Drake University shows interest in Harkin's papers

12/12/2012 10:00 AM
By Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Drake University expressed interest in housing papers belonging to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin after the senator openly disputed research rules at his namesake policy institute at Iowa State University.

Harkin and his wife, Ruth, met with officials at the private university in Des Moines during a holiday party last weekend, the Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/VVN2nl ) reported Wednesday.

Harkin threatened recently to cut ties with the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State University if President Steven Leath does not remove restrictions to research agriculture.

At issue is a memo by Leath that warns the institute "must not conduct any work in the area of agriculture" without approval from ISU's Center for Agriculture and Rural Development. The institute would be allowed to conduct agriculture research related to Harkin's papers on its own, and other policy areas such as education and labor.

Bill Knapp, a longtime board member at Drake, told the newspaper he facilitated the meeting between the Harkins and Drake officials, which included Drake University President David Maxwell and Neil Hamilton, director of Drake's Agriculture Law Center.

Knapp said he does not want to take the senator's papers away from Iowa State.

"It was hard for me to believe that Iowa State wouldn't feel pretty proud to have the Harkin papers and Harkin Institute," he said. "It seems to me to be a great thing for any university."

Maxwell said it is in everyone's interest for the situation at Iowa State to be resolved.

"However, if that arrangement were to fall through, Drake University would of course be interested in starting a conversation about housing the collection on its campus, consistent with our commitment to serving the public good," he said in a statement.

Harkin's institute at ISU was created in April 2011. Leath and Board of Regents President Craig Lang recently said it was a conflict of interest for Ruth Harkin to serve on the institute's advisory board.

The newspaper reports the senator declined to comment through a spokeswoman.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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