Emails Released: Bruce Harreld apologizes to an offended employe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Emails Released: Bruce Harreld apologizes to an offended employee

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The University of Iowa President is in the hot seat for apparently saying that 'all teachers who aren't ready to teach their classes should be shot.'

The response came during the Dec. 9 meeting, in response to a staffer's question about instruction. 

The University of Iowa sent us the email exchange between President Herrald and UI librarian Lisa Gardinier. 

On Dec 10, 2015, at 1:45 PM, Gardinier, Lisa B  wrote:

Hi, Mr. Harreld,

I observed the Staff Council meeting yesterday. I share many of the misgivings about you and your hire that you’ve heard elsewhere, which I won’t rehash here, but I do want to address a specific comment you made in response to Sam Van Horne’s question regarding instruction. When discussing lesson planning you claimed that there was “one way” to prepare lessons and any instructor who goes into a class without having done so “should be shot”.

The first and lesser problem was the emphasis on one way, indicating there is one right way, not that there is one of many ways. There are many schools of pedagogy and, being a university, there are several, if not many, good ways to plan lessons, classes, and curriculum, and our academic freedom extends to teaching in the way we see fit to the content on which we are trusted to be experts, preferably with adequate support and opportunities for the development and improvement of our teaching skills throughout our career. Poor planning is an unfortunate waste of both the instructor’s and the students’ time and research but is not a capital or corporal offense, leading me to the second part of your comment.

For a university president to use the term “should be shot” so flippantly, and just a week after the most recent highly publicized mass shooting and in a tense atmosphere of racist law enforcement violence, is horrifying and unacceptable. For someone who claims to sideline his vision to that of the university community, to casually suggest potentially lethal punishment as consequences for failure to comply with a narrow perception of the correct way to fulfill one of our duties, is irresponsible and unprofessional. You may not have been kicked out since your appointment, but not for lack of trying, and nor is anyone is advocating for bodily harm to come of you or anyone complicit in your hire.

I have many other issues with your rambling, unfocused talk, none of which alleviated any of my concerns regarding your ability to lead our university. If you’re going to play university president, a very public figure, please do it well for the sake of the community you’ve been given to lead. If you’re going to earn the trust of the community, none of your approach yesterday was to your credit.




From: Harreld, J. Bruce 
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2015 3:19 PM
To: Gardinier, Lisa B
Subject: Re: Staff Council talk


Thanks for the feedback. I likely will never be able to live up to your expectations but I will try. 

All the best,



From: "Gardinier, Lisa B" 
Date: Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 4:45 PM
To: "Harreld, Bruce" 
Subject: RE: Staff Council talk

Thanks for your prompt response, and unfortunately I think you’re right. If you don’t address the issue raised, or even acknowledge it, I’m not even convinced you’re trying. Violence is not to be joked about as a public authority, and certainly not in the frame of consequences for professional performance in the workplace.

I do wish you the best of luck and success – we’re depending on it.



On Dec 10, 2015, at 5:17 PM, Harreld, J. Bruce wrote:

Sorry, I didn’t mean to ignore your comment about gun violence.  It was an unfortunate off the cuff remark and I had no intention to offend anyone.  Nor did I seriously mean to imply I support gun violence in any shape, manner, or form.  

Frankly, I have used the comment in many, many forums and this is the first time any one has objected to it. I apologize and appreciate your calling my attention to it.



From: Gardinier, Lisa B 
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2015 7:53 AM
To: Harreld, J. Bruce
Subject: Re: Staff Council talk

Thank you. It's appreciated. I did understand your use of the phrase to be rhetorical, and inappropriate. A teachable moment.

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