Q&A With Regent Larry McKibben
How did the Tuition Task Force go, in your opinion?
I couldn’t be more pleased with these meetings. People came to listen and learn, and the presentations by our university presidents and the faculty and staff were informative. The people that came and presented to the task force were passionate and much appreciated. The concerns raised by the students are valid points that must be taken into consideration. Including all of that, I don’t think it could have gone much better.
Did anything surprise you about this process?
Not really. It’s not surprising how deep the thought process goes with some of these presenters. People understand that we have financial problems at our universities. We run the risk of losing high-quality researchers and faculty; we already have in some cases. We know that and they know that. I think people understand that this is a real change time – an important time – in Iowa education.
You will present to the full board in September. What will that report look like?
I have come into this process with absolutely no pre-decisions or pre-conceived notions or expectations. I really have taken this seriously as a listening and learning time, and it’s a little too soon for me to say, frankly. One thing I definitely heard – and everybody heard it from the Codys’ (Cody West and Cody Smith, president and vice president of the Iowa State Student Government) article in the Register – they want to know about their tuition. They don’t like these surprises that might come multiple times during the year. They want to know how they can plan for it, how their families can plan for it, and what decisions they can make. As Regents, we owe that to them.
You’ve mentioned that an important part of this process is being apolitical. Why?
I spent 12 years in the Iowa senate and I went through three campaigns. Life in the capitol tends to get very political at times. Probably moreso now than when I served. We would have real disagreements on the senate floor, but when we left the chamber, we would talk about it. What amendments could we agree to? What can we put together? It doesn’t seem like that’s the culture we live in today. For this project, the Tuition Task Force, I’m going to spend my time trying to get to a similar place. No politics, just conversations.
Thoughts on the videostream?
I’ve had a couple clients tell me they saw me and they watched it. I’m glad we did it this way. After all, what’s the “T” stand for in TIER? Transparent. What I’ve found coming out of the TIER experience in my first four years on the Board, is that being transparent, communicating and collegial will get you results. That’s how I’ve intended to lead this effort. I’m not viewing myself as a retired senator, I’m viewing myself as a grandfather who is looking out for his grandsons that are going to pay more tuition. A friend and neighbor to folks that are going to have kids in school. A first generation student that wants the next generation to have the excellent research and excellent faculty that I grew up with. I don’t want to leave the Board feeling that things were less successful; that the environment we left wasn’t as good or better than what we found. That’s what drives me to spend my time doing this.