Regents welcome new student member

Iowa State University student joins board as it evaluates university presidents

A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018. (The Gazette file photo)
A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018. (The Gazette file photo)

AMES — As Iowa’s Board of Regents met Tuesday in closed session to evaluate the performance of its university presidents and executive director, it welcomed a new face at the table — student regent Zack Leist.

Leist, a junior at Iowa State University, replaces Rachael Johnson, a former University of Northern Iowa standout who in May 2018 graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and middle level education.

State code requires the Board of Regents, which governs Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools, to include eight at-large members and one student regent who is enrolled full-time in one of the three state universities as either an undergraduate or graduate student.

Johnson, who was appointed in 2015 to a regent term set to expire in 2021, graduated and took a job with the Truman Scholarship Foundation.

As the governor typically rotates through the public universities for student regents, Iowa State was up next.

Because Leist is completing Johnson’s term, his initial stint will expire April 30, 2021. His appointment technically requires two-thirds Senate confirmation, which will be considered during the next legislative session.

Leist, a native of Clarion in north-central Iowa and 2017 valedictorian of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School, is majoring in agricultural business, international agriculture and economics, with a minor in agronomy, at ISU.

His extracurricular involvement includes the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, the Agricultural Business Club, the Iowa Corn Growers Club, the Collegiate Cattlemen’s Club and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Leist has completed several study abroad trips and works as an intern at Syngenta, an agriculture company.

In a statement, Leist called it an honor to serve on the board.

“I know this is a big responsibility, and I will do the best I can to learn and serve on the board,” he said. “I hope that I can use my knowledge and skills to best represent students from Iowa State, Iowa and UNI.”

Board president Mike Richards also released a statement welcoming Leist to the board — which this week is scheduled to approve tuition increases at the University of Iowa and Iowa State.

“We look forward to working with him and getting his views on issues that come before the board,” Richards said. “The perspective of a current student is critical as we continue to strive to provide a top-quality education to our students.”

Also new to the board this year is David Barker of Iowa City, a GOP donor who replaced former regent Larry McKibben when his term expired April 30.

Gov. Kim Reynolds reappointed Milt Dakovich, of Waterloo, to another six-year term, and reupped the service of Jim Lindenmayer, of Ottumwa, who started serving last summer to fill a vacancy.

The board is required to be balanced politically and in gender. With Leist, the board has five men and four women. It has five Republicans, one Democrat, and two members with no party affiliation — including Leist.

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