The president of the Iowa Farm Bureau will lead the board that governs Iowa’s public universities after his colleagues voted to carry out a personnel shake-up orchestrated by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. One day after David Miles, the Board of Regents president, and Jack Evans, its president pro tem, announced they were stepping down at the governor's request, the board voted 7-0 to name dairy farmer Craig Lang, of Brooklyn, Iowa, as board president. The board also voted 7-0 to name agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter, the top donor to Branstad's campaign last year, the president pro tem.

The change puts two Republican, agricultural industry leaders in charge of the board as it begins to search for a new president for Iowa State University and manages ongoing funding challenges. Democrats have accused Branstad of politically interfering with a board that they say should be independent.

Miles said in a letter to colleagues that Branstad asked the pair to step down in May, a request he called unprecedented. He and Evans, who had had been picked by the board to continue their leadership roles through April 30, 2012, initially declined the governor's request because they viewed the board's independence as an important principle, Miles wrote.

But he said their colleagues on the board were divided on the issue, and that some regents saw a leadership change as key to improving the working relationship with Branstad’s office. Miles said they ultimately decided to step down because “decision-making has become more difficult” and the division had become a distraction from the board’s work.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the governor wanted a board president who shared his vision for the future of the state, and that Lang was best suited for the role. He praised Lang's understanding of the Iowa and global economy and said, as an Iowa State graduate, he is a good pick to oversee the search for the next ISU president.


Lang and Rastetter will serve out the remainder of Miles’ and Evans’ terms, and the board will pick new leaders for a two-year term next year. PD

—From AP newswire