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Protesters tell regents to quit over UI president search

Protesters tell regents to quit over UI president search

IOWA CITY (AP) — Protesters angry about the hiring of the new University of Iowa president briefly disrupted a meeting of the school's governing board Wednesday to demand members' resignations.

Hundreds of professors, students and other protesters packed into a ballroom in the University of Iowa student union during a regular meeting of the Board of Regents. They called for the resignation of board President Bruce Rastetter and the eight other regents, all appointees of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. They also delivered a petition calling for incoming school President Bruce Harreld to step aside, and for a new search to be conducted.

The event marked the first organized protest since the regents last month hired Harreld, a former IBM executive and Harvard Business School lecturer with no experience in higher education administration. Groups representing the university's faculty and 32,000 students had previously approved votes of no-confidence in the regents' leadership.

Critics say Harreld is unqualified for the position and benefited from special treatment during the search, which included private meetings with a majority of the regents, a special invitation to visit campus and a phone call with the governor.

Harreld issued a statement last week indicating he intends to begin Nov. 2, as expected. Rastetter has said Harreld was chosen because of his success in business, including his team building and strategic planning skills, and that regents believe he will help confront the competitive and budgetary pressures facing the school.

Rastetter sat silently as protesters chanted, 'hey, hey, ho, ho, the Board of Regents has got to go.' The protesters slowly filed out of the ballroom after about five minutes, and the meeting resumed without further incident.

In response to the protesters, board spokesman Josh Lehman said the regents 'respect their right to appear and have their voices heard.'

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