Monday, February 29, 2016


The Gazette's 2016 "editorial focus" is on "Building Blocks: Working Together to Make Our Communities Great Places to Live." With the current legislative focus on water quality, this week's Writers Circle columns deal with "How Do We Save Our Water?" My first contribution to the 2016 focus was "Design Communities to Support Communication, Interaction and Learning," February 7, 2016. This is my second. -- N.J., Feb. 29, 2016

Some Basic Facts About Water

Nicholas Johnson

The Gazette, February 29, 2016, p. A6

First, some basic facts.

Life began in water; human life still does. Our bodies are a mix of star stuff and water -– in the same proportions as Earth’s surface. We need replenishment of two to three quarts daily.

But 80% of our society’s consumption is used in agriculture (one gallon for each almond). More goes to industry, like fracking.

We each use about 100 gallons daily. For all Iowans that’s 110 billion gallons annually.

Residents of Flint are right to worry about lead. Thousands of other cities ought to -- 40% of reporting states have more lead poisoning than Flint. And the 15 parts per billion standard’s not science based. It’s chosen as a standard 90% of cities can pass.

But wait; it’s worse. I used to hike where pure water came from springs and ran in streams. Those sources reach us today containing 100 potentially toxic substances that have not been researched, tested, or regulated. Even if they were, one-third of Americans’ water sources aren’t covered by clean water laws.

Rain brings air pollutants, runoff brings fertilizer, industrial waste may be dumped, and nitrate removal treatments can leave toxic nitrosamines. More dangerous elements (like Flint’s lead) can come from aging water mains, or pipes from the mains to, and inside, the home.

One of the greatest single “medical” advances for 2.5 billion of the world’s people? Not a new AIDS or malaria drug. It would be pure drinking water and sanitary facilities for the two million who die every year without them.

There are other ways water can sicken or kill you. Worldwide, an estimated 372,000 people annually die from drowning –- the third leading cause of unintentional injury death.

Ocean levels are rising at increasing rates, as warmer water expands and glaciers melt. If all land ice melted, oceans would rise 197 feet. That’s not happening. But a possible 20-foot rise by 2100 would necessitate relocating a billion people.

And all that’s the good news. Most serious? The coming severe water shortages and inevitable water wars.

Kind of puts our Iowa legislative proposals into perspective, doesn’t it?

My proposals?

1. Prepare to spend $1 trillion on the infrastructure our grandparents built and we, preferring tax cuts, have allowed to rot.

2. Fund the scientific and medical research necessary to understand the human impact of all the substances in water, and then set standards.

3. Give Americans free access to test data about what comes out of their own faucets (not just what comes out of their cities’ treatment plants).

4. Finally, elect public officials who care more about our health than their donors’ wealth.
Nicholas Johnson, a former FCC commissioner, writes about public policy in and maintains Contact:


Note: The Gazette has instituted a new procedure for op ed columns, requiring that submitted work be accompanied with sources. This not only provides yet another level of editorial scrutiny regarding the veracity of facts and assertions, but also makes it easier for the occasional reader engaged in topic research to follow up on portions of a column that may be of further interest.

To serve either purpose it’s necessary to provide not only citations and links complete enough to lead to a source, but sufficient accompanying text to indicate what it was about that source that is thought to support the fact or assertion. Sometimes that can be a single phrase or sentence, such as, in the second one below, "About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered . . .." Other times, when a simplistic assertion in a 436-word op ed column (as this one is) while reasonable, has not been fully explained in the column, a lengthier excerpt is required. An example would be the third source listed below (the supporting sources for the percentage of one’s weight represented by water).

The sources are listed in the same order as the text which they support.

– N.J.

"'The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star stuff,' was the famous knowledge bomb that Sagan dropped in his original award-winning TV series "Cosmos" . . .."
Eric Mack, "'We Are Made of Star Stuff': A Quick Lesson on How; Carl Sagan Famously Said That the Death of Ancient Stars Helped to Create Us. Huh? Here's a Quick Primer on What he Meant," CNET, November 3, 2014,

"About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered . . .."
U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, The USGS Water Science School, "How Much Water is There On, In, and Above the Earth?"

"Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%. Each day humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive. Of course, this varies according to age and gender, and also by where someone lives.

Generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters per day while an adult female needs about 2.2 liters per day. Some of this water is gotten in food. . . .

According to Dr. Jeffrey Utz, Neuroscience, pediatrics, Allegheny University, different people have different percentages of their bodies made up of water. Babies have the most, being born at about 78%. By one year of age, that amount drops to about 65%. In adult men, about 60% of their bodies are water. However, fat tissue does not have as much water as lean tissue. In adult women, fat makes up more of the body than men, so they have about 55% of their bodies made of water."
U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, The USGS Water Science School, The Water in You,"

"So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day."
Mayo Clinic Staff, "Healthy Lifestyle; Nutrition and Healthy Eating; Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?" Mayo Clinic,

"Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation's consumptive water use (see definitions) and over 90 percent in many Western States."
United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, "Irrigation & Water Use; Overview; Background,"

"One almond 1.1 gallons of water. . . . Jay Lund, a water expert at the University of California-Davis, says that water problems mean that agriculture may soon play a less important role in California's economy, as the business of growing food moves to the South and the Midwest, where water is less expensive."
Alex Park and Julia Lurie, "It Takes How Much Water to Grow an Almond?! Why California's Drought is a Disaster for Your Favorite Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts," Mother Jones, February 24, 2014,

"Oil and natural gas fracking, on average, uses more than 28 times the water it did 15 years ago, gulping up to 9.6 million gallons of water per well and putting farming and drinking sources at risk in arid states, especially during drought. . . . The amount of water used for fracking in each well varies widely by region. In southern Illinois, an operation can use as little as 2,600 gallons of water each time fracking triggers the flow of oil or gas into a well. In West Texas’ Permian Basin surrounding Midland and Odessa, fracking uses between 264,000 and 2.6 million gallons of water each time. In Pennsylvania, Ohio, south and eastern Texas, Arkansas, northern Colorado and Montana, fracking can use more than 9 million gallons of water."
Bobby Magill, "Water Use Rises as Fracking Expands; And Certain Wells Use Far More Water Than Others, a Possible Threat in Dry Regions," Scientific American, July 1, 2015,

"The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27 percent!)."
United States Environmental Protection Agency, "Water Sense; Indoor Water Use in the United States,"

“Data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that over 40 percent of the states that reported lead test results in 2014 have higher rates of lead poisoning among children than Flint.”
Yanan Wang, "Untold Cities Across America Have Higher Rates of Lead Poisoning Than Flint," The Washington Post, February 4, 2016,

“The E.P.A.'s trigger level for addressing lead in drinking water -- 15 parts per billion -- is not based on any health threat; rather, it reflects a calculation that water in at least nine in 10 homes susceptible to lead contamination will fall below that standard.”

“The biggest hole in the drinking-water safety net may be the least visible: the potential for water to be tainted by substances that scientists and officials have not even studied, much less regulated. The EP.A. has compiled a list of 100 potentially risky chemicals and 12 microbes that are known or expected to be found in public water systems, but are not yet regulated. . . . There are thousands of other chemicals, viruses and microbes that scientists like Dr. Griffiths say the agency has not begun to assess.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency says streams tapped by water utilities serving a third of the population are not yet covered by clean water laws that limit levels of toxic pollutants.”
“[R]esearchers were long unaware that removing nitrates from finished water can leave behind a toxic byproduct, nitrosamines, the cancer-causing chemical found in cooked bacon.”
Michael Wines and John Schwartz, "Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to Flint," The New York Times, February 9, 2016, p. A1,

“An estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation (more than 35% of the world’s population)”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH); Global WASH Fast Facts,"

"Diarrhoea [sic] occurs world-wide and causes 4% of all deaths and 5% of health loss to disability. It is most commonly caused by gastrointestinal infections which kill around 2.2 million people globally each year, mostly children in developing countries. The use of water in hygiene is an important preventive measure but contaminated water is also an important cause of diarrhoea."
World Health Organization, "Water Sanitation Health; Water-Related Diseases; Diarrhoea," http://

"Inadequate drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene are estimated to cause 842,000 diarrhoeal disease deaths per year WHO 2014, and contribute substantially to the other diseases listed above."
World Health Organization, "Water Sanitation Health; Water-Related Diseases," http://

"Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. There are an estimated 372,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide."
World Health Organization, Media Centre, "Drowning," Fact Sheet No. 347, November 2014, Key Facts,

“If all the land ice on the planet were to melt, it would raise sea levels about 197 feet . . ..”
Tia Ghose, "NASA: Rising Sea Levels More Dangerous Than Thought," Live Science, August 26, 2015,

"[H]undreds of millions of people live in areas that will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. Low-lying islands could be submerged completely. Most predictions say the warming of the planet will continue and likely will accelerate. Oceans will likely continue to rise as well, but predicting the amount is an inexact science. . . .

[D]ire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, push sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters), enough to submerge London."
"Sea Level Rise; Ocean Levels Are Getting Higher -- Can We Do Anything About It?" National Geographic,

“According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.”
"Fresh Water Crisis," National Geographic,

“Off and on for two decades, my colleagues and I have worked on issues involving water, including some discussed here. This experience has led me to conclude that statesmanship must go beyond diplomacy, in particular to championing new agricultural technologies. Without growing more food with less water (land, too) the water-war surprises will come, perhaps not in one year, perhaps not in four, but soon, and long into the future.”
Clark S. Judge, "The Coming Water Wars; The Next Big Wars Will be Fought Over Water," U.S.Newsw, February 19, 2013,

“The American Water Works Association . . . puts the tab [to provide clean drinking water to all Americans] at $1 trillion in new spending in the next 25 years.”
Editorial, "Fixing Our Broken Water Systems," The New York Times, February 14, 2016, p. SR8,

"Erik D. Olson, head of the health and environment program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: '. . . We're mostly living off the investment of our parents and grandparents for our drinking water supply.'"
Michael Wines and John Schwartz, "Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to Flint," The New York Times, February 9, 2016, p. A1,

# # #

The State of the Media

The State of the Media

Nicholas Johnson

League of Women Voters of Johnson County, Iowa
Sunday Speaker Series

Iowa City Public Library
February 28, 2016, 2:00 p.m.

The media. Mass media. Mainstream media, or MSM.

What’s in, what’s out? What are we talking about? The local publication, Little Village? My blog, FromDC2Iowa? The public’s access channel on local cable, PATV? Or, locally, is it just things like the Iowa City Press-Citizen and WSUI?

“State of the media.” What does that mean? Financial health? And, if so, whose -- the income of the owners, or Iowa City’s economy, since media is a major driver of the consumer spending that constitutes 70% of our nation’s GDP? Broadcast stations are still licensed to serve “the public interest.” So what does that mean? And whatever it means, should we evaluate the state of newspapers by the same standard as broadcasting?

You and I are concerned about the adequacy of the media to support a democracy. And how should that be measured? Is it, like voting, something that we offer citizens but, unlike Australia, do not demand of them? Is it enough that what a citizen needs to know is potentially accessible – like books in this library that are never consulted – or is it the media’s responsibility to do whatever is necessary to ensure that a critical mass of citizens actually know what they need to know?

There are more creative approaches to public education than just serious news and documentaries. For example, health and safety information has been embedded in soap operas for third world audiences. Comedian John Oliver gives his multi-million followers some of the best public policy presentations available on television today. The Harvard School of Public Health reduced auto accident deaths by working with Hollywood producers and writers to include brief shots of police fastening their seat belts.

Our task of searching for the state of the media is further complicated by what might be called a multiple-variable analysis. That is to say, we are dealing with many streams and trends of change, sometimes in isolation, sometimes overlapping, that impact upon the media.

Here are but a few.

We have been witnessing both a concentration of media control and, simultaneously, an increase of citizens’ choice of media and an increase in citizen power to affect its content.

Twenty-five years ago or more, when Time and Warner wanted to merge, a number of us opposed the merger. I asked one of their executives why they wanted this merger. He replied, “Well, Nick, someday there are going to be five firms that control all the media on Planet Earth, and we intend to be one of them.”

For example, when I was a boy there were human owners of the Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Today, both are part of the Gannett empire that controls over 90 daily newspapers, nearly 1,000 weekly newspapers, and the national paper, USA Today, with operations – and political influence -- in 41 U.S. states and six countries.

There have also been efforts to combine multiple media types – with financial advantages for shareholders, and content disadvantages for the audience. A single firm may control significant subsidiaries in newspaper, magazine and book publishing; movie studios, and television production; theaters, TV and radio stations and networks; cable and satellite distribution companies.

As journalism has morphed from a profession of individuals into an industry of corporations, citizens have lost out. What Wall Street banks and hedge fund managers have done to banking, they have also done to democracy’s journalism.

The Los Angeles Times was doing quite well, thank you, with its 20% profit margins – until Wall Street decided to demand 30% returns. Because of a profusion of alternative sources of news, and a decline in younger persons’ interest in newspapers, it was difficult to increase readership. Without an increase in readership it was difficult to increase advertising revenue. The only way to increase profits was to decrease costs. And the easiest way to decrease costs was to fire journalists.

Here in Iowa City we’ve seen what Wall Street’s pressure on Gannett has done to the Press-Citizen. It tried to increase profits by selling off its building and doing away with reporters and other staff members. Not content with those savings, it has now decided to not only reduce the number of pages in the paper, but to totally eliminate the opinion page on Mondays and Tuesdays – thereby increasing the proportion of the paper devoted to sports fans.

When I was a commissioner of the FCC I studied media in other countries – Great Britain, Sweden, German, Japan, and elsewhere. I discovered that NHK, in Japan, had more minutes of news about the United States everyday than did NBC. In addition to which NHK also covered news from Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe – and of course, Japan.

ABC, CBS and NBC once had foreign news bureaus. I asked an executive about their coverage of African countries. He assured me they had an African bureau. On further inquiry I discovered it had only one reporter, and she was based in Paris. Recently I shared that story with a reporter who informed me she was no longer there.

We pay a price as a democracy for our lack of information about what’s going on in the world and in our own town.

We are a nation approaching 325 million individuals, many of whom have so little memory of their education, and such obliviousness to basic information, that Jay Leno was able to make an entertainment format out of it on the Tonight show. Our gross ignorance of other countries and cultures helps create everything from "ugly American" tourists to endless, unwinnable wars abroad that actually increase the risk of terrorism at home. Many high school grads headed to Iraq couldn't find Iraq on a map -- 10% couldn't even find the United States.

Even if you want to engage in wars of choice, which I wouldn’t advise, you need knowledge. While I was handling sealift to Viet Nam as U.S. Maritime Administrator, President Johnson asked me to look around Southeast Asia and provide him my reactions. What I said was, “You can’t play basketball on a football field.” There are some places where war is just not a possible option – when you don’t know such things as your enemy’s language, history, culture, religion, and tribal relations. I later published an open letter to President George W. Bush with similar observations about his proposed adventure in Iraq.

I’ve always been a fan of the BBC since I was a young boy, first listening to its shortwave programming on a World War II surplus radio receiver – later when carried on WSUI during the night, and now with an app on my smart phone. There are countries that may go for a year without even being mentioned by name on U.S. media, and never covered, countries from which the BBC regularly provides us in-depth understanding.

But wait, it’s worse. Not only do our once big-three networks try to present the news without journalists, not only do they devote to it a fraction of the time of public broadcasting systems in other countries. With the time they devote to commercials and self-promotion, the so-called “half-hour news” becomes more like 20 minutes.

And it’s worse than that. It’s not just that they don’t tell us what we need to know, it’s the material they do offer us instead that we’d really be better off not knowing, or is at best is a waste of our time.

Mary and I watch the local news on the ABC affiliate KCRG that always has an ABC News promo before it feeds into the ABC Evening News (when we switch to the PBS Newshour). I became so appalled at ABC’s choice of content that I took notes for a couple of nights.

The unifying theme throughout ABC’s presentation seems to be a play on our emotions -- 15 minutes or more of drama designed to frighten us, increasing our fears and stress, followed by a happy close -- thereby playing with both our adrenalin and our dopamine.

Nearly 100 years ago, Walter Lippmann wrote that the problems of the media,

go back to . . . the failure of self-governing people to . . . [create and organize] a machinery of knowledge. It is because they are compelled to act without a reliable picture of the world, that [they] make such small headway against . . . violent prejudice, apathy, preference for the curious trivial as against the dull important, and the hunger for sideshows and three legged calves. . . . [A]ll [of government’s] defects can, I believe, be traced to this one.

ABC’s choice of frightening subjects is mostly a herd of three-legged calves interrupted occasionally by, "Oh, look at the squirrel."

Here are some illustrations.

A snowfall is a "deadly" storm. The early use of drones becomes a drone "scare." A White House intruder is a security "scare." Notwithstanding the absence of any supporting video, a pre-verdict Ferguson was a "State of Emergency." We were shown an "alarming image" worthy of a "Holiday Alert" that holiday gift packages are about to be stolen from our homes. There was a "mystery" involving a beauty queen. And the happy close? A couple given $14 million for their idea involving digital photos -- with the lottery-like closing line, "Is your idea next?"

Celebrity news is regularly given time -- the cancellation of Bill Cosby's show, Bono's auto accident, and the death of Motown singer Jimmy Ruffin – items more appropriate for "Entertainment Tonight," or other video versions of People magazine.

The next night was babies’ night. We were warned that our babies fingers might be cut off by their strollers. Another "warning for parents" was the segment headlined "Spying on Your Children," which informed us that the Russians were hacking into our security cameras and streaming the content of our baby monitors. We were told that the car crash tests' results were "the worst ever seen," truly "alarming." And then, as if to drive the point home, and add another threat to our survival to the long list of ABC-engendered fears, we were shown video of "Car Demolishing a Building" -- "an entire building demolished in seconds in a cloud of dust."

But most of the 20 minutes that night was consumed by Mike Nichols' death and a tribute to his life -- with occasional references to the fact he had been married to ABC's Diane Sawyer. That evening’s so-called "news" both opened and closed with lengthy tributes and film clips regarding Nichols.

By contrast, here's what the "PBS Newshour" included that first night: "A look at the Gulf oil spill after the cameras had gone"; "Will arming school administrators protect students?"; "What's next for NSA reform in Congress?"; "Protecting Afghanistan's Buddhist Heritage"; and "Debating the implications if Obama acts on immigration." There are also differences among commercial networks.

CBS took a positive, factual approach to the Ferguson story, offered data and insight about "cyber shopping" and Amazon's 15,000 robots filling orders, a significant Supreme Court case regarding threatening speech, and AAA research regarding the safe driving records of those over 65. The network had been tracking remedial programs for high school dropouts and reported on one more.

You may recall that I earlier mentioned that “We have been witnessing, simultaneously, concentration of media control and diffusion of citizen choice and power.”

So what’s the good news?

When I joined the FCC the world had one communications satellite and three dishes. The number expanded, as first military, and then governments and large corporations, like AT&T, used them. By the time the price of a dish had dropped from $3 million, to $300 thousand, to $35 thousand, the cable industry was using them. When it reached $3000 they started popping up like mushrooms in farmers’ yards, and soon thereafter the smaller, pizza-sized little dishes, at $300 were installed on 15 million homes and apartments.

We’re used to sales when prices are cut by 10%, or maybe even 50%. The reduction in price on communications technology is what I refer to as the 99.9%-off sale.

Such radical reductions in size and price mean that more people can have more electronics, that they can carry, and connect, from more places. There are almost as many mobile phones on Earth as people – 50% more than the number who have toilets.

Similar reductions in size and price, plus increased competition, and the existence of the Internet, mean that large and small media companies alike are entering many more media modes. Advertising is increasingly focused on telling consumers a company’s Web page address. Newspapers’ and magazines’ online editions present video as well as text and pictures. TV stations’ Web pages have text and transcripts. Companies like Netflix and Amazon don’t just sell others’ DVDs; they stream the content over the Internet – and compete with movie studios making their own movies.

There are over 1 million apps available for the iPhone. Television and radio programs offer streaming and podcasts. Nor are we limited to our local newspapers.

President Johnson had two teletype machines in his office, the AP news and the UPI. Both were the size of small refrigerators. Today, on my shirt-pocket iPhone, smaller than a pack of cards, I display links to the news not only from the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, but from Al Jazeera, BBC, the Guardian of London, Le Monde in Paris, the Kurds’ news service Rudaw, and the South China Morning Post, among others.

But there’s another side to this coin. These changes not only give us access to more of others’ information in more forms, they also make it possible for us to enter this world of media with our own content.

We can become book publishers – writing, publishing and promoting the sale of our own books, and make them available through Amazon and other outlets, for little or no money. We can publish our own equivalent of a newspaper – in the form of a Web page, Facebook page, blog, or Twitter account. We can own and be the star of our own streaming radio or television station, by using YouTube – also free.

And this is where you, and the League of Women Voters, have a role to play. There are a number of models and proposals for a way out of our current “state of the media.”

We don’t have time to explore all of them – and none of them is an all-purpose answer anyway.

But something we can do is what I’ll call “citizen journalism.” Local newspapers with fewer and fewer reporters need all the help they can get. Our fellow citizens need more reporting from public bodies – school boards, county boards of supervisors -- than the papers can provide. Citizens need more identification, and exploration, of the major local public policy issues.

That is a major contribution that your organization, and each of you individually, can provide and to some extent already are providing.

Pick a unit of government, or office within it, or a local issue that interests you. Attend all the meetings, many of which won’t have a reporter present. Write up and post on your Web page or blog what you think is most significant about what you’ve observed or uncovered. Learn the ways you can promote it to more potential readers or viewers.

As some of you may know, that’s what I’ve been doing over the past six months, tracking the administration of our new UI President Bruce Harreld, providing links to almost all of the news stories and opinion pieces of relevance for anyone interested in this historical period of the University of Iowa.

In short, we can do more than merely bemoan the current state of the media. We can actually do something to make it better – right here in River City.

# # #

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Our Communities' Second Priority

[On February 7, 2016, The Gazette announced "The Gazette's Editorial Focus for 2016" -- the elements of quality cities: "Building Blocks; Working Together to Make Our Communities Great Places to Live," The Gazette, February 7, 2016, p. C1 (available online -->HERE<---). My first column for that new editorial focus was published that same day and is reproduced below.]

Design Communities to Support Communication, Interaction and Learning
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, February 7, 2016, p. C4
[online as Nicholas Johnson, "Design Eastern Iowa Communities to Support Communication, Interaction and Learning," The Gazette (online), February 8, 2016, 3:00 p.m.]

There were a lot of activists’ movements during the 1960s and ‘70s – anti-war, pro-environment, the rights of women and African Americans, among others – their individual first priorities.

As a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission during those years, the ways in which those movements were impacted by the role of the mainstream media, and the rules by which commercial media operated and was regulated, became very clear.

The media reform movement was born and grew out of that awareness. As I put it at the time, “Whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be media reform” – which ultimately contributed the book title, Your Second Priority (2008).

It was a new way of thinking about reform of government, politics, and public policy.

This year, The Gazette intends to focus on our communities’ opportunities involving everything from affordable and integrated housing to healthcare, from parks and walkable cities to justice and police relations, economic growth to creative communities.

Just as activists can benefit by giving attention to the role of the media, so can those concerned about improving our communities benefit by considering the role of communications. Just as we have environmental impact statements, we might benefit from communications impact statements.

A 400-word column can’t begin to identify the hundreds of categories of cities’ communications opportunities, let alone explore them. But here are three illustrations.

Housing. Urban planning, the arrangement of suburban homes, or common space in apartment units, the availability of sidewalks and bike paths, can tend to increase, or decrease, chance meetings and conversation. Location of housing and schools can produce either the integration, or the segregation, of socio-economic classes, races and religions.

Analytics. The early Greeks spoke of analytics, and most city governments and residents have some access to data about their community and themselves. The movie “Money Ball” dramatized analytics’ relevance to baseball. But the City of Boston has pushed it to a whole new level.

Learning communities. Learning can be everywhere – not just museums (Iowa Hall), places (Devonian Gorge), structures (Plum Grove; Mormon handcart site). It can also come from watching a sushi chef, or reading a business building’s history on a plaque. There are thousands more words to be written about our communities’ second priority. And we haven’t even touched on more obvious features, such as public access cable channels, Web sites, blogs, meeting spaces, and libraries.

Think about it. We can do it.
Nicholas Johnson, a former FCC commissioner, advocates information architecture and visible cities. He maintains and Contact:

# # #

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bernie's Extraordinary, Unacknowledged Accomplishment

“Why Nobody ‘Wins’ the Iowa Caucus; Why the Iowa Caucus Matters – and Why it Doesn’t,” February 1, 2016, was deliberately written and posted by me before that evening’s Iowa Caucus even began – in order to eliminate any suggestion it was designed to favor one candidate over another. In that post I discuss the Caucus’ significance in terms of the national parties’ nomination process, the candidates’ campaigns, and the media. Not surprisingly, I concluded that its primary significance results from how the results are reported in the media. At that time, two days ago, I had no idea how prescient it was.

Before we get to how the media reported the Iowa Caucus, let’s start with some facts.

The Iowa Poll, considered to be among the most accurate for the Iowa Caucus, is our source for this data, available from “Tracking the Candidates in the Iowa Poll,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 3, 2016, p. A8.

How have the candidates fared over time? The data is from seven polls conducted in January, May, August, October and December of 2015, and early January, late January – and then the Caucus results on February 1, 2016.

Most candidates have gone up and down in the polls. Hillary, for example, went from a high of 57% in May to a low of 37% in August, and continued to fluctuate until the Caucus. Ted Cruz was at a high of 31% in December, dropped to a low of 23% in late January, and ended up with 28% in the Caucus. (the most of any Republican). Since August, Trump has ranged from a high of 28% to a low of 19%.

However, there are two candidates whose poll results have had unbroken increases every time they were measured.

Senator Marco Rubio started at 3% in January. The numbers in the following polls, in order, were 6%, 6%, 9%, 10%, 12%, 15% and finally 23% on Caucus night.

Senator Bernie Sanders started at 5% in January, and proceeded to climb in each succeeding poll to 16%, 30%, 37%, 39%, 40%, 42%, to a Caucus finish at 49.6%.

From December to Caucus Hillary increased from 48% to 49.8%, and Bernie went from 39% to his 49.6%.

Let’s compare these two candidates.

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye, whether for good or ill, since the 1990s if not before – as the wife of Arkansas Governor and then President Bill Clinton, the point person for the Clinton’s health care plan, a United States Senator, previous presidential candidate (2008), a U.S. Secretary of State, and a long-anticipated presidential candidate – indeed, the presumed nominee. She and her husband have access to the financial resources of some of the wealthiest people in the world, in addition to their own wealth from campaign contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street firms, corporate leaders and other wealthy persons here and abroad. Theirs has been described as one of the most powerful political organizations in America, a solid part of “the Democratic Party establishment,” which gives them access to resources such as former staffers, friends, hangers-on, and thousands of contacts – including some of our country's most brilliant and experienced political and media advisers. (One of the many ways the Democratic Party Establishment rigs the outcome to favor themselves is the creation of the so-called “Super Delegates” – most of whom are, by definition, from the Party’s establishment. That’s why, although she and Bernie Sanders have won about equal numbers of the national convention delegates from Iowa, he now has a total of 29 and she, with the Super Delegates already pledged to her, sprints from a starting line way out in front of him, with 385.)

In the opposite corner of what the media insists on portraying as something like a boxing ring, we find a gray haired grandfather with wild hair who cares little for fashion and sometimes speaks with a facial expression, anger and volume reminiscent of Howard Beale in the movie “Network.” He's not exactly Hollywood's central casting's vision of a presidential candidate. And yet there's something wonderfully charming about the incongruity of someone once described as a 74-year-old democratic socialist Jew from Brooklyn living in Vermont attracting the largest crowds of any candidate. He's so opposed to the corrupting effect of billionaire's money in politics that he refuses to accept money from the only individuals able to make the multi-million-dollar contributions available to Hillary Clinton. He just started campaigning in Iowa anyway, with neither name recognition nor money. As people heard what he had to say, they came to know the name Bernie Sanders, liked his ideas, and found him to be authentic, consistent in his views over decades, and a really likable guy. His numbers climbed in the polls, and by Caucus night they were high enough that the number of “state equivalent delegates” he received was virtually the same as Hillary Clinton. That was a truly stunning accomplishment, given her overwhelming advantages.

So how were these results reported by the media?

Coming in third, Rubio might well have been described as having “lost” the Iowa Republican Caucus. After all, he wasn’t even second, a “runner-up.” But he was not so described. He was described as “surging” or “propelled.” The Gazette’s headline was typical, "Surge Propelling Rubio in GOP Race; Florida Senator's Third Place is 1 Point Short of Trump's Finish.” James Q. Lynch and Rod Boshart, “Rubio Leaves Iowa with Third-Place Finish, ‘Marcomentum;’ Florida Senator’s Surge to Third Place Propels Him Forward,” The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 3:32 p.m.; hard copy: James Q. Lynch and Rod Boshart, "Surge Propelling Rubio in GOP Race; Florida Senator's Third Place is 1 Point Short of Trump's Finish," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. A1. Note that Rubio was not even compared in the headline with the one who finished with the most support; he was compared with Donald Trump. (The Washington Post home page for February 3 headlined, "Establishment Candidates Target a Surging Rubio.”)

When I wrote “Why Nobody ‘Wins’ the Iowa Caucus" I wasn’t thinking about ties. My point was about the genuine story, and significance of the outcome of this first opportunity for citizens to participate in the nomination process. The Caucus can tell us which candidates demonstrate enough popular support to warrant their continuing to campaign into the subsequent primaries. For this purpose, probably something like 20-35 percent of the “state delegate equivalents” would be enough to warrant continuing.

There will be a winner and a loser next November 8. One can "win" an election. But there is nothing to “win” in the Iowa Caucus. Even if there were, it is clearly not "winner take all." Candidates are not elected president at the Iowa Caucus; they are not even nominated to run for the presidency. Even if, after the Iowa state conventions, a single candidate ended up with all of Iowa’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention it would have a minuscule impact on the Party’s ultimate selection of its presidential nominee.

The media can declare that the Caucus is a competitive contest that one candidate “wins” and all the others lose, but that doesn’t make it one –- except for the media owners looking for viewers and subscribers.

Moreover, to speak of a Democratic Party “winner” of the 2016 Iowa Caucus is even sillier than it normally would be -– because this year it was, from any rational and reasonable perspective, literally “a tie.”

Sanders' accomplishment was remarkable in light of the conventional wisdom that his support was limited to Black Hawk, Johnson, and Story counties, where the Regents’ three public universities are located. In fact, as one might expect in a tie, both candidates had support in counties all across the state -– with both usually well within percentages between 40 and 60 percent. However, Sanders' appeal to young people was unprecedented. “Of the estimated 31,000 young people who caucused for the Democrats on Monday, 84 percent supported Sen. Bernie Sanders — a much higher percentage than even Barack Obama garnered during his first run for the White House in 2008. During Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses eight years ago, then Sen. Obama won support from 57 percent of both the 17-24 age group and the 25-29 group . . ..” Vanessa Miller, “Percent of Youth Caucusing for Bernie Sanders Surpassed that for Obama in 2008; 'They're wanting to be a part of his political revolution,'” The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 5:20 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Election 2016: Wide Support for Sanders Among Young Iowa Voters; Obama Received Smaller Ratio in State's 2008 Caucuses," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. 8A.

And Sanders did all of this coming from nothing, an unknown in Iowa, with no pre-existing political machine in place, and no money -- refusing PAC money, he had to pay the bills with 2.3 million contributors averaging $27, finding supporters one at a time, while attracting the largest crowds of any candidate (nationally as well as within Iowa).

So how was Senator Sanders’ incredible accomplishment described by the media?

The CNN headline was typical: Tami Luhby and Nia-Malika Henderson, “Hillary Clinton Wins Iowa Caucuses,” CNN, February 3, 2016, 12:23 p.m.

In fairness, the Iowa branch of the Democratic Party Establishment contributed to this misrepresentation, whether deliberately or inadvertently, that Hillary was “the winner” (as she herself declared). Erin Jordan, “Slim Win for Clinton Sign of Lengthy Nomination Process; ‘Iowans Like a Contest , Not a Coronation,’”, The Gazette (online), February 2, 2016, 8:11 p.m.; hard copy: Erin Jordan, "Election 2016: Slim Clinton Win Signals Lengthy Fight Ahead; Close Race Raises Questions of Just How Well Caucuses Were Run," The Gazette, February 3, 2016, p. A1 (“The Iowa Democratic Party declared Clinton the winner at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday with all but one of the 1,683 precincts reporting. . . . Clinton had 49.8 percent of state delegate equivalents and Sanders had 49.6 percent, with 171,109 Democrats participating. . . . ‘The Iowa Democratic Party is declaring Hillary a winner and that is a victory for her,’ said Chris Larimer, University of Northern Iowa associate political science professor, who did not caucus Monday.”)

So why this disparity in reporting? Why is Hillary "the winner"? Why is Rubio “surging” and “propelled,” despite this “loser’s” third-place finish? Has not Sanders been "surging" and "propelled" as much or more than Rubio along the same glide path? Yet the media tells us that, notwithstanding Sanders’ at least equal, if not much greater unprecedented accomplishment, we should think of him as the "loser" and Hillary as the “winner” of the Iowa Democrats’ Caucus. Why is that?

How could I know the answer? I don’t. But there are some things I do know.
”[T] he media's owners are, by definition, well within the 1%. They have every possible financial, political, ideological, and social motive to try to prevent him [Senator Bernie Sanders] being taken seriously. Savvy media employees who wish to stay employed can't help but be aware of the advantages offered them if they will cut back on or eliminate coverage of him (see description of the shameful exclusion of him by "Meet the Press" in "Bernie's Media Challenge," June 19, 2015), and when unavoidable (perhaps because he is getting the largest number of contributors and audience members of any candidate) diminish his reputation with ridicule, marginalization, and dismissal as "a socialist" whose views are "out of the mainstream."

Second, with rare exceptions, profit-driven media do not have the space or time, or a sufficient number of highly educated, informed and analytical journalists, to present lengthy print, online, or televised discussions of major public policy issues in a way that will involve, inform, and hold an American audience. (See "Three-Legged Calves, Wolves, Sheep and Democracy's Media," Dec. 1, 2014.) Thus, even if media owners were supportive of Senator Sanders' views, they aren't really set up to present anyone's views at length. Thus, political coverage tends to focus on fundraising (e.g., Senator Rand Paul's mediocre contributions; Jeb Bush's $100 million), poll results (e.g., leading Republicans excluded from Fox News debate), gotcha moments (e.g., Governor Rick Perry's 2012 "oops" moment), the bizarre (e.g., Donald Trump's behavior, characterized by Dan Rather as somewhat similar to "a manure spreader in a windstorm"), physical appearance (e.g., the Donald's hair; women's clothing), and those portions of candidates' past history they'd rather forget (e.g., Hillary Clinton's Arkansas Whitewater, 1990s healthcare efforts, Benghazi, 50,000 emails).
”Senator Bernie Sanders and America's 'Mainstream',” July 25, 2015, 8:45 a.m.

And, from ”Bernie’s Media Challenge,” June 19, 2015:
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting's research discloses that between January 3rd and May 3rd of 2015, Meet the Press (NBC; host, Chuck Todd) made no mention whatsoever of Senator Bernie Sanders, notwithstanding 16 mentions of Hillary Clinton, 13 of Jeb Bush, 12 of Scott Walker, 11 of Chris Christie, and 10 each for Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. In total, 24 presidential candidates received mentions during this four-month period. Bernie? Zero. "Meet the Press Breaks Its Silence on Bernie Sanders," Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), June 2015, vol. 28, no. 5, p. 3 ("Meet the Press host Chuck Todd . . . declared on the show's May 3 episode . . . 'I'm obsessed with elections.' Yet the one major candidate who had announced he was running that week -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who declared on April 30 he was running for the Democratic nomination -- was strikingly ignored on that same broadcast.")
Bernie Sanders is the only avowed "Democratic Socialist" serving in the United States Congress. Defeating both Democrats and Republicans, he served as Vermont's only member of the House of Representatives for 16 years (1990-2006). Sanders has now served in the United States Senate for more than nine years (2006 to the present). As acknowledged by Todd himself . . . , in all those years, Meet the Press never saw fit to have Sanders appear on "America's most watched...Sunday morning public affairs program" until September 14, 2014 when Sanders was interviewed about his "possible" run for the Presidency. (One month earlier than the October date initially cited by Todd in response to FAIR.)
Ernest A. Canning, "Bernie Who? Media Watchdog Documents NBC's 'Meet the Press' Marginalization of Sanders," The Brad Blog, May 11, 2015
Only following FAIR's report was an invitation extended, which Bernie accepted. "Meet the Press Transcript - May 31, 2015." While it certainly counted as an after-the-fact "mention" of his candidacy, it was scarcely an effort to explore his past and approach to the issues.
[T]he interview degenerated into full horse-race, candidate-personality mode. Specifically, Todd sought Sanders’s views on . . . Hillary Clinton. He began indirectly by asking Sanders to weigh the relative merits of Bill Clinton’s presidency versus Barack Obama’s. . . . [H]e asked Sanders to comment on Hillary Clinton’s apparent leftward movement on a number of issues, including “same-sex marriage, on immigration … on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq War, on Cuba. She has moved from a position, basically, in disagreement with you, to a position that comes closer to your view. So I guess is, do you take her at her word?”

Cue the horse race! To his credit, Sanders refused to take the bait. Instead, he expressed hope that “the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people” and tried to move the conversation to his policy views. Todd, however, had no interest in having a serious debate on the issues . . ..
Matthew Dickinson, "Bernie Sanders and Chuck Todd's 'Meet the Press' fiasco: 50 shades of bad; Bernie Sanders deftly refused to engage in media-generated controversy and expressed hope that 'the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign,'" Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2015.

Both Clinton and Sanders have now agreed to an additional debate this Thursday evening at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Alan Rappeport, “Bernie Sanders Says Yes to Debate Thursday Night,” New York Times (online), February 3, 2016, 11:18 a.m.

And who has NBC selected as a moderator for that debate, along with Rachel Maddow? That’s right, Chuck Todd.

# # #

Monday, February 01, 2016

Why Nobody 'Wins' the Iowa Caucus

2:43 p.m.
Why the Iowa Caucus Matters -- and Why It Doesn't

This blog essay is deliberately being written and posted the afternoon before the evening when Iowa's 1600-plus precincts will hold their Republican and Democratic Party caucuses. It's not designed as spin for any candidate's effort to explain the outcome after the fact.

The caucus process does matter -- just not in the way many people think (because that's the way the media told them to think). It's analogous to the way we will "elect" our president in November -- though, once again, not in the way we think (it is the Electoral College that picks the president).

One can accurately speak of the "winner" of the Democratic National Convention's presidential nomination process the week of July 25 in Philadelphia. Only one will be chosen from among however many potential presidential candidates there are at that time; the one selected can be said to have "won" the nomination. Similarly, only one of those nominated for president by our country's political parties will get the most electoral votes on November 8, 2016. That person can be said to have "won" the presidency.

So why does no one "win" the caucus?

The answer requires a little explanation of the categories of caucus significance.

(1) The nomination process. Technically, the precinct caucuses are the first step in a process of intra-party governance. The precinct caucuses are like town meetings of everyone registered to vote who has expressed a party preference. They are, subject to those limitations, open to all. What they produce are delegates to the next stage: the county conventions. The county conventions choose delegates to the congressional districts' conventions. They, in turn, select delegates to the parties' state conventions. And it is at the state conventions that the delegates to the parties' national conventions are chosen.

There will be 4,763 delegates at the Democratic National Convention. It will take 2,382 to win the nomination. Of those, Iowa will have 44 -- about 1% (roughly the same as Iowa's percentage of the national population). It is in this sense that even Iowa's ultimate national convention delegates will have relatively little impact on who is ultimately nominated. And if they have little, the delegates to the county conventions, selected in tonight's precinct caucuses will have essentially no impact at all.

So there will be no "winner" of the caucuses tonight in the sense of impact on the parties' governing processes or ultimate selection of their presidential candidates.

(2) The campaign. Even in terms of the campaign, except for one possible scenario, the caucus results mean little (separating out the media consequences, discussed next). With 50 states, there are a string of caucuses and primaries between now and the summer, starting with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. As they progress, and a candidate has a substantial lead in the race to line up the magic number of 2,382 delegates, an individual state's primary may take on relative significance. But in the early stages -- and Iowa is the first -- the outcomes are of relevance primarily in weeding out, or further propelling, candidates. (Of course, with a billionaire's backing, a candidate can stay in the race so long as the money keeps coming regardless of how disappointing the outcomes may be.)

It is in that sense, so far as the campaign is concerned, that a candidate can be a "loser" -- in the sense that the support proves to be so minimal that the wisest (or only financially feasible) choice is to drop out -- but one cannot be a "winner" in any meaningful sense. Not only is it not a winner-take-all contest, there is really nothing to "win." The result is one of dividing up shares of support. And so long as a candidate's share is above -- name your percentage; I'd say 20-30% with three or fewer candidates, maybe as 10-20% when more -- it is reasonable for him or her to continue on. If you want to call that "winning," OK, but by this definition essentially everyone "wins."

As of this afternoon it is impossible to know the outcome. But I think it reasonable, based on the polls, to assume that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will end up with at least 30% of the "state delegate equivalents" (which is the measure) and rationally conclude there is no reason to consider dropping out.

(3) The media. It is the media, TV and newspapers primarily, that have turned the Iowa caucuses into a winner-take-all phenomenon in which the candidate who gets the most state delegate equivalents is declared by them to have "won" the Iowa caucuses, while all others have "lost." Given that Donald Trump is not the only American who prefers winning to losing, the declaration by the media of a "winner" is of significance -- even though it could not rationally have been but for their declaration.

A sub-set of this presentation involves "expectations" -- the candidates who exceed, or fail to meet, the percentages of delegates that the media's pundits said they would have. (It is, in this sense, as much a matter of winners and losers among the media as among the candidates.) But "expectations" in politics, as in sports, can be manipulated by the parties as well. That does not, however, reduce their potential impact in the media-created horse race.

The media-anointed winner goes on to New Hampshire with the wind at his or her back, and tries to hold on to the title until is is wrest from their grasp by a different candidate in a future primary.

This is, in the final analysis, why it really is important to be proclaimed the winner -- even though it is of little consequence otherwise in any rational analysis.

So do go to your precinct caucus. It is important. Besides it is fun. It is rewarding. You are engaging in an important, and meaningful act of responsible citizenship in a democracy.

But its most meaningful impact will be measured only in terms of the next couple of days' news cycles.

Nobody "wins" the Iowa caucus.

# # #

UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016

Note: Cessation of Ongoing Harreld Repository [Feb. 29]. For the past six months, since the Iowa Board of Regents' selection of Bruce Harreld as president of the University of Iowa, this blog has endeavored to compile a relatively complete repository of links to, and comments about, the news stories and opinion pieces dealing with the Board of Regents, President Harreld, and related items of relevance to higher education in general and the University of Iowa in particular. They are contained in the blogs for September-October, November, December, 2015, and January and February, 2016 ( linked below).

I thought they would be a useful resource for those looking for a single source to follow the saga, as well as for those in future years wishing to do serious research, or merely inform themselves, about this important slice of UI's history. Response from readers indicates it has at least provided the former function.

Now as they say, "as a concession to the shortness of life," and a desire to get back to other writing, I am going to reclaim those daily hours of research for other tasks. As major UI stories worthy of individual blog essays come along they will, of course be blogged about from time to time. But for thorough research beyond February 29, 2016, I'm referring readers to the alternative of inserting well-crafted search terms in Google. -- N.J., February 29, 2016

February 1-29, 2016

Note: The Iowa Board of Regents' process used in the search for, and ultimate selection of, a new president for the University of Iowa has been highly controversial throughout. For the details, with links to hundreds of documents, news stories, and opinion pieces, visit this: repository of links from September 2-October 31, 2015 (which also includes links to additional blog posts).

The continuation of that coverage, reporting on events and statements from President Bruce Harreld during his administration, is first found in "UI President Harreld - Nov. 2015," for the month of November, starting with the anticipatory stories on November 1, followed by his first day on the job, November 2.

Equivalent material for December can be found -->HERE<--, and for January 2016 -->HERE<--.

This blog post, "UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," is where the continuation of coverage will be found for the month of February, 2016.

-- Nicholas Johnson, February 1, 2016

Contents (with links)
February 1-3, 2016
February 4-6, 2016
February 7-9, 2016
February 10-12, 2016
February 13-15, 2016
February 16-18, 2016
February 19-21, 2016
February 22-24, 2016
Nicholas Johnson, "Commentary on President Harreld's First 'Town Hall' Meeting," Feb. 24, 2016
February 25-27, 2016
February 28-29, 2016
February 1-3, 2016

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Denies Request to Release Polling Data," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), January 29, 2016, 3:49 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Denies Request to Release Polling Data; Response Comes Nearly a Month After Concerns Are Raised Over Contract Without Competitive Bids," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 30, 2016, p. A3 ("'The University of Iowa declines your request and restates that the report is of the type which shall be confidential as required by section 22.7(6),' Carroll Reasoner, UI's vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, wrote in a letter dated Friday [Jan. 29] and provided to the Press-Citizen. The response comes nearly one month after FOI Council Executive Director Randy Evans sent a letter raising concerns about UI's refusal to release documents related to polling data done for the university by a company owned by former Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn. Evans wrote the letter in response to an Associated Press article concerning how Strawn’s company had received contracts worth about $320,000 without competitive bids. AP reported that UI was keeping some of the documents secret under a section of Iowa’s open records law that allows for confidentiality for 'reports to governmental agencies which, if released, would give advantage to competitors and serve no public purpose.'")

The absence of additional links to UI and higher education news and opinion pieces (including my own) during these last four days of January has not been for want of content. Maintaining a repository of the journalistic history of the administration of UI's President Bruce Harreld (along with news of other challenges to higher education generally with implications for the University of Iowa) is a bountiful source of material. The unfolding story remains compelling.

By way of explanation for readers not residing in Iowa, this break in reporting is a function of the fact that the focus of Iowa news and Iowa citizens' efforts during the last week of January through the night of February 1, 2016, has been on "The Iowa Caucus." However, none of the links to relevant material during this political interlude has been ignored or lost. They will be reported here, and commented upon in due time.

February 4-6, 2016

Clearly today's [Feb. 5] top story is Ryan Foley's Des Moines Register revelations regarding the leaked results of the infamous Chris Perkins' polls and focus groups perceptions of the University of Iowa. "Pollster Warned University of Iowa of 'Party School Image,'" Associated Press/Des Moines Register (online), February 4, 2016, 4:35 p.m.; hard copy: Ryan Foley, "Republican Pollster Warned UI of 'Party School Image,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 5, 2016, p. A1

This is yet one more phase of what has been a duplicitous disaster from start to finish that now rests with a flashing red light in the center of President Bruce Harreld's desk.

1. The roughly $25,000 contract was set at $24,900, thereby avoiding the competitive bidding required for contracts of $25,000 or more. As Ryan Foley reported at the time, "The University of Iowa has quietly awarded several no-bid contracts totaling $321,900 to a prominent GOP consultant . . .. [It looks] like a sweetheart deal among Republican insiders and a potential waste of money. The university sidestepped a policy that normally requires competitive bidding [on contracts of $25,000 or more; this contract was for $24,900] to ensure services are obtained at the lowest cost . . .. [S]ome of the money has gone for statewide opinion polling that the university is refusing to make public, saying doing so would 'serve no public purpose.'" See "UI President Harreld - Dec. 2015," Section December 7-9, 2015.

2. It was a part of the Republican insiders self-dealing that has surfaced in a number of other contexts. See the nine headings required to lay out the range of problems in "Trouble in River City: Corruption Creep," December 13, 2015.

3. UI administrators stonewalled the release of the results (in violation of Iowa law according to one expert), thereby creating increased ill will and suspicion among Iowa media and public -- a fundamental violation of basic crisis management principles. For a little guidance, see "Crisis Communications 101," February 14, 2011.

4. And today, with Ryan Foley's revelations, we discover that the results of the Perkins' survey are consistent with the common sense intuition of many critics of the University and City of Iowa City's tolerance of students' binge drinking; how the balance has been struck between students' welfare and increased tuition revenues, it turns out, is not only harmful to students' health and academic achievement, it is also so harmful to the University's reputation that it also poses an impediment to the increased enrollment it is designed to encourage. (In the past the UI Administration actually approved a ludicrous rationale for its joint contracts with alcohol manufacturers. See, e.g., "What is this about? The UI is going to do its damnedest to accelerate the consumption of alcohol by our students, and in the process Anheuser-Busch's profits. After all, that's why for-profit corporations advertise, especially with emotionally compelling logos for children, such as Joe Camel (to encourage smoking) or Herky (to encourage drinking). And the school is doing this to accomplish what? To raise money for its 'alcohol harm reduction plan'?" "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012.)

Here are some excerpts from Foley's report related to the last point:
A Republican pollster warned the University of Iowa a year ago that its public standing was suffering from an image as a heavy-drinking school where sexual assault was too common, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press that school officials have withheld from the public.

Washington-based pollster Chris Perkins told university leaders that those perceptions meant the school was no longer considered safe by some parents and students, and had lost some credibility "as a serious academic institution." Perkins, who received the polling work under a controversial university no-bid contract with a GOP insider, recommended specific messages for a communications strategy to combat the image.

"Iowans believe that cleaning up the party school image at the University of Iowa will result in attracting more students, gaining more research grants and overall improving the education system," Perkins wrote in the 52-page report, which was prepared for university leaders following a statewide poll of 1,000 residents in December 2014.

Earlier that year, protests erupted when the university's then-president, Sally Mason, said sexual assault could never be completely eliminated because of "human nature." The issue had become an increasing public concern in 2013, when the school started releasing public warnings about reported rapes involving acquaintances. The Princeton Review also named the university the nation's no. 1 party school in 2013.

The university won't release documents detailing polls and focus groups conducted by Perkin's firm, Wilson Perkins Allen. The AP obtained the undated report from a university employee who requested anonymity because the school didn't authorize its disclosure.

The school has said that releasing the information would help rival schools and "serve no public purpose." But the secrecy has been pilloried by open government advocates, including Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans, who suggested this week that the school was illegally trying to hide embarrassing information.
One of the purposes of this repository of links to news and opinion pieces that collectively record the history of UI President Harreld's administration is to suggest to him, his supporters, and his critics, issues he might want to be thinking about. He can't be expected to have arrived in Jessup Hall with his mind fully informed and irrevocably made up regarding all of them. Nor would it be desirable if he had. A part of his challenge, as he himself has freely acknowledged, is building that base of knowledge and understanding.

But "leadership" of any organization requires an answer to the question, "is there a 'there' there?" That is, does the leader have a moral compass, a pole star, by which he guides his inquiries, opinions, beliefs -- and public statements. So far, we have very little evidence of this with regard to the dozens of issues that have been laid out in this blog over the course of the last five months. I have praised his assertions regarding his determination to create and maintain integrity in UI's athletic program. Hopefully, he intends to show leadership with regard to integrity throughout the University. We could now use a little of that leadership, a little application of the platform of principles upon which he stands, with regard to this public relations (and substantive) disaster.

February 7-9, 2016

The UI's continued stonewalling regarding the poll results it paid for, first laid out in "UI President Harreld - Feb. 2016," February 4-6, 2016, will probably remain a hot issue until the University ultimately complies with the law. Ryan Foley, "Pollster Warned University of Iowa of 'Party School Image,'" Associated Press/Des Moines Register (online), February 4, 2016, 4:35 p.m.; hard copy: Ryan Foley, "Republican Pollster Warned UI of 'Party School Image,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 5, 2016, p. A1 ("In his report, Perkins recommended that the university emphasize messages about 'working to crack down on underage drinking and drug problems' and 'prosecuting sexual assault and harassment criminals.' He said the party school image could hurt student recruitment, and warned that perceived high debt loads for graduates and financial aid shortages were other concerns.")

The Gazette has now editorialized on the subject. Editorial, "University of Iowa Should Release Matt Strawn Polling Documents," The Gazette (online), February 6, 2016, 6:00 a.m.; hard copy: Editorial, "University Should Release Strawn Polling Documents," The Gazette, February 6, 2016, p. A5 ("Sadly, the University of Iowa again is circling its wagons in the face of a call for transparency. This time, the university is refusing to release documents pertaining to opinion polls and focus groups conducted in 2013 and 2015 by a firm owned by former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn. More than $320,000 worth of contracts were awarded to Strawn’s firm without competitive bidding, a process overseen by UI Vice President for External Relations Peter Matthes. Matthes worked for Republicans in the Iowa Senate while Strawn chaired the party. . . . 'The statute does not require that the report be released just because some member of the public might want to know what was in it,' Carroll J. Reasoner, [UI] vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, wrote in a response. . . . [Iowa Freedom of Information Council's Randy]Evans argues the statute was intended to shield reports from private entities regulated by government, such as business financial data, not reports paid for with public funds. We agree, and find Reasoner’s curt response to be sorely lacking.")

UIHC: The Sick Should Avoid Hospitals. Deaths from iatrogenic disease (conditions caused by hospitals and doctors) are now the nation's third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer). There is no reason to think the UI's hospital would be an exception. Marshall Allen, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals? National Public Radio/Pro Publica, September 24, 2013. It's yet one more issue for the president of a university with a research hospital to think about. Note the "crisis communications" difference between how President Harreld's office stoewalled while the UIHC went public (albeit, no doubt, motivated in part by a desire to minimize liability). Here's a current example at Iowa.

Josh O'Leary, "UIHC Warns 1,700 Surgery Patients of Infection Risk," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 5, 2016, 12:08 p.m.; hard copy: Josh O'Leary, "UIHC Warns 1,700 of Infection Risk; Patient Infected by a Device Used in Some Heart, Lung and Liver Surgeries," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 6, 2016, p. A3 ("The infection, which is treatable but can be fatal, has symptoms that include a fever lasting more than one week, pain, redness, heat, pus around a surgical incision, night sweats, joint pain, muscle pain, loss of energy and failure in infants to gain weight or grow.")

Vanessa Miller, "University of Iowa Warns Patients of Potentially Deadly Infection; One Patient Diagnosed with Surgery-Related Illness," The Gazette (online), February 5, 2016, 2:30 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Health Care: UI Alerts Patients to Unlikely but Dangerous Infection; Notices Come as U.S. Officials Warn of Devices Used in Major Operations," The Gazette, February 5, 2016, p. A1 ("The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October issued a warning . . .. [The UIHC] on Monday [Feb. 1] began sending letters to about 1,500 of its patients potentially subjected to the heater-cooler-related infections in the last four years . . ..")

How to get Harreld's goat: animal rights v. animal research. Here's another ticklish issue for our UI President -- for reasons that won't be elaborated here. There is medical, psychological, and military research affecting humans that either need not be, or cannot be, done with humans. Sometimes the research can be at least begun, and possibly be finished, with the use of animals -- whether fruit flies, pigeons -- or goats. Meanwhile, animal rights advocates believe this use of animals is sometimes unnecessary, and sometimes unnecessarily cruel and hurtful. So apparently the UI is using goats. One escaped, and provided news coverage for ten days. It has now been found and returned, but animal rights folks are complaining about the UI's permitting this to happen with the bitter cold weather we have had during that week.

Holly Hines, "Elusive Goat Captured by UI Police," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 9, 2016, 12:46 p.m. ("The goat escaped from his carrier at the Research Park Jan. 29 while officials were transferring him to a vehicle. The dispatcher said he could not answer any other questions about the goat's capture. . . . [T]he People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last week argued that the university violated the Animal Welfare Act, saying in a letter to university officials that the goat spent days 'exposed to Coralville’s freezing temperatures, alone, frightened and confused, and very likely hungry and thirsty.' [The] group called for the university to relocate the goat to an accredited sanctuary.")

February 10-12, 2016

UI's Continued Stonewalling. See above, February 7-9, first item. Today [Feb. 10] the UI's award-winning student paper editorially joins The Gazette and others in condemning the University's refusal to reveal the polling results it paid for. Editorial, "Release Information on UI 'Party School' Report," LThe Daily Iowan (online), February 10, 2016; hard copy: Editorial, "Release Info on UI Report," The Daily Iowan, February 10, 2016, p. A4 ("Chris Perkins, who conducted social research for the University of Iowa, 'warned the university … a year ago that its public standing was suffering from an image as a heavy-drinking school in which sexual assault was too common . . .. [C]ollege campuses have been considered by some to be the notorious prowling ground of sexual predators . . .. The problem persists on the UI campus. On Monday [Feb. 8], two potential sexual assaults were anonymously reported. . . . But given the nature of Perkins’ formal warning to the university, and the university’s reputation as a top 'party school,' a university setting in which rape culture tends to thrive, UI officials could do more. Though, it seems the administration does not want to, as it may hurt admissions in the coming years. . . . [I]t it is lost to the Daily Iowan Editorial Board exactly how releasing information that could potentially be used to combat a problematic culture perpetuating a history of predation and manipulation serves 'no public purpose.'”)

How to Get Harreld's Goat. See above, February 7-9, third item. As further evidence that public concern regarding the treatment of animals is mainstream politics and journalism these days -- and therefore something research universities have to take into account with regard to their animal research -- The Gazette prominently displayed at the top of its editorial page today [Feb. 10] a column regarding another aspect of the issue (that thankfully, so far as we know, does not involve UI): "puppy mills." Ali Iserman, "Change Animal Welfare Law in Iowa," The Gazette (online), February 10, 2016, 9:52 a.m.; hard copy: Ali Iserman, "Change the Law to Protect Animals in Iowa," The Gazette, February 10, 2016, p. A6 ("Puppy mills are inhumane breeding facilities that produce puppies in large numbers. They are designed to maximize profits and commonly disregard the physical, social and emotional health of the dogs. The breeding dogs at puppy mills often live their entire lives in cramped, filthy cages. They are forced to breed repeatedly, producing litters of puppies that often have physical problems because of the poor conditions. These dogs rarely get the medical attention they need and often are killed once they stop producing puppies.")

More corporate types stumbling as higher ed leaders. Reported here earlier in UI President Harreld - Jan. 2016," January 1-31, 2016, January 25-27, 2016, "Free Speech on Campus" -- " [St. Mary's U. President Simon] Newman told some faculty members they needed to change the way they think of struggling students. He reportedly said, 'This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies . . . put a Glock to their heads.'” Scott Jaschik, "Are At-Risk Students Bunnies to Be Drowned? President's Plan to Weed Out Some Students Soon After They Arrive -- and His Alleged Metaphor for the Plan -- Set Off Furor at Mount St. Mary's U.," Inside Higher Ed (online), January 20, 2016.

Now the Mount's faculty and students -- and their supporters from around the country -- are in rebellion mode for arbitrary firings of faculty without notice, due process, or cause, at Mount St. Mary's University of Maryland. The asserted grounds? A kind of Mafia-like "disloyalty."

The Mount's president, Simon Newman, "earned a master of business administration degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, in Palo Alto, California.Mr. Newman has almost 30 years of experience working as an executive with a strong background in private equity, strategy consulting, and operations. He is the former managing director of the private equity fund JP Capital Partners, as well as president and CEO of Cornerstone Management Group, founded in 1997. During his career he has started or co-founded four different businesses, completed more than $33 billion in transactions, and raised more than $3 billion in equity funding for ventures and bids he originated. He has led several business turnarounds and delivered more than $200 million in profit improvements. He started his career in consulting working with Bain & Co and LEK Consulting where he managed the media and entertainment practice working with clients such as Warner Bros., Disney, and Universal Studios. He has also worked at Canal + International, Liberty Media and the investment bank, Wasserstein & Perella." "President Simon Newman."

For a collection of the current ugly details see, Sarah Brown and Katherine Mangan, "Academic Freedom: Fallout at Mount St. Mary's Spreads as Scholars Protest Firings," The Chronicle of Higher Education (online), February 10, 2016.

February 13-15, 2016

Here's how the Iowa Board of Regents define "transparency," "public relations," and "shared governance." Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Set 2016 Schedule for Public Hearings," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 12, 2016, 5:32 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Set 2016 Schedule for Public Hearings; Most Video Comments Go Unacknowledged," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 15, 2016, p. A1 ("The Iowa Board of Regents has released the 2016 schedule for the public hearings to be held before each of its regular board meetings. Yet most the record-breaking number of people who offered video comment during November's public hearing at the University of Iowa say they have yet to hear anything back from the regents, even an acknowledgement that their comments were viewed.")

Issues: Is UI's program of proactive prevention of gun and related violence adequate, well-considered and balanced? Should the community have been informed earlier? Was the student accorded due process? Stephen Gruber-Miller, "UI Investigated Threat Referencing Gang Lu," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 11, 2016, 6:13 p.m.; hard copy: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "UI Investigated Threat Referencing Gang Lu," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 12, 2016, p. A1 ("University [of Iowa] spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said via email that UI's Threat Assessment Team . . . determined that there was no imminent risk . . .. [I]t seemed to concern comments . . . on the Chinese social media site Weibo . . . : 'I have been studying so hard this semester. If I fail the courses, I will lete (sic) the professors experience the fear of "lugang."' Lu was a UI physics and astronomy graduate student who killed five and paralyzed one in a 1991 campus shooting.")

And see, "Hangzhou student expelled from University of Iowa after joking about shooting his professors on Weibo,", February 15, 2016 ("The university's response to Ni was undertaken without notifying the campus at large, a fact that [Mason] Clarke protested: 'I definitely think the university should put out a notification of this when it happens. I think that these things should not go under the radar, and people should be made aware.' . . . In January, a 19-year-old Chinese exchange student in Arizona was gunned down inside her car at an intersection after a minor fender-bender. Following the incident, numerous Chinese students in the US said they were thinking about buying a gun to protect themselves.")

UI President Harreld's pledge to insure the integrity of the athletics program has not yet been evidenced in any comments regarding Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's assertion that the football team "endorsed" Trump (as the quarterback and 11 players stood by his side and presented him with a Hawkeye shirt), or the latest embarrassment: Ryan Foley, "Feds Open Broad Bias Probe Into UI Athletics," Associated Press/Des Moines Register (online), February 12, 2016, 7:04 p.m.; hard copy: Ryan Foley, "Hawkeye Athletes in Fed's Crosshairs; Gender Bias Alleged in 13 Areas; School Providing Info," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 13, 2016, p. A1 ("The University of Iowa is facing a wide-ranging federal civil rights investigation into allegations that its athletics department does not provide equal opportunities for female athletes . . .. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is looking into gender bias allegations in 13 areas, including how the department counts participation levels, awards scholarships, schedules practices and games, and delivers services such as tutoring, medical attention, housing and dining. A team of investigators will visit the Iowa City campus in April . . ..")

The Washington Post makes this a national story: "Education/APNewsBreak: Feds Open Broad Bias Probe Into Iowa Athletics," Washington Post (online)/Associated Press, February 12, 2016.

Announced Wednesday, effective Monday?! Whoa!
The University of Iowa is combining its vice presidency for medical affairs and the dean of its medical school into a single position, which will be held by Jean Robillard, the former interim university president.

The new leadership structure will be effective Monday [Feb. 15], university officials announced Wednesday [Feb. 10] . . . .

Robillard said the reorganization has been approved by UI President Bruce Harreld.

Changes this high in the administrative level at one of Iowa's public universities typically require approval from the Iowa Board of Regents, the nine-member board that oversees UI, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. The board is next scheduled to meet Feb. 24-25 in Ames.

Regent officials confirmed Wednesday that the changes will be on the docket for the next meeting and said the board will give retroactive approval.
Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Shuffles Health Care Leadership; Robillard Now Med School Dean," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 10, 2016, 3:45 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI to Combine Medical VP, Dean Positions Into a Single Post," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 11, 2016, p. A1.

February 16-18, 2016

Issues: effectiveness of UI's anti-binge-drinking efforts; students violating law; athletic program's response to athletes' law violations: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "Reserve Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back . . . charged with OWI," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 15, 2016, 1:47 p.m.; hard copy: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "Hawkeye Defensive Back Charged with OWI," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 16, 2016, p. A7 (the UI's entering into a joint marketing agreement with Budweiser is but one illustration of the history of the UI's ambivalence on these issues: For background and commentry on the Anheuser-Busch deal, UI's alcohol programs, and numerous ignored proposals for improvement, see, among many more, e.g.: "UI Administrators 'Shocked' By School's Beer Ads," August 30, 2012; "'We're # 2!' . . . in Campus Drunks," August 21, 2012; "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012.
"Football Trash Talk; Iowa City: Where Great Minds Drink Alike," September 12, 2012. And see generally, "Football; FromDC2Iowa: Football-Related Blog Essays," April 30, 2015, and its section on Alcohol.
The name of the athlete has not been included in this blog because I see no reason to add to the athlete's searchable online record with a blog mention.)
For the record, Iowa's liquor control laws are in chapter 123 of the Iowa Code. "Legal age" is set at 21. Sec. 123.3 (19). Sec. 123.47 (1) forbids providing alcohol to anyone under 21. And Sec. 123.47 (2) forbids those under age to possess alcoholic beverages. The football player is 19 years old. Thus, it is highly likely that someone in addition to him also violated Iowa law. Does anybody care? Probably not.)

Faculty resignations: "The primary reasons cited by resigning faculty members at Iowa State were 'dissatisfaction with the departmental environment, lack of perceived advancement opportunities, and lack of perceived partner accommodation opportunities,' according to regent documents." So, is the UI really that much more an accommodating and pleasant higher ed environment, or are UI's profs just less candid? Vanessa Miller, "University of Iowa Resignations Surge 36 Percent; 90 Resignations Mark Most Among Iowa Universities Since at Least 2006," The Gazette (online), February 16, 2016, 7:05 p.m. ("The University of Iowa last year saw 90 faculty members resign, marking a 36 percent increase and qualifying as the most in one year at any of Iowa’s public universities since at least 2006. . . . That means the 185 UI employees who took advantage of an Early Retirement Incentive Program offered last year in hopes of cutting costs and improving efficiency came in addition to the 90 employees who resigned.")

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Sees Jump in Faculty Resignations," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 16, 2016, 1:31 p.m. ("'It is a jump from the last several years,' said Kevin Kregel, UI's associate provost for faculty. 'We are evaluating where the specific increases are coming from.' . . . Kregel also pointed out that the majority of last year’s resignations — 65 of the 90 — come from UI's Carver College of Medicine. . . . UI also has the highest number of resignations from minority faculty members among regents universities, with 25.”)

Issue: Ever-escalating pricing for college education; does rationale for free K-12 education apply to community colleges and research universities? If not, why not? If compromise, what is the proper division between benefit to society (share paid by the state) and benefit to the graduate (share paid by student)? Vanessa Miller, "Iowa's Regent Universities Look to Increase Room and Board Rates; University of Iowa Rates to Increase 2.9 Percent," The Gazette (online), February 16, 2016, 6:45 p.m.

Campus security, football and rape; this story is back in the news two months later. Danielle Paquette, "The Disturbing Truth About College Football and Rape," The Washington Post (online), December 29, 2015 ("[Texas A&M University economics professor Jason] Lindo . . . and his colleagues analyzed 22 years of FBI data to compare reports of rape to the law enforcement agencies serving students at Division 1 schools on game days to reports on non-game days, controlling for differences expected across different days of the week and times of the year. They found a strong link between football match-ups and an increase in college women, ages 17 to 24, reporting rape. Such reports increased on the days of home games by 41 percent, according to a new study, published Monday [Dec. 28, 2015]. They spiked 15 percent during away games. And after underdog teams unexpectedly beat higher-ranked opponents on campus, reported rapes on average surged a whopping 57 percent.")

Campus security and the open door policy. Vanessa Miller, "University of Iowa Asks for Student Help in Dorm Security; 'If You Don't Know the Person Behind You, Don't Open It,'" The Gazette (online), February 17, 2016, 5:44 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Dorm Intrusion Serves as Cautionary Tale; University of Iowa Students Becoming More Wary of Letting Others In and Leaving Rooms Unlocked," The Gazette, February 18, 2016, p. A1 ("UI officials on Wednesday said they hope students will learn something from the intrusion, which involved a 23-year-old non-student who police said stole a key to a Burge Hall restroom and videotaped a female student showering inside.")

Harreld rewards AD Barta with more than doubled wage notwithstanding lawsuits and federal investigation of athletic program's alleged Title IX violations -- from $400,000 starvation wage to $550,000 + $250,000 + $100,000 more in 2018, more than doubling his salary to $900,000 a year!! Marc Morehouse, "Iowa, Barta Agree to Extension; Despite Ongoing Courtroom Battles, Harreld Backs Hawkeyes Athletics Director," The Gazette (online), February 17, 2016, 6:14 p.m.; hard copy: Marc Morehouse, "University of Iowa: Iowa, Barta Agree to Extension; Despite Ongoing Courtroom Battles, Harreld Backs AD," The Gazette, February 18, 2016, p. B1 ("According to UI documents, Barta and UI President Bruce Harreld agreed to a five-year contract extension effective Jan. 1, 2016. Barta’s base salary will increase from $400,000 to $550,000 in July. The deal also guarantees $250,000 in annual deferred compensation. Both amounts increase by $50,000 in 2018. . . . [T]he news of a contract extension is up for your interpretation. There have been a lot of great accomplishments and a lot of lawyering up with Iowa athletics in the last year. 'Director Barta is a longtime member of the University of Iowa family and extending his contract was the right thing to do,' Harreld said in a statement Wednesday. 'He and the entire athletics department are committed to the success of our student-athletes both on the field of play and in the classroom.'” And with their OWI violations, he might have added; see Feb. 13-15, first item, above.) [Football and rape study, two items up.]

February 19-21, 2016

If it weren't so sad, outrageous, and infuriating, it would be hilarious. "Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Another Record Number at Regents Hearings; Commenters raise concerns about next week's town hall meeting with UI President Bruce Harreld," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 18, 2016, 5:14 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Hearing at UI Draws Record Number; Nearly All Express Frustration About Hearing System," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 19, 2016, p. A3 ("Nearly all of the 10 commenters expressed frustration about the regents' three-year-old hearing system in which members of the public are asked to gather at one of six sites around the state to offer up to five minutes worth of recorded commentary. 'This entire set up of so-called "public hearings," which are really one-way videotapes with no obligation on your ends to engage with our contributions, speaks volumes about'" the regents' disregard of Iowa's strong reputation for higher education, said Matthew Brown, an associate professor of English at UI.")

Vanessa Miller, "Speakers at University of Iowa Hearing Criticize 'Troubling' Regent Communication Process; 'Step Up or, in Fact, Step Down,'" The Gazette (online), February 18, 2016, 7:36 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Regents: UI Speakers Sound Off on Format for Public Hearings; Process of Submitting Recorded Comments to Regents Criticized," The Gazette, February 19, 2016, p. A2 ("Most of the 10 people who spoke Thursday during a Board of Regents public hearing at the University of Iowa did not address issues on the board’s meeting agenda for next week but instead criticized the board for its management 'failures' and the impersonal public hearing process it uses. 'It’s troubling that this is the extent of the dialogue that I get, is speaking into a webcam,' said UI graduate student and teaching assistant Hodna Nuernberg. 'I really would call on you the regents to step up or, in fact, step down and resign. Because I don’t think that this is a legitimate process.' . . . No one verifies board members watch the videos.")

David Pitt, "Iowa State Leaders Appeal Free Speech-Marijuana Logo Case," Associated Press/Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 18, 2016, 6:36 p.m.; hard copy: David Pitt, "ISU Appeals Free Speech-Marijuana Logo Case," Associated Press/Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 19, 2016, p. A6 ("Iowa State University administrators are appealing a federal judge's ruling that they violated the free speech rights of student members of a pro-marijuana group by barring them from using the university logos on T-shirts.")

Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: ISU Appeals to Keep Logo Off Marijuana Shirts; Administrators Hopeful that Ruling in Student Group's Favor Will be Reversed," The Gazette, February 20, 2016, p. A3

Shelton Stromquist, "Past Presidents Can Teach Us Lessons," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 16, 2016, 5:51 p.m.; hard copy: Shelton Stromquist, "Past Presidents Can Teach Us Lessons," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 17, 2016, p. A9 ("University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and alumni, and for that matter the citizens of Iowa generally, have been treated in recent months to vague and insubstantial comments by newly-appointed president Bruce Harreld and the Board of Regents about what the future might hold for the University of Iowa. . . . We need to be mindful of what lies at the core of what institutions like the University of Iowa have been and should be in the future, as [UI President James O.] Freedman reminded us, and not be distracted by a transitory siren song for change or the imperatives of marketplace values whose fashions and frills will come and go. And we must challenge the corporate-speak that masks an agenda for undoing a tradition of creative inquiry that universities must uphold, as President Freedman so well understood and so powerfully articulated.")

February 22-24, 2016

Erin Jordan provides a useful review and update on the U.S. Office of Civil Rights investigation of the UI's athletic programs and related matters in this morning's online Gazette: Erin Jordan, "Newstrack: Investigation of Gender Equity in University of Iowa Athletics Expands; Office of Civil Rights Site Visit Set for April," The Gazette (online), February 22, 2016, 7:00 a.m.

Vanessa Miller, "Report: Iowa Universities See Gains in Diverse Employment, But Still Have Work To Do; Regent Schools Still Lag Behind Peer Universities in Diversity Employment," The Gazette (online), February 22, 2016, 6:04 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Iowa Universities Gain in Job Diversity," The Gazette, February 23, 2016, p. A2 ("However, despite the three schools seeing improvement over the past decade, the universities lagged behind universities in their peer groups in nearly every category. When comparing full-time faculty for fall 2014, for example, UI reported 32.2 percent female and 18.5 percent minority compared with a peer group average of 33.4 percent female and 21.5 percent minority, according to the report.")

Savannah Guyer, "Community Gears Up for Harreld Town Hall," The Daily Iowan, February 23, 2016; hard copy: Savannah Guyer, "UI Gears Up for Harreld; University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld Will Hold His First Town Hall Today," The Daily Iowan, February 23, 2016, p. A1 ("Ruth Bryant, a spokeswoman for the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students [COGS], said what they believe will happen and what they hope will happen at the meeting are two different things. 'We’re hoping that we get to ask Bruce Harreld questions and that he responds to them openly and honestly . . . . What we believe will happen — because of the last-minute change to a town hall meeting— we think that he’ll try to filibuster the whole time or pass off questions to his colleagues in administration so he doesn’t have to be accountable.' . . . Richard Roberts, a retired UI adjunct associate psychology professor and practicing clinical neuropsychologist [said] 'Having a meeting from 4 to 6 on a Tuesday isn’t the most considerate idea. . . . It’s scheduled during a time when most people are rushing to get home and get their kids to daycare, and it’s in a remote location where there’s not a lot of family-friendly parking. . . . This is war, and it should be fought to be won.'")

KayLynn Harris, "Regents Leave Community Cold," The Daily Iowan (online), February 19, 2016; hard copy: KayLynn Harris, "Many Unhappy at Hearing," The Daily Iowan, February 19, 2016, p. A1 ("UI graduate student Hodna Nuernberg said . . . 'that was a transparency hearing, and they weren’t even there. . . . I know I’m just a graduate student, but I am a member of the UI community. I think that some acknowledgement and engagement is deserved.'”)

So today [Feb. 23] we'll find out how much "acknowledgement and engagement" is deserved (and received) at President Harreld's "campus town hall." Vanessa Miller, "Regents to Conduct Midyear Evaluations, Including of New UI President Harreld; New University of Iowa President To Be Reviewed Four Months Into Job," The Gazette (online), February 22, 2016, 5:57 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regents to Conduct Midyear Evaluations; UI Leader to be Reviewed Four Months Into Job," The Gazette, February 23, 2016, p. A2 ("The [President Harreld's] Tuesday [Feb. 23] afternoon town hall has been billed as an opportunity for the UI community to hear from university leaders, ask questions, and share ideas for improvement. Harreld’s critics have been calling for a public forum for months, and some have expressed concern that now Provost Barry Butler, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz, and Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin also will be involved. . . . 'We are troubled by the addition of several people to the roster, which seems to suggest less time for direct communication,' according to the group [Iowans Defending Our Universities], which went on to demand at least three-fourths of the two-hour forum be dedicated to 'direct dialogue between President Harreld and the UI community.'”)

Town Hall Details: 4:00-6:00 p.m., February 23, 2016, Pomerantz Center C20 (on East Market Street, one block west of Clinton Street). [Source: UI Office of Strategic Communication, "UI Leaders to Host Town Hall Meeting; UI Community Encouraged to Attend, Participate in Discussion," Iowa Now (online), February 15, 2016, 1:31 p.m.]

Lee Hermiston, "University of Iowa Police: Hightower Recorded at Least Two Other Women; Incidents Occurred in Dorm Room Bathrooms on Feb. 12 and 13," The Gazette (online), February 23, 2016, 1:55 p.m.; hard copy: Lee Hermiston, "Public Safety: 2 More Recorded in Dorm Showers; Police Say Iowa City Man Secretly Compiled 7 Video Clips of Women After Entering UI's Burge Residence Hall," The Gazette, February 24, 2016, p. A3

Stephen Gruber-Miller, "Man Charged With Recording More Women in UI Dorms," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 23, 2016, 5:16 p.m.; hard copy: Stephen Gruber-Miller, "Man Charged With Recording More Women; Incidents Took Place After Suspect Trespassed in UI's Burge Hall, Stole Bathroom Keys," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 24, 2016, p. A7

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Room, Board Hike Proposed at UI, ISU, UNI," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 23, 2016, 4:56 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Room and Board Increase Planned for UI, ISU, UNI; Costs for Popular Rooms, Meal Plans Expected to Rise in 2016-17," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 24, 2016, p. A10

Cindy Garcia, "Harreld Town Hall Turns Tense," The Daily Iowan (online), February 24, 2016; hard copy: Cindy Garcia, "Harreld's First Town Hall Turns Testy," The Daily Iowan, February 24, 2016, A1

"U of Iowa President Criticized, Interrupted at Forum," Inside Higher Ed (online), February 24, 2016

Vanessa Miller, "Outbursts, Interruptions Dominate First Bruce Harreld Forum; Hundreds Turned Out to Town Hall Meeting, Coming in the Wake of New President's Contentious Hiring Last Year," February 23, 2016, 8:23 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Outbursts at UI Forum; New Leader Seeks Engagement on Issues as Some Detractors Wave Signs and Curse," The Gazette, February 24, 2016, p. A1

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Harreld's Critics Take Center Stage During Town Hall," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 24, 2016, 6:13 a.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Harreld's Critics Steal Show; Protesters Converge on Town Hall Meeting, Demand Answers," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 24, 2016, p. A1

Nicholas Johnson, "Commentary on President Harreld's First 'Town Hall' Meeting," Feb. 24, 2016

[Note: If you're interested in a word-by-word account of the event, here is an audio record of Hour One (4:00-5:00 p.m.) and Hour Two (5:00-6:00 p.m.).]

Almost everything about the "Town Hall Meeting" I attended yesterday late afternoon was wrong. At least some of the responsibility for that must fall on UI President Bruce Harreld. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson; "full house"]

Background. He has to know about the legitimate complaints regarding the process (or lack thereof) used by the Regents in his selection, and he himself has acknowledged how unprepared he is for the position. (Yesterday he added something to the effect of how difficult it was for him during that process to "get information" -- presumably information about the job.) He has to know about the low morale of the UI community -- indeed, he acknowledged it. He has to know that many more than just his most outspoken critics really wanted an opportunity to have an open, question-and-answer exchange with him. He has to have known that the six month wait for this opportunity created a pent-up energy from supporters (if any there be; see below) and critics alike -- resignation, despair, frustration, anxiety, anger.

Expectations. Against that background, it was President Harreld who chose to call yesterday's event a "town meeting" -- holding out hope that a real exchange could take place -- not a monologue "State of the University" report from the president to the community, but a genuine dialogue. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson; standing three-deep in back of room; "Resign" banner]

Frustrating choice of time and place. These hopes were dashed from start to finish. The gathering was held in a relatively inaccessible location, on a relatively inconvenient day and time (a Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.) -- a time when many need to leave the campus for a variety of reasons, and in a facility it was said was required by a class at 6:00, so that even if there were persons wishing to continue the discussion, that would not be possible.

Failure to inform audience. There was no opening announcement of what was coming. Harreld just started in on what the Press-Citizen's Jeff Charis-Carlson correctly characterized as a "data dump" (of which more below) that dragged on for 37 minutes. Even students in our Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing are taught that it's important to let patients know what procedures they are about to undergo and why. Doing so yesterday afternoon was even more necessary.

Failure to respond to audience. When the hostility mounted to the point that the crowd began chanting, "Questions! Questions! Questions!" Harreld simply tried to talk over the noise. I would have thought a part of Strategic Communications 101 would have been to quit at that point, and take questions.

Additional speakers. It was bad enough for Harreld to consume the first 37 minutes. Worse still, rather than demonstrate the courage, confidence, and competence to appear alone for an informal Q & A exchange with colleagues, he brought along three vice presidents -- who then also had presentations to make. The net result was that the first hour, from 4:00 until 5:00, was taken up with monologues from the front of the room -- by which time those used to leaving for the day at 5:00 were inconvenienced. Were these presentations necessary (they were not), scheduling them from 5:00 until 6:00 would have communicated a desire to give more people a chance to participate, or at least be present for, the Q & A.

Wrong subjects. Beyond a few opening words (including a revelation of what was planned for the next two hours) I believe for this occasion there should have been no speeches as such from Harreld, and certainly not from vice presidents. As one member of the audience, economist John Solow, stated, "I didn't really come here to hear about what's going on with the undergraduate student housing crisis."

What would have been helpful, but what was not addressed, was what John Solow described (quoting President Bush the elder) as "the vision thing" -- with the exception of Harreld's asking the audience to provide him with a vision. Solow suggested Harreld seemed to be talking about which cuts to make. Harreld demurred, saying he was just talking about prioritizing ("I wasn’t talking about cutting; I was talking about prioritizing"), and "spreading the peanut butter" differently. Some will get more, others will get less -- "but that's not 'cutting.'" OK.

Wrong presentation; wrong PowerPoint slides. (a) This was not the occasion for a presentation of least-worst scenarios. (b) If it were, it should not have been done in the form of a "data dump." (c) If it was to be a data dump presentation, it should have been done with better PowerPoint slides. I can't believe a presentation like the one he used would pass muster in a corporate boardroom or the White House. Hareld's screen would fill with dozens of numbers too small to read, but communicating very little, and too fast, even if a larger font had been used. The occasional use of graphics was equally confusing -- occasionally to Harreld himself. (d) It might have been marginally more effective if he had acknowledged the skepticism among many in the academy regarding the U.S. News's ranking procedures; see, e.g., "Random Thoughts on Law School Rankings.", and the limits of marketing-relevant data as the exclusive means of measuring the quality of an educational institution.

Seemingly no planning for handling questions. No instructions were provided the audience on how questions were to be processed. Some wishing to ask questions stood along the walls near the front, some in the middle of the hall, some gathered in groups, some raised their hands. Persons with microphones wandered the room. And of course some just shouted out their questions. No big deal; questions got asked. But since there are usually announcements, and some order, regarding this process, it seemed odd that there was none on this occasion.

Critics, but no supporters. Harreld's critics were outspoken -- sometimes to the extent that the audience tried to quiet them. But the critics were expected; after all, we've been hearing from them since the Regents announced their selection. What I found noteworthy was not so much the substantial amount of criticism, but the total absence of any support for Harreld or his positions. No one stood up to say, "I think we should give you a chance," or "I for one really think you are on the right track." Nobody -- not even any of the three vice presidents. [
Note: I am not saying that no one in the room might have felt that way, or that there have been no letters to the editor in some Iowa newspapers to that effect, only that no one present was willing to stand and speak on his behalf on this occasion.]

For more detail regarding the spirit and incidents during the two hours, I refer you to this mornings' newspaper reports, linked immediately above (the content of which, therefore, I did not need to repeat here beyond what I did).

February 25-27, 2016

Note: Commentary regarding UI President Harreld's first Town Meeting, February 23, 2016, is immediately above.

President Harreld tries a different approach, after discovering that preaching UI's doom and gloom at the Town Meeting proved to be kind of a bummer. Bruce Harreld, "Quality Education Rooted in Our Rich History," IowaNow (online), February 24, 2016, 1:07 p.m. ("We must build our future at the University of Iowa on our heritage of strengths. That is particularly true for our mission of teaching and learning . . .. The University of Iowa has a long tradition of excellence and innovation in the classroom.")

One of the many disparate functions of these lengthy blog collections of links and commentary regarding stories about higher education (here at the UI, and more generally around the United States and other countries) is to highlight for UI's President Bruce Harreld some of the issues he might want to be thinking about preemptively. These are issues about which he would personally gain from study and thought before he's called upon to take a public position or action. They are issues about which he really needs to know his own heart and mind, his own moral compass -- not just the talking points prepared for him by some "strategic communications" adviser. He needs to be able to think, and talk, about them with the confidence that preparation can provide. As you see, I am not suggesting what he should think, least of all that he should adopt my own values and positions.

This morning [Feb. 25] presents three more: awareness of the facts, opinions and politics surrounding the "animal rights" movements as they impact on universities' research; the necessity, economics, and propriety, of hiring two to get one faculty addition ("faculty partners"); and the economics, popularity, ethics, effectiveness and other impacts of "online" education.

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Universities Working to Find Jobs for Faculty Partners," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 24, 2016, 5:57 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Faculty Partners May Get Job Help; If Approved, UI Would Take Lead On Consortium Linking Schools to Hospitals, Labs, More," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 25, 2016, p. A3

Vanessa Miller, "Online Education on the Rise at Iowa's Public Universities," The Gazette (onllne), February 24, 2016, 5:40 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Online Learning Spikes at Iowa's Public Universities," The Gazette, February 25, 2016, p. A3

Vanessa Miller, "USDA Cites University of Iowa Over Escaped Goat; 'Improper Handling Practices' Led to Goat's Escape, Officials Say," The Gazette (online), February 24, 2016, 1:56 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Animal Study: USDA Cites UI in Great Goat Escape," The Gazette, February 25, 2016, p. A2

Here's an application of another issue discussed before in this blog: how can a university best respond to the consequences of ever-increasing numbers of guns in America along with a simultaneous relaxation on who can have them, when and where -- including campuses and classrooms. Justin Wm. Moyer, "New Kind of Trigger Warning at Texas University Struggling with Campus-Cary law: 'DO NOT Confront a Student,'" The Washington Post (online), February 25, 2016 ("It was the kind of rhetoric that seemed out of place at an institution of higher learning. 'Be careful discussing sensitive topics.' 'Drop certain topics from your curriculum.' 'DO NOT confront a student.' . . . [T]he eye-raising bullet points advised faculty not to 'make provocative statements' or 'cute signs' about the new campus carry law, and to 'only meet "that student" in controlled circumstances.' They advised faculty not to ask students about their “CHL” [concealed-handgun-licensing status] — and not to 'go there' if they 'sense anger.' The bottom line: 'It’s in your interest and the University’s interest to be very guarded and careful about this issue.'”)

What if we thought of individual universities (and other educational institutions) like the NFL thinks about individual teams: a cooperative colaborative enterprise in which everyone gains? (See, "NFL: Just Another Rigged TV Show," January 2, 2015) Here's one example: Vanessa Miller, "Iowa State, University of Northern Iowa Partner on Dual Degree Program; Students Could Get UNI Physics Degree, ISU Engineering Degree in Five Years," The Gazette (online), February 25, 2016, 6:25 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: ISU, UNI, Unite on Dual Degree Program; Students Can Get Engineering, Physics Degrees in 5 Years," The Gazette, February 26, 2016, p. A2

Here's another collaborative innovation. Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Opens Early-Entry Academy for High Schoolers," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 25, 2016, 12:59 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Opens Early-Entry Academy for High Schoolers," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 26, 2016, p. A1

Basic governance principles are sometimes hard to apply to a state research university, despite talk of "shared governance," what with a governor, legislature, board of regents, president and other administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents, and public. Consider this example of disagreement between Iowa Regents and UI administrators regarding the Regents' role in major administration shifts. Vanessa Miller, "Iowa Regents Approve University of Iowa Health Care Changes; Board President Challenges UIHC to Reduce Duration of Medical Education," The Gazette (online), February 25, 2016, 1:12 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Regents OK Changes in Top Ranks at UI Health; Robillard to Head Health System, Medical College," The Gazette, February 26, 2016, p. A2

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Approve Administration, UIHC Changes," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 25, 2016, 11:56 a.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Approve Administration, UIHC Changes; Former Dean Moved to New Associated Vice President Post," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 26, 2016, p. A4

Regents concerned about rising students' cost of UI board and room -- but offer few significant suggestions. Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Express Concern Over Room, Board Increase," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 25, 2016, 1:49 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Regents Express Copnmcern Over Price Increase; Rastetter Calls on Universities to Work Together," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 26, 2016, p. A4

At Harreld's Town Meeting (see above) he seemed to agree with a questioner who complained about the Regents' system of requiring public comments be videotaped and then never responded to. Harreld noted he had not used that approach with his Town Meeting, and would raise it with the Regents. These stories include the Regents' response. Vanessa Miller, "Regents President Rastetter Criticizes Behavior at University of Iowa Town Hall for Harreld; Rastetter Praises Harreld's Efforts," The Gazette (online), February 25, 2016, 5:00 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regents President Praises Harreld, Criticizes Behavior at UI Town Hall," The Gazette, February 26, 2016, p. A7

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Rastetter: Iowa City Critics Should Be More 'Professional,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 26, 2016, 11:11 a.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Rastetter: Video Comments Better; Regents President Maintains Recorded Comments Encourage Professionalism," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 26, 2016, p. A1

There is so much wrong with Regent McKibben's position it's hard to know where to begin. His position even goes beyond the usual business ideology of "socialism for the rich, and free private enterprise for the poor." The UI, with its history of anti-union practices, is proposing to be guided by marketplace forces. McKibben is saying, "No, I forbid you to pay the going market wage; you must pay less than what the market dictates." He says he wants to avoid raising costs for students. But I rather suspect many student-employees, if asked, would say they'd rather have a market-driven poverty wage, with increases in board and room fees, than a below-market wage and increases in board and room. If he's really so concerned about the relationship between rising price of college education, as it is related to rising on-campus wages, why has he said nothing about the unilaterally granted increase in the athletic director's wage from $400,000 a year to $900,000 a year. That half-million increase could have gone a long way toward covering the $700,000 increase resulting from paying students what is still well below a "living wage." I could go on, but this is already too long. Vanessa Miller, "Regent Raises Concern Over University of Iowa Minimum Wage Increases; 'I Am Certainly Going to Oppose That,' Regent Larry McKibben Says," The Gazette (online), February 26, 2016, 8:41 p.m.; hard copy: Vanessa Miller, "Higher Education: Regent Opposes UI Minimum Wage Bump; Competitive Pay Puts Pressure on Room-and-Board Rates," The Gazette, February 27, 2016, p. A1

The Gazette is editorializing that the protesters at President Harreld's "Town Meeting" missed an opportunity to discuss with him UI's financial challenges. I agree that the future discussions on these subjects that he is proposing are a desirable and necessary thing to do. I strongly disagree that this "Town Hall" was an appropriate occasion on which to do it. See generally, Nicholas Johnson, "Commentary on President Harreld's First 'Town Hall' Meeting," Feb. 24, 2016. Editorial, "University of Iowa Demonstrators Missed an Opportunity," The Gazette (online), February 27, 2016, 7:00 a.m.; hard copy: Editorial, "Critical Questions Lost in the Shouting," The Gazette, February 27, 2016, p. A5

February 28-29, 2016

There are dozens of issues and incidents involving African-Americans and higher education in general, and at the University of Iowa in particular. Some have already been identified and commented upon in the blog entries from September 2015 through February 2016 in this series focusing on President Harreld and related matters. This particular lengthy piece by Hardy and Charis-Carlson is one I hope will be read and discussed by the UI community in general and President Harreld in particular. It was, of course, a major issue raised at both of his major public presentations (the public forum preceding his selection, and the "town meeting" February 23) on which he would do well to think through applying his own values and then speak to the UI community. Kevin Hardy and Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Iowa's Universities Tackle Racism Complaints," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 28, 2016, 8:45 p.m.; hard copy: Kevin Hardy and Jeff Charis-Carlson, "Black Iowa Still Unequal? Iowa's Universities Tackle Racism Complaints," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 29, 2016, p. A1

Some 'Follow-Up' to Stories Reported Earlier

Jeff Charis-Carlson and Kevin Hardy, "UI Housing and Dining to Up Wage Above County Minimum," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), February 29, 2016, 5:29 p.m.; hard copy: Jeff Charis-Carlson and Kevin Hardy, "UI Housing and Dining to Up Wage; To Attract More Student Employees, Hourly Pay Will be Above County Minimum," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 1, 2016, p. A1

Katherine Mangan and Nick DeSantis, "Simon Newman Resigns as President of Mount St. Mary's," The Chronicle of Higher Education (online), March 1, 2016 ("Months after he incited a bitter backlash by comparing struggling students to bunnies that needed to be drowned, Simon P. Newman resigned late Monday, effective immediately, as president of Mount St. Mary’s University, in Maryland.")

Room for Debate: College Presidents With Business Ties; Should University Presidents Have to Come From Academia?" The New York Times (online), March 1, 2016 (a discussion among five experts with diverse backgrounds and perspectives)

Jeff Charis-Carlson, "UI Faculty Group Criticizes UIHC Change, Barta's Contract," Iowa City Press-Citizen (online), March 3, 2016, 6:16 p.m.

"Anatomy of a Missed Opportunity for Bruce Harreld," Bleeding Heartland, March 4, 2016

# # #