Education

Past community college president named new Iowa regent

Jim Lindenmayer will succeed Subhash Sahai, following resignation

A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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An Indian Hills Community College past president will serve out the final year of a six-year term for a recently departed member of Iowa’s Board of Regents.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday unveiled Jim Lindenmayer, of Ottumwa, as the newest member of the board, which governs Iowa’s three public universities and two special schools. He’ll begin serving immediately in an interim role, as state law requires senate confirmation – which can’t happen until the Legislature reconvenes in the new year.

The appointment comes amid budget woes for the public universities, which have seen deep state cuts in recent years – including two consecutive midyear takebacks of already-appropriated funds. The universities, in response, have warned of years of rising tuition – starting with this fall.

Lindenmayer is replacing Subhash Sahai, a Webster City doctor who resigned in June after missing the last two regents meetings – which included votes to raise tuition and a decision on how to divide new state appropriations for the upcoming budget year. Had Sahai missed the next meeting in August, making it three in a row, state law would have dictated him “effectively” resigned.

Sahai, in his resignation letter, noted the hefty board time commitment and his desire to focus more on his patients and family.

In announcing Lindenmayer as Sahai’s successor Friday, Reynolds praised his background at the helm of one of Iowa’s community colleges and his passion “for work-based learning.”            

“His focus was on training Iowans and getting them the advanced skills and experience needed to meet workforce needs and provide them with a great career,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I am confident he’ll bring that passion to the board and Iowa’s public universities.”

State law requires the nine-member volunteer board be balanced politically and in gender – meaning no party or gender can have more than five representatives. Sahai was one of four men in the group, meaning his replacement also had to be male.

Politically, the board had five Republicans, one Democrat, and three who were unaffiliated – including Sahai. Lindenmayer also has no party affiliation, according to Brenna Smith, spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

He’s made campaign contributions in the past to both Republicans and Democrats, including Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov Reynolds in 2010 and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack in 2012, according to online campaign disclosures.

In his application – which the governor’s office received June 17, nine days after Sahai’s resignation – Lindenmayer noted his political balance, boasting his deep background and understanding of higher education in Iowa and his history working “politically with both sides of the aisle to advance the missions of higher education and workforce training.”

“I feel like I still have a lot to give and want to work with other leaders in the state to advance the State of Iowa’s interests educationally, economically, and socially,” he wrote in his application.

Sahai was the only ethnic or racial minority on the board, and Lindenmayer is white – although state law doesn’t include any diversity requirements.

The new regent first served as continuing education coordinator for Indian Hills Community College in June 1980 and advanced to vice president of administration and human resources. He was named president in December 2001, and spent 12 years in that role, leading the three-campus system that spanned eight county seat centers, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

In promoting her pick, Reynolds noted Lindenmayer and his colleagues increased Indian Hills enrollment from about 3,000 full-time students in 2001 to more than 5,500 in 2013. That growth occurred despite population declines in the region, according to the governor’s office.

Other career highlights include Lindenmayer’s early adoption of work-based learning, as he established a workforce campus offering training programs specific to local industry, according to

Reynolds. He established advisory committees comprised of 500 industry representatives to help develop curriculum, and he crafted programming to match student skills with employment needs. Reynolds praised him for establishing a Rural Health Partnership that connected local health care providers and built a Rural Health Education Center.

Despite his most recent community college stint, Lindenmayer has roots in four-year public universities and private – having earned his undergraduate degree from the private William Penn University in Oskaloosa, his master’s degree from the public Truman State University in Missouri, and his doctorate from University of Iowa. 

He’s currently chairing the National Job Corps Association in Washington.

The last regent to resign was Mary Andringa in April 2016. She too reported underestimating the time commitment. Then Gov. Terry Branstad appointed his longtime ally Mike Richards to fill her void. Richards now serves as Board of Regents president, with his term set to expire in 2021. In a statement Friday, Richards said he’s pleased to welcome someone of Lindenmayer’s caliber to the board.

“His wealth of experience and depth of knowledge of higher education issues will make him a huge asset to the Regent enterprise,” Richards said in the statement. “I look forward to working with Dr. Lindemayer as we continue our mission to provide high-quality, accessible education to our students."

Former regent Nicole Carroll also resigned in November 2014 after her family moved to Texas. Sherry Bates was appointed to serve out Carroll’s term, which ended in April 2017. She was then reappointed to a new six-year term, which expires in 2023.

Other gubernatorial nominations of note Friday included Jay Hansen of Mason City, Vickie Lewis of Marshalltown, Karie Foster of Pella and Jason Harrington of Spirit Lake to the state Board of Health; Jill Liesveld of  Coralville and Ken Cheyne of Clive to the state Medical Cannabidiol Board; and Kevin Krause of West Des Moines to the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board.

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

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