Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Iowa Rain Forest ("Earthpark") Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Blog, FromDC2Iowa

Press-Citizen Letters, February 24, 2007

Optiva and Colloton

Iowa City Press-Citizen

February 24, 2007

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, 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 Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

Find a new name for credit union

It is my understanding that the University of Iowa is concerned about the control of their institutional name, which is certainly their right. This would have an effect on a number of groups, such as vendors of merchandise, but also presumably the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. I understand that the university and UICCU discussed this matter, and the board agreed to change the name.

In retrospect this seems to me to be a legitimate decision. In their public announcements, the credit union offered a major argument that their membership criteria under the current name were not adequately clear. I have not found this very convincing -- the credit union's advertising makes our membership opportunities quite clear. But in any case, sooner or later the credit union clearly is going to give up the use of the name "University of Iowa." And to those who think the "University of Iowa Community Credit Union" name can be retained forever, I encourage you to get over it.

On the other hand, the name "Optiva Credit Union" is seriously dorky. The credit union spent a bunch of our money on not-very-good advice (especially now that we know that "Optiva" is not a unique name). A better name surely can be found, and surely by our own membership. I encourage the board to open a contest to our membership this spring to submit more suitable suggestions for a new name.

Bill Moorhead
Iowa City

What's at stake is more than a name

Why are some of us so concerned about what our credit union is called? Because what's at issue is not just a name change. It's a potential change in the size, purpose and focus of the credit union.

In the October membership meeting, Dean Borg and Jeff Disterhoft said that pressure from the university was behind the proposed name change. Borg said the university was "embarrassed" by some of the credit union's marketing strategies and told us, in effect, that there is "no option" but to change the name.

But university officials have denied putting any pressure on the credit union. There's a big contradiction here. The October vote likely would have had a different outcome if we were not told that pressure from UI gave us "no option" but to change the name.

So why are credit union leaders so eager for a name change that they seem to have exaggerated this alleged pressure from the university? The new name is needed not only because of UI pressure but also because the Credit Union has thoughts of expanding. For example, it eventually may want to move into markets in Illinois.

This seems to be the major reason behind the name change. And it deserves to be explored at the coming meeting. Do members share our leaders' ambitious vision of growth? Should the credit union really be trying to expand into other parts of Iowa, Illinois and elsewhere? At what point should we be willing to say we are big enough?

Shouldn't the credit union's first responsibility be toward its current members -- and if so, isn't the "University of Iowa Community Credit Union" a perfectly appropriate name?

Dan Lechay
Iowa City

Vote for Optiva Credit Union

I have been a member and employee of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union for the past 27 years. During that time I have worked closely with the Credit Union's board of directors in an administrative capacity.

Our 10 members of the board serve as volunteers and they devote an enormous amount of time, talent and energy for the good of our cooperative. It was painful to see them attacked in Tim Taffe's Feb. 15 guest opinion. Over the years, the integrity, honesty and decency of our board has been nothing but extraordinary. It is so sad and disheartening to see him use this forum to spread misconceptions, innuendos and falsehoods.

It is important that we, as part of this 45,000-member cooperative, support the credit union board and the decision to change the credit union's name to Optiva Credit Union.

Jean Knepper
Iowa City

Colloton deserves what UI gives him

I was quite impressed with Reginald Cooper's guest opinion lauding John Colloton's exceptional legacy to Iowans and establishing an accurate account of the facts pertaining to Colloton's record as director of University Hospitals and as emeritus director ("Colloton deserves better," Feb. 2). Those of us fortunate to have worked with Colloton gained a very high appreciation for his genius and superb leadership. Colloton elevated University Hospitals to be a premier tertiary care center securing all Iowans one of the most highly regarded teaching institutions in the world. He pursued excellence relentlessly and with utmost integrity. In more than 40 years of public service, Colloton's record was "as clean as a whistle."

As an illustration of his integrity, Colloton, at the climax of his career as director, was alleged by an Iowa newspaper reporter that his annual fishing trips to Canada represented a pay back by a local architectural firm that did business with University Hospitals. Anticipating such a potential accusation, Colloton presented to the reporter copies of personal checks that covered each and every expense of these trips. Generations to come will continue to benefit from the excellent medical care at University Hospitals that Colloton created for all Iowans.

This man has more than earned whatever benefits UI awards him in his emeritus retirement.

Paul Etre