Regents nominees Lang and Cramer declined


(From left to right) Board of Regents President Pro Tem Bruce L. Rastetter, President Craig A. Lang and Executive Director Robert Donley lead the Board of Regents meeting in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Issues regarding Iowa students and universities were discussed in the March 13, 2013, meeting.

Danielle Ferguson

Board of Regents nominees Craig Lang and Robert Cramer, both republicans nominated by Gov. Terry Branstad, have been declined by the Iowa Senate in a vote on April 8, 2013.

In order to be approved for the board, nominees needed two-thirds support of the Iowa Senate, or 34 votes. In a majority party split vote, Lang was voted against 30-20 and Cramer lost 27-23.

Lang, who served as president of the Board of Regents, released a public statement afterward regarding the results, saying he respects, yet is disappointed with, the Senate’s decision.

“I am proud of the accomplishments of the Board of Regents during my term,” Lang said in the letter. “I hope the Iowa legislature keeps the needs of our students at the forefront as they consider the Board’s FY2014 operating appropriations request to allow the Board to freeze tuition for the 2013-14 academic year.”

Although praised for this accomplishment while serving as president of the Board, Lang has also received criticism over academic freedom at Iowa State because of a previous comment about the Harkin Institute.

Lang said the university needed to operate under “one voice,” which may have led to greater academic freedom concerns causing Sen. Tom Harkin to not release his papers to Iowa State.

Up until April 8, the date of when the vote was going to happen had not been known to anyone.

Earlier that day, before news releases were issued, Tim Albrecht, press contact for Branstad’s office, said he didn’t know when the vote was going to occur.

At the time, Albrecht was confident that Lang and Cramer would be approved.

“We expect them to be confirmed, and we see no reason why they would not be,” Albrecht said on April 8 before the decision was made. “The only reason that these nominees would be voted down is if Senate Democrats decide to engage in an unprecedented level of hyper-partisanship. It would be sad and disappointing, and we expect more out of Senate Democrats in this.”

Republican floor leader Bill Dix said, although he was hopeful sufficient votes would be gained to approve Cramer and Lang, somewhat anticipated the vote to turn out the way it did.

“Without question, my view, it was a hyper-politicized Washington-style event that took place. I think it’s very unfortunate for here in the Iowa Senate to have that kind of partisan behavior,” Dix said.

Opposition to the nomination of Cramer has been prevalent in public opinion ever since the release of his appointment. 

Cramer’s public involvement in the conservative group Family Leader has caused a lot of controversy.

Senators and regent university students have expressed concerns in regard to Cramer’s conservative views on homosexuality and gay marriage. 

Democratic Sen. Herman Quirmbach, of Ames, has said numerous times a university has “certain core values” to maintain an open environment for all students.

In a letter written to the Senate by student body government representatives from the three major Iowa regent universities, Iowa State, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, students expressed their apprehension.

“Mr. Cramer has adamantly opposed the advancement for rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community… as student leaders, it is our priority to ensure all students feel welcome when bringing issues to the Board’s attention… We urge the Iowa Senate to deny the proposed appointment of Robert Cramer to the Board of Regents,” said the letter.

Dix said the last 202 votes done for the Board of Regents have been unanimous, except for one occasion when Ruth Harkin voted against a measure several years ago.

This type of partisan vote is uncommon in Iowa Senate and nominees from the Governor’s Office usually make it through the authorization process.

In contradiction to the partisan style vote on Lang and Cramer, Dix said there was a “strong bi-partisan support” for third Regent nominee Dr. Subhash Sahai from Webster City, Iowa.

Sahai was approved with a 45-5 vote.

The next step for nominees is unknown. Albrecht, with Branstad’s office, was not available for comment at press time.

Dix speculated that new appointments won’t be made until the end of the legislative year.