After five years, eight months and fourteen days of blithering administrative idiocy, illegitimate University of Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld is now Iowa’s former illegitimate president. As warranted I will log any lingering developments on the Harreld front in this post, but I honestly don’t expect to hear from him again unless he is called to testify in court. (When this post scrolls you can find it by searching for ‘epilogue’, or clicking the ‘Harreld’ tag in any other Harreld post.)
08/09/21 — Just flagging this for the everlasting shame — as reported by Cleo Krejci at the Iowa City Press-Citizen: UIowa only Big Ten university without masking requirement for fall semester.
The bureaucratic perversion of the Iowa Board of Regents by right-wing politicians has been complete for close to a decade now, so there is little chance that new University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson will be able to convince the board to change its masking policy. (At least not until the regents have suckered as many revenue-generating students as possible to the UI campus, much as they did last year before providing the vast majority of classes online.) Adding irony to insult, the Board of Regents promotes its current president as a former physician, while at the same time allowing him to omit from his bio the fact that he is currently a casino owner and big-money Republican donor. What a world we live in when a former practicing physician is more than willing to abandon his Hippocratic Oath in service of Iowa’s thrill-killing governor, who can’t enough blood on her hands — so now she’s determined to make sure students of all ages across the state end up contracting and spreading the Delta variant.
Speaking of which…we’re only a few weeks out now from the recent tradition of the UI football program ingratiating itself to sports fans by leading The Wave at sick children looking down from the upper floors of the new UI children’s hospital. No word yet on whether the university plans to announce how many of the children at that hospital are on life support because three months ago Iowa’s Republican politicians also passed a law which makes it illegal to mandate masks for K-12.
08/04/21 — Three weeks after she took office, someone finally updated the University of Iowa Wikipedia page today so it shows Barbara Wilson as the president. For a minute there I thought maybe the former president’s name might remain there for the next two years, at which point he would return to claim the $2M in deferred compensation that he left on the table when he quit.
07/20/21 — On the same day that UI President Barbara Wilson held her first press conference with local media — something I do not believe her predecessor ever did in more than five and a half years in office — the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller reported that projected athletics losses from the pandemic were substantially less than originally anticipated. In that report Miller also included additional info about the terms of the $50M loan from UI to its own athletics department, but there was no additional information about where that cash actually came from. (in an earlier report, UI CFO/Treasurer Terry Johnson had given a greasy answer about the origins of that money.)
Also of note, as was the case with the naming of the then-new UI Children’s Hospital after the Stead family — which was in turn the culmination of the rigged hire of former illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld in 2015, as orchestrated in part by Jerre Stead — the Iowa Board of Regents are pre-announcing another anonymous ‘naming’, which will be revealed at the last possible minute as allowed by law prior to or at the next regent meeting. The very fact that the board is not revealing the name now means the bureaucratic process by which the naming has been granted will likewise be corrupt.
On the tuition-hike front the numbers are now out, and at the bottom of p. 7 of that agenda item the average cost of attendance for undergraduate students at the University of Iowa is set to increase more than $1,000 for the upcoming academic year, and that doesn’t include differential tuition hikes which may be added for certain major or degrees. Not only is that roughly five times more than the increase at Iowa State, and over nine times more than the increase at Northern Iowa, but a whopping $456 of that increase comes from ‘other’ costs that are being levied against UI students. Hopefully there will be some explanation about that sharp price hike/money grab, particularly given that the other regents universities are increasing those ‘other’ costs $0.
Update 7/21/20: The AP is reporting that the University of Iowa is planning to name the field at Kinnick Stadium after Duke Slater. Apart from the glaringly obvious fact that the university is now suddenly making decisions like this as a defensive hedge against rightful accusations that both the athletics department and academics have been hostile to people of color, the decision itself is fine. As to why the university and Board of Regents are not announcing this sooner, my guess would be that they are not looking forward to dealing with blowback from the racist trash among the fans, donors and state politicians who otherwise support the Hawkeye football team and Iowa athletics generally. So yet another bureaucratic profile in cowardice.
07/15/21 — So today is finally the day. After enduring five years and eight months of illegitimate, unqualified and incompetent leadership, the University of Iowa — the state’s one-hundred-and seventy-four-year-old flagship public university — once again has a legitimate, qualified and competent president. In advance of incoming president Barbara Wilson’s first day on the job, the Iowa Board of Regents recently released details about her contract, and on Tuesday the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller reported on the terms of that deal: New University of Iowa president contract includes notable adds.
Were we completely oblivious to the administrative abuses of power that took place at the University of Iowa and at the Iowa Board of Regents over the past six years, the information in Miller’s report might seem perfunctory and banal, but only because Miller is a disciplined beat reporter who sticks to the facts. Because we are not oblivious, however — as attested to by myriad posts in these virtual pages over that same time frame — Miller’s straight reporting still gives us a tantalizing glimpse behind the scenes at the board’s apparently contentious split with the former UI president. Although the university and its governing board often obscure and omit information until they are compelled to do otherwise — including, if necessary, by judicial decree — here the details Miller reports and the context she provides seem to cast a bright light on the machinations which took place around and following the surprise resignation of the former Iowa president.
From the lede to Miller’s piece:
Just weeks before starting her tenure as 22nd University of Iowa president, Barbara Wilson signed a formal employment contract and deferred compensation plan that includes some notable differences from those of her predecessor, Bruce Harreld.
Wilson’s contract, for example, adds a new requirement under her “duties as president” to keep the Board of Regents — primarily through its executive director and president — “fully informed of significant issues affecting the university.”
That includes “matters related to the performance of key personnel, budget and finances, changes in enrollment, litigation and the reputation of the institution,” according to Wilson’s contract, which she signed June 23.
The specifics probably sound completely reasonable because they are completely reasonable. The problem is that those reasonable specifics were not foisted on the previous president, who was male. In fact, the most-recent UI president — a boy’s-club crony who was installed by a small-cabal of male co-conspirators in 2015, then protected by the board despite repeated gaffes and prevarications — was given free rein, even though his predecessor was publicly excoriated by the regents after botching a single interview question with the Daily Iowan. Meaning if the board was serious about demanding timely communication from its presidents, one might have assumed that the board would have added such a requirement to the recently-retired president’s contract when he was hired in 2015, but clearly that didn’t happen.
The kicker is that the earlier president the board went after in public was also female, so apparently it’s only when the University of Iowa has a female president that that the governing board is concerned about holding UI presidents accountable for failed communication. (This sexist bias against holding male presidents publicly accountable was also on full display at Iowa State University in 2016, when it was reported that former disgraced ISU president Steven Leath had damaged a state aircraft. In that case not only was it later determined that Leath kept the board in the dark about his repeated use of state aircraft for personal trips, but the board president failed to inform the rest of the board about the initial aircraft damage. And yet even after all that, the board’s ultimate response was to publicly give Leath their full support.)
Continuing from Miller’s report:
It also includes a new section that was not in Harreld’s contract, titled, “Work product.” That section states that “all correspondence, papers, documents, reports, files, films, work products, and all copies or derivatives thereof received or prepared by Wilson in the course of performing, or as an incident to, the duties and responsibilities hereunder shall immediately, upon such receipt or preparation, become the exclusive property of the university.”
All those materials or documents should be given to or left with the university “upon termination of this agreement.”
If you’re sensing a theme in the new provisions in Wilson’s contract, I don’t think you’re wrong. Whatever else he accomplished at the University of Iowa, if anything, her predecessor seems to have taught his bosses at the Board of Regents a whole lot about how they don’t want future presidents to behave. In fact, from the quote above it’s hard not to conclude that the former president had a snit fit and tried to run off with, or perhaps even to destroy, communications and other documents related to the performance of his duties. (Nothing like closing the barn door after the horse’s ass has already absconded.)
In addition to differences in the contracts for Wilson and Harreld, the board wrote in changes to Wilson’s deferred compensation agreement — which will contribute $400,000 annually for a total payout of $2 million in 2026.
Unlike Harreld’s deferred compensation plan, Wilson’s stipulates the plan “does not constitute, nor may it be deemed to constitute, an employment contract between the president and the board or the university.”
“Nothing contained in this plan gives or may be deemed to give the president the right to be retained in the service of the board or the university or to interfere with the right of the board to discharge her in accordance with the terms of her employment agreement,” according to Wilson’s plan.
Again, it’s almost impossible not to read this new contractual provision as a reaction to legal contortions initiated by the former president, who — as Miller noted — walked away from more than $2M in deferred compensation when he resigned. Why else would explicit language like that be added unless the former president and his sharky attorney(s) attempted to prevent that $2M from being forfeit by making the exact same ludicrous argument? (The idea that the former UI president may have argued that the regents were obligated to keep him employed in some capacity specifically so he could collect his deferred compensation, even after he quit with more than two years remaining on his contract as president, is not only hilarious, it would be perfectly in keeping with the former president’s private-sector ethos.)
Miller’s report contains an additional two hundred and fifty words on detailed specifics about deferred compensation and university assets, and I think anyone would conclude that those specifics speak directly to efforts the former president must have undertaken to get his grubby mitts on that $2M in deferred compensation, even as he publicly positioned himself as only being passionately concerned from a philanthropic perspective. And that then brings us to this, which is just outright weird:
And, unlike Harreld’s agreement, Wilson’s specifically states neither she nor any designated beneficiary can “grant, assign, transfer, pledge or otherwise assign, in whole or in part … the president’s benefit under this plan or the assets of the trust.”
“Any such attempted grant, transfer, pledge or assignment will be null and void and without legal effect,” according to Wilson’s plan. “Further, the president’s benefit payable at any time under this plan shall not be subject in any manner to the debts or liabilities of any person entitled to the president’s benefit, and neither the board nor the university shall be required to make any payments toward such debts or liabilities.”
The first part fits with the former president’s very public and self-aggrandizing attempt to direct the use of that $2M, even after he retired and was denied that benefit himself, but what is that about using the money to cover debts? Did someone effectively — or literally — try to place a lien against that $2M, because of a debt owed by the former president? As for the phrase, “any person entitled to the president’s benefit”, were I in a particularly dark mood I could certainly speculate about who that might be, but fortunately I’m happy as a clam about Iowa’s future. (If you’re late tuning, it should be noted that the former president’s main residence in Colorado is a $6M chalet near Vail, and that shortly before he was hired at Iowa he may have owned four or more multi-million-dollar homes around the United States.)
Finally — as if all of that wasn’t enough — Miller reports this:
Wilson’s plan, unlike Harreld’s, includes a section specifically defining the terms “separation from service,” “disability” and “cause” — as in separation from service with or without “cause.”
“‘Cause’ means the president’s willful failure to substantially perform her duties and responsibilities to the board or the university or violation of a material board or university policy,” according to Wilson’s plan, which includes as examples of “cause”:
• Fraud, embezzlement, dishonesty, or other willful misconduct
• “Material unauthorized use or disclosure of any proprietary information of the board or the university or any other party to whom the president owes an obligation of nondisclosure as a result of her employment by the board and the university.”
As a government agency in a so-called right-to-work state, the Iowa Board of Regents could have booted the former University of Iowa president at any point in his tenure, without offering any justification. Because no one in their right mind would take a job that was at perpetual risk, however, the former president’s contract almost certainly contained — or should have contained — provisions which defined what would happen if he was replaced because the board simply wanted to move in another administrative direction, as opposed to being removed for dereliction, or ’cause’. Specifically, while acknowledging that the board had the right to terminate his contract for any reason, the board would have still owed the former president the remainder of his full contract if he was not fired for cause, as is often the case with college coaches. And of course if there was a dispute about what constituted cause they could either settle to avoid litigation, or take that fight to the courts and make a spectacle in public.
On the other hand, the idea that the regents suddenly feel obligated to explicitly state that fraud and embezzlement constitute a valid basis for terminating the University of Iowa president for cause is both hilarious and lunatic. In that first bullet point, however, what strikes me as particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of the very broad charge of “dishonesty”, which — as documented in posts too numerous to mention — could have been used to terminate the former president’s contract, for cause, on an almost monthly basis during his tenure. (Again, both the prior board and the current board never showed any inclination other than to enable and protect the former president, but at least they’re catching up to the idea that ethics and integrity are and should be a core component of the UI president’s role.)
As for the second bullet point, it’s easy — and admittedly fun — to imagine all sorts of hidden intrigue from the text, but I can also think of one particular instance in which the former UI president went right ahead and shot off his mouth after being legally barred from doing so. Specifically, when a former UI administrator quit after only six weeks on the job, that administrator and the university signed a separation agreement which obligated all parties to secrecy. Despite that agreement, however, the former UI president proceeded to discuss that resignation in detail during an interview with the Daily Iowan (irony), in what seemed to be a clear violation of the terms of that prohibition.
This then is the legacy of the former president of the University of Iowa: a litany of new contractual clauses and prohibitions which are intended to limit the exposure of the Iowa Board of Regents to a rogue employee who has little or no allegiance to honesty. Quite the fitting administrative epitaph, and one that comes as no surprise even though the damning specifics were unknown until this week.
If there was one contractual provision I was half-expecting that Miller did not report, it was a provision that would grant tenure to incoming president Wilson, subject to various milestones and approvals. While I do not support the granting of tenure as a perquisite of administrative employment, and believe tenure should be rigorously protected as a purely academic status related to active research, scholarship and teaching, that didn’t stop some anonymous bureaucrat from slipping a tenure provision into the former president’s contract, despite that fact that he was manifestly unqualified for any such consideration. That Barbara Wilson — who is academically qualified — may not have been offered the same provision would be both a positive in terms of administrative policy at UI, and an obvious slight relative to the coddling of the former president.
Because the Iowa Board of Regents strictly adheres to the administrative code of silence which plagues higher education — like similar codes in religion, medicine and law — we will probably never know everything that happened with the former UI president. From the extensive new provisions in Wilson’s contract, however, it seems abundantly clear that there was a heckuva back-room fight over that $2M in deferred compensation, and at some point legal knives were drawn, perhaps even in anticipation of litigation. We will also probably never know if the former president was able to extract some other compensation or concessions from the board on the way out the door, or if he just had to eat that loss — as he should have — but in concluding her report Miller did remind readers of an important point:
Neither the university nor the Board of Regents has shared details about why Harreld left his position earlier than originally planned.
Between the former president’s own toxic ego needs and desire to control the narrative of his resignation, however, and the fact that his departure makes it easier for people at UI or at the board to speak off the record, I suspect we will learn more as time passes. And of course we’re also still waiting for the Iowa State Auditor’s official report on the UI public-private utility partnership, which may include information about the secret Iowa investors who were pivotal to that deal. As for President Barbara Wilson, I don’t have any concern that she will do anything other than set a good example for the campus to follow, and not just because her predecessor set such a low bar. If she also decides to order information disclosed which helps rebuild trust with the University of Iowa community, that’s even better.
Now — who wants to pop over and update the woefully outdated information on the University of Iowa Wikipedia page?
Inside joke here.
As for the Wikipedia page, at day’s end it still shows the name of the former illegitimate UI president. Perhaps one of these fifty-four people will find the time to make the change.
07/08/21 — We haven’t talked about COVID-19 lately in the context of higher education, and today seems like a good day. In one week, incoming University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson will inherit a public university campus that has gone completely dark on the coronavirus pandemic since the conclusion of the spring semester. Not only has there been no campus-wide update since early June — despite thousands of employees toiling there every day — but in late May the president of the Iowa Board of Regents, Mike Richards, lifted the previously declared state of emergency and ordered the state campuses to return to normal on July 1st.
Although Mother Nature obviously has a different plan in mind, even the aggressive rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 might not be a crushing problem if the state schools required vaccination for staff, faculty, administrators and students, but unfortunately, all the way back in mid-April, President Richards also decreed that vaccinations would not be required at the state schools. Because of substantial vaccine hesitancy in Iowa — which is largely the result of the political party that Richards represents and bows to — that means the state schools will once again become breeding grounds for rapid transmission of the coronavirus when classes commence again in late August. (When it comes to predicting the future, the Iowa Board of Regents needs a new psychic.)
I mention all of this because today we learned that despite relatively low prevalence in Japan, the Tokyo Olympics will be held without fans in attendance because of new outbreaks of the Delta variant. And of course that policy reversal also has ramifications for the athletic departments at Iowa’s state schools, which already weathered one academic cycle with non-existent gate revenue. And again that would be less of an issue if the regents required everyone to be vaccinated, but hey — it’s a free country, except if you might transmit the measles.
The next meeting of the Iowa Board of Regents is in three weeks, at the end of July, when the board will announce punishing new tuition hikes to make up for the pandemic tuition freeze that was implemented last year. Of considerably more interest, however, will be whether Richards changes course either on vaccination policy or on opening the campuses for business as usual in the fall, because right now every college campus in America is once again shaping up to be an engine of virus dispersal as soon as students return. As for fall sports at Iowa’s state schools, and specifically fan attendance, I really don’t know what Richards is going to do, but jamming 70K fans into Kinnick stadium when a third or more may not be vaccinated strikes me as one way to eventually solve the problem — after allowing for incubation times, severe illness, and subsequent inevitable deaths.
07/07/21 — With eight days to go before incoming University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson begins her tenure at the school on July 15th, the UI Office of Strategic Communication remains committed to deceiving the UI campus, the press and the public concerning implicit and explicit promises that were made about annual distributions from the UI public-private utility partnership (P3). From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller today, following up on her own recent reporting about the UI P3:
“The endowment is producing as expected,” UI spokeswoman Anne Bassett told The Gazette. “And while the year-one funding cycle has been completed, the university is always looking to utilize up to $15 million of the P3 non-reoccurring funds in order to further Iowa’s strategic plan.”
Belatedly injecting the words “up to” as a qualifier is tantamount to rhetorical fraud, but fortunately for the university there is apparently no law against reneging on administrative promises. For the record, however, I can find only one context in which the words “up to” were used to describe distributions from the UI P3, and it doesn’t have anything to do with limiting the $15M annual payments. From back in October of 2010, in a press release discussing the pending implementation of the purportedly transparent grant process — meaning eight months after the P3 was approved, in part on the promise of $15M in annual distributions to the campus:
Grants can last up to five years, and anyone from the UI campus community will be able to apply as long as the proposed project supports the UI strategic plan.
Here of course the “up to” qualifier relates not to the amount that would be distributed each year, but to how long the grants could continue. As for the total annual amount that will be funded, $15M was consistently referenced not as a ceiling but as a floor. In fact, from this current page on the UI website you can clearly see that no such dollar qualifier was or is in place regarding distributions from the endowment.
Whatever else we might say about administrators from the UI Office of Strategic Communication lying to the UI campus, prior to the retirement of the former illegitimate president it was assumed the corruption at UI emanated from the president’s office. With that former failed president now gone, however, and the new president yet to take office, it would seem to fall to current interim president John Keller to determine whether the university would be straight with the public, and clearly the university has decided it will not be — at least for another eight days.
Per usual, Miller’s new reporting includes all of the relevant context around the UI P3, but even at that the new information from the university is confusing. As Miller reports, the UI P3 endowment seems to be awash in new profits, yet the university is still intentionally obscuring its funding shortfall for current FY2022. From Miller’s report:
Since putting into an endowment $985.9 million of the $1.165 billion it received in an upfront payment as part of a blockbuster 50-year deal to let a private collaborative operate its utilities system, the University of Iowa’s P3 investment fund has increased $139.9 million, officials told The Gazette.
So the overall endowment is up sharply over the first 16 months of the 50-year deal, yet the total amount that will be distributed to the UI campus for FY2022 remains far short of the $15M that was repeatedly promised during the year-long campaign to sell the deal on that very basis.
That first withdrawal brought the fund’s market value to $1.118 billion. And administrators last month announced plans in the new budget year to disburse another $12.128 million to seven projects aimed at collaboratively advancing the university’s strategic goals.
That $12 million is under the $15 million a year officials — at the outset — said the investment would allow the campus to return back to its “core missions of teaching, research, and scholarship.”
As noted in the previous update, the kicker is that this $12M will be distributed over three years, meaning only $4M or so will be distributed in FY2022 — despite the endowment sitting on $140M in profits. So what’s going on here? Why isn’t the university passing along the money it promised to distribute, when performance has clearly outpaced the original projections?
Unfortunately, this is where we always end up with the University of Iowa. Unless you have access to the actual books — meaning the hard numbers, and not the spin that the UI Office of Strategic Communication puts out as a matter of routine — you will never know what is really happening at the school. As for the ongoing costs of the UI P3, Miller also included some new information about the payments to the university’s private-sector energy partners, but again the information is obscured in ways that make it impossible to decipher:
For the fiscal year that just ended — the first under the new arrangement — the university paid the UI Energy Collaborative $4.6 million a month, or $55.4 million for the year. That’s the same monthly rate it paid the collaborative in April, May, and June of the 2020 budget year — after the deal took effect.
The problem here is that it’s not clear — particularly relative to projections from the P3 approval process (see pp. 14-18 here) — how this monthly amount relates to prior cost estimates. (It’s also not clear whether that monthly amount is a reported average or a fixed cost — meaning there could have been some variance on a monthly basis, or perhaps an additional lump-sum payment at the end of the fiscal year.) It is even unclear whether that $55.4M total was for the concessionaire costs, which would be a savings over projections, or represents the university’s FY2021 utility costs, which would be a significant increase. What we can say with certainty, however, is that it doesn’t cover both, so there is a substantial component of the total utility cost which is not captured by that $55.4M number.
Hopefully there will be additional reporting about these numbers, including particularly an expected report from the Iowa State Auditor, which Miller also noted. That said, the enthusiastic and willful obfuscation of information by state employees at the University of Iowa is also useful, because it gives a clearer picture of just how corrupt the University of Iowa is and probably was apart from the malevolent former president. (It may well be that despite being a public institution, the University of Iowa is congenitally incapable of being honest with the people of Iowa.)
The good news is that in only a few weeks, after incoming president Barbara Wilson takes over, we will know that of a certainty. If there is no change then we really can think of the University of Iowa as nothing more than a partially state-funded corporation, which exists first and foremost to line the pockets of the people who work there, whether they’re lying to the public or not. On the other hand, Wilson does have an opportunity to make clear to the UI Office of Strategic Communication that deceit is not an acceptable communication strategy at a public university.
07/01/21 — From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller we have more reporting on the administrative carnage left behind by the recently departed illegitimate president of the University of Iowa: Former University of Iowa provost submits pandemic impact report before leaving. As regular readers know, over the course of a year or so two high-ranking UI administrators stepped down under mysterious circumstances, only to then take made-up jobs in the president’s office while continuing to be paid at their full former salaries. We never learned why the university signed settlement agreements with those individuals, but as a result of their make-work positions they were obligated to submit garden-variety reports on subjects of sufficient plausible interest to justify the university’s determination to buy their silence with state funds. (Miller’s prior reporting on the arc of those make-work appointments and expensive legal settlements can be found here, here, here and here, and here, here, here and here.)
In keeping with the ethos of the private sector, from whence the former illegitimate UI president came, he did successfully obscure his own administrative failings by trading six-figure, state-funded payouts in exchange for legal documents which obligate those individuals to secrecy in perpetuity. That said, the absurdity of the disparity between the work performed and the compensation paid makes abundantly clear that the university was in the wrong, if not the former president himself, because otherwise the school would not have paid more than half a million dollars for two anemic slide presentations which will never be looked at again. (Among the perquisites of leadership at Iowa’s flagship university is the ability to use other people’s money to obscure your own mistakes.)
Relatedly, Miller does an excellent job of highlighting the degree to which the University of Iowa has come to rely on its strategic plan as both an all-purpose propaganda instrument and a catch-all excuse for whatever actions administrators want to justify in the moment:
“This assessment will help the UI inform its ongoing development of the new strategic plan given the changing landscape we are facing in a post-COVID world,” UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck told The Gazette.
As regular readers know, the university has traditionally renewed its strategic plan every five years or so, using an extensive and inclusive campus-wide process. Shortly after the former illegitimate president was imposed on the campus, however, as a result of a corrupt search process, he instituted an accelerated development timetable which limited input and ensured that his ego-centric vision would be memorialized in that document. From that point forward, almost everything the university did was deemed to be in service of some stray component of what was little more than an instrument of propaganda, and to the discredit of the school as a whole almost everyone embraced that administrative perversion. Which is in turn how this transpired last year:
Per the settlement, Fuentes was to lead the team updating Iowa’s strategic plan and commit a portion of her time to research. The yearlong special assignment was to end Wednesday, when she could remain on faculty at 60-percent reduced pay, according to the agreement.
Although Fuentes’ settlement said she’d be “leading the team to update the university’s strategic plan,” Beck more recently said Fuentes is “charged with assessing the impact of COVID on institutions of higher education (and) evaluating what other schools are doing as they navigate through the pandemic.”
Fuentes’ name was not included on the university’s 2016-2021 strategic plan development group, nor was she listed as a member of the UI strategy team charged with developing, implementing and evaluating the campus’ new 2022-2027 strategic plan.
Among the great frauds premised on the current UI Strategic Plan has been a recurrent after-the-fact attempt to assert that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is one of three or four core pillars of that document. (You can see that effort memorialized here, in now-archived pages for the ‘Path Forward’ process that the former illegitimate UI president implemented, to ensure that he could control selective implementation of entrepreneurial aspects of the current strategic plan.) In fact, DEI was not a core part of the current strategic plan, but the university finesses that lie by pointing to a kind of living evolution of the document, even though it was never actually revised. As such, the University of Iowa now both claims to follow an almost divinely inspired document in the formal plan, while also asserting that it’s really only a guideline, and that it is only to be taken seriously when it benefits whichever craven administrators is on the hot seat, or wants to get something done that would otherwise obviously be inappropriate.
If incoming president Barbara Wilson is serious about reestablishing the integrity and credibility of the University of Iowa, she will personally review the ongoing development process of the new strategic plan, and make sure that individual line items wedged into the document are no longer selectively weaponized against the greater intent of the university’s community’s overall goals.
06/30/21 — When incoming University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson takes office in the middle of July, she will take ownership not only of the future of the school, but of programs and initiatives which were implemented by her illegitimate predecessor. Dominating that battered legacy is of course the UI P3 — an elaborate public-private utility project which purported to be a revolutionary energy deal, but was in fact a $1B loan that the university intended to invest in the markets through an endowment, to generate profitable annual returns. While you might think it would be self-evident that no government entity should gamble borrowed money against the Iowa state treasury, the entrepreneurial geniuses in central administration and at the Iowa Board of Regents enthusiastically embraced the UI P3, perhaps because they assumed they would be long gone — figuratively, if not literally — before anything bad happened. (Indeed, the former UI president inexplicably announced his retirement less than seven months after the close of that deal, and he was gone in just over fourteen months, leaving behind more than $2M in deferred income.)
The original plan — as pitched to the board by the former Iowa president and two other high-ranking administrators, during a purely theatrical informational webinar on 12/03/19 — envisioned $7.5M in P3 profits being distributed in FY2021 (after a half year of investment returns), and $15M being distributed every fiscal year thereafter for the fifty-year life of the contract. You can see the promise of those steady payments on p. 18 of the slide show used in the webinar (see the row labeled ‘Strategic Funding’), and you can hear the former UI president promise those annual returns himself at the 24:48 mark of the video, while discussing the previous slide. (Board agenda for the 12/03/19 webinar here; agenda for the equally staged 21/10/19 approval meeting here.)
As reported by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller on 02/04/21 — meaning a little over halfway through Fiscal Year 2021, which started on 07/01/20 and concludes today, and eleven months after the financial close of the P3 on 03/11/20 — the university belatedly announced the initial $7.5M distribution from the endowment, as promised:
Months after the University of Iowa initially planned to allocate millions toward its strategic plan from last year’s blockbuster $1.165 billion public-private utilities partnership, officials Thursday said they’ve decided how to use the first $7.5 million distribution of investment revenue.
Flash forward four and a half months to two weeks ago, and on 06/17/21 the university announced the P3 distributions for upcoming FY2022 — except there was a problem. Or actually two related problems, the second much worse than the first.
Here’s how the university press release on the Iowa Now website initially presented the news of those distributions:
7 collaborative projects approved for P3 funding
Initiatives approved for Year 1 funding support Iowa’s strategic priorities
After a rigorous proposal and selection process, the University of Iowa has awarded seven interdisciplinary projects with more than $12 million in funding generated by the public-private partnership (P3) with its utility system.
So instead of $15M for FY2022 the university would only distribute a little over $12M, which is another way of saying the school would fall $3M short of its revenue commitment from the P3 endowment. If you pushed past the headline, subhead and lede of that press release, however, and read the specifics for each of the seven projects, the magnitude of the shortfall was considerably worse. As reported by Emily Delgado at the Daily Iowan, on 06/23/21:
The UI awarded more than $12 million across the seven projects. The funding will be given out over three years for all seven projects.
Instead of falling $3M short for FY2022, which would be bad enough, the shortfall in the first full year will be some pro-rated amount of $12M spread over the next three fiscal years. Meaning if the amounts are distributed evenly the total would be only $4M, or an $11M shortfall from the first full year of anticipated P3 profits. (Even if half of the announced $12M is distributed in FY2022, that would still be a $9M shortfall in that year alone.)
Two days ago, on 06/28/21, the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller confirmed the three-year distribution time frame for the announced $12M distribution:
Near the end of the first full budget year since the University of Iowa initiated a $1.165 billion public-private partnership to operate its utilities system, campus administrators have identified seven projects to receive a total $12 million from the partnership-enabled endowment.
The approved projects — landing a range of $113,768 to $4 million over two to three years — focus on research endeavors, student success initiatives and equity issues.
Unless additional P3 revenue is distributed for FY2022, the university will fall substantially short of the $15M that was promised for the coming fiscal year. In order to make up that shortfall, UI will have to distribute an additional $16.5M in each of FY2023 and FY2024, over and above the $12M which will already be distributed across those three years. (After the first partial year, UI promised $15M in distributions from the P3 endowment every year thereafter, or $45M over any three-year span. Add $16.5M more in both FY2023 and FY2024, to the $12M announced for FY2022-FY2024, and that equals $45M.)
Objectively, the University of Iowa has failed to keep its commitment in only the first full year of expected distributions from the P3 endowment. Compounding that problem, the initial UI press release went out of its way to make it sound like $12M was being distributed in FY2022 alone, when that money was being allocated across three years. The fact that no one involved in oversight of the P3 has come forward to explain why there was a shortfall, and whether the shortfall will be made up in subsequent years, is yet another indication that the mendacious spirit of the former president lives on at UI. (You can see the naked lie of the FY2022 distributions on this page, which claims $12.1M in that year for distributions which will actually take place over three years.)
The obvious question, of course, is why the university fell short of its promised P3 revenue for FY2022. Does whatever amount will be distributed in FY2022 represent all of the money that was generated by the P3 endowment over the past year? If so, not only is that a pathetic return on $1B in principal, but it means the university will have to use money from the General Education Fund to pay the required management fees to its private-sector partners. (Not only did the university borrow $1B to play with in the markets, but that loan is leveraged — meaning profits from the university’s investments are critical to being able to meet the terms of that loan over the next half century.)
If additional profits were generated by the endowment, but will not be distributed in FY2022, why is that money being held back? Is it being used as principal to generate greater returns, or is it being siphoned off for some other use? If the latter, how much money is walking out the back door, and where is it going? (Is any P3 money being used to bail out the UI Athletics Department, which is pleading pandemic poverty even as it shovels unprecedented amounts of Hawkeye cash at coaches, and even at assistant coaches?)
As for the stakes involved for the university, consider this assessment by none other than the former illegitimate UI president who led the deal — from the 46:25 mark of the infamous 12/03/19 informational webinar:
If we get through the first seven or eight years of this thing — um…as we planned — we’re going to be in really good shape. If we don’t, we won’t be.
Well here we are a year and a half later, and after meeting the partial-year target for FY2021, the University of Iowa’s plan has already failed. That alone is cause for concern, and almost certainly would have been the headline if the UI Office of Strategic Communication had not pushed out a press release which obscured that failure. Clearly — at least under interim UI President John Keller — the university does not want to explain or even acknowledge the P3 funding shortfall for FY2022, which could portend disaster for the entire deal.
If the legacy of the former president is that the University of Iowa really has become nothing more than a government-subsidized corporation, then not only won’t we get any answers about the FY2022 shortfall, but state employees at the school will continue to deceive the campus community, the press and the public. Alternatively, if incoming president Barbara Wilson wants to rebuild the badly damaged integrity and credibility of UI as an institution of higher learning, she should immediately and directly address this funding shortfall. As a state school the UI campus community, the press and the public have a right to know whether this vaunted partnership is already in trouble, what the university is doing to ensure that the state will not be on the hook if the performance of the P3 endowment is insufficient, and whether the P3 should be abandoned before the financial picture gets significantly worse.
06/15/21 — Notwithstanding the visionary decision to sell alcohol at a profit during Hawkeye sporting events — let alone to people who were likely getting drunk in the parking lot hours beforehand — the first thirty days of John Keller’s two-month interim presidency at the University of Iowa have passed without incident. Given that the summer months are usually quiet on the UI campus, we have reason to hope that the next thirty days will be equally banal, at which point Barbara Wilson will begin her five-year reign of staggering administrative competence on July 15th.
06/10/21 — So interim University of Iowa President John Keller’s historical claim to fame will be that he’s the guy who technically approved alcohol sales at Iowa sporting events, despite a long and ugly history of alcohol abuse at the school. Given the beating the hospitality industry took during the height of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — including athletic events at every level of play — you might conclude that a loss of revenue was a critical factor in today’s announcement at Iowa, but you would be wrong. In fact, not once in the tightly worded press release from the UI Athletics Department is there a passing nod to either COVID-19 or to any loss of revenue over the past year.
Were that the whole story it would be depressing enough, but this pandemic-agnostic announcement was made not only after an entire year of kvetching about the loss or revenue from said pandemic, but after said loss was explicitly used as justification for terminating four varsity athletic programs. And yet after reading this particular press release, which details one specific way in which new revenue can be generated for the beleaguered UI Athletics Department, you would have no idea that a pandemic was mucking about, spoiling everyone’s fun. In fact, having used the pandemic and consequent loss of revenue as justification for killing off four sports, it’s almost like AD Barta and his crack administrative staff don’t want people leaping to the sensible conclusion that profits from alcohol sales could have been — and still could be — used to save those sports.
That said, in attempting to completely divorce today’s decision from the financial exigencies of the pandemic, the UI Athletics Department actually acknowledges that this plan has been in the works for some time, and so rightly should have been factored in when those program cuts were being made:
“We have been working with our campus partners on this for some time now and we are committed to maintaining a safe and enjoyable game day environment. While there is an opportunity for increased revenue, this decision was based on enhancing the fan experience and providing an additional amenity to our fans,” said Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair.
I don’t know if Gary Barta will be called to testify when the ongoing Title IX lawsuit makes its way to court, but it would certainly be interesting to hear him state under oath that the decision to sell alcohol was A) in the works for “some time”, but B) was in no way implemented because of the revenue crater that forced him to cancel four varsity sports. Because unless he’s willing to make that case, what really happened is that Barta knew — because of the collapse in athletics revenue — that he would be compelled to initiate alcohol sales, but he kept quiet about his intent because he didn’t want to use those profits to save the programs he was determined to terminate.
As for Barta’s claim that the sale of alcohol is not really about money, but about the “fan experience”, that strikes me as a sad admission, if not an indictment. Setting aside the fact that the indirect financial benefits — measured in ticket sales and ancillary concession — will add to any profits from alcoholic beverage sales alone, what does it say about Hawkeye athletics as a product that fans who feel torn between sitting in the stands or having a drink in their hands apparently opt for the latter? How many Hawkeye fans actually view alcohol as a make-or break amenity, and will not attend a Hawkeye sporting event unless they can drink while they’re there? (Back in the day the inability to enjoy something if booze wasn’t part of the program was a sign of alcohol dependence.)
Anyway…whether Bro Keller is carrying water for Bro Barta, or Keller himself likes to drink at Hawkeye sporting events, I think it’s fair to say that incoming president Barbara Wilson either didn’t want to own this decision, or would have opposed it outright. Still, in a month and a half she will be on the hook for all of the downstream effects of that decision, so it would probably be a good idea for her to go on the record before the football season kicks off. Because sooner or later a drunk Hawkeye fan is going to end up in the hospital, in the county jail, or both, after attending an in-person event.
More from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Iowa to sell beer and wine in Kinnick, Carver-Hawkeye; and from Chad Leistikow at HawkCentral: FAQs after Iowa athletics’ decision to sell alcohol at Kinnick Stadium, other events.
06/01/21 — Following the successful conclusion of the recent presidential search at the University of Iowa, today there was another welcome surprise: Board of Regents elect Sherry Bates to serve as president pro tem. All of the political indicators and prior leadership trends at the board suggested that arch political operative David Barker would be elevated from member to president pro tem, in anticipation of taking over whenever current president and political operative Mike Richards decides to step down. Instead, however, the board thankfully appointed one of the least-political regents — who, since her appointment in late 2014, has genuinely seemed more interested in the welfare and safety of the students at the state universities than in implementing some grand, self-serving bureaucratic scheme.
As a practical matter the president pro tem is rarely called upon to make substantive decisions, and this vote is only to fill the remaining term of the prior office holder, which will expire in less than a year. That said, Bates’ term as a regent doesn’t expire until April of 2023, and it would obviously be a bit awkward if she was not appointed to serve a second year as president pro tem, so it may well be that she will hold that office until her own appointment runs out. If that is the case, not only would those back-to-back appointments be well-earned, but that would buy incoming UI President Barbara Wilson and the other campus leaders two years of relative political calm, which would be infinitely preferable to the alternative. (The board constantly refers to its members as citizen volunteers even though some of them are political enforcers, but Sherry Bates has always lived up to that ideal. I don’t always agree with her decisions, but I have never questioned her integrity.)
And speaking of Wilson, we also have this today from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Regents meeting Wednesday with new University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson to set goals. One thing the UI community got right during the former president’s term in office was downgrading the school’s party culture. The board should encourage Wilson to continue to empower the university to keep that trend going in the right direction.
05/30/21 — Daily Iowan reporter Eleanor Hildebrandt is interning at the Iowa Capital Dispatch this summer. In her first report she provides context on the tuition bomb that the Iowa Board of Regents is about to drop on students at Iowa and Iowa State, and to a lesser degree at Northern Iowa: Student leaders at Iowa’s public universities are disappointed and anxious about potential tuition increase. Whatever the hikes end up being, they will be justified in part by the tuition freeze during the year of the pandemic, but also by the recent appropriations snub from the Iowa legislature. And yet when compared to those losses, the board’s hikes for fiscal year 2022 will likely outstrip any funding increase the regents actually requested, or would have imposed if COVID-19 had not short-circuited FY 2021.
Footnoting both the recent presidential search at Iowa, and prior notice that Penn State is in the process of running a overtly corrupt search for its own new president, two stories of interest:
* Josh Moyer at the Centre Daily Times: Penn State faculty express concerns over search for new president, want greater role in selection.
* Hilary Hurd Anyaso at Northwestern Now: Hari M. Osofsky named dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
Osofsky is smart to move on, because as the fraudulent hire of former illegitimate UI president J. Bruce Harreld showed quite clearly, nothing gets better when business and political cronies take charge. In any event, yet another reminder that after the Iowa Board of Regents agreed to allow the University of Iowa faculty to run the recent presidential search, the university attracted three excellent external candidates — including Osofsky — while conducting a search that was above reproach. (A lesson that certainly seems to be lost on the deeply compromised governing board of Penn State.)
05/27/21 — It’s a date! From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: Judge sets 2023 trial in Hawkeye football discrimination case.
05/26/21 — Compared to the other regular meetings of the Iowa Board of Regents throughout the calendar year, the early June meetings are usually quite extensive, not only because there is a lot of business before the close of the fiscal year at the end of the month, but because the regents have been keeping their heads down since January, waiting out the inanities and insanities of the legislative session. (In appreciation for their docile comportment this year, the Republican-dominated regents were screwed out of any funding increase by the increasingly radicalized and higher-ed-hostile Republican legislature.) Now that the coast is clear, one item of particular note in the agenda for next week’s three-day slate of in-person meetings concerns a for-profit real estate deal on a plot of university land adjacent to the school’s Finkbine Golf Course, and especially the brand-new $10M Nagle Clubhouse.
I am flagging this prospective deal here for two reasons. First, for the sake of completeness, because this is a continuation of administrative hijinks which took place under the prior university administration. (For more on that history you can either drill into the reservoir of posts on this site using keywords from the paragraph above, or save yourself the trouble and read this comprehensive report from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: University of Iowa eyes deal to build ’active adult’ apartments near Finkbine.)
The second reason is simply to have all of these links in the same place if this deal blows up down the road. As to why that might happen I don’t have any inside info, but it’s obviously not a good sign if you can’t get your story straight on the day of your rollout. From the Iowa Now press release:
Pending Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approval, the university will enter a development agreement and long-term ground lease with Des Moines-based company Melrose Partners LP, along with Newbury Living and GRD Investors LLC, to develop residential, non-student apartments overlooking Finkbine Golf Course.
Newbury Living is registered with the Iowa Secretary of State as an active business. GRD Investors, LLC is also registered as an active business in Iowa. Melrose Partners LP, however, is nowhere to be found.
Now here is the same deal, as described on the same day, in the agenda item for the upcoming Board of Regents meeting (p. 2-3):
The development agreement would be between the Board of Regents and Melrose Partners, LP (developers), a joint venture between Focus Development and Newbury Living, for a new 110-unit, four-story residential active adult (55+) rental complex with one level of underground parking. Newbury Living is a Des Moines-based firm, that specializes in the ownership and management of active adult and other multi-tenant residential complexes.
So Melrose Partners is a (currently) unregistered “joint venture”, but what happened to GRD Investors? After looking at all of the available documents and reports I have no idea, but GRD Investors only shows up in the press release from UI. In all other documents Focus Development is mentioned, and that company is also registered with the state as an active business. Whether GRD is also involved — meaning there are three companies in the joint venture, instead of two — I also don’t know, but it is more than a little depressing that this confusion is the work product of a $4B public research university, let alone a university that wants people to believe it is blazing a new trail regarding gimmicky higher-ed public-private partnerships.
As to where the University of Iowa got the wacky idea of turning a piece of its own campus into a senior-living facility, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that — like the vaunted UI public-private utility partnership, which was copied from a similar deal at Ohio State — this bit of entrepreneurial innovation comes courtesy of the ‘Mirabella’ project at Arizona State, which was finally completed earlier this year. (More on Mirabella here, here and here, and promotional videos here and here.)
Related stray thoughts include the fact that: the $10M donation for the Finkbine clubhouse was made by a couple with extensive involvement in real estate development; that Newbury seems to be the cornerstone of the deal, if not capable of handling the whole thing; and that Focus Development seems to be fronted by one of the partners of Focus Insurance, who has no clear relevance to a real estate development in Iowa City. So who is actually funding this project, and what is the projected dollar cost against which the lease value of the land has already been determined? Unfortunately, these facts are apparently unknown to the University of Iowa or the Board of Regents, because they were not included in the information released today.
As to what the University of Iowa gets out of the deal — at least as announced — that would be $130K per year, with regular annual lease increases. As to who decided to give that prime location away for a song I don’t know, but this is the kind of crony, sweetheart deal the board likes to make once the legislators are away from the microphones. (Follow the money.)
Oh…and one more thing. I don’t know who has been advocating for this deal behind the scenes for the past four years, if not more, but it’s interesting that it is finally being initiated while an interim president is on watch, instead of waiting for the new president to take over. Speaking of which, if I was that new president I would want a clear explanation of who’s paying for what, who’s getting what, and what the additional phases of the project are expected to comprise during the five-year period that I will be under contract.
05/21/21 — To the ever-increasing slate of lawsuits which incoming University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson will inherent from the prior administration, we can now add another 8,000 or so plaintiffs — as reported by the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller: UI hospital workers gain class-action status in unfair pay lawsuit. That said, this would obviously be a wonderful opportunity for interim UI president and academic action hero John Keller to step in and correct the abuses which led to these suits, thus truly “set[ting] the stage for our next president.”
Also from the Gazette’s Miller, the Iowa Board of Regents has lifted the state of emergency at the state universities — one week after the end of finals: Regents require universities to return to pre-COVID operations. This does not mean the pandemic is over, of course, and the board obviously understands that because they are leaving this authorization in place until July 1st of 2022: “Board of Regents 80 additional hours of sick leave“. Get vaccinated, and wear a mask as long as you want.
05/19/21 — From the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller — no surprise here, and if anything Iowa’s Republican politicians are playing to type: Legislature rejects funding bump for Iowa universities. Far from being a rebuke to the Republican-dominated Iowa Board of Regents, however, this funding snub grants the board justification for socking it to the students by raising tuition even more than already anticipated, and everyone involved understands that bureaucratic two-step. Elected officials cut or freeze funding, which benefits them directly because they have more money to spend. Academic administrators then decry ‘generational disinvestment’ while raising tuition 2x to 3x more than any funding cuts. This has been the basic industry-wide funding grift in public higher education since about 2000, because everyone comes out ahead — except for the students, who are bled dry.
05/17/21 — Speaking of testifying in court…of the five public-relations time bombs that Harreld is leaving for someone else to defuse, four involve court cases, three involve pending litigation, and two involve lawsuits against the University of Iowa Athletics Department. The question now is who will attempt to render those issues harmless, and I think we will find out in short order. Although legitimately appointed UI President Barbara Wilson will take over in mid-July, today marks the first day of the two-month interim presidency of John Keller, who is transitioning from dean of the Graduate College and co-chair of the presidential search committee to interim president and then special assistant to the provost. While there is a short window for Keller to perpetrate administrative mischief which advantages himself and/or his campus bros, there could also be genuine benefits in having Keller defuse some of these lingering threats — particularly if one of them blows up in his interim face. While I do believe the buck stops at Barbara Wilson’s desk on the day she takes over, none of this stupidity has anything to do with her, and I would hate to see Harreld’s debris field cost Barbara Wilson any political capital.
The first problem someone will have to deal with — which is also the only problem that does not yet involve the courts — is the $50M loan that UI Athletic Director Gary Barta tried to ram through back in early April, with the help of his buddy Bro Bruce. After their initial gambit fell apart in all of four days, the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller reported that the amount and terms of the loan would be revisited at the end of the fiscal year — meaning two weeks before Barbara Wilson takes office. Hopefully, with the progress of vaccinations and the easing of mask requirements generally, Barta will have significantly greater cash flows this coming year than originally anticipated, and the amount of any loan will be substantially reduced.
Also facing the athletics department are two lawsuits which have passed judicial muster and can proceed, and they are the second and third problems Harreld is leaving for someone else to clean up. While we don’t have a timetable yet for either case, Barta is looking at a Title IX lawsuit for his heavy-handed administrative termination of four varsity sports — also with another ever-willing assist from J. Bruce Harreld — and a discrimination lawsuitresulting from a damning independent report on racial abuses in the football program. While Keller or Wilson could attempt to broker settlements in those cases, the money would have to come from the cash-strapped athletics department, and it would obviously be a bad look if Keller or Wilson agreed to loan tens of millions to AD Gary Barta, only for Barta to then turn around and use some of that money to pay off people who were abused by Barta and/or others in his department. (See also that time Barta cost the school $6.5M.)
The third pending lawsuit — which was already in the works, but became prominent during the recently concluded presidential search — is the fourth public-relations time bomb at UI. While the university, the Iowa Board of Regents and the state are named as defendants, the case centers on the conduct of UI College of Education Dean Dan Clay, who was one of three finalists competing against Barbara Wilson. Unlike the suits against the athletics department, this case is already scheduled for trial in December, and could be a real mess for Clay and the academic side of campus. To be sure, even if the plaintiff wins that doesn’t mean Clay will face any repercussions — just as AD Barta did not when the university was found guilty of gender discrimination in 2017 — but then again the UI president during Barta’s trial was Bro Bruce Harreld, who loved him some white-male authority figures. I’m not sure how President Wilson will respond if Dan Clay costs the school millions, whether in a settlement or from a loss in court.
The fourth legal case — which is the fifth PR threat at UI — has already been deciding, and overwhelmingly so against the University of Iowa and Board of Regents. After refusing subpoenas and acting like state-sponsored mafiosi, the university and board were recently obligated to turn a trove of financial information over to the Iowa State Auditor regarding the secretive UI public-private utility partnership (P3), which was consummated in early March of 2020. As a result of that court order, the auditor will almost certainly release an exhaustive report on the P3, but when that may happen is a complete wildcard. Depending on the severity of any improprieties the university and regents may try to release the most damaging information themselves in order to control the narrative, but that wouldn’t really be to President Wilson’s advantage. I would be surprised if anyone goes to jail over the UI P3, but given how hard the various state agencies fought to protect the names of the secret Iowa investors who were involved in the deal, I would not be surprised if glaring conflicts of interested are disclosed by Auditor Rob Sand. And if that is the case, President Wilson would be well-advised to just stand back and let the auditor have his say.
As to the eight-month-long mystery of why J. Bruce Harreld decided to quit on the university before his two-and-a-half-year contract extension even kicked in, thus also forfeiting $2.3M, we still do not know. It could be that health issues played some role, or he really did just want to spend more time with his family, or perhaps he’s ready to write those books he talked about writing. There are any number of reasons Harreld may have decided to step down, and plenty of reasons the university could have offered on his behalf, or the board could have offered on the university’s behalf — and yet no one offered any reason at all.
Update: Too funny. Definitely sounds like someone has a to-do list, and is champing at the bit to start doing. Now we just have to hope all of those “important decisions” will benefit he university as a whole, and not just the provost’s office — which Keller will be working for in two short months.