Iowa State President Steven Leath acknowledged Tuesday that a feud between ISU leaders, Senator Tom Harkin, and the Iowa Board of Regents caused some friction. Donors and university, academic and political leaders all want to know what will happen next with the Harkin Institute in Ames. The institute was supposed to be a prestigious place for research, but Harkin’s announcement last week that he wouldn’t house his official papers at his Alma Mater cast doubt on whether the institute can succeed without them.
Harkin’s office said he has made no decisions and was focused Tuesday on the events in Washington. So there is no word from Harkin on where he will send his official papers or whether he wants his name to remain on his institute in Ames.
Meanwhile, education leaders try to plan their next move. Leath said he won’t make any rushed decisions about the institute’s future on campus. He said, “We want to be thoughtful. Whenever there are some frictions and hard feelings, you don’t want to rush to some conclusion and then regret that you weren’t careful in your thoughts.”
Board of Regents President Craig Lang said the series of events left him “a little bit puzzled.” He said he still doesn’t understand Harkin’s concerns the university’s rules would have restricted access to the institute’s research. And he wasn’t ready to make a decision on whether the institute should remain in Ames. But he doesn’t expect Harkin to change his mind about the papers. Lang said, “I assume it’s done. Because Senator Harkin said that we’re not going to put our papers there. We’ll pull them. But the papers aren’t there yet. and so I think it’s over.”
Leath said the ISU Foundation is now contacting all donors to the institute to see if they still want their dollars going to the project now that they know the papers won’t be a part of it.