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October 2, 2015

What's unacceptable about the status quo at UI?

Bruce Rastetter over the past few weeks has repeatedly said, "The status quo is unacceptable" at the University of Iowa.

But what does that mean?

The Board of Regents president, answering questions about the recent hiring of businessman Bruce Harreld as UI president, has explained that he doesn't have "a long laundry list" in mind.

Rastetter, instead, points to how Harreld has a long career focused on making large organizations – from Kraft Foods to the Boston Market restaurant chain to IBM – better. Those skills, he said, will be needed to lead UI through a time of unprecedented change in funding sources, educational competition and advances in distance learning technology.

But Rastetter's critics have been left seeking a more detailed list of what exactly is so unacceptable at UI that it would lead the regents to ignore campus input and hire a relatively unknown businessman to fix the problems.

"Please either provide a very strong, evidence-based rationale for your decision (which you have utterly failed to do as of yet) or, perhaps more appropriately, withdraw your offer to Harreld and select someone who has the faith and support of the majority of the faculty and students," UI neuroscience Ph.D. candidate Annie Tye wrote in a Sept. 5 email to the regents.

When pushed for specifics in interviews with state and national media, Rastetter has pointed to four "status quo" issues facing UI that he thinks could better be addressed by a former IBM vice president.

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