Iowa Public Television

 

Michael Gartner - Iowa Board of Regents

posted on December 14, 2006

Program recorded on 12/13/2006

>> Yepsen: THE BATTLE LINES HAVE HAVE BEEN DRAWN IN THE HIRING OF THE NEW PRESIDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. WE DISCUSS THE ONGOING SEARCH AND THE DYNAMICS OF THE SELECTION PROCESS WITH BOARD OF REGENTS PRESIDENT MICHAEL GARTNER ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: REPLACING DAVID SKORTON AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HAS PROVEN TO BE A MORE DIFFICULT TASK THAN MOST ANTICIPATED. U OF I FACULTY MEMBERS, PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEES, STUDENTS, OUTSIDE CONSULTANTS, AND THE BOARD OF REGENTS ITSELF ALL WANT THEIR VOICES HEARD AND THEIR IMPRINT RECOGNIZED IN THE SEARCH AND SELECTION PROCESS. THE GOING HAS BEEN ROUGH. AND THROUGH IT ALL, THERE ARE OTHER PRESSING ISSUES ON THE TABLE FOR THE REGENTS. SO TODAY WE TURN TO MICHAEL GARTNER, PRESIDENT OF THE NINE-MEMBER IOWA BOARD OF REGENTS, WHO'S BEEN IN THE EYE OF STORM. MR. GARTNER, WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Gartner: THANK YOU, DAVID. NICE TO BE HERE.

Yepsen: GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

Gartner: AND IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO HEAR YOU CALL ME MR. GARTNER BECAUSE YOU NEVER DO IT EXCEPT WHEN WE'RE ON TELEVISION. [ LAUGHTER ]

Yepsen: ALSO WITH US AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE ARE KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH 'RADIO IOWA,' AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTER WITH THE 'ASSOCIATED PRESS.'

Glover: MR. GARTNER, LET'S STEP BACK FOR A SECOND. DAVID INTRODUCED THE PROGRAM BY TALKING ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM HERE?

Gartner: OH, MIKE, I THINK IT'S REALLY THIS. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT SEARCH. IT'S REALLY A GOVERNANCE ISSUE. DAVID ALLUDED TO IT IN A COLUMN A MORE OR TWO MONTHS AGO. THE ISSUE IS WHO GOVERNS THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, THE BOARD OF REGENTS OR VARIOUS ASPECTS AT THE MOMENT, THE FACULTY OVER THERE. AND I THINK THAT'S THE ISSUE. THE ISSUE DOESN'T APPEAR AT IOWA STATE. IT DOESN'T APPEAR AT UNI. IT'S SORT OF AN IOWA CITY ISSUE, AND IT HAPPENS TO HAVE BOILED UP OVER THE PRESIDENTIAL ISSUE BUT COULD HAVE COME UP OVER ANYTHING ELSE.

Glover: SO THERE'S REALLY NOTHING MORE TO THIS THAN THE INMATES WANT TO RUN THE INSTITUTION.

Gartner: THOSE ARE CERTAINLY YOUR WORDS, MIKE, AND NOT MINE. I -- YEAH, OF COURSE THERE'S MORE TO IT. THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO EVERY ISSUE THAN APPEARS, BUT THAT'S THE CENTRAL CORE IS AN ISSUE OF GOVERNANCE.

Henderson: WELL, LET'S DIG INTO THAT.

Gartner: OKAY.

Henderson: WHERE ARE WE NOW? YOU'VE ABANDONED THE FIRST SEARCH. THERE WERE FOUR FINALISTS. THE BOARD VOTED IN NOVEMBER TO REJECT THEM. YOU'RE GOING TO START A NEW SEARCH.

Gartner: YES.

Henderson: AND HOW WILL YOU GO ABOUT DOING THAT?

Gartner: WELL, WE'VE SCHEDULED A MEETING FOR MONDAY TO DISCUSS THAT. I DON'T KNOW. I'M ONE OF NINE REGENTS. I HAVE BEEN TALKING THIS WEEK TO GET A SENSE OF WHERE THE REGENTS ARE AND HOW THE COMMITTEE -- I THINK EVERYBODY FEELS IT SHOULD BE A SMALLER COMMITTEE. I THINK EVERYBODY FEELS IT SHOULDN'T BE CHAIRED BY A REGENT. I THINK THAT EVERYBODY FEELS THAT NOBODY INVOLVED IN THE MOST RECENT SEARCH SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE NEXT ONE. MY OWN BELIEF IS IT SHOULD BE A SMALL COMMITTEE AND PROBABLY HEADED BY A DEAN. YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, THE DEANS ARE THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE ENTRUSTED WITH THE DAY-TO-DAY MANAGEMENT OF THE ACADEMIC ASPECT OF THE INSTITUTION. THE FOUNDATION ARE THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE ENTRUSTED WITH THE DAY-TO-DAY RAISING THE MONEY FOR THE INSTITUTION. I MEAN THERE'S FOUR SOURCES OF MONEY. YOU GET -- YOU GET MONEY FROM TUITION. YOU GET MONEY FROM FEDERAL RESEARCH GRANTS. YOU GET MONEY FROM THE LEGISLATURE. AND THEN INCREASINGLY YOU GET MONEY FROM DONORS. AND SO THE NEXT PRESIDENT -- AND THE PRESIDENT DOESN'T HAVE TO DEAL DAILY WITH THE LEGISLATURE, DAILY WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, OR DAILY WITH THE ISSUE OF TUITION, BUT THEY DO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE DAILY, ALMOST HOURLY, WITH RAISING MONEY. I THINK AT IOWA, IT'S $300 MILLION A YEAR. SO IT HAS TO BE SOMEBODY WHO NOT ONLY IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE DEANS, IT HAS TO BE SOMEBODY WHO CAN RAISE -- CAN RAISE MONEY. AND I THINK THE BEST PEOPLE WHO CAN JUDGE THAT ARE THE PEOPLE WHO GIVE MONEY. SO I WOULD THINK THAT THEY SHOULD BE WELL REPRESENTED ON THE -- ON THE SEARCH COMMITTEE. I THINK THE DEANS SHOULD BE WELL REPRESENTED ON THE SEARCH -- ON THE SEARCH COMMITTEE. AND A LOT OF THE SORT OF PRELIMINARY WORK HAS BEEN DONE. THE MARKETING MATERIALS ARE ALL DONE. THE CONSULTING COMPANY IS HIRED, SO WE'LL MOVE AHEAD.

Yepsen: MR. GARTNER, WHY DON'T YOU ASK THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE FOR MORE MONEY, STATE REVENUE TO PAY THIS NEW PRESIDENT? STATE REVENUES ARE COMING IN WELL. YOU HAVE A -- YOU HAVE A CHRONICAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION REPORT THAT SAYS OUR PAY SCALE IS PRETTY LOW. YOU LOSE PRESIDENTS TO OTHER INSTITUTIONS WHO PAY THEM MORE. WHY CAN'T WE -- WHY DON'T YOU GO TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE AND SAY LET ME DOUBLE THE PAY FOR THE THESE THREE STATE UNIVERSITIES.

Gartner: WE DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THEM TO DO THAT. WE SET THE PAY AND IF THERE'S ONE THING THAT THIS BOARD IS UNANIMOUS ON -- AND ACTUALLY THIS BOARD HAS BEEN UNANIMOUS ON ALL BUT THREE VOTES. OF THE HUNDREDS OF VOTES WE'VE TAKEN, ALL BUT THREE HAVE BEEN UNANIMOUS VOTES. IF THERE'S -- WE ARE ABSOLUTELY UNANIMOUS THAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL HAVE TO BE PAID WAY MORE THAN THE PAST PRESIDENT HAS, AND THAT'S REALLY NOT AN ISSUE. AND IN FACT, GOVERNOR VILSACK MENTIONED IT THE OTHER DAY AS WELL. AND WE'LL FIND THE MONEY. YOU DON'T HAVE TO ASK FOR SPECIAL APPROPRIATION FOR THAT.

Glover: SO YOU'RE GOING TO NEED MONEY TO START TALKING ABOUT THIS NEW SEARCH PROCESS THAT YOU'VE DESCRIBED. HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE FOR THIS PROCESS TO YIELD A NEW PRESIDENT FOR THE UNIVERSITY?

Gartner: I DON'T KNOW, MIKE. IT'S CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO TAKE AS LONG AS THE LAST PROCESS BUT, YOU KNOW, WE NEED A GREAT PRESIDENT. IT IS A GREAT UNIVERSITY AND WE NEED A GREAT PRESIDENT. IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY IS A GREAT UNIVERSITY, AND IT HAS A GREAT PRESIDENT IN GREG GEOFFROY. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA IS A WONDERFUL INSTITUTION, AND IT HAS A WONDERFUL NEW PRESIDENT IN BEN ALLEN. THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA IS ALSO A WONDERFUL AND A GREAT INSTITUTION, AND IT DESERVES A WONDERFUL AND A GREAT PRESIDENT WHO UNDERSTANDS ALL ASPECTS. YOU KNOW, ONE REASON THAT GREG IS SO TERRIFIC AT IOWA STATE, BESIDE BEING A FIRST-RATE LEADER AND A VISIONARY, IS HE'S A SCIENTIST. AND THAT'S A SCIENCE UNIVERSITY. THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA IS A $2.4-BILLION ENTERPRISE, BIGGER THAN MOST CORPORATIONS IN THE STATE. HALF THE SIZE OF STATE GOVERNMENT. AND HALF OF THAT ENTERPRISE ARE THE HEALTH SCIENCES, EITHER THE HOSPITAL OR THE MEDICAL SCHOOL OR THE NURSING SCHOOL OR THE DENTAL SCHOOL, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, THE STATE HYGIENIC LAB, ALL OF THOSE SCHOOLS. AND THEY MAKE UP MORE THAN HALF THE ENTERPRISE, SO IT HAS TO BE SOMEBODY WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT AS WELL.

Glover: AND HAS THE INSTITUTION SUFFERED FOR THE LENGTH OF TIME IT'S GONE WITHOUT A PRESIDENT? IS THERE A DRIFT THING GOING ON HERE?

Gartner: I MET WITH ALL THE DEANS ABOUT TEN DAYS AGO AT THE REQUEST OF GARY FETHKE, THE INTERIM PRESIDENT WHO IS DOING A FIRST-RATE JOB. HE ASKED IF I'D COME OVER AND, IN FACT, FOUR REGENTS WENT OVER -- RUTH HARKIN, AMIR ARBISSER, BOB DOWNER AND I -- AND WE MET WITH ALL THE DEANS. THEY CLEARLY -- IN FACT, THEY ISSUED A STATEMENT THIS WEEK SAYING WE MUST MOVE FORWARD, AND THEY'RE RIGHT. THEY SAY IF IT DRAGS OUT, IT WILL HURT RECRUITMENT OF FACULTY AND IT WILL MAKE THEIR FACULTY VULNERABLE TO HEADHUNTERS COMING IN. AT THE MOMENT -- TO TRY AND PICK OFF THEIR FACULTY. BUT THEY DIDN'T SAY WE WERE AT THE CRISIS PERIOD RIGHT YET, BUT THEY SAID WE CAN'T WAIT, WE CAN'T WAIT. LIKE, THERE'S A REGENT OR TWO WHOSE KIND OF INSTINCT IS LET'S LET EVERYTHING CALM DOWN, LET'S LET GARY RUN IT FOR A YEAR, AND THEN DO IT. THAT WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE TO THE DEANS AND I THINK TO THE MAJORITY OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS.

Henderson: AS YOU KNOW, SEVERAL OF YOUR CRITICS HAVE ASKED YOU TO RESIGN. DO YOU INTEND TO DO SO?

Gartner: NO.

Henderson: HAVE YOU CHATTED WITH THE GOVERNOR-ELECT ABOUT THE PROCESS OF SELECTING A NEW UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PRESIDENT?

Gartner: NO, I HAVEN'T. I HAVE RUN INTO HIM AND HAD A COUPLE OF BRIEF CONVERSATIONS, BUT I HAVEN'T -- HE HASN'T CALLED ME AND I HAVEN'T -- AND I HAVEN'T CALLED HIM.

Henderson: DO YOU INTEND TO INITIATE A CONTACT?

Gartner: NO. I MEAN IF HE CALLS, I'LL BE HAPPY TO GO UP AND SIT DOWN AND EXPLAIN WHERE WE ARE. BUT, YOU KNOW, THE WAY IT'S SET UP IS TO KIND OF ISOLATE THE UNIVERSITY FROM POLITICS AND THE POLITICIANS FROM THE UNIVERSITY. AND THAT'S WHY THE REGENTS HAVE THESE SIX-YEAR TERMS AND REALLY CAN'T BE REMOVED WHEN A NEW ADMINISTRATION COMES IN. AND BY AND LARGE I THINK THAT WORKS VERY WELL FOR BOTH -- FOR BOTH INTERESTS. AND THE REGENTS ARE THE BUFFER. THE REGENTS PROTECT THE UNIVERSITIES FROM THE VAGARIES OF POLITICS AND IT PROTECTS THE POLITICIANS FROM THE ACADEMICS, AND SOMETIMES THEY DON'T ALWAYS SEE THE ISSUES ALIKE.

Glover: ON THE BIG-PICTURE BASIS, IS THAT SORT OF INSULATION THREATENED BY WHAT'S GOING ON NOW? I MEAN YOU'VE GOT STATE LEGISLATORS CALLING FOR YOUR RESIGNATION.

Gartner: YEAH, BUT THAT'S OKAY. YOU KNOW, THAT'S FINE FOR THEM TO CALL FOR THE RESIGNATION, BUT I DON'T INTEND TO RESIGN. AND, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE DOING THEIR JOB AND I'M DOING MY JOB.

Glover: AND THEY'RE DOING THEIR JOB BY?

Gartner: RESPONDING TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS.

Glover: SO THEIR CONSTITUENTS ARE MAD AT YOU, AND SO THEY'RE GOING TO WEIGH INTO IT. BUT DOESN'T -- GETTING BACK TO MY ORIGINAL QUESTION, DOESN'T THAT THREATEN THE KIND OF INDEPENDENCE THAT COLLEGES ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE?

Gartner: NO, NOT UNLESS I WOULD RESIGN. IF I RESIGNED, I THINK THAT IT WOULD SET THE SYSTEM BACK FOR ANOTHER TWENTY YEARS. I MEAN I'M NOT PARTICULARLY ENJOYING MY LIFE RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY WITH SPRING TRAINING JUST AROUND THE CORNER. BUT IT'S -- IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE REGENTS DO WHAT THE LAW SAYS THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO DO, WHICH IS BE THE GOVERNING BODY FOR THE THREE UNIVERSITIES AND TO HIRE A PRESIDENT. AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. YOU KNOW, WE HAD A TERRIFIC CANDIDATE. WE HAD A WOMAN WHO WAS A SPECTACULAR CANDIDATE BUT -- WITH ALL THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE, ALL THE RIGHT ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS AND EVERYTHING, BUT THE SEARCH COMMITTEE, WHICH WAS DOMINATED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PEOPLE, WOULDN'T FORWARD HER NAME TO THE REGENTS, OR SHE PROBABLY WOULD BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA TODAY. SO WE'LL FIND SOMEBODY ELSE.

Henderson: CRITICS ON THE CAMPUS COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE TO BE -- TO I GUESS USE A PUN, THEY SAY IT'S LESS THAN COLLEGIAL. DO YOU INTEND TO CHANGE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE IN THE FUTURE?

Gartner: NO. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHERE THEY'VE EVEN SEEN MY MANAGEMENT STYLE. I WASN'T THE CHAIR OF THE SEARCH COMMITTEE. I WAS ONE OF 19 -- 19 MEMBERS. MOST OF THOSE CRITICS HAVE NEVER SEEN ME OR MET ME. THERE'S KIND OF A HERD MENTALITY GOING ON AT THE MOMENT, OR A PILING ON. BUT THAT'S OKAY. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHAT FREEDOM IS ALL ABOUT; SAY WHAT YOU THINK EVEN IF WHAT YOU THINK IS NOT BASED ON FACT OR INFORMED OPINION. SO IT DOESN'T BOTHER ME.

Glover: HAVE WE GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION WHERE THE SORT OF END IS JUSTIFYING THE MEANS; IN OTHER WORDS, WE'VE GOT TWO SIDES FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER AND WINNING THE FIGHT BECOMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHY YOU'RE FIGHTING?

Gartner: NO, NO, NO, NO. BEAR THIS IN MIND, MIKE: THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE AT THE MOMENT IS TO HIRE THE VERY BEST MAN OR WOMAN WE CAN FIND TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, NOT TO ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS -- ANYTHING LESS THAN THAT. AND THAT IS THE CHARGE TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS. THAT'S NOT THE CHARGE TO THE FACULTY. THAT'S THE CHARGE TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. EVERYTHING ELSE IS KIND OF, WELL, JUDGING FROM WATCHING TELEVISION FROM THIS WEEK'S THINGS, IT'S SORT OF THEATER. BUT THE ISSUE IS WE MUST CONCENTRATE ON HIRING THE VERY BEST MAN OR WOMAN THAT WE CAN FIND TO BE THE PRESIDENT.

Yepsen: MR. GARTNER, HOW DO YOU EASE THESE TENSIONS HERE? YOU MENTIONED EARLIER IT WAS A QUESTION OF GOVERNANCE AND SORT OF WHO'S IN CHARGE, AND THAT'S HISTORIC. THAT'S ALWAYS GONE ON BETWEEN UNIVERSITIES IN THE STATE AND THE BOARD OF REGENTS. THIS SEEMS PARTICULARLY IRRITABLE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. WHAT CAN YOU DO? WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO TO TRY TO EASE SOME OF THESE TENSIONS?

Gartner: TIME WILL TAKE CARE OF A LOT OF IT, DAVID, I THINK. AND HIRING OF A FIRST-RATE PRESIDENT WILL TAKE CARE OF A LOT OF IT. AND YOU KNOW, LIKE I SAID, THIS DOESN'T EXIST IN AMES OR CEDAR FALLS. THIS IS AN IOWA CITY ISSUE AT THE MOMENT. SO WE WILL WORK HARD. A LOT OF IT TAKES COMMUNICATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF EVERYBODY'S ISSUES. AND WE'LL WORK HARD -- AND WE WORK HARD TO TRY TO DO THAT.

Henderson: HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE FACT THAT MANY OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED ON THE BOARD HIRED A NEW UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA PRESIDENT AND YET THE SAME PEOPLE HAVE RUN INTO THIS SORT OF BRICK WALL ON THIS ONE? I MEAN HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT TO OUTSIDE OBSERVERS WHO JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND?

Gartner: A DIFFERENCE IN CULTURES IN THE TWO -- IN THE TWO CITIES. I WAS ON -- IN FACT, I WAS THE CHAIR OF THE SEARCH COMMITTEE AT UNI. IT WAS A WONDERFUL PROCESS. WE WORKED HAND IN HAND WITH THE FACULTY, THE STAFF, THE AFSCME REPRESENTATIVE, AND THEY WOULD MAKE SUGGESTIONS. THEY EARLY ON WERE WORRIED ABOUT PARTS OF THE PROCESS, AND SO TWO OF THE FACULTY MEMBERS WOULD CALL ME AND SAY, YOU KNOW, WE THINK SUCH AND SUCH, AND I'D SAY, 'EXPLAIN IT TO ME' OR TERESA WOULD SAY, 'EXPLAIN IT TO ME.' AND THEY WOULD AND WE'D SAY, 'THAT MAKES SENSE. YEAH, LET'S DO IT. THAT'S A GOOD IDEA.' AND SO WE WERE JUST OF ONE MIND ALL THE WAY THROUGH. AND THERE WAS NEVER -- WHILE THERE WAS STRONG OPINIONS, THERE WAS NEVER A HINT OF INCIVILITY OR OF MISTRUST, AND WE ENDED UP WITH, AS YOU KNOW, A REALLY, REALLY FIRST-RATE PRESIDENT UP THERE.

Glover: HOW DO YOU SOLVE THAT CULTURAL PROBLEM?

Gartner: YOU KNOW, THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION, MIKE. I DON'T KNOW. AGAIN, I THINK TIME AND COMMUNICATION. I THINK -- I DON'T THINK THAT THIS MARDI GRAS ATMOSPHERE ADDS ANYTHING TO IT. I THINK THAT THAT'S DAMAGING. I THINK THAT IT FIRES PEOPLE UP WHO -- YOU KNOW, IT'S ALMOST LIKE A LYNCH MOB SOME DAYS, AND THAT'S NOT GOOD. AND SO I THINK THE REGENTS PARTICULARLY HAVE TRIED TO BE CALM AND NOT TO GET INTO A SHOUTING MATCH ON ANY OF THE ISSUES, PRETTY MUCH LET IT RUN ITSELF -- LET IT RUN ITS COURSE, YOU KNOW. WE'RE NOT OUT HOLDING PRESS CONFERENCES OR MAKING ALLEGATIONS OR THINGS LIKE THAT. WE'RE JUST TRYING TO RESET THE PROCESS.

Yepsen: ONE THING THAT'S MAKING PEOPLE IN IOWA CITY NERVOUS IS THEY DON'T KNOW WHO THEIR NEW BOSS IS GOING TO BE. THAT'S ALWAYS A SORT OF ANGST IN ANY ORGANIZATION WHEN CHANGE COMES. SO WHAT'S YOUR LONG-TERM GOAL HERE? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR BY WAY OF CHANGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA?

Gartner: I'M JUST LOOKING FOR A GOOD PRESIDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA.

Yepsen: DO YOU HAVE SOME IDEA WHAT YOU WANT THAT PERSON TO DO?

Gartner: YES, YES. I WANT THAT PERSON TO BE -- I WANT THAT PERSON TO DO WHAT GREG GEOFFROY DOES AT IOWA STATE AND WHAT BEN ALLEN DOES AT UNI, WHICH IS TO BE A WONDERFUL LEADER, A STRATEGIC -- A STRATEGIC THINKER, AN INNOVATOR, AND THAT'S IT. AND THEN -- YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S THE ROLE OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS, WHICH IS THE REAL QUESTION. AND THE ROLE OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS IS THIS: TO COME UP WITH AN OVERALL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR HIGHER -- FOR EDUCATION FOR THE THREE PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES; TO THEN INSIST THAT THE PRESIDENTS THEMSELVES COME UP WITH STRATEGIC PLANS THAT MESH WITH THAT, WHETHER IT'S THE HOSPITAL OR THE UNIVERSITY OR UNI OR IOWA STATE, THAT MESH WITH THAT, AND CARRY IT OUT; OUR NEXT JOB IS TO HIRE AND FIRE OUR PRESIDENTS; OUR NEXT JOB IS TO BE THEIR AGENT IN THE LEGISLATURE, ARGUING FOR MONEY FOR THEM, FOR FACULTY SALARIES, FOR CAPITALS AND THINGS LIKE THAT; OUR NEXT JOB IS TO BE A SOUNDING BOARD FOR THEM WHEN THEY HAVE -- WHEN THEY WANT TO CALL ON SOMETHING; AND THE NEXT JOB, AND MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB, IS TO GET OUT OF THE WAY. THEY RUN THE INSTITUTIONS AND WE DON'T.

Yepsen: SO, LET ME TRY THIS ONE MORE TIME. HOW WILL THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA BE DIFFERENT FROM DAVID SKORTON? WHAT WILL THEY DO -- WHAT WILL HE OR SHE DO DIFFERENTLY?

Gartner: I DON'T WANT TO GET INTO DAVID'S MANAGEMENT STYLE. I DON'T THINK THAT'S APPROPRIATE. I WILL TELL YOU WHAT THE PERSON SHOULD DO. THE PERSON SHOULD BE A STRATEGIC THINKER. THE PERSON SHOULD BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE CONSENSUS. THE PERSON SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS, TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS IN ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES, IN TAKING RISKS ON NEW PROGRAMS, AND IN -- AND IN SPOTTING THE ROLE -- FOR INSTANCE, IOWA STATE JUST CONVENED THE STATE A COUPLE WEEKS AGO ON THE ISSUE OF THE FUTURE OF IOWA'S BIOECONOMY. 425 PEOPLE SHOWED UP. THERE WERE LEGISLATORS THERE. THERE WERE SCIENTISTS THERE. THERE WERE RURAL DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE THERE. THERE WERE ACADEMICIANS THERE AND THERE WERE JUST -- THERE WERE FARMERS THERE, AND THERE WERE JUST ORDINARY CITIZENS THERE. AND IT WAS A SPECTACULAR DAY-LONG EVENT IN WHICH THEY -- THEY'VE REALLY COME UP WITH SORT OF A BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE. MY VIEW IS -- AND THAT WAS GREG GEOFFROY'S IDEA, AND HE ENLISTED DR. ROBERT BROWN AND THESE GREAT SCIENTISTS. I BELIEVE THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA IS TO THE STATE, IN TERMS OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND MEDICAL CARE, WHAT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY IS TO THE STATE IN TERMS OF -- IN TERMS OF THE BIOECONOMY AND SCIENCE AND VETERINARY SCIENCE, AND THAT UNI IS TO THE STATE IN TERMS OF EDUCATION AND EDUCATION POLICY, AND THAT ALL OF THOSE UNIVERSITIES SHOULD CAPITALIZE ON THEIR EXCELLENCE, SHOULD REACH OUT TO THE IOWA PEOPLE AND BRING IN THE IOWA PEOPLE AND HELP SET THE AGENDA FOR THE STATE AND EVEN THE NATION ON THOSE -- ON THOSE ISSUES. AND THAT COMES FROM THE PRESIDENT. THAT COMES FROM THE PRESIDENT. SO IT'S UP TO THE PRESIDENT TO DO THAT. AND THE PRESIDENT THEN HAS TO RAISE MONEY, YOU KNOW, CONSTANTLY, CONSTANTLY, WHICH IS VERY HARD TO DO.

Glover: MR. GARTNER, YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT BY THIS SHOW, BUT THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES FACING THE BOARD OF REGENTS OTHER THAN THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA.

Gartner: THERE ARE INDEED.

Glover: ONE OF THEM IS TUITION.

Gartner: YES.

Glover: THE DEMOCRATS WHO ARE GOING TO BE RUNNING THE NEXT LEGISLATURE SAY ONE OF THEIR PRIORITIES --

Gartner: DEMOCRATS WON? [ LAUGHTER ]

Glover: I HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT IT. ONE OF THEIR PRIORITIES IS GOING TO BE TO ASSURE THAT TUITION AT THE PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES DOES NOT RAISE ANY FASTER THAN THE LEVEL OF EDUCATIONAL INFLATION. CAN THE REGENTS LIVE WITH THAT?

Gartner: WELL, SURE. WHAT'S THE APPROPRIATION GOING TO BE? THERE'S A VERY -- THERE'S A VERY SIMPLE RELATIONSHIP, AND THAT IS A ONE-PERCENT INCREASE IN TUITION PRODUCES $4.5 MILLION. SO LET'S SAY THAT NEXT YEAR THE THREE REGENTS INSTITUTIONS NEED ANOTHER $75 MILLION TO INCREASE FACULTY SALARIES, TO HEAT THE BUILDINGS, TO SERVICE THE COMPUTERS AND BUY BOOKS AND JOURNALS, AND TO DEAL WITH INFLATION. LET'S SAY THE NUMBER IS $75 MILLION. AND LET'S SAY THEN THAT THE TUITION INCREASE IS 5 PERCENT. SO 5 TIMES 4.5 IS, WHAT, $22.5 MILLION. SO YOU TAKE THAT 75 AND YOU SUBTRACT $22.5 MILLION AND YOU COME TO -- YOU COME TO, WHAT, $52.5 MILLION. AND SO -- AND THEN IF YOU GO TO THE LEGISLATURE AND THE LEGISLATURE SAYS, YEAH, WE'LL GIVE YOU $52.5 MILLION, YOU SAY, GREAT, TUITION IS 5 PERCENT. BUT IF THEY SAY WE'LL GIVE YOU 48 -- $47.5 MILLION, THEN MAYBE TUITION HAS TO BE 6 PERCENT TO MAKE UP THAT -- TO MAKE UP THAT MONEY. IT'S A VERY, VERY CLEAR RELATIONSHIP. ONE PERCENT, $4.5 MILLION.

Glover: AND ONE OF THE COMPLAINTS YOU HEAR FROM PARENTS MOST OFTEN IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE TUITION LEVEL BUT ABOUT PREDICTABILITY IN TUITION. THEY WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH THEY HAVE TO SAVE FOR COLLEGE. WHY CAN'T COLLEGE TUITIONS BE MORE PREDICTABLE?

Gartner: IT COULD BE. IT COULD BE, MIKE, AND MAYBE IT SHOULD BE. AND MAYBE IT SHOULD BE VARIABLE AS WELL. THERE'S ALL -- THERE'S ALL KINDS OF OPPORTUNITIES AND OPTIONS IN TUITION THAT I THINK THE REGENTS AND THE PRESIDENTS ARE JUST BEGINNING TO LOOK AT. YOU KNOW, ONLY NOW DO WE HAVE A VARIABLE TUITION IN THAT THE THREE UNIVERSITIES HAVE A LITTLE LEEWAY. AND THEN ONCE YOU'RE WITHIN UNIVERSITIES, LIKE AT IOWA STATE AND AT IOWA, IN YOUR JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEARS, IT COSTS MORE IF YOU'RE GOING TO MAJOR IN ENGINEERING BECAUSE ENGINEERING IS FAR MORE EXPENSIVE. AND SO WE HAVE TO BE MORE CREATIVE AND MORE IMAGINATIVE IN -- IN THAT. WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TELL PARENTS THIS IS YOUR TUITION YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR, THIS IS WHAT IT'S GOING TO BE YOUR SOPHOMORE YEAR, YOUR JUNIOR YEAR, AND YOUR SENIOR YEAR, SO THAT THEY CAN PLAN ACCORDINGLY. PART OF THAT PROBLEM, OF COURSE, IS WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATIONS ARE GOING TO BE IN THOSE YEARS OR EVEN WHAT THE FEDERAL RESEARCH GRANTS ARE GOING TO BE. BUT YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. PARENTS WANT TO KNOW THAT. THEY DESERVE TO KNOW IT AND WE OUGHT TO STRIVE MIGHTILY TO LET THEM KNOW IT.

Henderson: THE REGENTS HAVE RECENTLY CHANGED ADMISSION STANDARDS FOR THE THREE INSTITUTIONS. ARE THERE GOING TO BE SOME UNHAPPY PARENTS AROUND IOWA WHOSE SON OR DAUGHTER IS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND?

Gartner: I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IS THERE'S GOING TO BE HAPPY PARENTS BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE'S GOING TO BE PRESSURES IN THE HIGH SCHOOLS ON THEIR CHILDREN TO TAKE MORE WHAT YOU CALL THE CORE COURSES AND THERE'S GOING TO BE PRESSURE ON THESE SCHOOLS TO TAKE MORE -- TO OFFER MORE OF THESE CORE COURSES, SCIENCE, LANGUAGE, MATH, AND ENGLISH, TO TAKE MORE OF THESE BECAUSE THE NEW FORMULA TAKES THAT INTO ACCOUNT. AND I THINK THAT IT WILL RAISE THE EDUCATIONAL LEVEL OF THE ENTERING FRESHMEN, WHICH IS A REAL PROBLEM, YOU KNOW, A HUGE PROBLEM. A LOT OF KIDS, THEY'RE AUTOMATICALLY ELIGIBLE FOR ADMISSION, BUT THEY GET THERE AND THEY'RE REALLY NOT UP TO SPEED, ESPECIALLY IN MATH AND SCIENCE. AND SO THE UNIVERSITIES THEN HAVE TO -- HAVE TO DO A LOT OF KIND OF PRELIMINARY WORK TO HELP THEM GET THERE, AND I THINK THAT THAT WILL HELP. THAT'S THE HOPE OF THE COMMITTEE. IT WASN'T THE REGENTS COMMITTEE. IT WAS A COMMITTEE FROM THE UNIVERSITIES, AND IT'S BEEN ENDORSED BY THE SCHOOLS AND EVERYTHING. I THINK IT WILL BE -- I THINK IT'S A GREAT STEP FORWARD.

Yepsen: EVERY LEVEL OF EDUCATION IN THIS STATE IS ASKING FOR MORE MONEY. YOU LOOK AT HIGHER EDUCATION, IOWA'S PER CAPITA LEVELS OF SUPPORT FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ARE AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY, STATE UNIVERSITIES, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, PRIVATE COLLEGES. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO SAY WE REALLY OUGHT TO BE PUTTING MORE MONEY IN K-12 OR PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS THAN WE ARE GIVING YOU MORE MONEY?

Gartner: I SAY THAT'S RIGHT. IT HAS TO BE A COORDINATED EFFORT, THAT YOU CAN'T SINGLE OUT ANY ONE GROUP, WHETHER IT'S COMMUNITY COLLEGES OR K-12 OR THE REGENTS OR CONTINUING EDUCATION. THERE HAS TO BE -- THERE HAS TO BE A GREAT COORDINATED EDUCATIONAL POLICY FOR THIS STATE, AND I THINK WE'RE MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION. I THINK THE COMMITTEE FOR TOMORROW'S WORK FORCE HAS BEEN VERY INSTRUMENTAL IN THAT. AND I THINK THEN YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW BEST TO SPEND THE MONEY AND, WITHIN THE UNIVERSITIES AND WITHIN THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND K-12, HOW BEST TO ALLOCATE RESOURCES. BUT I ALSO THINK THAT IF YOU COULD PASS THE CIGARETTE TAX, THAT WOULD BE ENORMOUSLY HELPFUL.

Yepsen: WHAT'S THE CONDITION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN THIS STATE? I MEAN WE HEAR IT'S NOT AS GOOD AS OTHER PLACES. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW OF THAT?

Gartner: I'LL TELL YOU, YEARS AGO I WAS ASKED TO GO DOWN TO LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, TO BE THE EDITOR OF THE COURIER JOURNAL FOR A YEAR, AND I SAID TO THEM -- ONE OLD MAN NAMED JOHN QUINN WHO WAS THEN THE CHIEF NEWS EXECUTIVE OF GANNETT. THEY JUST HAD BOUGHT THE PAPER. I SAID, 'WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO, JOHN.' AND HE SAID, 'MAKE THE NEWSPAPER AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE THINK IT IS.' IF WE COULD MAKE THESE UNIVERSITIES AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE, WE WOULD HAVE -- WE WOULD BE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL.

Glover: AND ONE LAST QUESTION. WHAT'S YOUR LEGACY AT THE BOARD OF REGENTS? WE TALK ABOUT MARVIN POMERANTZ. HIS LEGACY WAS HE GOT THE INSTITUTIONS INVOLVED IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR LEGACY --

Gartner: WHEN HE SOLD WOI.

Glover: THERE WAS THAT TOO.

Gartner: YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK ABOUT LEGACIES, MIKE. I JUST THINK ABOUT WHAT'S RIGHT TO DO FOR THESE UNIVERSITIES. AND I THINK EVERY REGENT THINKS THAT WAY. AND I THINK THE MOMENT YOU START THINKING ABOUT YOUR LEGACY IS THE MOMENT YOU SHOULD GET THE HELL OUT AND GO DO -- AND GO DO SOMETHING ELSE.

Glover: AND YOUR TERM IS THROUGH 2011, AND YOU'LL BE THERE IN 2011?

Gartner: MY TERM IS THROUGH 20 -- YEAH, I GUESS IT IS 2011; ISN'T IT. MY TERM AS PRESIDENT HAS ANOTHER FIFTEEN MONTHS TO GO, BUT MY TERM ON THE REGENTS, A SIX-YEAR TERM, I'VE GOT FOUR MORE YEARS TO GO. THAT'S RIGHT, YEAH.

Yepsen: MR. GARTNER -- AND WE ALWAYS CALLED YOU MR. GARTNER.

Gartner: YOU NEVER DID, DAVID.

Yepsen: EXCEPT WHEN YOU DIDN'T GIVE US PAY RAISES.

Gartner: MR. YEPSEN.

Yepsen: WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US.

Gartner: NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

Yepsen: APPRECIATE IT. NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE TURN TO THE IOWA STATEHOUSE POLITICS AND PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN POLITICS AS WELL. JOINING US IS TOM VILSACK, NOW IN HIS FINAL MONTH AS GOVERNOR OF IOWA AND ALSO UNDERWAY IN HIS 2008 PRESIDENTIAL BID. WE DISCUSS THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE WITH THE GOVERNOR. JOIN US AT OUR REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 AND SUNDAY MORNING AT 11:30. THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' DEAN BORG REJOINS US NEXT WEEKEND. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER.' THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


Tags: Iowa politics