The Daily Iowan's top news from fall 2012


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The Daily Iowan recounts the top news events from the fall in Iowa City and at the University of Iowa.

UI welcomes another record-breaking class

The University of Iowa welcomed another record-breaking class for the fall, with enrollment reaching 31,498 students — including 21,999 undergraduates and 4,470 first-year students, the UI reported in September.

UI officials also reported the class of 2016 as being the most diverse incoming class of its kind. The class of 2016 comprises 16.2 percent minorities, 47.2 percent in-state students, and 43.9 percent domestic nonresidents.

Former athletics adviser resigns amid sexual-misconduct allegations

UI officials announced the resignation of Peter Gray, a former associate director of athletics student services at the UI, on Nov. 5 amid allegations that Gray had inappropriately touched student-athletes and exchanged football tickets with a person not affiliated with the univeresity for sexual favors.

The UI rehired Gray in 2002 despite alleged inappropriate touching and sexual behavior from 1993 to 1995 during previous employment at the UI.

UI officials have declined to release Gray’s resignation letter.

Johnson County auditor allegedly overspends budget on new technology

Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett found himself in hot water with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors after reports surfaced that he spent more than $58,000 on new office equipment.

Slockett spent $62,580 buying 70 laptops, 70 printers, and 70 identification scanners. Supervisor Janelle Rettig previously told the DI that the supervisors only approved the purchase of five new computers.

Slockett, who has worked for 35 years in the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, will not return next month; former Tiffin City Councilor Travis Weipert defeated him in the June primary.

Justice center fails to gather enough support

The bond referendum for the proposed Johnson County justice center failed to gather enough support on Election Day.

Fifty-six percent of voters voted in favor of the $46.8 million bond referendum, but a 60 percent vote was required in ordered for the motion to pass.

The bond would have funded the construction of the $48.1 million building.

The current jail holds 92 inmates, but an average of 160 to 170 inmates come into the jail per day. Johnson County has been paying approximately $1.3 million per year to send the extra inmates to other counties, the DI previously reported.

Johnson County officials have said they’re not giving up on the proposed project.

Hawkeye football season disappoints fans

Things didn’t pan out as well as Iowa football fans hoped in 2012 — the Hawkeyes fell to a 4-8 record and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Quarterback James Vandenberg struggled all season long, even though he was coming off 25 touchdown passes a year ago. The senior didn’t get his first touchdown pass until the fourth game of the season, and he totaled just seven scores through the air all year. Things look better for Iowa next year, though; offensive coordinator Greg Davis will return for his second season to call the plays, and Iowa’s running backs should be plentiful and healthy, even with the departure of Greg Garmon. 

Regents approve tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students

The state Board of Regents passed a tuition freeze for undergraduate resident students for the 2013-14 academic year without discussion at their Dec. 5 meeting.

The freeze will keep tuition levels for the 2013-14 academic year consistent with the current rates. Base tuition for undergraduate resident students will be $6,678.

Nonresidents will see a 2.6 percent increase in base tuition, and graduate-student tuition will see a 2.6 percent for both residents and nonresidents.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon UI chapter removed from campus

University of Iowa officials decided Sept. 24 to remove the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity from campus following reports of hazing. All members were expelled from the fraternity.

“Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Board of Directors will not tolerate hazing or behavior that violates risk-management policies or the general guidelines for chapter operations,” a statement from the fraternity’s national headquarters said. “The organization expects its chapters to adhere to stringent policies and practices that help our members become gentlemen and leaders and to live up to our creed and principles.”

Former UI student who assaulted cop to remain a felon

Former University of Iowa student Branden Plummer, 21, was convicted of interference with official acts and inflicting bodily harm in connection with an assault on Iowa City police Sgt. Brian Krei on Nov. 18, 2011.

Plummer accepted a plea deal in November, which dropped an attempted-murder charge in exchange for two lesser charges — a Class-D felony charge and interference with official acts inflicting bodily injury.

Plummer was sentenced to 60 days in the Johnson County Jail with credit for time served; he has since been released.

Iowa City, UI draws in election campaigns

President Obama won re-election on Nov. 6, and a handful of other politicians and stand-ins campaigned in eastern Iowa in an attempt to gather votes.

Obama visited Iowa more than 10 times in 2012, holding more than 17 political events. One of those stops included the UI on Sept. 7 with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife and first lady Michelle Obama.

Many celebrities visited the UI campus in the fall to campaign on behalf of the Obama for America campaign, ranging from comedian Seth MacFarlane to singer Jon Bon Jovi.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited Iowa as well, appearing in Bettendorf and Davenport, among other places.

In the Congressional race, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, won re-election, defeating GOP candidate John Archer.

Former UI student charged

Former UI student Evan Pfeifer was found guilty of third-degree sexual abuse on Nov. 30.

Pfeifer was accused of raping a woman on the west side of the Pentacrest in the early morning hours of Oct. 3, 2010.

Pfeifer will be forced to register as a convicted sex offender, and he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Pfeifer’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 1, 2013.

Mason working without a contract

According to a letter obtained by The Daily Iowan, UI President Sally Mason has been working without a contract this academic year.

The state Board of Regents chose not to renew Mason’s contract upon meeting in August.

“Based upon my discussion with the Board of Regents in August, the board and I set mutually agreed upon goals that I am committed in reaching,” Mason said in a statement released on Dec. 7. “The regents have asked us to improve our outreach across the state and the university’s relationship-building with the Iowa Legislature and to set specific targets on a range of objectives.”

College of Education dean resigns amid ‘crisis’

Margaret Crocco resigned from her post as dean of the UI College of Education on Dec. 10 in response to faculty’s claims that the college is in “crisis.”

“… In an effort to end the discord in the College of Education, I chose to resign and move on,” Crocco said in a statement.

Crocco’s became the dean on July 1, 2011.

On the evening of Nov. 7, ballots for a vote of confidence/no confidence were distributed by an unknown group of senior faculty. Out of the 91 votes distributed, 65 were returned. There were 44 votes of no confidence, 16 votes of confidence, and five votes abstaining.

Additionally, all seven members of the college’s Faculty Advisory Committee resigned on Dec. 7.

Flood recovery updates

While four flood-damaged University of Iowa buildings were expected to come down this year, updated demolition dates will have those structures standing for at least another year.

Hancher/Voxman/Clapp and the Art Building were previously expected to be demolished this month. New dates set by the regents on Dec. 5 schedule the demolition of Hancher/Voxman/Clapp to take place in December 2013. The replacements for Hancher and the Music Building will be completed in December 2015 and March 2016, respectively.

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