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Having spent most of his first term on Iowa’s Board of Regents as its president, Michael Richards could stay in the leadership role through 2027 with his reappointment Friday to another six-year term.
Richards first was appointed to the board in May 2016 by his friend, then-Gov. Terry Branstad, to fill the unexpired term of Mary Andringa, who resigned after just a year.
Richards’ initial appointment was set to expire April 30, when president pro-tem Patty Cownie’s term also will expire. Gov. Kim Reynolds did not reappointed her Friday.
Replacing Cownie is Greta Rouse of Emmetsburg — marking a return to the board after her first term as a student-regent from 2008 to 2012. Rouse, then Greta Johnson, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Jenny Connolly more than a decade ago.
While still an Iowa State University student, Rouse was appointed to a term running through 2015 but resigned in 2012 after graduating from University of Northern Iowa with a master’s degree, according to her LinkedIn profile and Board of Regents records.
On her LinkedIn profile, Rouse cites experience as a “community volunteer with experience in the private sector, state government, and higher education.” In 2013-14, she was deputy communications director and scheduler for Branstad and then-Lt. Gov. Reynolds.
Reynolds also Friday appointed a new student regent to replace outgoing ISU student-regent Zack Leist. Abigail Crow, of Tiffin, will represent the University of Iowa on the board. She’s listed as co-chair of internal affairs with the UI Undergraduate Student Government.
All three of the appointments must receive two-thirds Senate confirmation to officially start their new six-year terms on the nine-member volunteer board that governs Iowa's three public universities and two special schools.
State law requires the board be balanced politically and by gender. That means no party or gender can have more than five representatives.
The board before the new appointments had five men and four women. The new appointments will flip that makeup to five women and four men.
The board currently has just one Democrat — former Iowa House Rep. Nancy Dunkel, of Dubuque. It has three members with no party affiliation, including Leist; and five Republicans, including Richards and Cownie.
In addition to her time with the governor’s office in 2013 and 2014, newly-appointed regent Rouse in 2012 served as the Republican National Committee’s Iowa absentee ballot and early voting director. Rouse made a $250 campaign contribution to Reynolds in 2018, according to records.
Richards has been described as an “active philanthropist” and has donated tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions over the years — including to Branstad and Reynolds, according to the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board.
The three regents were among a list of 89 appointments to state boards and commissions the governor made.
Other appointments of note were former state Sen. Tom Rielly of Oskaloosa to continue serving on the Iowa Transportation Commission and Mark Campbell of Fort Dodge to join the state Racing & Gaming Commission. Two gaming panel members’ term expire on April 30: Kristine Kramer of New Hampton and Pennie Gonseth-Cheers of Alton, according to the commission’s website.
Also included among the list of new nominees and reappointments were Thom Darden of Cedar Rapids and Sue Weinacht of Cedar Rapids to the Iowa Board of Parole; Mallory Hanson of West Union to the state Natural Resource Commission; Dustin Graber of Ankeny and Derek Muller of Iowa City to the State Judicial Nominating Commission; James Albert of Urbandale and Elaine Olson of Bettendorf to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board; Tracey Ball of Des Moines and Jennifer Cooper of Des Moines to the Iowa Finance Authority board of directors; Erik Maki of Johnston to the state Board of Pharmacy; and Jeffrey Manthei of Manson to the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board.
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Rod Boshart of The Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed.