The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has sanctioned the University of Iowa for the botched hiring of Bruce Harreld as president last year, but it’s the Board of Regents that’s to blame. It conducted a fraudulent search, pretending to choose between several candidates when in fact the hiring of Harreld had been prearranged, with the complicity of Gov. Terry Branstad.
The AAUP reached this conclusion based on facts that came to light afterward, but the Board of Regents refuses to accept it. Board members have been doubling down on their insistence they did nothing wrong. This is incorrect, irresponsible and, frankly, immature. The university community deserves better.
The effort to restore Iowa’s reputation begins with it being removed from the list of AAUP-sanctioned schools. That means fixing the Board of Regents. The AAUP’s report decried the politicization of the board by Gov. Branstad, who has packed it with his political supporters. Regents should be equally distributed among the parties, but Iowa’s are nearly all Republican. In order for the board to regain respectability and the trust of Iowans, it’s imperative that the regents responsible for corrupting the presidential search, beginning with Regents President Bruce Rastetter, resign or be removed. Gov. Branstad must then replace them with qualified leaders from outside the Republican Party. The regents must stop denying the truth of what occurred during the presidential search and accept the consequences. It’s the only way we can all move past this shameful business.