What you may have missed over break

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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Governor nominates new regent

Gov. Terry Branstad selected a new regent to fill a vacancy late in December 2014.

Sherry Bates, 62, graduated from Iowa State University and worked as a social worker before retiring. She is from Scranton in the west-central area of the state and serves on various local boards.

Bates, who is subject to state Senate confirmation, will replace former Regent Nicole Carroll. She fulfills the state Board of Regents’ policy of gender and political balance as a registered independent, and she is from the same Iowa region as Carroll.

Carroll resigned in November 2014 following a family move to Texas.

Bates’ term will run through April 2017 should the Senate confirm her.

Regents select consultants

The regents hired two consulting firms to aid in implementing proposals as part of its ongoing efficiency study, which is expected to save tens of million of dollars.

The board hired the Huron Consulting Group to enact a proposal to improve buying goods and services at the three regent universities. The firm will charge $385,000 in professional fees for its initial work, with remaining costs to be determined in conjunction with the regents.

The regents accepted the universities’ requests to implement changes in human resources, finance, and informational technology.

Recommendations by Deloitte Consulting last year estimated changes in those areas could result in 250 lost jobs, which officials are confident can be achieved through retirement and employee attrition.

The University of Iowa will spend an estimated $5.7 million on implementation.

Meanwhile, the regents will retain Chazey Partners to assist the universities at a cost of roughly $660,000.

COGS and regents will debate fees

The UI graduate-student union and the regents will discuss student fees as part of their ongoing contract negotiations, the union announced recently.

Members of the Council to Organize Graduate Students want all graduate-student fees to be reimbursed; they consider fees to be another form of tuition. Graduate students will pay nearly $1,500 each in fees during the next academic year.

Fees were initially not present in the regents’ first contract proposal.

University officials say fee costs at the UI fall in the middle among peer institutions, and they also point to a technology fee that is waived for graduate students.

COGS and the regents must reach an agreement by March 15 or head to arbitration.

— by Chris Higgins

Whitey’s Ice Cream closes down for now

Renovations to a century-old downtown Iowa City building have caused a longtime ice cream shop to close its doors until further notice, as the building’s new owners embark on a plan to bring new loft-housing options to the city’s center

Whitey’s Ice Cream co-owner Jon Tunberg said the downtown location has closed for now, but when renovations are complete, the business could return.

He said the decision was a mutual between Whitey’s and the new building owner, Mark Ginsberg, who has plans to remodel the upstairs to create business space and lofts.

Ginsberg, the curator of M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, 110 E. Washington St., said the renovations were a result of needed structural repairs of the 100-plus-year-old building.

Ginsberg said his goal is to create 2,000 square feet of business space.

Whitey’s, established in 1933, didn’t make its way into Iowa until 1984. 

“Our plan is not to leave Iowa City,” Tunberg said about the 112 E. Washington St. space. “We’re working on some other places, but I can’t say we’re actively searching.”

Tong Shao warrants released

New information in the case of Tong Shao has been released.

The Story County Clerk of Court released warrants of the investigation related to the death of 20-year-old Shao, who was an student from China at Iowa State University.

The warrant states authorities searched property belonging to both Shao and the person of interest in the case, Xiangnan Li. In addition to searching their property, police spoke with a friend of Li’s named Karen Yang.

The warrants were granted on Sept. 24, just two days before Shao’s body was found in the trunk of a beige Toyota Camry in Iowa City.

The warrants show phone records for both Shao and Li and that Li traveled to China through Cedar Rapids with a connecting flight in Chicago.

The documents state Li has not been heard of or located in China.

Iowa City School District rescinds diversity policy

The Iowa City School District rescinded its diversity policy during a Jan. 13 meeting.

The policy, which the School Board approved in 2013, aimed to provide an equitable learning experience for every student in the district, according to its website.

The School Board will now work on updating and passing a revised version of the policy.

— by Nick Moffitt

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