The Daily Iowan's year in review

BY DI STAFF | MAY 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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Peter Gray resigns

Peter Gray, a former associate director of athletics student services at the University of Iowa, resigned in November 2012 amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

According to documents originally obtained by the Press-Citizen, the UI filed a formal complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity regarding Gray and his alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward student-athletes.

An audit of the UI Athletics Department revealed that the Provost Office was made aware of the allegations against Gray on Sept. 25, 2012, and the sexual misconduct coordinator was notified the same day.

The state Board of Regents requested 100 percent compliance from the UI following the controversy involving Gray, and UI President Sally Mason told the board in April that 100 percent of the faculty at the UI had undergone appropriate sexual-harassment training.

Mason’s contract not renewed

UI President Sally Mason’s contract was not renewed on Aug. 1, 2012, when former state Board of Regents President Craig Lang asked her to “reframe and reprioritize” her goals for 2012-2013.

Since Aug. 1, Mason has been working “at will.” Specifically, Lang asked her to improve communication between the UI and the Iowa Legislature and better showcase the UI’s contributions to the state.

The regents held their regular evaluations of all university presidents in January. Mason described her evaluation as “very productive.” Before the evaluation, Mason said she wanted to point out the ways in which she had worked to meet the requests of the regents.

2009 murder case continues

Justin Marshall, 22, was sentenced to life in prison on April 26 for first-degree murder related to the slaying of John Versypt, a former landlord of Broadway Condominiums.

Marshall was the second suspect in this case. Charles Thompson was the first and his trial ended in a mistrial. Courtney White was the third suspect; on April 26, he pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness and was credited the time he had served. He was to be released soon after the plea was made.

Marshall has recently appealed his conviction to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Ex-UI student convicted in rape

A former University of Iowa student was convicted of sexual abuse in December 2012.

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

The state showed surveillance footage, which they claimed showed Pfeifer near the Pentacrest shortly before the incident—along with testimony from one witness who caught up with the victim after the rape and asked her if she had been raped. She nodded her head yes.

Mark Brown, Pfeifer’s attorney, said the victim had been drinking the night of the abuse and got in an argument with her sister about marijuana.

Regents work on transparency

The regents approved the creation of a nine-member Transparency Task Force in March, following transparency issues between the regent universities and the board. The group hopes to combat transparency issues that have arisen in the last year.

Regent Nicole Carroll leads the task force, and Mark Braun — the UI interim vice president for Strategic Communication, represents the UI.

The task force has held several public hearings throughout the state in the last several weeks. The first was held in Johnston, Iowa, in April, and another was held earlier this month in the Iowa City Public Library.

The task force will present its findings to the Board of Regents at its June meeting.

Senate squashes regent appointments

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed several people to the regents, only to have them denied by the Iowa Senate.

The Senate voted 27-23 to reject Robert Cramer’s nomination for a six-year term on the board. The Senate also failed to reappoint former Regent President Craig Lang, on a 30-20 vote. A third nominee, Subhash Sahai, was confirmed on a 45-5 vote.

Lang ended his term as regent president in April; Regent Bruce Rastetter is currently serving as acting president.

Lang was appointed to the board in 2007 and elected president of the board in July 2011.

Justice center fails twice

After two elections and two unsuccessful votes, the future of the Johnson County justice center is undetermined.

The proposal for the creation of a 195-bed jail and four courtrooms first appeared on the November 2012 ballot. The bond referendum required a 60 percent supermajority but only 56 percent of votes were in favor of the project.

Obama wins re-eleciton

Iowa’s status as a blue state helped President Obama win a second term, and the 2012 election was met with record voting numbers in Johnson County.

Johnson County counted 75,463 voters, up from 73,231 in 2008. The turnout was 82.58 percent of the registered voters.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, also won re-election, defeating GOP challenger John Archer. 

Loebsack will continue to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Johnson County.

Iowans voted to retain Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, despite a strong political effort to oust him following his participation in a court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.

Other local officials won and retained seats in Johnson County. Travis Weipert was named the new Johnson County auditor after running uncontested. Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek also ran uncontested and kept his seat.

Local state Reps. Dave Jacoby, Vicki Lensing, and Mary Mascher retained their seats in the Iowa House after uncontested races.

Incumbent Johnson County Supervisors Pat Harney, Terrence Neuzil, and Rod Sullivan were also re-elected to retain their spots on the Board of Supervisors.

College of Education faces crisis

A vote of “no confidence” was held on Nov. 7, 2012, against former Dean of the College of Education Margaret Crocco. Following the vote, Crocco was made aware of negative comments on her job performance left on an internal college survey.

Provost P. Barry Butler asked for the comments and said they should be treated as a personnel matter.

One month after the vote of “no confidence,” all seven members of the Faculty Advisory Committee resigned because they felt they could no longer serve as a liaison between the faculty and administration, according to an email sent to the college faculty and staff.

Crocco resigned from her position on Dec. 10, 2012. Nicholas Colangelo has served as interim dean since Crocco’s resignation. He told The Daily Iowan at the beginning of the semester that he was eager to help the college move on from what some officials called a crisis. The college launched its new brand on May 3, and officials said the atmosphere in the college is now much more positive.

Dance Marathon celebrates 19 years

The University of Iowa held its 19th annual Dance Marathon — a 24-hour event for students to raise money for the UI Children’s Hospital. Dance Marathon broke a record, raising $1.53 million this past year, bringing the grand total to $12.7 million.

Sen. Harkin retires

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced in January he would not seek re-election to a six term in 2014.

Harkin has served Iowa for nearly four decades in Congress, starting in the House of Representatives.

Most believe his largest legacy is the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which many refer to as his “landmark legislation.”

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, announced he would run to replace Harkin, and he eventually received the senator’s endorsement.

UI Foundation launches campaign

The UI unveiled its campaign For Iowa Forever More, calling donors to raise $1.7 billion. The UI has raised slightly more than $1 billion, funding 317 new student scholarships and programs, 118 new research projects, and 88 faculty positions.

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