The Iowa senate will vote to approve or deny Governor Branstad’s nominees for the Board of Regents in the coming weeks.
Branstad sent a letter to all 50 members of the Senate Tuesday expressing reasoning for choosing his three nominees. He wrote, “These three individuals each have a unique and compelling set of qualities that fully qualify them to serve on the Board of Regents, they have my full and unwavering support…”
Current board president Craig Lang, along with Dr. Subhash Sahai and Robert Cramer all endured hearings before the Senate Education Committee last week. After several hours of fiery questioning the committee voted to advance all three nominees, but only recommend Dr. Sahai for approval.
In the letter to senate members, the governor reminds them of Lang’s tenure, saying he “restored university budgets to a position of predictability and stability such that, for the first time in 30 years, the Regents will likely approve a tuition freeze for the next school year.”
During his hearing with the education committee Lang received much criticism for his handling of University of Iowa President Sally Mason’s contract.
As for Robert Cramer, a construction engineer from Grimes, Governor Branstad pointed to his background in construction making him ideal for the board. “Over the next 5 years, the Board will be considering $1.35 billion in construction projects. Given this aggressive future construction plan, he is uniquely qualified to serve on the Board of Regents. He has worked in the construction industry his entire career and he brings long-term and real-world construction experience to this position. For over 20 years he has worked to determine whether construction projects are financially viable for the company to participate. The experience will assist the board in maximizing construction dollars.”
During his hearing with the education committee Cramer faced repeated criticism for his past opposition to gay rights and his position on the board of the Family Leader, a politically active anti-same-sex marriage group.
Dr. Sahai received the most favorable round of questioning in his hearing, he is a democrat and attended all three public universities over his academic career.
Governor Branstad wrote, “In particular, as a practicing physician, Dr. Sahai will bring a much-needed perspective to the Board’s oversight role in regards to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).”
The full Senate will have until April 15th to confirm the nominees. To be confirmed they will need the approval of two-thirds of the senate.