UI emails: Former education dean wanted survey comments kept private

50 pages of documents were released in an open records request

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IOWA CITY -- Former University of Iowa College of Education Dean Margaret Crocco, in the midst of recent tumult in the college regarding her leadership, told UI Provost Barry Butler in an email she would consider consulting an attorney if faculty and staff survey comments about her were made public.

In that Dec. 2 email, Crocco told Butler she wanted to reiterate her strong feelings that the survey results, particularly the comments, are "critical to my professional reputation."

"I need to consider my rights should (UI General Counsel Carroll Reasoner) choose to release the comments," wrote Crocco, who submitted her resignation Dec. 10. "I would hate to have it come to the point that I need to involve an outside attorney in this matter, but I might be forced to do so if I feel that the decision made by Carroll is not in my best interests."

The email was among about 50 pages of documents released by the university Tuesday in response to open records requests from The Gazette and other media outlets. The university declined to release Crocco's resignation letter, calling it a confidential personnel document. Other documents were withheld because of attorney-client privilege or because they are draft documents, UI officials said.

The survey comments from education faculty and staff were ultimately deemed private, as part of Crocco's personnel record, by Butler and Reasoner. That led to controversy, with some faculty and staff in the college upset when Butler asked that any copies of the comments be deleted or turned over to him. Members of a faculty advisory committee in the college resigned from that committee during the disagreement.

Crocco this fall also was the subject of a faculty no-confidence vote in her leadership, after about 15 months as the dean. While she got 44 votes of no confidence compared to 16 votes of confidence on the 91 ballots distributed, the emails released by the UI Tuesday show a few letters and notes of support from faculty that Crocco forwarded on to Butler.

"Due to a combination of manipulative power plays, policy illiteracy and disgruntled senior faculty, you have suffered a most egregious professional attack and personal undermining," faculty member Tarrell Portman wrote in her email of support to Crocco on Nov. 16, after the no-confidence vote.

Another faculty member in emails to UI officials on Dec. 7-8 said she had consulted an attorney about  keeping her comments on the survey confidential, as she was under the impression they were anonymous and as a new faculty member she felt vulnerable.

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