After just one year serving on the state’s nine-member Board of Regents, Mary Andringa on Wednesday announced plans to resign, saying she “underestimated the time required to fully serve in this role given my pre-existing commitments and responsibilities.”
“I have come to realize that I do not have the capacity necessary to fulfill the needs of this position at a level that is acceptable to me,” Andringa said in a Wednesday morning news release.
Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Andringa last March, and she began serving on the board May 1, 2015. Her term would have expired April 30, 2021. Her resignation is effective Saturday.
Professionally, Andringa chairs the board for the Vermeer Corporation, a global industrial and agricultural equipment company based in Pella. She has led the corporation in some capacity for 33 years, including serving as president and CEO.
She also serves on multiple other boards and in national governmental relations roles, according to a Board of Regents news release.
“When I accepted the appointment, I was nearing the end of my tenure as CEO of Vermeer and was confident I would have the time to serve the state through the Board of Regents,” Andringa said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that is not the case.”
The Board of Regents is comprised of nine citizen volunteers appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. They serve staggered six-year terms and elect members to serve as president and president pro tem.
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The board governs five public educational institutions in the state, including Iowa’s three public universities — University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa.
The board is required by state law to meet at least four times a year — although they meet more than that. They are responsible for holding and exercising “all the powers necessary and convenient for the effective administration of its office and of the institutions under its control,” according to Iowa Code.
Some students, faculty, and staff at the University of Iowa recently have called for all members of the Board of Regents to resign over concerns with a search process that led to the hiring of new UI President Bruce Harreld.
Critics said the board violated shared governance values by disregarding broad faculty, student, and staff concern about Harreld’s lack of academic administrative experience and inaccuracies on his resume — among other things. Some also voiced concern about meetings Harreld had with regents, faculty, and search committee members that were not afforded other presidential candidates.
Members of the Board of Regents, including President Bruce Rastetter, have rejected those calls to resign, defending the search process and Harreld’s selection. Andringa did not mention those UI constituent concerns and demands in announcing her resignation.
“I am proud of my time serving on the Board and of what we accomplished,” Andringa said in a statement. “My passion for education and preparing students for future workforce needs of our great state is as strong as ever. I look forward to continuing to find ways to contribute to that progress.”
Rastetter, in a statement, thanked Andringa for her dedication and service to the board.
“She has served this board with distinction, including as chair of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Committee,” he said. “We understand and respect her decisions, and wish her the best as she continues to serve our state well in so many ways.”
Ben Hammes, spokesman for Gov. Branstad’s office, said the process to replace Andringa “will be thorough” and likely quick. He did not give a timeline, however.
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Andringa is among the regents who have disclosed possible conflicts of interests. In documents filed last May — shortly after her appointment — she reported her role with Vermeer because the corporation “for many years has had mutually beneficial relationships with the state universities.”
In the regent documents, Andringa noted that Vermeer contracts with students and faculty members to perform research and participate in development projects to support the corporation’s business and its products.
Vermeer also has employees who serve on university committees, advisory councils and other organizations, and the corporation sponsors the Vermeer International Leadership Program at ISU.
Vermeer rents space from the Iowa State Center for Industrial Research and Service, and Andringa reported plans to continue leasing space from that entity in a new facility.
She also reported her son, Jason Andringa, serves on the Board of Directors of Cultivation Corridor with ISU President Steven Leath.
Board of Regents policy requires members to disclose annually interests that might create an “actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest.” The policy requires management plans for disclosed conflicts – although it goes on to say disclose enough might be sufficient in some cases.
Questions around potential conflicts should be referred to the state’s Office of the Attorney General, according to the policy.