Regent alerts Iowa State to permit free speech in ‘politically charged’ climate science classes

Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Grace Smith | July 28, 2022

At an Iowa State Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, regent Nancy Boettger warned attending administrators to protect free speech for the new climate science major at ISU, a major that Boettger said includes a politically charged topic. 

Proposed by the Iowa State’s Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, this new major will require around 35 credits and will offer classes related to climate issues including natural science, sustainability planning, food, and more. 

“My main concern is that we go the extra mile to protect freedom of speech for opinions that differ in this politically charged topic,” Boettger said during the meeting.

During the meeting, regent Nancy Boettger said she used to receive books and other climate change-related materials when she was serving as a Republican state senator from Harlan for 20 years — from 1995-2015. Boettger plans to share those materials with ISU, which she said — although she hasn’t studied them a lot — are non-politically charged documented research.

ISU Associate Provost for Academic Programs Ann Marie VanDerZanden said the idea that climate change is viewed as political is something ISU faculty and staff have talked about. 

“We understand the political nature that some people do view climate change through,” VanDerZanden said in response. “…We’ll be really bringing forward the most current research as it relates to climate, climate change, climate science, and the intricacies of all the different systems that are involved in this.”

ISU requires freedom of speech and expression to be stated in class syllabi.

Iowa regents approve new power plant for UI campus

The current main power plant for the University of Iowa sits along the Iowa City on Burlington Street. (Facilities Management/University of Iowa)
The current main power plant for the University of Iowa sits along the Iowa River on Burlington Street. (UI Facilities Management)

Nick Fetty | March 13, 2015

Earlier this week the Iowa Board of Regents approved plans for a $75 million power plant to provide energy for buildings on the west side of the University of Iowa’s campus.

Similar to the current UI Power Plant, the West Campus Energy Plant will create steam to power heating, cooling, and sterilization systems. The new plant is expected to be able to create up to 300,000 pounds of steam per hour, slightly less than the 480,000 pounds of steam per hour the current plant produces.

“The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, research and residential services require continuous, uninterrupted supplies of steam,” said Glen Mowery, director of Utilities and Energy Management, during in an interview with the UI’s news service Iowa Now. “The new plant will not only ensure continuity of services to our most critical health and research facilities, but also provide back-up service to both sides of campus while providing the most flexibility in fuel sources.”

The new plant will be able to provide power for the entire campus in the event of flood waters inundating the old facility or during potential grid failure. Additionally, the new plant will be able to utilize currently existing rail and truck lines to provide a direct supply of biomass fuel which is part of the UI’s 2020 Vision.

The proposal calls for the plant to be constructed northwest of the Finkbine Commuter Lot between Hawkins Drive and Finkbine Golf Course. Construction is expected to begin in two years and the facility should be operational by 2019.

On the Radio: Regent universities awarded for environmental contributions

Check out this week’s radio segment here.  It discusses the Environmental Excellence Awards received by the state’s regent universities earlier this year.

The sustainability efforts of Iowa’s regent universities have caught the eye of Governor Branstad. Continue reading