And that includes preventing one of their employees — J. Bruce Harreld — from gambling with that state-owned medical system, let alone in flagrant opposition to the prescriptions of Dr. Fauci.
UIHC already took a severe revenue hit from the initial impact and first wave of the virus, and is still falling short of the usual revenue from healthcare checks and elective surgeries. If a substantial outbreak occurs on the UI campus, or in the surrounding community, not only will resources have to be diverted back to the Medical ICU and related units, but those other revenue-generating visits and procedures will one again have to be put off to ensure that resources are available for COVID-19 patients. The only thing worse than the fact that J. Bruce Harreld — who has a Harvard MBA, and spent most of his career in the private sector — knows he is exposing UIHC to those risks in order to save a few bucks up front, is that the regents are letting him do it.
08/03/20 Update — From Caleb McCullough at the Daily Iowan: University of Iowa students won’t be tested for COVID-19 before moving into residence halls.
The University of Iowa will not test students in the residence halls for COVID-19 before they come onto campus, and students will be eligible for a test if they show symptoms or are asymptomatic but have had a known exposure to a positive case.
There are 32K students at the University of Iowa. Approximately 8K students live in dorms or in university-owned apartments. I don’t know what it would cost to test every single UI student, but the idea that the illegitimate president of the school — J. Bruce Harreld — won’t even test the 8K who will be living on campus is insane.
Note also that this news was communicated in an otherwise routine and unsigned email/press release, meaning none of the administrators at UI — including the super-genius president — had the guts to own this decision. Instead, they just shoved it out the door and ran for cover. (For the deranged rant that Harreld went on about lemmings and testing at the end of June, click here. As a result of today’s news, I am also reasonably confident that ISU President Wendy Wintersteen — who is testing returning ISU students — is one of the lemmings that beady-eyed Harreld was ranting about.)
08/03/20 — It is an unfortunate byproduct of corruption that when you are writing about corruption and documenting corruption, the people who end up getting most of the attention are inevitably corrupt. Today, however, we will kick the corrupt crony trash to the bottom of this post, and instead take a moment to appreciate the hardworking people who take out the literal trash and then some. From the Daily Iowan’s Mary Hartel, last Tuesday: Janitors and Custodians remain essential workers during COVID-19 pandemic.
“For janitors in hospitals and schools, and office buildings, these are often the invisible front-line work force in the fight against COVID-19 transmission, but they also happen to be the lowest paid and often represent people with racial minority groups that are underrepresented in the country, and so they are particularly vulnerable to having challenges for how many days of leave they can take for being sick,” [said Kelly Baker, faculty member in the University of Iowa College of Public Health department of occupational and environmental health, with a secondary appointment in epidemiology].
Not only do these people do the grunt work of society at the best of times, but during the COVID-19 pandemic they are literally risking their lives to feed themselves and their families. Unfortunately, that risk only increases when deranged leaders like J. Bruce Harreld, Demon Kim Reynolds and Donald Trump decide that saving lives pales in comparison to generating revenue. So if you find yourself kicking around the University of Iowa campus in the coming weeks, or the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics — perhaps sporting a sexy new branded mask, which J. Bruce Harreld paid an up-charge for instead of giving janitors and custodians a raise for their critical service — do whatever you can to make the workload easier for the people on the front lines keeping you safe.
* Although Iowa’s demonic governor insists that a mask mandate is not warranted, and could not be policed even if it was ordered, both the state-run University of Iowa and its home town of Iowa City not only have mask mandates in place, but they are also prepared to enforce those orders. From Cole Krutzfield at the Daily Iowan: University of Iowa says failure to follow face-covering mandate could lead to one-day suspension from class.
Derek Frank, public information officer for the Iowa City Police Department, said Iowa City residents have followed the mandate extremely well since its implementation. Iowa City police have not encountered many people who failed to follow the mandate, he said.
“When an officer has seen someone who is not following the mandate, they speak with the person and remind them about the mandate,” Frank said.
[UI] Faculty will have the ability to impose a one-day suspension from their course to any student who refuses to wear a mask in class, [UI Assistant Dean and Director of Student Accountability Angela] Ibrahim-OlinIbrahim-Olin said, by asking that student to immediately leave.
Faculty and staff have also been directed to report any instances where a student refuses to wear a face covering in a campus building to the Office of Student Accountability, Ibrahim-Olin added.
Clearly it is not only possible to mandate masks with success, but to compel those who resist using tried and true methods such a fines and penalties. Relatedly, it is also always a kick to me that an institution led by an illegitimate president has an Office of Student Accountability, when what it really needs is an Office of Administrative Accountability. Then again, if we held all of the corrupt people in Iowa state government to the same standards that we hold students, the entire crony apparatus of business and politics would fall apart, and then where would we be?
* Because the first day of classes at Iowa State and Northern Iowa is still two weeks away, if you reside in Ames or Cedar Falls/Waterloo respectively, you may think you still have time before your community devolves into a cauldron of hormonal COVID-19 outbreaks. Unfortunately, however, the clock has already run out. From Kiley Wellendorf at the Ames Tribune, this past Saturday: ISU move-in starts Monday.
Prior to moving in, all students living in on-campus housing, which includes both residence halls and apartments, are required to be tested for COVID-19, Wintersteen wrote in a letter to the ISU community on July 23.
“This impacts about 9,000 students,” she wrote.
Students will be tested using the “nasal mid-turbinate swab,” and results are anticipated to arrive via email from the Thielen Student Health Center within 24 hours, according to information from the university.
Instead of one gonzo weekend, this year the ISU move-in will take place over two weeks to facilitate testing. While the testing protocol may sound plausible, however, there are 36,000 students at Iowa State, meaning plenty of recently infected individuals will slip past the security screen, only to subsequently trigger outbreaks among the closely assembled masses. Worse, testing after that initial screening will only be done on a symptomatic basis, so about a month from now the entire campus should be cooking. (More on the move-in at the state university campuses here, from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller.)
One anomaly that this plan may also explain is that the testing rate in Iowa has fallen off quite a bit over the past week or so. Part of the reason, I believe, is that the demonic governor is manipulating the testing process to keep numbers artificially low, because she allowed Iowa to be hit with a second wave. Having said that, and with UI beginning classes a week later, the state will have to test roughly 80,000 students in a three-week window, or 4,000 individuals people per day — and that’s on top of regular testing. Unfortunately, because Iowa’s demonic governor never ramped testing up sufficiently to begin with, that means statewide testing, which averages a meager 5,000 to 6,000 tests per day, may effectively come to a halt during that time.
* And speaking of college students, here’s a harrowing tidbit from a Friday update on the UI COVID-19 website:
Student Survey Results
In a recent survey of University of Iowa undergraduate students, 92% of respondents said they would wear a mask in public when they return to campus this fall, and the majority said they would be uncomfortable attending a party if most students were not wearing masks.
Note that the university was quite eager to put “92%” in print, but when it came to the percentage of students who would only party with a mask on, we got “the majority” instead. If that majority is also 92% that’s certainly hopeful, but I’m guessing it’s closer to 51% — meaning things are going to go downhill fast, both on and off the UI campus. (More on the UI survey here, from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller.)
It will also be interesting to see how UI handles any outbreaks at ISU or UNI, given that they are starting a week earlier. With J. Bruce Hamster having already announced that the virus in Iowa is different in different places, he may do nothing at all.
* On Wednesday of last week there was one odd line in an otherwise mundane update on the UI COVID-19 website:
While we are confident there will be a COVID-19 vaccine available in the near future, we must work together in our present circumstances to minimize exposure to the virus while still providing an opportunity to pursue an education.
As a factual matter that sentence does not promise there will be a successful or effective “COVID-19 vaccine”, and it does not define “the near future”, but it still comes across as decidedly — and conspicuously — optimistic. A few hours later I finally understood why when the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller filed this story: University of Iowa to start giving trial coronavirus vaccines Thursday.
The University of Iowa will start giving trial coronavirus vaccines to volunteers Thursday as part of a research study investigating a potential inoculation against deadly COVID-19.
The trial — sponsored by Pfizer and BioNTech, two companies working in concert — aims to enroll 30,000 healthy volunteers willing to take the “investigational” vaccines, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t formally approved because they’re being tested.
Given the base level of corruption at the University of Iowa, and by extension at the Iowa Board of Regents, the mind reels at the abuses that could be going on under cover of the pandemic. For example, how may people in state government have positions in those companies, and when did they place those bets? And course there are ethical concerns including conflicts of interest, like using the UI COVID-19 website to hype a potential corporate vaccine.
* We are now four days on from the release of an external investigation that documented repeated incidents of racial discrimination in the UI football program, which occurred from well over a decade ago to present day. Because this is Iowa, however, the three principals involved — meaning head coach Kirk Ferentz, athletic directory Gary Barta, and illegitimate president J. Bruce Harreld — not only all have their jobs, but they have suffered no discipline from any quarter. Still, despite the local sports press rushing in to once again prop up the badly listing reputation of their favorite cash-cow coach, a few reporters have resisted the temptation to overlook the damning conclusions that were reached about Ferentz’s program, and about his reputation.
From last Thursday, by Chad Leistikow at HawkCentral: Kirk Ferentz stakes legacy on being his own solution to racial bias problems.
“This has certainly been a moment of truth for me as a leader, and for the program,” Ferentz said during his opening remarks. “The release of this independent review will not be the end of this conversation. Really, it’s just the beginning of our next chapter in the program’s history.”
After reading the findings of the independent investigation, it’s clear that this is a major ask for one man — especially considering Ferentz has fallen short before when told of possible racial issues.
One section of the report interviewed an unnamed current assistant coach, who said he raised concerns of player mistreatment with Ferentz multiple times over the past four years — dating to 2016 — but no action was taken.
Ferentz, you’ll recall, also recently confessed he dropped the ball in not circling back with Black players (as he promised) about surface-area changes implemented following the findings of the UI athletics department’s 2018 diversity task force.
Barta continues to give Ferentz a vote of confidence, one he expressed was shared by UI President Bruce Harreld.
Even given the high corruption baseline at the University of Iowa, the idea that Ferentz was found to have run a racist football program and is facing no penalty or discipline is scandalous. Fortunately, here and there reporters are not overlooking the big picture, including the fact that Ferentz, Barta and Harreld are all in this whitewash together. And that includes pointing out that Ferentz’s current narrative that he did not know about these problems is a lie. (Almost two months ago, reporting from ESPN directly refuted Ferentz’s contention that players did not bring their concerns to him personally. They did, and he ignored them.)
* As noted in the previous update, the lack of any punishment for Kirk Ferentz is in marked contrast to the now-former dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who was demoted from his position because of an ethics violation. While the details of that violation were not made public, this is the section of the UI Operations Manual that was cited in a report by Rylee Wilson at the Daily Iowan: Chapter 16 – Ethics and Responsibilities for University of Iowa Staff.
What is particularly interesting about that extended section is that there are plenty of subsections that would also apply to a head coach who was determined to have been running a racist football program for well over a decade. For example, from 16.4.d:
Compliance. Supervisory staff will see that those who report to them are informed about, understand, and comply with laws, regulations, policies, or procedures. Staff will understand and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations related to their duties. Staff are responsible for adherence to University policies and procedures.
Clearly Kirk Ferentz did not see to it that those who reported to him complied with university “policies, or procedures”. Indeed, if someone went digging deep enough — like the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education — it is entirely possible that there were systematic violations of federal civil rights involved, and that includes Ferentz intentionally using subordinates to shield him from complicity. (Remember, despite a so-called investigation no one has ever been placed under oath, and that includes former strength and condition coach Chris Doyle — whom Ferentz has been exceedingly eager to characterize as a good person and as a close friend over the past few days.)
In that section of the UI Ops Manual there are plenty of other violations that might also apply to Ferentz, but you get the point. Once again there is one set of rules for the underlings and a complete absence of rules for the big shots. Indeed, between Ferentz, Barta and Harreld they constitute a rogue’s gallery of ethics violations, if not worse, and yet they persist, unsullied and unbesmirched, immune to administrative accountability.
07/31/20 — Well now…that was an interesting twenty-four hours. So much transpired at the University of Iowa between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon that it is hard to keep it all straight, and impossible to fully comprehend in the moment. While some decisions were made and some issues apparently settled — at least for the time being — there is so much administrative debris littering the UI campus today that it would take a team of forensic investigators to figure out exactly what happened. Because we here at Ditchwalk do not yet have a team of forensic investigators, however, we will just keep documenting the atrocities and wait to see what happens next.
* Even though there was a scheduled meeting of the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents on Wednesday, I expected that meeting to be particularly boring because the agenda was short, and because there was no benefit to be had by attracting any more attention to that clown show than necessary. But of course that’s why it’s a clown show. You never know when it’s going to happen, but sooner or later the big shoes come out.
I was so convinced that the board meeting would be pro forma, in fact, that I didn’t even listen in, only to then start reading reports like this later in the day — from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller:
To that point, Harreld took issue with a recent opinion column by Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, arguing Iowa’s regent universities are top-heavy and suffering “administrative bloat.”
In making the argument, Evans cited reports in The Gazette about recent UI settlements that reassigned top administrators to newly-created posts that continued paying a vice president-level salary.
But Harreld said UI administrative costs actually are below the average of peer schools.
“Maybe a little data will help,” he said. “The American Council of Trustees and Alumni measured tier one universities across the country, and across the board the average amount of administrative costs were 17 cents per dollar … At the University of Iowa, it’s 13 cents per dollar. That’s 23.5 percent lower than the average,” Harreld said. “So, let’s please calm down. There’s not administrative bloat. There’s actually just the opposite.”
He also noted: “I’m sorry that people have a keyboard and they can type whatever they want without checking the facts.”
As you can see, illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld handled Evans’ criticism with his trademark pettiness, brattiness and vindictiveness — including, ironically, telling Evans to “calm down”, when Harreld is clearly the one with the attitude problem. After seeing a later tweet from Evans about how Harreld also wants more lawyers — then watching that segment of the board meeting, during which Harreld makes excuses about why he can’t afford more lawyers — I was reminded that only a couple of years ago Harreld pissed away $6M on a failed scorched-earth legal strategy against a Cedar Rapids company, only to then blow $4M blackballing that company from other UI projects. Meaning if that pissy dweeb had conducted himself like an actual businessman and settled that dispute at the outset, he would have had plenty of money to hire more lawyers.
More on the meeting here, from Katie Ann McCarver at the Daily Iowan.
* When Thursday morning rolled around I figured there wouldn’t be much more excitement the rest of the week. The fool-proof plans for keeping the UI campus safe during the pandemic are mostly in place, concerns about Harreld’s hostility toward diversity, equity and inclusion have been minimized by returning the AVP-DEI position to a cabinet-level appointment, and by his recent and woefully belated announcement that he would finally appoint an interim AVP-DEI — and of course the weekend was looming. But that just goes to show how wrong a person can be.
The first item of note on Thursday concerned the so-called outside investigation into charges of racism in the Iowa football program, which was suddenly complete. And of course my first thought when I read that headline was that Harreld had held that report until after the board meeting the previous day, so he wouldn’t have to discuss it while waging a one-man war against Randy Evans. That suspicion was confirmed when I read the official press release on the Iowa now website: Iowa football program review complete.
“I have read the report, and it is clear that the climate and culture must and will change within our football program,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “Our student-athletes must have the ability to be true to themselves, and we cannot and will not tolerate a systemic process that inhibits authenticity.”
Harreld talking about authenticity is obviously a joke, not only because the man lied his way into the job he now holds, but because — as recently discussed — he believes he inherited a multicultural background by proxy, because a couple of his kids learned Mandarin and married Chinese nationals. (If you think I’m joking, read the 07/20/20 entry here.)
As for the report itself, which I have not yet read in its entirety, we find this in the conclusion:
In sum, the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity. The program over-monitored players to the point that they experienced heightened anxiety and maintained a culture that allowed a small group of coaches to demean players. We have separately provided four personnel reports to the University summarizing allegations of mistreatment made against current and former employees so that they may be addressed, as appropriate, pursuant to the institution’s personnel policies and procedures.
While the law firm took pains to paint their findings in the best light, the end result of the inquiry — which the university commissioned, and during which no administrators were placed under oath — was that systemic administrative racism was documented in the UI football program. And that program is run by Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz, and overseen by Athletic Director Gary Barta.
After reading the conclusion of the report, and skimming the rest, I was still surprised to find an online notice that Barta and Ferentz would be holding a press conference at 1 p.m. Again, that’s not the kind of thing you just throw together at the last minute, so clearly the report had been delivered to the university earlier in the week, then they waited to release it and hold the presser until after the Wednesday regent meeting. (The corrupt Iowa Board of Regents is very good at turning a blind eye, but it certainly does appreciate any help it can get in that regard.)
* Of everything that happened during that twenty-four-hour span, the press conference by Barta and Ferentz was not only the least surprising, it was not surprising at all. Having been found guilty of running a racist football program, Gary Barta expressed total confidence in Kirk Ferentz, and then Ferentz expressed total confidence in himself. If it wasn’t so obscenely predictable it would have been hilarious, but such are the powers of white-male privilege in Iowa. The UI football program put thirteen players in the hospital with rhabdomyolosis in 2011, the university was found guilty of gender discrimination in the athletic department in 2017, and now Barta and Ferentz were judged to have run a racist football program for decades. So of course the corrupt Board of Regents and the illegitimate president of the university were leaving them both in place, at full salary, with no discipline whatsoever.
Despite the bureaucratic whitewashing of the systemic racism that was detailed in the report, however, I don’t think this story is over. Outside of the incestuous sports-media bubble in Iowa, I believe allowing Barta and Ferentz to remain in charge of Hawkeye football will look worse and worse as the days pass, and even worse if Ferentz ends up striding the sidelines this season. He and Barta, at best, will be seen as the two white administrators who were either oblivious to, or condoned, racism in their program, and it won’t just be local sports reporters commenting.
One related problem is that there are a lot of racist Hawkeye fans, both in Iowa and around the country — to say nothing of racist college fans in general — and they are all celebrating today because two white heroes were not pulled down by outsiders or players of color. They will not only be happy that Barta and Ferentz will once again pay no price for perpetrated abuses, but they may act out in that regard. Whether we see racist t-shirts at Kinnick this year, or racist social media posts championing white power at Iowa, those people will see today as a victory.
And that brings us to the question of recruiting, and how this report — tepid as it is — will affect future player’s decisions. Maybe Ferentz will land a slate of five-star white nationalists, but I’m not sure who else is going to line up to play for the Hawkeyes. Despite the fact that Barta and Ferentz still have their jobs, truly damning admissions were made today.
* I could write another five thousand words on the inherently racist injustice that was perpetrated today in preserving the white-male power structure at the University of Iowa, but instead we will press on to the one item that popped up which I did not see coming at all. From a short internal note on the UI website, by newly-minted interim provost Kevin Kregel:
I write to announce that Sara Sanders, PhD, has been appointed interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) effective July 30, 2020, pending Board of Regents, State of Iowa approval. Steve Goddard, who served as dean since June 2019, has assumed a faculty role as professor in the Department of Computer Science in CLAS.
I am not easily astonished, and for that reason I cannot say I was astonished when I read this news, but I was very close. Not only does this mean the academic leadership at UI has been decapitated in the past two weeks, but this is the third Harreld appointment since the end of 2019 to go down in flames. And of course it also means UI held this news until the day after the board meeting as well, because as quoted the interim appointment could have been approved yesterday. Instead, for whatever reason, Harreld and/or the board didn’t want that to happen until the end of September, which is when the next regent meeting will be held.
Between the former provost, who stepped down in mid-July after just over a year on the job, and the former AVP-DEI who lasted all of six weeks, and now Goddard — who was hired at the end of 2018 — the chaos and intrigue is incredible. (When I have said, in the past, that the University of Iowa is in a state of administrative collapse, this is what I mean. No major university functions like this.)
As promised in Kregel’s note, there was a follow-up press release on the Iowa Now website a few hours later, but that post did not explain why Goddard was stepping down. My first thought was that Goddard torpedoed himself with his improper remarks during a video conference for CLAS faculty, and a few hours later that supposition was confirmed. From a scoop by Rylee Wilson at the Daily Iowan:
The University of Iowa has removed former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Steve Goddard from his position, following an unspecified investigation that found Goddard had violated the Policy on Ethics and Responsibilities for UI staff.
Whether this is the entire story or not, it must be said that this is the first time in five years that I can remember anyone paying a price for an ethics violation at the University of Iowa. As regular readers know, the illegitimate UI president, J. Bruce Harreld, is a walking-talking ethics violation, and his mere presence on campus is a blight on the integrity of that institution. All of which also leads me to wonder if perhaps Harreld — who hired Goddard — was not the person who made this decision, having proven that he himself is a colossal administrative disaster.
Again, in the span of only two weeks, the appointed academic leadership responsible for the vast majority of education at UI has been replaced. The former provost stepped down under circumstances that have never been explained and was replaced by Kregel, and now Kregel has given Goddard the boot and replaced him with an interim CLAS dean. (CLAS is the largest college at UI by far, and does most of the heavy lifting in terms of undergraduate core courses.) And all of this as the university hurtles toward a compulsory opening only three and a half weeks away, in the middle of a pandemic. (No major university, or minor college, or grade school, functions like this.)
Regardless of the specifics in each case, I do not think it is possible that Harreld hired and then fired three high-ranking administrators in the span of a year and a half. He may have canned one, or maybe even two — or simply driven them away with his insanity — but not all three. And that means, somewhere, there is an unseen hand at work, and my guess is that hand belongs to Mark Braun at the Board of Regents, whether directed by the board or acting on their behalf. (That in turn gives me pause to wonder if Harreld’s purported philanthropic decision to cut his annual salary by 50% — while ISU President Wintersteen and UNI President Nook only took 10% cuts — was actually punishment for Harreld’s scandalous streak of gaffes and inanities.)
To truly understand how compromised the University of Iowa is, however, all we have to do is note that on the same day that Steve Gooddard lost his job over an ethics violation, the UI athletic director and head football coach got a free pass after a friendly investigation concluded they had been running a racist football program for decades. Again, I do not know if we have the full story about Goddard, and we don’t know who ordered that demotion to faculty even though Kregel signed his name to it, but i do not have a problem holding people to the highest standards in higher education. Except that clearly is not happening on a uniform basis at the University of Iowa, and all we have to do is look at the athletic department. Even with actual documentation of a racist football program, neither Barta, Harreld or the Board of Regents are willing to upset the great white coach by handing down the slightest hint of administrative reproach.
07/29/20 — From Robert Read at the Daily Iowan, two days ago: Iowa Athletics Department reports latest round of COVID-19 testing results.
The Iowa Athletics Department announced Monday that it conducted 20 COVID-19 tests for the week of July 20-26 and received one positive test and 19 negative tests.
What we can deduce from this story is that the University of Iowa is not doing any prospective or surveillance testing of its athletic teams. If it were, there would certainly be more tests administered over a seven day period, which in this case averaged less than three test results per day.
One of the things we can conclude from this pathetic and incompetent level of testing is that if an outbreak does occur on any of the Hawkeye teams, the athletic department won’t know about it until that team, the coaching staff and the trainers are all testing positive in droves.
* From Robert Read at the DI, yesterday: Iowa men’s basketball pauses workouts following two positive COVID-19 tests.
The Iowa athletics department announced Tuesday that the men’s basketball team has paused workouts for 14 days after two student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
On the bright side, if more players turn out to be infected the men’s basketball team will be that much closer to herd immunity for the season. Go Hawks!
(It’s so much easier to infect a small squad than a football roster — so watch for the entire wrestling squad to be diagnosed at once.)
* We find confirmation that UI sports teams are only testing on a symptomatic basis — which, incidentally, is also confirmation that the people who run the UI athletic department are too dumb to have their jobs — in this report yesterday, from Mark Emmert at HawkCentral: Iowa men’s basketball team stops workouts after two players test positive for COVID-19.
All the men’s basketball players were tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival to campus last month. Subsequently, they are only being tested if they’re showing symptoms or it is recommended by medical staff.
This testing protocol is like if Kim Reynolds was the AD at Iowa, and her biggest concern was offending Donald Trump.
* Following a bruising by the UI Diversity Councils, bodying by Rob Howe at HawkeyeNation, and in-depth reporting by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg and Michele Steele on Monday, illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld suddenly realized thathe forgot to do something he should have done a year ago.
From the Press-Citizen’s Hillary Ojeda, last Friday: UI president to announce interim replacement for diversity chief who resigned in August. Good dog!
* If you follow Hawkeye sports, always read Patrick Vint at GoIowaAwesome: Let’s Talk About That Erik Campbell Issue.
* From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Iowa’s campus leaders chart different paths in difficult times.
What is particularly noteworthy here is that illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld seems to have answered questions from Miller directly, which is something he has been afraid to do for the past four-plus years.
* From the Gazette’s Erin F. Jordan: Researchers grimly forecast how many Iowans would die from coronavirus by now. We’ve already surpassed that toll. Open the campuses!
* From the Gazette’s Miller: Hancher not alone in becoming self-sufficient.
* From the Gazette’s Diana Nollen: Hancher, ‘arts beacon of Iowa,’ faces uncertain fate.
* Also from the Miller — who is wearing out my asterisk key: University of Iowa plans new Nonfiction Writing Program home in historic house.
This is a good example of what happens when Iowa City grabs the University of Iowa by its face and explains that UI is not just going to tear down old buildings because it wants to put up yet another temple to entrepreneurial colonialism. Props to all involved for finding this solution.
* And yet more reporting from Vanessa, who really needs no other introduction at this point: University of Iowa hospitals rank nationally in four specialties, fewer than years past.
“UI Hospitals and Clinics is the only hospital in Iowa to be ranked in the Top 50 in any specialty,” according to a UIHC news release on the rankings.
But four is the fewest number of specialties UIHC has been ranked in nationally in recent years, down from six last year; seven the year before; five in 2017-18; seven in 2016 and 2015; and nine in 2014, according to The Gazette’s review of previous rankings.
Thus continues the diminishment of UIHC under the catastrophic leadership of illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld. One wonders what, if anything, will be left in three years.
* From Randy Evans in the Des Moines Register: Top-heavy Iowa universities needed some streamlining long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Administrators in the [University of Iowa’s] largest academic department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, notified 15 lecturers that their jobs were ending. This was the first round of cuts to deal with the university’s $76 million in budget losses related to the coronavirus.
One month later, the Iowa City school announced that its top academic officer, Provost Montserrat Fuentes, was leaving immediately after just one year in that role. Instead of packing her bags, however, she will become a “special assistant” to President Bruce Harreld for the coming academic year.
Her new job is one that did not exist before Harreld announced she would fill it.
She has a magic job now, from a magic man.
* Unless you are a subscriber there is only a headline and the opening two graphs here, from Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn at the Wall Street Journal, but that tells the whole story: Back-to-College Plans Devolve Into a Jumble of Fast-Changing Rules. The reality of COVID-19 is going to obliterate the fantasies of college and K-12 administrators, and there will be much more off this, rapidly accelerating, over the coming weeks.
07/25/20 Following last week’s closed-door performance evaluations for the institutional heads at the state schools, this Wednesday the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents will hold a one-day virtual meeting to pass the budget for the upcoming school year, and to resolve sundry agenda items. While there has already been a heavy financial reckoning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the losses going forward are less than I expected for the University of Iowa, more than I expected for Iowa State, and about what I expected for Northern Iowa. (You can read more about all that here from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller, and here from Katie Ann McCarver at the Daily Iowan.)
Between a petty, punitive, last-second funding cut by the state legislature, and losses from projected enrollment declines, UI is expected to be $18M short this year. While that does represent a substantial decrease, in the context of a global pandemic, and against a $4B annual budget, it is a relative drop in the budgetary bucket. That won’t keep illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld from screaming about it, however, so he can turn around and use that lost revenue to dispense with irritating personnel and unprofitable programs, or even entire departments.
Having said all that, the most important takeaway from this item, which you should keep in mind while reading the next item, is that the regents — who could easily control the environment at their Urbandale offices — are still not meeting in person, even though we are less than thirty days away from the first day of in-person classes at the state schools.
* I am sure this has happened before in other industries — professional sports comes to mind — but it is nonetheless bracing to watch higher-ed reveal itself to be little more than a bloodthirsty racket. In the face of a lethal global pandemic, not only has higher education discarded its pretense to reason like the facade it clearly was, but the administrative thugs who are insisting that college and university campuses be reopened are at the same time preemptively blaming students for any outbreaks that do occur.
Case in point, consider this op-ed in the Des Moines Register from Iowa State professor Michael Bugeja: The new honor code: What college students must pledge in fall semester.
Universities are economic engines. We cannot afford another shutdown and need a coordinated effort to impress upon students what the new honor code requires, including masks, increased hygiene and continued social distancing — off campus as well as on.
The only thing I respect in the entire piece is the fact that Bugela admits it’s all about the money, because of course there is no rational basis for compelling students to return to any campus. Requiring students to congregate, however, while then insisting that they behave other than college students have behaved since the dawn of time, is contemptible. Whatever happens at ISU, UI and UNI this fall — and on campuses around the country that are insisting on in-person classes to drive revenue — that is one hundred percent the responsibility of the money-grubbing governing boards and complicit administrators at those institutions.
* From John Taylor at NBC Sports: Rutgers becomes second Big Ten team to quarantine entire football team. Open the campuses!
* An interesting article from the Daily Iowan’s Lillian Poulsen: Students concerned about UI rollout of CARES Act funding. Only a week or two ago the University of Iowa was patting itself on the back for doling out all of this money, and yet the details are less than impressive. In fact, it sounds a lot like the crony payouts that were made at the federal level, where people with connections were first in line, and everyone else got screwed. (You would think a major public research university would be capable of generating and distributing clear and fair instructions, but you would be wrong.)
* Also from Lillian Poulsen at the DI: Students coming to the UI from Chicago share concerns about required travel quarantine. Even weirder than you think.
* Caleb McCullough at the Daily Iowan: UI announces alternative learning arrangements for high-risk students.
* As a follow-up, in mid-June the University of Iowa announced ten hours of live video briefings about plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. On this past Wednesday we got the ninth such briefing, about research, which lasted all of ten minutes. And on that same day it was also announced that there would be no second (tenth) briefing the following day.
As a result, out of a total of ten hours or promised briefings, the university delivered about two and a half hours of relatively distinct content, during pointlessly live sessions which offered viewers no opportunity to respond. Instead of informing the public, the briefings were largely an exercise in administrative theater, and did little or nothing to help advance the cause of keeping the campus safe. Because as just alluded to, the primary vector for viral disease transmission is social interaction, which is inherent in any college or university campus.
This is what the University of Iowa has become under illegitimate president J. Bruce Harreld — who, among other hucksterish positions, was the former head of global marketing for IBM. Instead of being a fount of knowledge, Iowa makes bold promises for the sake of headlines, then fails to follow through. And yet, we can always be thankful that this bit of lunacy was captured for posterity:
After over a month of repeated searches, including some of the craziest corners of the internet, I can still find no other individual espousing the deranged view that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is different in different parts of the country, let alone in different parts of a single state. That this is the man who is responsible for keeping the UI campus safe is obviously concerning.
07/23/20 — A recurrent problem with paying close attention to well-educated people in positions of power, who routinely make incoherent, stupid, corrupt or abusive decisions, is that your mind keeps trying to make logical sense out of what are in fact incoherent, stupid, corrupt or abusive decisions. And of course the people who make those incoherent, stupid, corrupt or abusive decisions are all too happy to encourage uncertainty by professing false motives, vouching for each other, or outright lying. Fortunately, if you can just hang in long enough, sooner or later disparate acts of incoherence, stupidity, corruption or abuse end up contradicting each other, once again proving the enduring utility of simple logic.
For example, this past Friday the University of Iowa announced that all “fall youth programming” would be cancelled through the end of the calendar year, and the basis for that decision was unambiguous:
After considering the health and safety of program participants, as well as that of University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff, the university has made the difficult decision that it will not offer in-person youth programs during the fall period from Aug. 8, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.
In a rational world, of course, that certainly makes sense. There is a lethal pandemic afoot, and even though young people do not seem particularly susceptible to the ravages of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, not only is it better to be safe than sorry, but children can be vectors for transmission to more vulnerable populations. On the other hand, many of those fall youth programs are designed for older K-12 students, who are not that much younger than — or perhaps even the same age as — many of the 32K college students who are not only being welcomed back to campus with open arms, but ordered back to campus at the tip of an administrative spear.
So…something about the “health and safety of program participants, as well as that of University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff”, made it impossible to continue programs for one group of young people, but those “health and safety” concerns are not an obstacle to on-campus instruction for another group of young people who are roughly the same age. As if that weren’t enough, however, we also learned this past Friday that Iowa’s murderous governor, Kim Reynolds, would be forcing all K-12 schools to conduct in-room classes at least half of the time. And of course in the context of UI cancelling its fall youth programs on the very same day, you can see the problem.
If it is not merely permissible to hold in-person K-12 classes, but the murderous governor is actively compelling schools to do so at the point of an administrative spear, then why did the University of Iowa have to cancel its fall youth programs “after considering the health and safety” of all involved? If K-12 students are perfectly safe in their own schools, and college-age students are perfectly safe at the University of Iowa, then why would only those K-12 students who participated in UI’s fall youth programs be at significant risk? And of course the only possible answers are, A) they wouldn’t be at risk, or, B) Iowa’s K-12 and UI college students are also at risk, and no one other than a psychopath would insist on holding in-person classes for any students during a lethal global pandemic.
* On Monday, Rob Howe at HawkeyeNation published a scoop: ’18 Athletic Department Study Showed Serious Racial Bias in Iowa Football:
The document obtained by HawkeyeNation.com gives clear indications that greater change was needed some time ago, but it took a group of former student-athletes publicly speaking out and applying pressure to spark action. Presented to the athletic department in early 2019, the report details many of the same racial bias allegations raised by the players last month. A Diversity Task Force (DTF), comprised of nine UI employees who conducted interviews in fall 2018, created the nine-page report.
You can read the full report here, but even without diving into the details the problem is obvious. When allegations of racial discrimination and other abuses were made in early June on social media, Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and Athletic Director Gary Barta took turns weeping before the press, professing complete surprise that there was discontent in the football program. With Howe’s scoop, however, we now know both of those men were lying to save their jobs. Instead of fessing up they shoved $1.3M in the pockets of now-former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, then tossed him over the side as a scapegoat, to appease the rabble.
Well, as of Monday, that’s over — which is not to say that Ferentz or Barta will lose their jobs, because they both work for a pliant dweeb who spent the past five years sucking up to both of them. And speaking of illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld, it’s also worth asking whether he knew about the report that Howe disclosed, and the weight of evidence strongly suggests that he did. From the first page of the deeply disingenuous, whitewashed four-page summary of the report, which was published on the UI website at the conclusion of the Task Force:
The Task Force serves as a subcommittee of the UI Path Forward: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Collaboration (DEI-C) Committee which aims to create and sustain a welcoming, collaborative environment for all members of the community as part of the UI campus-wide strategic plan.
While Harreld was not on that task force, former UI VP for Student Life and interim Chief Diversity Officer Melissa Shivers was, and she had a direct report to Harreld. In addition, not only is the UI Path Forward process Harreld’s baby, but he sits on the Steering Committee, and in both that role and as president he would have been given a copy of that task force report. For the sake of completeness, we will also note that after the failure of Harreld’s initial, two-track Path Forward process, the committee structure was streamlined in 2017 with advice from faculty.
From the announcement of the new Path Forward structure on the Iowa Now website, on 11/09/17:
While the previous Path Forward teams were organized by their focus on short-term or long-term initiatives, the PFSC will organize and facilitate four work groups that each focus on different areas of the strategic plan:
• Student Success;
• Research and Discovery;
• Engagement; and
• Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Collaboration.
Setting aside the fact that diversity was not one of the three areas of focus in the UI Strategic Plan, the DEI-C committee was indeed one of four work groups which launched under the new Path Forward process. Roughly two years later — or a year after the task force that Howe reported on Monday — Harreld mentioned the DEI-Cwork group. From a Daily Iowan interview of Harreld on 09/29/19:
Secondly, more importantly, is the action plan for the DEI —Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — came out….
You can see the UI DEI ‘action plan’ here, and in it you will find numerous mentions of the DEI-C committee. Notably, on p. 14, AD Gary Barta is also quoted:
… We believe creating a welcoming environment for every student-athlete, coach, and staff member is paramount to accomplishing our goals. Improving and growing the diversity of our student-athletes and staff is an important part of that effort.
It is not surprising that an arrogant administrator like Gary Barta said one thing while doing the opposite. Likewise, on the academic side of the UI campus, J. Bruce Harreld routinely says all the right things while demoting and devaluing DEI in his own office. The critical difference between the two is that because Harreld is Barta’s boss, Harreld also had an administrative responsibility to compel reforms in the athletic department after the task force issued its report. And clearly Harreld failed to do that. (As to why Harreld failed to compel reforms, see the 07/20/20 entry in the previous thread.)
The reality at UI is that Harreld is a pom-pom waving cheerleader for Barta, and always has been. Instead of making sure the UI campus is free from discrimination, Harreld actively covers for and excuses abusers, including Barta. From the 03/09/18 interview of Harreld by the Daily Iowan, a little over one year after the university was found guilty of gender discrimination in court:
Harreld: It wasn’t Gary Barta, it was the University of Iowa. The lawsuit was not against Gary Barta, it was against this institution.
Not only did Harreld not require Barta to apologize to two former female athletic-department employees whose lives and careers Barta destroyed, but when questioned about the case the president of the University of Iowa used legalistic hair-splitting to absolve Barta of any personal responsibility. So it’s not too hard to imagine that there will be no demand for accountability from Harreld regarding the most recent allegations of discrimination, or even Monday’s revelation that Ferentz and Barta are lying trash. Then again, the evidence strongly suggests that Harreld is in league with those men in covering up their willful ignorance of racial discrimination at UI.
Here again is the link to the only known commentary from the president of UI — over what will soon be two months — regarding the recent allegations of discrimination in the UI football program. Over the entire twenty-seven minute interview, Harreld and his lapdog interrogator spend four minutes or so talking about “Hawkeye football” [see the 18:06 mark], including hard-hitting observations like this from Bro Bruce:
Harreld: “I’m a huge Kirk Ferentz fan.”
Harreld: “Kirk is a straight-forward, high integrity individual, and I have every — every confidence that he, Gary, and all of the other coaches will, actually, come out of this much stronger.”
We now know, of course, that neither Kirk Ferentz nor Gary Barta are “high integrity individual[s]”. What we also know is that Harreld himself has no excuse regarding Monday’s scoop by Rob Howe. The best Harreld could do would be claim that he was derelict in his responsibilities and never read the report, but he was certainly aware of the report. And yet he still went right out and vouched for Feretnz and Barta, who also knew about the report, because apparently that’s what rich white men in positions of power do when it turns out they have been willfully and systematically minimizing and denying the racism that exists in the organization they lead.
* On Monday and Tuesday of this week the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents met in closed session to evaluate the “institutional heads” of the state schools. With the UI football program turning into a public relations dumpsters fire, and Harreld paying the now-former provost close to half a million dollars to do nothing for the next year, and with his lunatic views on the SARS-CoV-2 virus factored in, the outcome of those secretive deliberations was a foregone conclusion. From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Board of Regents take no action after closed-door presidential evaluations.
* Also from Miller at the Gazette: University of Iowa settles with another top administrator. Not so much a surprise as a reminder that everything at the University of Iowa is a knife fight. (You want to work there? Make sure you have a good lawyer.)
* From Lillian Poulson at the Daily Iowan: University of Iowa students voice concerns about fall plans to offer in-person instruction.
* Natalie Dunlap at the Daily Iowan: Students return to the UI from COVID-19 hotspots.
* Robert Read at the DI: Iowa Athletics Department reports one positive COVID-19 test out of 70 tests conducted in past week.
* Grace King at the Gazette: Iowa City School District still committed to virtual learning; awaiting waiver approval from state.
* Michaela Ramm at the Gazette: Iowa City mayor issues citywide mask mandate: ‘the time to act is now’.
* From Iowa Public Radio: Johnson County Officials Consider Mask Mandate, After Iowa City Mayor Issues Order.
* Linh Ta at the Iowa Capital Dispatch: Fewer Iowa students file for financial aid, signaling a drop in college enrollment.