Board of Regents President speaks to Faculty Senate

David Gerhold

Bruce Rastetter, president of the Board of Regents, was the special guest of yesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting at Iowa State.

Rastetter said at the beginning of his career, Iowa State and faculty helped to get his businesses off the ground and was an essential part of his success, something that he still greatly appreciates.

“One of the things I wanted to do outside of the business was and still is to make a difference in the education system in Iowa,” Rastetter said.

For that, it is important for the Board of Regents to occasionally attend Faculty Senate meetings, listen to questions and concerns and take them into context, Rastetter said.

“A lot of members of the Board graduated from the three public universities here in Iowa, so they have a connection to that particular university and a great interest in helping and supporting it,” Rastetter said.

One of the key tasks of the Board of Regents is to make sure that they look at things that sometimes haven’t been looked at for a long time, Rastetter said.

“For over 70 years … Regents hadn’t looked at appropriations and how they are distributed amongst the universities as well as performance-funding,” Rastetter said.

That’s why the Board of Regents appointed an appropriations and performance funding committee last year.

“They are doing great work and are looking at a variety of things that are going on across the country,” Rastetter said. “And it’s very important that we do that.”

The Board of Regents will also look into other areas to improve the quality of education at Iowa’s public universities, including Iowa State, Rastetter said.

“We’re going to include the faculty from the very beginning. That process will start from a bottom-up approach and we’re looking forward to ISU’s involvement and input with that.”

Rastetter said that the Regent system in general needs to be done in an open and transparent way, which is why their meetings are open to the public.

Another important problem that the Board of Regents and, as a result, Iowa’s public universities struggle with on a regular basis is state funding.

That is why it is very important that people from Ames, particularly from the Alumni Association, come in and give a breath of advocacy to the state, Rastetter said.

“We’re public universities, so we’ve got to have state support, otherwise we’d have to increase tuition,” Rastetter said.

After Rastetter’s speech, Faculty Senate elected a new President-elect, who will start in May 2014. The new President-elect will be Robert Wallace, associate professor for ecology, evolution and organismal biology-LAS.

“I’m very pleased that the Faculty Senate has confidence in me,” Wallace said. “It’s part of what I enjoy doing and it’s an essential part of what we’re doing here.”

Wallace said that he will use the four months before he becomes president-elect to think about and respond to the university environment.

“My goal is to be able to have a targeted focus on what needs to be done by the time I’ll start,” Wallace said.