Iowa Public Radio board fires CEO Mary Grace Herrington

Officials say they can't talk about reasons

IOWA CITY -- The Iowa Public Radio board of directors on Tuesday voted 6-1 to fire Mary Grace Herrington, who has been the system's chief executive officer since January 2009.

Little information about the reason for the termination was available Tuesday evening.

When reached Tuesday night, Herrington declined to talk about her dismissal.

"I can't talk about it," she said. "Our policy, which I still support, is that all personnel matters are confidential."

The seven-member board met Tuesday, with several hours of that regular meeting spent in closed session, board member Mark Braun said. Braun is chief of staff to UI President Sally Mason and serves on the Iowa Public Radio board through his role as UI interim vice president for strategic communications.

Braun was the lone vote against firing Herrington. Tuesday was his first meeting with the Iowa Public Radio board, and Braun said he "didn't have enough information ... to vote to terminate."

"I had not had a lot of interaction with the executive director," Braun said.

When asked about the closed-session discussion or the reasons board members gave for the termination, Braun said "I can't really talk about what happened and the specifics of the conversation because it's a personnel matter."

The agenda for Tuesday's board meeting, held in Des Moines, lists a closed-session portion to discuss a "cultural survey report."

Regarding whether it seemed these were issues regarding Herrington that the board had discussed before, Braun said "I don't think it's entirely new, but it was a pretty fresh conversation from my perspective."

Herrington came to Iowa Public Radio in 2009 from Creighton University, where she had served as assistant vice president for advancement operations.

In June 2012, Iowa Public Radio's news director Jonathan Ahl left the organization. Herrington at the time wouldn't say what led to his departure or whether he was fired.

The statewide radio network is overseen by the state Board of Regents. It was created in December 2004 by merging stations at Iowa's three public universities. IPR cut nine positions in 2009 as part of a reorganization after state funding dropped 6 percent and funding from the universities was reduced.

University support to IPR has been decreasing in accordance with a plan to eliminate direct university support beginning in Fiscal Year 2017. Of the nearly $8 million of IPR's total operating income in the current fiscal year, about $945,000 came from university support and another $391,568 came from a state appropriation. The majority of the budget comes from fundraising.


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