Education

Iowa Republican Party official named to Board of Regents

David Barker of Iowa City only new face to grace higher education board

David Barker of Iowa City, pictured here in 2009 while working at the University of Iowa as an adjunct finance professor in the Tippie College of Business, reads in his home office Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 in Iowa City. Barker has been nominated to the Iowa Board of Regents. (The Gazette file photo)
David Barker of Iowa City, pictured here in 2009 while working at the University of Iowa as an adjunct finance professor in the Tippie College of Business, reads in his home office Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 in Iowa City. Barker has been nominated to the Iowa Board of Regents. (The Gazette file photo)
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An Iowa Republican Party official and former economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is among three men appointed to new terms on the state’s Board of Regents starting in April.

David R. Barker, 57, of Iowa City, will be the only new face joining the nine-member volunteer board when regent Larry McKibben’s term expires April 30.

Regent Milt Dakovich, 64, of Waterloo — who, like McKibben, joined the board in April 2013 — also is completing his first six-year stint April 30. But Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed him to a second term.

Her third appointment re-ups Jim Lindenmayer, 68, of Ottumwa, who only started his regent service last summer when he replaced Subhash Sahai, a Webster City doctor who resigned short of his 2013 term expiration to focus more on his patients and family.

All three must receive two-thirds Senate confirmation to officially commence their new six-year terms on the board that governs Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools. State law requires the board be balanced politically and by gender, meaning no party or gender can have more than five representatives.

The board currently has five women and four men, including Lindenmayer, Dakovich and McKibben, who is retiring. It has one Democrat — former Iowa House Rep. Nancy Dunkel, of Dubuque; three with no party affiliation, including Lindenmayer; and five Republicans, including Dakovich and McKibben.

Barker is a Republican — meaning the board will maintain its right-leaning political bent. He is listed as a central committee member for the Iowa Republican Party. He’s also on the board of directors for the Center for American Entrepreneurship, which identifies itself as a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based policy and advocacy organization focused on the “critical importance of entrepreneurs and start-ups to innovation, economic growth and job creation.”

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He’s a partner with the Iowa City-based Barker Companies, which manages real estate investments in Iowa and Illinois. Locally, Barker properties include Parkside Manor, Park Place and Scotsdale in Coralville, and Emerald Court, Westgate Villa and Seville in Iowa City, according to the company’s website.

He’s also a member of the Kansas-based Small Business Bank board of directors, and lists among his previous positions adjunct professor in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa — although the UI still includes him as an adjunct professor on its website. He also served as lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago and economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

His research has been cited in national publications, and he’s appeared on Fox Business, MSNBC and Yahoo Finance, among others.

Barker earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and master’s and doctorate degrees in economics and finance from the University of Chicago.

Barker was among 16 people who over the past year applied for the Board of Regents, according to the governor’s office. Of those, 11 were Republicans, four were Democrats and the others had no party affiliation.

Just two were women, although Reynolds could not have appointed them because of the gender-balance mandate.

Incumbent Dakovich sought a second term but McKibben told The Gazette he wasn’t interested in another six years — as he, at age 72, is ready to retire and start scaling back work at his law office in Marshalltown.

“I feel like it’s time for a new generation of people to take these positions,” McKibben said.

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At the same time, McKibben said, he’s glad Dakovich is sticking around and providing his valuable experiential knowledge.

“Right now, when you have as many new folks as we have … I’m very pleased he’s staying on,” McKibben said.

With just one board meeting remaining for McKibben, the former lawmaker said he’s proud of his advocacy for efficiency across the public universities and improved collaboration. He also noted how uncommon it is for a regent to be involved in hiring presidents at all its institutions — something he can say, having helped hire UI President Bruce Harreld in 2015, University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook in 2016, Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen in 2017, and Iowa School for the Deaf Superintendent Steve Gettel in 2014.

“I just feel like I’m leaving at a good time,” McKibben said. “Whatever the public service, you want to feel like you leave it better than you came. That doesn’t always happen, but I feel like it has in my case.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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