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Iowa Board of Regents will not vote publicly to reverse meeting change

'There are no plans at this time to do that'

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After confirming earlier this month that it will not follow the 2017 meeting schedule it approved last summer, Board of Regents officials on Wednesday said they don’t plan to vote publicly to amend the calendar.

That counters recent comments from Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter, who said staff will add the question of amending the approved 2017 meeting schedule to the Jan. 17-18 board agenda.

“You’ll see us bring that up and vote on the final meeting schedule in public at our January meeting,” Rastetter told The Gazette.

But an agenda for next week’s meeting released this week has no mention of a vote to amend the approved 2017 schedule. And the board’s Executive Director Bob Donley on Wednesday said he “doesn’t anticipate that changing,” according to board spokesman Josh Lehman.

“Executive Director Donley and the board office are responsible for coordinating, scheduling and running meetings,” Lehman said in an email. “During the process of attempting to schedule the committee meetings, the revised schedule for committees was set due to logistical challenges.”

Regent policy states the board shall conduct its meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order, meeting structure guidelines commonly used by governing boards. Those rules outline procedures for rescinding or amending previously-approved actions — all of which involve public votes.

But when asked specifically if the board will cast a public vote to amend its approved meeting schedule, Lehman said, “There are no plans at this time to do that.”

The revised 2017 meeting schedule — the one the board will not vote on publicly — reduces the total number of meeting times and dates and looks more like the schedule the board has been following for years.

The board had approved a new schedule in July calling for 14 meetings this year — including eight one-day full board meetings and six committee meetings on different dates. That was up from the typical seven or eight two-day meetings, during which committees and the full board would meet.

The change in July, in part, aimed to give board members more time to consider items presented during committee meetings before approving them the next day at full board meetings. Although the revised schedule goes back to the two-day combined committee and full board schedule, Rastetter said committee items won’t be approved until a subsequent meeting.

That means, for example, university projects presented in the property and facilities committee meeting in February will have to wait for approval until April. Rastetter told The Gazette last week that if a project coming before a committee needs more urgent approval, the regents will accommodate.

“But I would hope we could adjust to this schedule pretty quickly,” he said.

The board approved schedule with more meetings in July after The Gazette in June reported on an internal memo informing university officials the board was cutting its number of meetings to just four a year.

But after talking to other regents and committee members, Rastetter said, the feedback showed 14 separate meetings would be too imposing.

“We would be creating another full trip for people and interrupting their schedules,” he said.

Lehman reiterated that point, saying the earlier-approved 2017 was too problematic to pull off. And, he said, the revised schedule removes “the worry of people having to travel every couple weeks for a couple different regents meetings” while also allowing them more time to consider agenda items.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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