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U of I groups rebuke regents in votes

Staff and graduate students overwhelmingly approve no-confidence motions

Erin Jordan

Des Moines Register

December 14, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

University of Iowa staff and graduate students overwhelmingly supported no-confidence votes in the Iowa Board of Regents Wednesday and said the uproar over the board's role in a failed presidential search won't go away over the holidays.

"We can't sit back and watch this calm down because we will never have a good president," said Gerene Denning, a U of I research scientist and member of the U of I Staff Council.

On Tuesday, the Faculty Senate approved by a 62-1 vote a resolution expressing a lack of trust and confidence in the regents. The U of I Student Government, which represents undergraduate students, announced Wednesday it will vote on a no-confidence resolution today.

The regents stunned faculty, staff and students Nov. 17 when they voted to reject four finalists for the U of I presidency, saying the candidates did not have enough health science experience. The campus groups have criticized board President Michael Gartner and President Pro Tempore Teresa Wahlert for secrecy and poor management of the 10-month search.

The regents will hold a conference call Monday to discuss the next phase of the presidential search.

Staff council's action: The U of I Council, which represents about 5,200 nonbargaining staff members, voted 38-1 in favor of a resolution declaring "lack of trust and confidence in the leadership of the Iowa Board of Regents."

Staff Council President Mary Greer equated the vote with having a conversation with one's "boss's boss."

"We've made that appointment today, with the citizens of Iowa, the taxpayers of Iowa, those to whom Michael Gartner and Teresa Wahlert ultimately report," Greer said. "We know what we say will be difficult and perhaps it won't change anything. But we also know we can't go on like this, without making the boss's boss acutely aware of our concerns."

Denning said she would like to talk with staff at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa about concerns with Gartner and Wahlert. "Although it most directly impacts us, I hope the other institutions will step forward" with support, she said.

Graduate student vote: The Graduate Student Senate, which represents about 5,000 graduate students, approved a resolution similar to the one passed by the staff council, 39-0.

Johnathan Gajdos, president of the Graduate Student Senate, said the issue will not fade away just because winter break starts Saturday.

"It may temporarily leave the forefront, but the fact that we don't have a president will remain in people's minds," he said.

Sarah Vigmostad, a student senator for biomedical engineering, said she was impressed that two-thirds of the senate showed up for the vote. "I think it's great that we got such a great turnout, especially since it's finals week," she said.

"I think it demonstrates how important we consider this matter."
Register correspondent Erika Binegar contributed to this article.