Monday, December 31, 2007

UI's Good News, Bad News

December 31, 2007, 9:30 a.m.; January 1, 2007, 3:45 p.m.

The University of Iowa's Good News and Bad News

Well, there's good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Bad news? OK.

UI Football Crime Update. The Iowa Hawks football team has now had more players in trouble with the law during 2007 than it had players on the field: the 12th has just been arrested (for "public intoxication and interference with official acts" sometime after midnight). Lee Hermiston, "UI Football Player Arrested," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 27, 2007. Apparently the player had been involved in a fight and "fled the scene of the fight and after a foot chase was caught by a Coralville officer." As one online comment put it upon noting the foot chase, "Does the Coralville cop have any years of eligibility left? Any chance we could get him on the squad?"

But the football team's contribution to Iowa's prison overcrowding also provided a bit of good news:

Iowa wide receiver Anthony Bowman has been granted deferred judgment and will serve no prison time for credit-card fraud.

Bowman faced up to two years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday, but the judge's ruling means Bowman would eventually have the charge erased from his record if he complies with court agreements.
So not all is bleak in Hawk-land. AP, "UI Receiver Bowman Avoids Prison Time," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 29, 2007.

UI's Undisclosed Firing Without Cause Costs Iowa Taxpayers $830,000

The facts of this next story, which I'm not going to bother to summarize or comment about -- there are just too many issues -- was thought so bad by State29 that he was actually talking about federal prosecutions for RICO and other violations by former and present UI administrators. State29, "Organized Crime," December 29, 2007. As Brian Morelli reports:

Former University Hospitals CEO Donna Katen-Bahensky was actually fired prior to tendering her resignation last month, according to documents released Friday by the University of Iowa.

Because she was fired without cause, UI is sending her off with an $830,000 severance package, which stems from a contractual clause that calls for a payout worth double her salary. Her base salary is $465,000.

. . .

Based on a news release from UI officials Dec. 5, media outlets reported that Katen-Bahensky had resigned. Until now, the fact that she was terminated was not reported.
Brian Morelli, "CEO for UIHC was fired; Will receive $830K buyout," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 29, 2007; and see Brian Morelli, "Katen-Bahensky Was Fired," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 28, 2007.

Erin Jordan reports:

University of Iowa Hospitals CEO Donna Katen-Bahensky's contract was terminated earlier this year because she did not support a recent reorganization linking the hospital and medical school, officials acknowledged Friday.

"She had a problem with that structure and that philosophy," said Jean Robillard, vice president for medical affairs at the U of I. "There was nothing personal."

Because her contract was terminated, Katen-Bahensky -- who has since taken a $600,000-a-year position at the University of Wisconsin -- will receive about $830,000 in severance pay from the U of I.

Meanwhile, correspondence released by the university on Friday shows that school officials and Katen-Bahensky were discussing her termination in October.

But when the U of I announced her departure on Dec. 5 in a five-paragraph news release, the school called the move a resignation and did not mention severance pay.
Erin Jordan, "Rift led to U of I hospital chief's exit," Des Moines Register, December 29, 2007. And see Chris Rickert, "UW Hospital choice was unhappy at Iowa," Wisconsin State Journal, December 28, 2007.

UI Hits a "Homer" Finally, more good news. In this morning's Gazette "Homers and Gomers" editorial the UI wins a "Homer."

CHRISTMAS MIRACLE: Janel and Gabor Orgovanyi of Fairfield call their new daughter a “Christmas miracle.” They have good reason. Dorotea was born 14 weeks early during the Dec. 11 ice storm. Two doctors, John Dagle and Michael Acarregui, from Uni versity Hospitals in Iowa City drove on icy roads to reach the tiny infant. The ice storm had grounded the hospital’s helicopter and ambulances weren’t running. The doctors credited Henry County hospital with keeping Dorotea alive until they could bring special equipment and take her to the neonatal intensive care unit in Iowa City. Tiny Dorotea’s name means “gift from God.” So are the doctors and the remarkable UI facility that gives preemies a better chance to live and thrive.
Editorial, "Christmas Miracle/Homers and Gomers," The Gazette, December 31, 2007, p. A4.

There's lots of good news to report from the University of Iowa, but very little of it qualifies as "news" under most journalists' and editors' standard definitions. So until we see a headline like, "Student Excited by Professor's Lectures, Says She Never Knew Before that Learning Could be so Much Fun!" we'll just have to settle for a Homer from time to time.

And that's the good news, and the bad news, from the University of Iowa today.

Let's hope for a Happy New Year.

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Anonymous said...

UI's Undisclosed Firing Without Cause Costs Iowa Taxpayers $830,000

Just a factual comment--I don't think Katen-Bahensky's salary is paid with tax money. The hospitals and clinics are essentially self-supporting.

Anonymous said...

I also want to correct one statement on State29's blog posting--sorry to post it here, but I don't have a Google account to post there.

Katen-Bahensky was not hired by Skorton. She was hired by Coleman. In 2002--just as State29 says. Skorton became president in 2003.