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UI just says 'No'

Matt Snyders

The Daily Iowan

December 14, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Daily Iowan, 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 Daily Iowan.]

On Wednesday, UI students, staff, and faculty once again directed criticism toward the leadership of the state Board of Regents, voicing their loss of trust and confidence in the state's chief higher-education bureaucrats.

Echoing the Faculty Senate's decision Tuesday, the Staff Council, Graduate Student Senate, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences representatives all voted "no confidence" in regent leaders.

"Today, we consider a resolution unlike one we have ever considered before - or hope to have to consider again," Staff Council President Mary Greer said in a prepared statement. The Staff Council represents one of the largest groups on campus, speaking for approximately 5,000 professional and merit staff at the UI.

With two councilors abstaining, the vote passed, 38-1.

"What it says [to the regents] is that we're watching you," Greer said. "We know what's going on."

Foremost on the council's list of concerns was the way regent leadership had communicated with the UI campus community, as well as the allegedly secretive nature of many negotiations conducted by Regent President Michael Gartner.

"This resolution is about something the leadership of the regents owe the people of Iowa," Greer said.

In unanimity, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members also voted "no confidence."

"These are trying times," said Richard Hurtig, a professor of speech pathology and audiology and the college's assembly chairman. "In the absence of trust, little can be accomplished."

To the assembled faculty, former presidential-search committee members and Professors Steve McGuire, Katherine Tachau, and François Abboud described the conflict between the recent regent leadership and the search committee.

Gartner, who Tachau accused of threatening and intimidating members of the search committee, provided fodder for the faculty and sparked the assembly's resolution.

"It's an expression of our judgment that we have serious problems," said Steve Collins, a past president of the UI Faculty Senate. "It's also a plea for help."

Neither Gartner nor Regent President Pro Tem Teresa Wahlert, who has also fielded much criticism from faculty, could be reached for comment Wednesday evening following the meetings.

In the Graduate Student Senate, members voted unanimously, with 39 members present and one member abstaining, for a resolution of "no confidence" in regent leadership.

"This resolution is more than symbolic," said Johnathan Gajdos, the group's president. "While it does symbolize the unity of opinion among faculty, staff, and students, it also sends a clear message with the aim of bringing about changes in board leadership. [This resolution] will make it clear that faculty and staff are not alone."