Higher education

Iowa State's Warren Madden volunteering on campus post-retirement

'For me,' he said, 'this is also a good transition'

Two students sit on the grass in front of Curtiss Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Two students sit on the grass in front of Curtiss Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Nearly four months after retiring from Iowa State University, the institution’s longtime Senior Vice President Warren Madden still is on the job — sort of. He’s volunteering.

The 77-year-old emeritus vice president who spent 50 years at Iowa State before retiring June 30 is working out of the ISU Research Park on several university projects, including real estate and land deals agreements with the City of Ames, and tenants in the 220-acre Research Park.

Madden, who’s not the only top university administrator in Iowa to continue working after retirement, told The Gazette he’s not been involved with ISU Flight Service or a $4.4 million deal with the City of Ames to improve its airport — both of which he was involved with before retirement and both of which have come under public scrutiny of late.

He said his volunteer work rather has focused on ISU land deals, reviewing and extending several park leases with the city, and implementing the Research Park master plan, including expanding its footprint and working with tenants who want to expand facilities there.

“I know the individuals and have the historical background that is helpful,” Madden said. “There are a number of central Iowa business and ISU alumni that serve and volunteer time and their expertise, and I am now one of them.”

“For me,” he said, “this is also a good transition.”

Despite his retirement and assertion he’s no longer involved in the university’s flight service, Madden recently has been looped into publicity around Iowa State’s airport deal with Ames and ISU President Steven Leath’s use of university aircraft.

Madden, while employed at Iowa State, oversaw its flight service operation, and a recent Associated Press report indicated he said policy bars personal use of university planes — a comment that came as ISU revealed Leath on four occasions flew ISU aircraft for trips involving university and personal business.


The AP article also quoted Madden as saying the school would never let Leath “fly by himself one of our planes because of insurance and liability issues.” The report prompted Madden to pen a letter in the Iowa State Daily refuting the report.

“To suggest that I believe that the travel described in the various news articles violated policy or state law is simply wrong,” Madden wrote. “I have no such belief. In fact, my understanding is directly opposite to this conclusion.”

He added about reports that Leath wouldn’t be allowed to fly ISU planes by himself, “This is also not true.”

Madden reiterated for The Gazette — despite his history with ISU Flight Service, past work on the airport upgrades, and comments about the recent controversy — he’s not been involved with those issues since retiring.

“I have not been involved in the airport development work since June 30,” Madden said. “I’m out of the airport business.”

Several projects Madden has been working on are due to go before the Board of Regents for approval next week, although ISU spokesman John McCarroll said Madden is not planning to present to the board.

One such project involves an ISU request to lease a 31,280-square-foot warehouse to the Research Park for product manufacturing for one of its tenants — Merck and Company, Inc.

“The university’s long range goal is to build a relationship with Merck, encouraging future growth and expansion, ultimately leading to the construction of a new dedicated facility at the Research Park for product manufacturing and research and development,” according to board documents.


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Even though Madden is no longer on the Iowa State payroll, he continues to use a university email account. He also remains on the Research Park board and has agreed to continue on the CyRide board, “as they complete a major route review this year.”

Madden said he expects his work with Iowa State will transition into a more traditional alumni role — “being athletic fans and personal donors and volunteers with units like Reiman Gardens, University Museums, and the concert series.”

“My past administrative responsibilities in these areas are personal interests, and we have shifted to being donors and volunteers,” he said.

Madden pointed out he’s not the only former administrator to stick around and help out. Former university presidents have volunteered in different capacities over the years, and Madden said his predecessor, Wayne Moore, transitioned out in a similar way. So did Carl Hamilton, who served as ISU vice president for information and development from 1967 to 1984.

At the University of Iowa, former hospitals director John Colloton was one emeritus administrator whose work beyond retirement drew attention. He served as director from 1958 to 2000, but The Gazette in 2007 reported he had a UI office, phone number, email account, and secretary who was paid $58,447.

The university at that time refused to release his emails and correspondence because, officials said, he “no longer conducts university business.”

More recently, former longtime Senior Vice President and Treasurer Doug True officially retired in January 2015 but continued working part-time in three areas for about a year after. He assisted with the university’s treasury function, its flood recovery, and its acquisition of the AIB College of Business campus in Des Moines.

And, True told The Gazette, he got paid for that part-time work. But he hasn’t been on the payroll since the start of this year — although he does make himself available for consult with those who have taken over the work he did.


“These are my friends,” True said, adding that if they need help understanding a decision he made in 1998, for example, “it’s always delightful, if I can remember, to help people have some context.”

John Barnshaw, director of research and public policy for the American Association of University Professors, said university administrators willing to continue working on a volunteer basis after retirement can add value in a variety of capacities — including in their institutional knowledge, deep business relationships, alumni networking, and donor connections.

His only concerns relate to transparency and potential conflicts of interest. He said past administrators conducting university business should do so with a university email account, and they should continue to avoid potential conflicts with any personal business.

“But if you’re above board, and your transparent in what you’re doing, and it has the buy-in of the administration as well as the faculty … it could add value,” Barnshaw said.

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