Iowa Board of Regents cover free speech on day one of meeting


Hector Arbuckle, a senior in biology and member of Climate Reality, calls on the Board of Regents and Iowa State to support a third-party clean energy analysis for the University. “We are still not creatively using the resources available to us,” Arbuckle said on Thursday. “Here at Iowa State we have the foremost experts in fields across the spectrums of energy science. We have potent connections with private industry that we have cultivated over years. We can embrace these resources and be unstoppable.”

Finn Mcnally

The Iowa Board of Regents met on Wednesday to discuss free speech, research projects and other university issues. 

The Regents listened to a presentation on academic freedom from Scott Peters, head of the political science department at the University of Northern Iowa. Peters said that academic freedom is not an end in itself.

“Academic freedom exists because without it the discovery, transmission, improvement and dissemination of knowledge is not possible,” said Peters.

Peters said the threats to academic freedom include political and social pressure, erosion of tenure, pressure from donors, harassment and demands for balance. 

The Board also discussed engagement activities that each university has been involved with. An Iowa State team is leading a $10 million program to improve broadband connectivity in rural areas. They’ve partnered with the City of Ames, Story County and U.S. Cellular among others.

Iowa State also has a research team that is expanding an electronic toolbox to help Midwest farmers prevent soil erosion. This includes wetlands, bioreactors and buffer strips.

In addition, the regents approved a request from Iowa State to partner with Alliant Energy on a 20-year lease that would allow Alliant to install solar panels on Iowa State property. Iowa State would still own the property and would earn renewable energy credits. The energy produced would be available to the surrounding Iowa State facilities and the panels would be operated and maintained by Alliant Energy.

The Board also approved a request for a new research center at the University of Iowa. The Iowa Center for Neurodegeneration will be intended to improve research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, which are an increasing concern for an aging Iowa population. 

The meeting concluded with the public comments section. Andrea Wheeler, associate professor of architecture at Iowa State, and Jon Perkins, associate professor of accounting at Iowa State, both said they would like more regular and informal meetings between faculty and the Board of Regents.

“The public comments period is time for speakers to talk without questions from the Board. However, as a result, we are speaking to you not with you. We’d prefer to speak with you,” said Perkins. “Good communication is a two-way street and we would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you might have as well as the opportunity to respectfully ask questions of you.”

The Regents will continue their meeting tomorrow starting at 9:15 a.m and ending at 2 p.m. It can be attended virtually at