Gov. Terry Branstad Tuesday named former state Sen. Larry McKibben and construction business owner Milt Dakovich to the state Board of Regents.
Branstad announced the appointments Tuesday morning, in advance of the regents meeting Wednesday at the University of Iowa. The regents on Wednesday will vote on a new board president, to fill the presidential term of Craig Lang, who was not confirmed by the Iowa Senate for another six-year term on the board.
Two of Branstad's three regent appointees -- Republicans Lang, of Brooklyn, and Robert Cramer, of Grimes -- were rejected by the Senate in April after a politically-charged confirmation process. A third Branstad appointee — Webster City physician Subhash Sahai — was approved and he will have his first board meeting Wednesday.
The appointments of McKibben and Dakovich run through April 30, 2019, though they will be up for Senate confirmation in the 2014 legislative session.
The nine-member Board of Regents oversees the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the state's two special schools.
"I have chosen two passionate public servants who will help guide our regents institutions through the next six years," Branstad said in a statement. "Larry's legislative expertise and Milt's construction background will provide both of them with the knowledge and experience needed for these two seats on the board."
McKibben, 66, served as a Republican in the Iowa Senate from 1997 to 2008, where he chaired the Ways & Means Committee, also serving as the president pro tem. He earned his bachelor's degree from UNI, served as a graduate teaching assistant at ISU and earned his law degree from the UI. He is an attorney with the firm of Moore, McKibben, Goodman & Lorenz in Marshalltown
His legislative background and knowledge of the budgeting process and public policy are skills he can offer to the board, McKibben said Tuesday. He attended all three of Iowa's public universities. McKibben recalls how he was able to work his way through college and graduate with no debt, something that seems harder for students today.
"I'm interested in that, and efficiencies and looking after the students," he said. "We have great universities in this state. I'm proud of them, and anything I can do to contribute to help make them even better from a university and student standpoint, I'm interested in."
Dakovich, 58, has bachelor's degrees from ISU in both civil engineering and construction engineering. He is president of Aspro, Inc. in Waterloo and a past president of both the Associated General Contractors of Iowa and the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa. He is a Republican.
As a product of Iowa public higher education, he recognizes its importance to the state, Dakovich said. His construction background will be a strength for the board as the universities, especially the UI with flood recovery, work on numerous building projects in the coming years.
"I feel like I can have some impact there and do some good," he said.
An advocacy group that has been critical of the Board of Regents in the recent years said Branstad "continues to stack the Iowa Board of Regents with big business insiders."
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement in a statement called on the new regents to share publicly where they stand on issues such as academic freedom and accountability and transparency of the regents.