Tuesday, December 12, 2006

UI President Search XIV

Updated December 12, 13, 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Commentary will be added later in the day; meanwhile, here are 15 additional stories, mostly from December 14 (below, under "Media Stories and Commentary"/December 14).

EXTRA (December 14): (1)The Chronicle of Higher Education says FromDC2Iowa blog "has provided one of the most comprehesive analyses of the controversy," which controversy it reports under the headline, "Bitter Dispute Over Botched Search Continues to Divide U of Iowa -- and Iowa," The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, December 14, 2006 -- (2) AND Regent Tom Bedell Resigns -- (3) AND UI Students weigh resolutions of no confidence in Governor Vilsack, plus Regents, plus praise of Provost Mike Hogan

EXTRA (December 13): Pomerantz Blasts Gartner; Staff Council Votes 'No Confidence'


Regardless of your own view of the conflict between the University of Iowa faculty and the Iowa State Board of Regents -- but especially if you are unsympathetic with the position of the faculty -- the single most important document for you to read is Shelly Kurtz, President, UI Faculty Senate, "Statement on the Resolution of No Confidence in the Leadership of the Board of Regents," December 12, 2006. Given the significance of this document, I want to thank President Kurtz, and The Daily Iowan
, for making it available.

I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that it is a document of significance to institutions of higher education generally -- and beyond. For these are days of increasing outside pressure to commercialize, make more "business-like" and entrepreneurial our public universities. Indeed, with the ever-escalating tuition charges (raised once again only two days ago by the Regents for this very university), many of our so-called "public universities" are increasingly "public" in name only, financially beyond the reach of all but the wealthy.

Dignity and respect should be accorded all workers, regardless of pay. If anything, this is a matter of even greater importance, moral and religious significance, when dealing with those paid the least.

But the reality -- ironically, recognized by the successful segments of the business community, but somehow forgotten in the drive to make universities more commercial -- is that it is especially important when dealing with the creative members of our society. These are the folks who make possible the intellectual property and "value added" that sustain so much of our economic growth and international competitiveness.

It's true in the music, film, television, videogame and software businesses. It's true in the graphic arts, advertising, architecture, new product (and weapons systems) designs of all kinds.

So it should not come as a surprise that it is also true in the academy.

A successful intellectual and creative community -- whether in business or education -- is not, and cannot be, dictated to, regimented, given detailed instructions, and "managed" within a hierarchal institution. You want faculty who are creative and productive individualists and iconoclasts, dreamers and dissenters, geeks and nerds; individuals who actually enjoy the original research and writing for which much of the population had little enthusiasm as students. You want scholars who sometimes cause administrators to pull their hair out as they speak of analogies to herding cats or chickens across a road.

For it is out of faculty members' individualism, their curiosity, their often almost inexplicable, decades-long dedication to the search for cures and truths of all kinds, this unmanageable and largely disorganized group effort, that all nations find the fuel for their economic engine. It was true for the ancient Greek civilization centuries ago, and it is true for Iowa today.

But as wise Greeks knew then, and wise Iowans know now, such a faculty can provide much more than economic growth, as important as that may be. Such a faculty, in its role as classroom teachers, can provide a liberal arts education to students that will prepare them for the life-long learning that is essential not only for success in a "learning economy," but for the enriched quality of life that comes from an understanding and appreciation for humankind's greatest cultural achievements, for its history, and science.


Iowa Code, Section 262.4, provides that Regents may be removed at the request of the Governor, with the approval of the Iowa Senate, if they are found to be "unfit to discharge the duties of office."

It is the position of the Iowa faculty, as I understand it, and as it is embodied in President Kurtz' statement, that the two Regents in positions of leadership have demonstrated through their statements and actions that they are so lacking in understanding of appropriate Regents' governance, the role of a university, and its contribution to Iowans, that they meet the statutory definition of "unfit."

So why do I think it so important for you to read President Kurtz' statement?

I don't want to get overly dramatic about this with the analogies I'm about to provide with the "Declaration of Independence" and "articles of impeachment." The faculty is not creating a new nation nor declaring its independence from anything. And it has neither the power, nor has it made the fruitless effort, to impeach anyone.

What it has done, by way of this statement, is to forgo generalizations or petulant expression. It has begun the process of bringing to the public the details, the pattern of behavior that has gone well beyond the disastrous way in which the Regents botched the search for a new president.

That is the limit of the analogies. The Declaration of Independence begins, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they [those taking the action in question] should declare the causes which impel them [to that action]." The Congress can't just "impeach a president." It must have articles of impeachment; it must explain the charges and its reasons.

That is what the faculty has done with its resolution and the explanatory statement of President Kurtz.

It is important that journalists, legislators and the people of Iowa be made aware of the rather substantial list of reasons for the UI faculty's action. Faculties in general, and this faculty in particular, are reluctant to get involved in such serious matters, let alone pass votes of no confidence in their boards of regents -- as reflected in M. Holst's Press-Citizen photo from the Faculty Senate meeting on December 12, to the right. So far as I know, this action is unprecedented during the prior 150 years of the University of Iowa's history. It was not an action taken in haste, or without serious contemplation. Indeed, following the secret meeting called by Governor Vilsack on November 27, with apparent representations from him that the problems would be resolved, the original faculty vote was postponed from the scheduled November 28 meeting to December 12 -- by which time it was obvious that matters were only getting worse.

It is my belief that anyone who reads, and considers, what President Kurtz has written cannot but agree that the extreme behavior described would have been inappropriate for Wal-mart management, not to mention the University of Iowa, that it seems to have been part of a pattern that holds out little hope for basic change, and that the best interests of the State of Iowa require that the Regents' leadership be replaced.

So where are we now?

1. Vilsack. What did the University get out of the meeting the Governor called on November 27? It may have been better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but not by much. Regents Gartner and Wahlert are still there. Not only have they not resigned, they seem to be more insistent than ever that they intend to fill out their terms -- including Gartner's pre-emptive announcement that he won't even resign if the Governor asks him to. And while the Regents may have approached one of the four finalists with an offer -- with how much seriousness and persuasiveness we cannot know -- there has been no explanation (of which I am aware) of why they have not also brought this disaster to resolution by following up with the other three in such order as the Regents may prefer.

If Vilsack is to have a prayer of being taken seriously as a presidential candidate he is going to have to show himself to be at least as qualified -- if not better than -- President Bush. Bush, to his credit, has abandoned his "stay the course" mantra, and the inclination to praise his incompetent appointees. At this point, Vilsack has not yet reached that level of insight and courage. His "stay the course" continued confidence in and praise of his regents shows that he has a little catching up to do if he is to be perceived as even the equivalent of Bush, let alone his superior. If he is perceived as a governor who couldn't even acknowledge, and then straighten out, an incompetent universities' Board of Regents . . ..

2. Gartner. In case you hadn't yet put the puzzle pieces together, note that Gartner continues to hold all the cards he dealt himself that fateful Friday, November 17. He wanted the search called off. It has been called off. He wanted to rid himself of the members of the search committee. At least he and other regents are talking of a new search committee. He wanted a smaller search committee. Looks like he's got that, too. He didn't want to have on-campus interviews of finalists. There were none -- and other regents are suggesting there won't be any for the second search either. He wanted to "take it from the top" with a second search. He's getting that. He's totally ignoring and trivializing the vote of no confidence and calls for his resignation. Regent Wahlert suggests anyone critical of Regents' leadership is just part of a vocal "radical minority." The only thing he was reported to have wanted that he has not yet achieved is the installation of his choice, Deborah Freund, as president of the University of Iowa. Given his ultimate power to choose, and opportunity to shape the second search process, and demonstrated (and recently reaffirmed) willingness to "damn the torpedoes," he may very well end up getting that wish as well.

3. The faculty, and other stakeholders. Note what else Gartner has achieved. By setting the stage for a second search with greater participation by deans and other on-campus constituencies, if and when that search is unsatisfactory -- as it well may be -- he will be in a position to say, "See, you guys didn't even do as well as we did."

Administrators of quality don't have difficulty finding jobs. And, much as we all love the University of Iowa, and see its virtues and advantages, we'd have to admit that, as a draw for the very top university administrators elsewhere, Iowa does not rank among the, say, half-dozen most prestigious universities in the United States. Couple that with the national ridicule to which the Regents have subjected the university, and who would want to walk into this job with that Regents leadership still in place?

We're going to be left with a pool of administrators who are unhappy where they are, or know they are about to be fired, or are only interested in the money and willing to endure anything for it, or can treat Iowa as a temporary stepping stone to elsewhere, or are willing to operate under a micro-managing Board of Regents' leadership, with little appreciation of the nature of a university, and willing to compromise the university's interests in the cause of placating the Regents and thereby keeping their job.

And Gartner will be able to disassociate himself from that result.

4. "The Answer." In Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006, I acknowledged that there was no good way out of this mess; there were only the least worst alternatives. And the best of those, I thought at the time, was for Gartner and Wahlert to resign (in a way I laid out that would minimize any embarrassment for them or the Governor), and for the Regents to simply select (with or without campus visits) a future president from among the four recommended to them by the search committee. That way no one would get everything they wanted, but everyone would get something -- and, most important, we could put the whole matter behind us. Nothing has occurred in the two-plus weeks since to change that assessment.


Iowa City. Dec. 12, 4:25 p.m. Following a detailed statement of grievances from UI Faculty Senate President Shelly Kurtz, and speeches of support from a number of Faculty Senate members, the University of Iowa Faculty Senate members present in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber, 63 of 70 Senators total, voted overwhelmingly -- 62 to 1 -- in support of a resolution of "no confidence" in the leadership of the Iowa Board of Regents. The powerful statement from Professor Kurtz will be linked from this blog as soon as available.

Here's Diane Heldt's take on the event, posted to The Gazette Online at 4:44: Diane Heldt, "Faculty 'No Confidence' Vote Overwhelming," The Gazette Online, December 12, 2006.

This post will be expanded to include stories and commentary, others' as well as my own, regarding the events of Monday-Wednesday (December 11-13; newspapers from Tuesday-Thursday), given the relationship between the Regents' meeting Monday, and the potential "votes of no confidence" in the Regents during UI faculty and staff meetings Tuesday (December 12) and Wednesday. Meanwhile, here are the links to some stories.

Media Stories and Commentary

[In December 12th's Press-Citizen there are a number of letters to the editor, in addition to Duncan Stewart's op ed column, regarding the "radical vocal minority." Stewart's op ed is linked, below; but the letters were not available from the P-C's Web site when this blog entry was prepared. They will be added later.)

Danny Valentine, "Regents Ready for the Search, Round 2," The Daily Iowan, December 12, 2006

Erin Jordan, "Regents: Leader Search to Change; Process to be faster, cheaper; on-site interviews may end," Des Moines Register
, December 12, 2006

John Baker, "Search Firms Provide Valuable Service," Des Moines Register, December 11, 2006

Donald J. Doudna, "Promote From Within or Lose Top People," Des Moines Register, December 11, 2006

Diane Heldt, "Regents to Resume UI Search; ‘No-confidence’ votes today, Wednesday," The Gazette, December 12, 2006

Scott Dochterman, "Board of Regents Approves Carver Project; Arena renovation, other upgrades bring $40 million price tag," The Gazette, December 12, 2006

Brian Morelli, "UI Search to Restart Monday; Not Clear Who Will Lead Process," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 12, 2006

Brian Morelli, "Regents OK New Admission Policy for Universities; Some fear new standard not tough enough," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 12, 2006

Duncan Stewart, "Confessions From One of the 'Radical Vocal Minority,"
Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 12, 2006

Ellen Haywood, "It's Time to Get Rid of Gartner," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 11, 2006

O. Kay Henderson, "Iowa City Senator Says It's Time for New Regents," RadioIowa, December 12, 2006

News Release, "Update on University of Iowa Presidential Search,"
State of Iowa Board of Regents, December 7, 2006 ["Contact: Michael Gartner, President, Board of Regents"]

Ben Fornell, "Tough To Dump Regents," The Daily Iowan, December 13, 2006

Matt Nelson, "UI Panel Votes No On Regents," The Daily Iowan, December 13, 2006

Shelly Kurtz, President, UI Faculty Senate, "Statement on the Resolution of No Confidence in the Leadership of the Board of Regents," December 12, 2006 [published in The Daily Iowan Online, December 13, 2006)

Erin Jordan, "U of I Faculty Speak Loudly, Hope Regents Hear; A 62-1 Faculty Senate vote expresses a 'lack of trust' in board leaders after a failed presidential search," Des Moines Register, December 13, 2006

Lynn Campbell, "Pomerantz blasts Gartner, Regents over U of I search,"
Des Moines Register Online, December 13, 2006

"What is the Faculty Senate?" Des Moines Register Online, December 13, 2006

Jonathan Roos and Lynn Campbell, "Gartner Says He Won't Bow to 'Lynch-Mob Mentality' at U of I," Des Moines Register Online, December 13, 2006

Diane Heldt, "UI Vote Shows No Faith; Voting 62-1, UI Faculty Senate voices its lack of confidence in state regents’ leadership," The Gazette, December 13, 2006

Diane Heldt, "Staff Council Votes 'No Confidence,'"
The Gazette Online, December 13, 2006

"More 'No Confidence' Votes Expected Today," The Gazette Online, December 13, 2006

Brian Morelli, "No Confidence; Faculty votes 62-1 against regents' leadership," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 13, 2006

Brian Morelli, "Staff Council Passes No Confidence Vote," Iowa City Press-Citizen Online, December 13, 2006

Press-Citizen's video of Faculty vote

Press-Citizen, "Audio: Gartner Responds to No-Confidence Vote" (3 audio clips)

Matt Nelson, "UI Just Says No," The Daily Iowan, December 14, 2006

Bryce Bauer, "Profs Call for Regents Change,"
The Daily Iowan, December 11, 2006

Erin Jordan, "U of I Groups Rebuke Regents in Votes; Staff and graduate students overwhelmingly approve no-confidence motions," Des Moines Register, December 14, 2006

Jonathan Roos and Lynn Campbell, Gartner Cites 'Lynch-Mob' Mentality; 'The issue is, who governs the University of Iowa?' he says,"
Des Moines Register, December 14, 2006

Diane S. Kolmer, "Letter: U of I Faculty Attitude is Part of the Problem," Des Moines Register, December 14, 2006

Susan E. Voss, "Letter: Time to Hear Regents' Supporters,"
Des Moines Register, December 14, 2006

James Q. Lynch, "Gartner: Change Search Leaders; Deans and donors should run hunt for UI president, says head of regents," The Gazette, December 14, 2006

Lyle Muller, "Former Regents Chief Blames Gartner, Defends Wahlert in Presidential Search," The Gazette, December 14, 2006

Diane Heldt, "UI 'No Confidence' Votes Pile Up; Deans and donors should run hunt for UI president, says head of regents,"
The Gazette, December 14, 2006

Randy Crawford, "Letter: Senior UI Faculty Are Ones to Set Standards of Behavior,"
The Gazette, December 14, 2006

Jeff Murray, "Letter: Information Request for UI Faculty Crosses Line," The Gazette
, December 14, 2006

Mike Glover, "Gartner Says UI President's Fight Won't Push Him Off Regents Board," Iowa City Press-Citizen
and Associated Press, December 14, 2006

Brian Morelli, "Votes Roll In for No Confidence; More groups call for regent resignations," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 14, 2006

Brian Morelli, "UI Presidential Search to Start Anew Next Week," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 11, 2006

"Press-Citizen Interviews by E-Mail with Regent Gartner,"
Iowa City Press-Citizen Online, December 14, 2006


Diary of a Political Madman (K.L. Snow), "Wednesday, October 25 is . . .,"
October 25, 2006

State29, "Michael Gartner: 'It's Almost Like a Lynch Mob,'"
December 13, 2006

State29, "Marvin Pomerantz: 'Michael Gartner Engenders Conflict Wherever He Goes,'" December 13, 2006
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Anonymous said...

The comments by Sheldon Kurtz were startling especially concerning the President of the Iowa Board of Regens - Michael Gartner, and the President-Pro Tem, Teresa Wahlert.

However, in all of this I cannot unite the mess behind a motive. What is Gartner's motive? Certainly he is not a major player with Wellmark?

Whalert (and a male with the same last name) were once on the board of Wellmark, but not now. What is her motives?

What could possibily be the motives of a person to create such an atmosphere of secrecy? To pay so little respect to academics who have given their life to teaching and research?

Why would a journalist, and ball-club owner think he can be a visionary for a university?

Why does a Qwest salesperson, or business exec think she can be a leader in education?

Isn't it extremely presumptious that because these people can make sales, they feel they can lead academics? Have they ever as much as published a paper on higher education?

It seems to be amateur hour out there.

Anonymous said...

The comments are indeed startling and continue to be so. Note that Gartner has publicly stated that this vote doesn't affect him and that he would not resign even if the Governor asked him to do so. Here's a news flash folks -- the Gov. did ask (for his and Wahlert's resignations). Can you believe the audaciousness of these extremely dangerous people? They do not think that a major part of the constituency for which they are supposed to advocate (UI) and act as "trustees" matters. Could there be clearer signs of incompetence?

In response to the question on motives, it is a simple answer: Ego and power. The egos and hunger for power of these two people outstrips their judgment and ability to be good stewards of one of Iowa's best resources.

They must go. I suggest that the press try to interview them as frequently as possible, because each time they speak their incompetence comes blaring through and the evidence for their removal mounts.

In the meanwhile, however, Fethke also needs to be replaced. He is essentially Gartner's puppet. The University is in real danger as long as he sits in the president's seat, because he will continue to do Gartner's bidding.

Anonymous said...

The motive seems obvious to me -- the power and money circles run deep at this level. Gartner pays off Vilsack and favors are owed (like not ousting him from the Board). Then, Gartner can pay off debts to his Wellmark buddies as the University and its fine hospital are held hostage by him, Wahlert, and Arbisser. Wealthy elits like these guys scratch each others' back all the time to enhance their own bank accounts. They don't care about the people of the state.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at an e-mail exchange between Michael Gartner and a reporter posted on the Press-Citizen Web site.


Anonymous said...

Looking at the emails between Gartner and Morelli:

1. You cannot out-speak, or trap a master of the language like Gartner. He has trained to be an ultimate spin doctor.

Gartner will trap you in some side issue, or grab any sort of personal confession you give him (hope Morelli reads this). He will release information only if it benefits him. Otherwise he will deflect all inquires away from the heat.

DO NOT make anything personal with a fellow like Gartner. As in the past he is viscous if crossed. He will use information against you (as he uses Tachau circumstances to cast disparaging remarks on her -- then denies such).

2. Gartner complains about being too busy and complains about all the media attention: HE BROUGHT IT ON HIMSELF.

I suppose a fellow with an ego like that has little time for self reflection. If he would simply be a constructive part of the Board of Regents, rather the wizard behind the curtain, life would be more pleasant for him.

Gartner is clearly a gadfly, but a dangerous one. He will never remove himself from power. And he will use his power and influence to smite all those who oppose him.

There is no hope that such a person will resign. Why? He has done nothing wrong.

If a person like this is given power, then all those below him will suffer. I have seen this often. His is the classic narcissist.

Right now I would say the University of Iowa is in a perilous position. A fellow like Gartner will destroy an institution to 'save it' (google Gartner and NBC News).

Either someone in power removes Gartner and his malicious activities, or there will be much bloodshed ahead.

Again, google Gartner and NBC News.


Anonymous said...

The commercialization of academia is in fill swing at the UIHC.

Although the immediate discussion concerns the imbroglio between the Iowa Board of Regents and the faculty, this is part of a larger trend.

I writing an address today I gave pause to how things change.

Everyone knows about the U Iowa- Wellmark connection (in fact Wellmark is the ONLY insurance option viable for all the employees; think of it, this was approved by the board of regents..haha conflict of interest indeed)

The UIHC was University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Now it is the University of Iowa Health Care. That was a marketing decision, that wiped out tradition.

The Univ of Iowa College of Medicine, is now the Roy T and Lucille A Carver College of Medicine, sold to the Carver Foudation.

The various buildings are named for big contributors.

In other words, your university is no better than Safeco Field, Pac-Bell Park, er ATT Park, Enron, er Minute Maid Field, the Edward Jones Dome, and other 'for sale' venues.

This is a fine state of affairs for 'objective' 'nonpartisan' academics.

The Wellmark University of Iowa, er, the Principle University of Iowa, er the Aegon Univ of Iowa, and it's Board of Directors is proud to present the current state of affiars.

Anonymous said...

"Board of Regents President Michael Gartner said today the problem finding a new University of Iowa president is an "Iowa City problem" and described the controversy surrounding the search process there as a "Mardi Gras" or "circus atmosphere."

At times, Gartner said during the taping of "Iowa Press," it seems like a "lynch mob," but he has no plans to resign.


Soooo he implies that the faculty is overpaid and under-worked, they lie and they represent a lynch mob. Given that he has statutory authority over the University and the faculty and staff then it his responsibility and his duty to fire all of us. If he doesn’t then it would be dereliction of duty. Have I got that right, Michael?

Anonymous said...

“It’s not about the president search. It’s really a governance issue … The issue is, who governs the University of Iowa? The Board of Regents or … the faculty over there?” he said on a taping of “Iowa Press.” Gartner

The will of the people governs the state of Iowa, and ultimately, the funding of the University. That is the reality that we understand more than he does. He is ignoring the last election and appealing to nativistic and anti-intellectual sentiments. The people just rejected those values. And he is ignoring and demeaning the larger role that academic institutions play in the culture of the state.

As ugly as this has become perhaps this is a conversation the State of Iowa needs to have. He is using the rhetoric that the past Republican Legislatures have used to de-fund and discredit and demean the University community. He is assuming that Iowans will flock to his side to mock and berate those silly academic fools. It is a foolish assumption. Iowans have always had a deep pride about the educational stature and accomplishments of its progeny. Republicans have repeatedly promised increased investment in teachers and schools only to pull the funding back at the last minute.

Iowans are ready for this conversation and we should welcome it.

Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate Gartner. He knows how to play to the crowd. He is not afraid to take use inside information to injure his protagonists. He is narcissistic, and paternalistic.

People like Gartner can ruin things - families, organizations, institutions.

I believe that the Univ of Iowa is in for some pain. There will be bodies twisting before he is through.

Anonymous said...

The contradictory statements come pouring in:

A letter writer in the DM Register says:
"The faculty's wish to dismiss anyone who is not part of the collegiate doctoral crowd is emblematic of the ivory-tower arrogance that continues to divide university structures from its state citizens and the Iowa Legislature.

Perhaps all these presidents left the U of I due to faculty methods and their belief that they are the only people who should decide what is best for the university.

This includes bad-mouthing its administrators, defying legislative intent and authority and believing they are not accountable to Iowa taxpayers, much less their students."

Wow. So the legislature knows how to run academics? On one hand confidence in government is down, but this writer believes Govt can run a school. If anything, state colleges are the best part of state 'governments'; anyone who thinks the government -- given over to lobbys and to politics -- can run nonpartisan colleges is delusional.

From Gartner's interview:
‘‘The issue is who governs the University of Iowa — the Board of Regents or the faculty,’’ he said...

Asked if it was simply a case of ‘‘the inmates wanting to run the institution,’’ Gartner demurred, saying, ‘‘ Those are certainly your words.’’

So Gartner wants a TOP DOWN approach. The faculty are to be treated like Cum and Go employees, and told what to do. Or perhaps like inmates, and felons.

Also faculty are accused of arrogance, the exact thing Mr Gartner, and Regent Wahlert exhibit.

Each day will be a new opportunity for Gartner to exercise his forked tongue. I believe we haven't seen nothing yet.

Anonymous said...

I am a UI student. I'm very shocked and disturbed to read in some press articles that Regent Gartner assoicated UI with a "Mardi Gras atmosphere" and "lynch mobs". This has seriously damaged the reputation of UI as a quality institute of higher education.

How would my future employers and co-workers see me and my job performance? Am I an educated person? I mean how good would my education be if I had spent my UI days in a "Mardi Gras" learning environment under the tutelage of "lynch mob" professors??

I don't know, Nick. Is there ground for UI students to file a class action suit against Regent Gartner?

Anonymous said...

There needs to be serious consideration for malfeasance here. A public official cannot run amok starting fires all other the landscape, without accountability, which Gartner has done.

Anonymous said...

So, here's a question for Nick and the other lawyers in the crowd.

Assume the following facts:

1. John Colloton, according to university officials "does not have any public duties at the university, and his communications do not memorialize the discharge of any official functions."

2. John Colloton has been provided with a university office and the services of a university-paid secretary.

3. All of John Colloton's correspondence is typed by the university-paid secretary.


1. Has John Colloton misappropriated state resources?

2. Is there a criminal violation here?

3. Is there a violation of university policy?


Anonymous said...

The University's decision to refuse the P-C's request for correspondence typed by John Colloton's secretary throws anonymous314159's comment into sharper relief.

According to the story, the UI's reasoning is that "If there is no discharge of public function involved with respect to the creation of the record, it does not become a public record simply by virtue of the fact that it is processed by a university employee on university equipment." Now, I'm not sure if "discharge of a public function" is a term of art here, but let's assume that we should interpret it as vernacular.

I can't escape the conclusion that the University of Iowa has spent over $50,000 a year for some time now to supply John Colloton with a secretary to assist him in conducting his private business. That's a sweet deal.

Maybe it gets a bit worse than that. I have no way of knowing what non-public activities of John Colloton his secretary supported. We do know that John Colloton is a member of the board of directors of Wellmark. I think it has been well established that Wellmark's interests and the interests of the University are sometimes in conflict. Was the University actually paying the salary of a secretary to support work that was not in the best interest of the University?

Maybe the documents the P-C seeks would shed light on that question. Maybe not.