Thumbs Up ... to Augustana College President Steven Bahls, who announced his retirement a couple weeks ago, effective July 1, 2022. Bahls has led the college since 2003, and he's not only left an indelible mark on the institution but the Quad-Cities as well.
During his tenure, Augie saw its enrollment go up, bolstered its endowment, added 16 new programs, changed its look with $114 million in investments in facilities and has worked to weather the tumult of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
All the while, Bahls has been a unique community asset. It seems like he's everywhere, serving on numerous boards; this has included as board chair of Genesis Health Systems and the Quad-Cities Chamber Foundation.
We have been especially impressed with his steps to try to make Augie a more inclusive place.
About a third of Augie students are people of color from the U.S. or international students. Bahls has been an advocate for Dreamers and immigrants. Last year, Augie was one of 165 colleges that filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for continuation of DACA.
Augustana, like all Illinois colleges and universities, face future demographic challenges, as there will be fewer people of college-age in the near future, something that Bahls noted in an interview with our Anthony Watt published this week.
Still, if Augie finds a successor as capable and energetic as Steven Bahls, it will be in good hands and our community will benefit, too.
Thumbs Down ... to the proposal that was introduced in the Iowa Legislature that would have set aside for a year any Iowa Supreme Court ruling that overturns an existing law or "has the effect of creating new law."
The measure also would "compel" justices who make such rulings appear before the Legislature to justify themselves. Afterward, the legislation says they can go back and change their vote.
Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, introduced the bill. According to the Iowa Capital Dispatch, she said, "I brought this bill forward as a way to bolster the power of the legislative branch, which has lost power to the judicial branch over many decades."
We know lots of bad bills get introduced in the Legislature, but this one is in a category all its own.
It would dramatically disrupt the balance of power among the three branches, delay justice and hobble the idea of judicial review. The idea of hauling jurists before lawmakers to explain their decisions and then allowing them to go back and change their vote — after being properly chastised, we presume — is staggering.
Fortunately, a subcommittee rejected the bill.
Thumbs Up ... to MetroLINK General Manager Jeff Nelson, who has been picked to be board chair of the American Public Transportation Association. The association represents more than 1,500 public and private organizations employing more than 400,000 people, so Nelson's appointment to this post is quite an accomplishment.
Nelson, a longtime leader in the Quad-Cities, has been the general manager at MetroLINK for 35 years, where, as he put it recently, he has dedicated his career to public transportation.
He's also been active for decades in the association. We congratulate Nelson on his new post.
Thumbs Down ... to the treatment of University of Iowa dental student Michael Brase, who had the nerve to speak his mind last October in an email discussion about a Trump administration rule that sought to stop "race and sex stereotyping."
Critics said the rule tried to squelch much-needed diversity training.
In an email last October, the dean of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, David Johnsen, and 29 others strongly criticized the rule.
According to news reports, that brought a response from Brase, who said the rule should be followed, and he objected to what he said were inappropriate political statements.
It wasn't long after that Brase was notified he would be subject to a disciplinary hearing as a result of alleged "unprofessional behavior."
The hearing eventually was called off after Brase reached out to lawmakers asking for help. And this week Johnsen apologized at a state legislative committee hearing.
We aren't here to take a position on the Trump administration rule (which the Biden administration has since overturned), but the idea that a student could be disciplined for speaking his mind in this way is unacceptable. It is fashionable these days to complain about "cancel culture" but in this case it's clear that Brase was mistreated.