UPDATE: State Board of Regents President Craig Lang will return for another six-year term on the board, while two new members will join May 1, Gov. Terry Branstad announced Friday.
The new appointees — Robert Cramer of Grimes and Dr. Subhash Sahai of Webster City — will fill the seats of outgoing regents David Miles and Jack Evans. The appointments must be approved by the Iowa Senate.
Lang, Miles and Evans all were appointed to the board in 2007 by former Gov. Chet Culver, and their six-year terms expire at the end of April. Miles, a Democrat from Dallas Center, and Evans, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, both said Friday they did not seek reappointment.
The nine-member board oversees the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the state’s special schools for educating deaf and blind children.
Lang said he is pleased to remain as a regent, to work on big issues already underway: the new proposed tuition grant program, an efficiency study of the universities and a transparency task force.
“I’d like to see those initiatives finished,” he said. “I’m really happy that the governor has seen fit to let me continue. I feel good about that.”
Lang also praised Miles and Evans, calling them excellent regents upon whom other members relied.
Miles served as regents president from 2007 to 2011 and Evans served as president pro tem during much of that time. They both resigned their leadership posts in July 2011 after Branstad requested they do so, saying at the time he wanted board leaders who share his “general philosophy” and who worked well with the Republican Legislature.
Miles and Evans said Friday they enjoyed their time as regents and wish the board well.
“It was an exciting six years and I was pleased to have the opportunity to serve the state,” said Evans, also a member of The Gazette board of directors. “But I felt that six years was enough and I was ready to move on.”
In an emailed statement, Miles said he is proud of the board’s work to nurture and strengthen the UI, ISU and UNI through a time of financial crisis.
“Serving Iowans on the Board of Regents has been an honor and one of the singular pleasures of my life,” Miles said.
The regents have faced controversy in recent months, including criticism about what some see as a lack of transparency at the universities, and conflict over the Harkin Institute at ISU.
One recent critic of the regents, specifically Lang and the board President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter, is David Goodner, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
“Look at (Lang’s) behavior at the Board of Regents, he’s clearly pushing a corporate agenda inside the regents, which is supposed to be a public institution to serve the common good,” Goodner said. “We’re hoping at the Senate confirmation they’ll make a big fight.”
In choosing new appointees, Branstad wanted someone with a background in construction, due to the number of building projects at the universities, and someone with experience in medicine, since the board has oversight of UI Hospitals and Clinics, governor Spokesman Tim Albrecht said.
Cramer, 45 and a Republican, is president and chief administrative officer at Cramer & Associates, a combination family-owned and employee-owned company based in Grimes that builds and repairs bridges, culverts and dams. He has a bachelor’s degree from ISU in construction engineering and previously served nine years on the Johnston school board.
One of his main goals is to help keep the universities efficient so the state can offer quality education at the best price, Cramer said.
“I have an understanding of boards and of education and all the challenges with trying to match funding with resources,” he said. “I have a pretty good understanding of finances. I have a lot of learning to do, but I’m hoping to bring this construction engineering experience, which will help with all the work.”
Sahai has been practicing medicine in Webster City since 1976 and is president of the Webster City Medical Clinic, according to the clinic website. Albrecht said Sahai is a no-party appointee, though the Des Moines Register was reporting Friday that Sahai is a registered Democrat. Sahai did not return phone and email messages from The Gazette Friday.
Sahai, 64, earned his bachelor’s degree from Punjab University in India, a master’s degree from UNI and his medical degree from the UI in 1973. He also has served since 1990 as a UI clinical assistant professor in the family practice department, according to his online bio.