Government

Reynolds plans to appoint new regent before August meeting

State accepting applications, nominations to succeed Subhash Sahai

Subhash Sahai listens during a Board of Regents meeting Sept. 6, 2017, at the University of Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City. Sahai resigned from the board last week, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she will name a new regent before the next regents’ next meeting in August. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Subhash Sahai listens during a Board of Regents meeting Sept. 6, 2017, at the University of Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City. Sahai resigned from the board last week, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she will name a new regent before the next regents’ next meeting in August. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Gov. Kim Reynolds plans to replace Subhash Sahai on the Board of Regents before its next meeting in August, after Sahai — in the sixth and final year of his term — resigned last week, citing a need to spend more time with his patients and family.

Reynolds’ office is accepting nominations and applications online at a government website.

Reynolds on Tuesday said she would review the applications and “do a personal interview as well and then we’ll make that decision.”

Sahai’s departure, made effective Friday, followed a spotty attendance record that had him flirting with forced resignation under Iowa law. This year, he’s missed half of the board’s full meetings.

State law states a member of a board or commission is “deemed to have submitted a resignation” if he or she misses three or more consecutive regular meetings, as long as the meetings are at least 30 days apart.

The Gazette reported Sahai’s near forced resignation Friday shortly before the board announced he’s leaving before his six-year term ends in April.

“Due to an ever-changing environment in providing care for my patients, needing to spend more time with my family and after much soul-searching, I have decided to resign from this illustrious board,” Sahai wrote.

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Sahai, a family practice physician in Webster City and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, was appointed to the unpaid board in 2013 by then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

He was politically unaffiliated, according to state records, and the board’s only racial or ethnic minority. At times, Sahai has split with the board’s majority — criticizing his colleagues in 2015, for example, for meeting in private with Bruce Harreld before hiring him as UI president.

He did not respond to The Gazette’s request for comment.

The nine-member board, which oversees Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools, is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate.

In the case of a premature departure, state rules require the governor appoint a replacement to fill out the term. That person holds an interim label until Senate confirmation — which can take months if the departure comes when the Legislature is out of session, as in this case.

Iowa Code requires the board have political and gender balance — meaning no party or gender can have more than five representatives. Before Sahai’s departure, the board had five women and five registered Republicans — with only one Democrat and three claiming no party.

That means Sahai’s replacement must be male and either a Democrat or no party.

The Board of Regents is viewed as one of the state’s most important boards and commissions, given that it oversees a $5.8 billion budget, including $1.7 billion in general operating funds. Of that, nearly 65 percent comes from tuition and fees and about 31 percent from state appropriations — or taxpayer dollars.

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

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