UI presidential search lawsuit continues despite plaintiff's death
A lawsuit filed against the University of Iowa for its 2015 presidential search is moving forward despite the death last year of the retired professor who originally brought the suit.
Lawyers for the estate of Harold Hammond, a professor emeritus in dentistry, filed motions Dec. 20 to have Hammond's interests in the case be transferred to John Menninger, a professor emeritus in biology.
"Mr. Menninger desires to pursue the claims commenced by Harold Hammond and to also pursue similar claims on his own behalf," the motion states.
Hammond filed suit in 2015 against the 21-member UI Presidential Search and Screen Committee claiming that the committee violated Iowa public meetings law by holding meetings that were improperly closed and held in inaccessible locations. The regents dismissed the committee immediately after it held closed interviews with semifinalists candidates near Chicago and recommended four finalists to be brought to campus for public interviews.
- Judge allows suit against regents to move forward
- Open meetings suit seeks to void UI presidential search
- Retired professor suing University of Iowa over search has died
The regents voted unanimously in September 2015 to select Bruce Harreld, a former IBM executive, as UI's 21st president. The decision led to a vote of "no confidence" against the regents by the UI Faculty Senate. The national American Association of University Professors sanctioned UI and criticized the regents in June for "substantial noncompliance with standards of academic government" during the search.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in March 2017, but the future of the suit has been in question since Hammond died last summer.
Gregg Geerdes, Hammond's lawyer, told the Press-Citizen on Tuesday it is unusual for a plaintiff to die over the course of a lawsuit, so the motion to amend the petition to include a new plaintiff is "not all that common."
Hammond filed a similar suit in 2007 concerning the search process that led to the hiring of Sally Mason as UI president. That case was settled two years later when the search committee admitted violating the open meetings law and paid Hammond's legal fees.
A second suit challenging the 2015 search was filed in June 2016 by Gerhild Krapf. That suit argues that Bruce Rastetter, president of the regents, violated state open meetings law by arranging a series private meetings between Harreld and what added up to a majority of the nine-member board.
Reach Jeff Charis-Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-887-5435. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffCharis.