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Board to regroup at Science Station

Envisioning a fresh start, leader asks members to resign

Janet Rorholm

The Gazette

October 21, 2006

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

  CEDAR RAPIDS — In a move meant to show the community it is serious about restructuring and starting fresh, the Science Station board of directors has resigned.

  Dan Thies, president of the Science Station and the McLeod/Busse IMAX Dome Theatre board, asked for and received the resignations at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night. ‘‘We want to demonstrate that we as a board are willing to do whatever we need to do for the community to show that we have the best structure possible moving forward,’’ Thies said.

  Not all 22 board members were at the meeting, but all have indicated their support for Thies’ request and offered their resignations.

  Struggling under $1.3 million in debt and declining attendance, the Science Station appealed Wednesday for a community-wide bailout. Without those funds, Science Station officials said, they would have to close the doors Nov. 15.

  Thies said he envisions a much smaller governing board of directors — about 10 members — for the Science Station, plus an advisory board that would meet quarterly. The advisory board would not vote on issues but would act as a sounding board and offer ideas, assuming the hands-on science and technology center remains open.

  Of the 22 board members, six were new for the 2006-07 fiscal year, with many of them recruited because of their skills in business and finance. Thies said he did not expect to accept the resignations of some of those six.

  Thies said he would make more details about the new board and its structure public once details have been finalized, knowing that the community and donors are eager for change and information.

  ‘‘Nobody told me directly ‘I’m not going to give you money until you change the board,’ but people that I respect say, ‘You need to build a strong board,’ ’’ Thies said.

  It’s natural that people who give money to an organization be comfortable and respect those with fiduciary responsibilities, Thies said.

  The Science Station lost a lot of trust and credibility when its former office manager, Nancy Listman, was arrested in February 2005 and charged with theft for allegedly stealing about $313,000 between May 2002 and July 2004.

  The Science Station’s marketing and development director, Kevin Eisenmann, is leaving next week. Executive Director Joe Hastings is resigning Oct. 31.

  ‘‘I’m an architect,’’ said Thies, president of OPN Architects. ‘‘I have no interest in running a Science Station. . . . I’m only trying to do what’s in the best interests of this organization moving forward.’’

  Thies said he has been encouraged by the groundswell of support he’s received in the last few days for the Science Station, considered an asset to business, tourism and downtown Cedar Rapids.