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Four months after Milt Dakovich, a longtime member of the Iowa Board of Regents, died of cancer, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday named Seneca Cos. President and COO James “JC” Risewick to fill the regent vacancy.
Risewick will begin serving immediately on the nine-member board that governs Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools, though his appointment must be confirmed by the Iowa Senate when it is next in session.
The regents’ next meeting is July 27, when they’ll consider raising tuition rates for the fall.
If confirmed, Risewick will serve out the remainder of Dakovich’s six-year term — set to expire in April 2025.
Risewick serves as president and chief operating officer of Seneca Cos. in Des Moines, which touts itself as “an established leader in the petroleum industry.”
Chris Risewick, JC Risewick’s father, founded Seneca in 1972 “with a vision to deliver real value to customers in the petroleum industry through supplying quality equipment, innovative service, and dependable construction of fueling sites,” according to the company’s website.
State law requires the Board of Regents to be balanced politically and by gender — meaning no political party or gender can have more than five representatives.
Risewick’s appointment keeps the gender balance at four men and five women. Before Dakovich’s passing, the board had five Republicans, three unaffiliated members, and one registered Democrat — Regent Nancy Dunkel.
The announcement of Risewick’s appointment didn’t include his political affiliation, but state campaign disclosure documents show he contributed $20,000 to Reynolds’ campaign in 2021 and over the past three years has made in-kind contributions in the form of private flights valued at nearly $40,000.
Christopher Risewick has contributed $15,500 to Reynolds’ campaign over the past seven years, state campaign disclosure documents show. He also made an in-kind contribution in the form of a private flight in 2020 valued at more than $25,800.
JC Risewick volunteers through ChildServe and Impact Iowa’s Heroes and was named among the Forty Under 40 in Iowa in 2014, according to an announcement of his appointment out of Reynolds’ office.
“JC is an outstanding leader with a passion for making our state a better place,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I’m confident his expertise, experience, and innovative mindset will inspire our regent universities in their mission to prepare the next generation of college students to flourish in the workforce.
In praising Iowa’s universities for “leading the way,” Reynolds said, “JC will help push them to new heights.”
“I also want to thank the late Milt Dakovich for his service over the last nine years,” she said. “He had a profound impact on our regent universities and the students they serve.”
In a statement, Risewick thanked Reynolds for the appointment.
“I look forward to serving the citizens of Iowa,” he said. “I will work diligently with the fellow board members to keep upper education at Iowa’s public universities on the forefront and leading edge of the 21st century.”
Risewick earned a business degree from Miami University and completed the Minnesota Management Institute at the University of Minnesota.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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Erin Murphy of the Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed.