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ISU President Leath’s statement regarding the Harkin Institute

“Over the past several months, I have sincerely tried to resolve differences over the operation of the Harkin Institute in an effort to make the institute a successful and highly respected center for public policy research at Iowa State University. However, it is apparent today that members of the advisory board rejected these efforts. This is an unfortunate development, and I am extremely disappointed.

The criticism that my Jan. 2, 2013, guideline for research conducted by the Harkin Institute violates principles of academic freedom is completely unfounded and false. In reality, my directive lifted any and all restrictions originally placed upon the Harkin Institute (which were adopted prior to my arrival at Iowa State), and instead simply requested that the institute function in a cooperative and collaborative manner with existing units on campus. Surprisingly, even that request has been considered unacceptable by certain institute stakeholders. I should also note that the University’s Chief Academic Officer, faculty leadership and even the director of the institute itself, have all voiced their support for my position, and all have stated that academic freedom is not being challenged or tested with respect to the institute. And to that point, I want to reassure all Iowans that academic freedom is and always will be respected and upheld at Iowa State University.

I cannot say at this time whether the Harkin Institute will continue to function. The institute was established by the Board of Regents, and any change to significantly alter its status, including closure, must be made by the board. I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Sen. Harkin, to again assure him there was no issue of academic freedom here, and that his papers would have been fully available to everyone with no restrictions.”

Steven Leath
Iowa State University

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