Potential presidential candidate slams faculty salaries


Potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said on Monday that he’s seeking significant higher-education reform.

The former Minnesota governor’s ideas range from a reassessment of public university faculty salaries and benefits to the use of interactive technology as a way to reduce tuition.

The Republican addressed a crowd of roughly 75 at the IMU Monday as part of the Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series.

“Public employees are over-benefited and overpaid,” Pawlenty contended about the current system for faculty compensation. “You can’t have people on a public system getting paid better than people paying the bill.”

Pawlenty also said public universities could offer better quality by focusing more intensively on a few select programs.

“Every university can’t be everything to everybody everywhere,” he said.

Speaking for an organization which advocates traditional marriage and a pro-life stance, Pawlenty stressed the economic and communal importance of family as the “cornerstone of our society.”

And though Pawlenty’s arrival in Iowa City was ostensibly part of a tour to expound family values, others said it meant much more.

“The caucus season has begun, no question about it,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “Republicans are going to be in action.”

Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, said Pawlenty’s visit is significant and welcomed the attention the former governor’s tour brought the state.

“It’s good for Iowa to get that kind of exposure,” Forristall said.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas— who ran for president in 2008 — is the next speaker in line to visit the University of Iowa campus on March 7. According to Paul’s website, he plans to visit Sioux Center and Pella in addition to giving a pro-family lecture at the UI.

David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at Rutgers University and author of a book on presidential caucuses in Iowa, said he believes candidates will start pouring into Iowa over the next couple of months.

“I think things are going to start picking up steam pretty rapidly,” he said.

Some have speculated Pawlenty will run for president; nothing is official yet.

Pawlenty would be an attractive candidate because his familiarity to Iowans, Redlawsk said, though there is no clear front-runner in the state. He said he believed President Obama would make a stop in Iowa at some point in the campaign cycle, but a visit in the near future is unlikely.

Representatives from student political organizations said they were excited to host the former governor.

“We welcome whoever wants to come and speak,” said Margaret Murphy, president of University of Iowa Democrats.

Murphy said she expected Republican candidates to caucus earlier and more often since the incumbent president is a Democrat.

“[Pawlenty] is definitely a good person to start off with,” said Natalie Ginty, the head of the UI College Republicans.

Though Pawlenty covered issues as far-reaching as stem-cell research and the turmoil in Egypt, the conversation seemed to gravitate toward the financial burden of a public education.

UI junior Faith Blaskowski said she agreed with Pawlenty’s stance that professors are not teaching enough to justify their paychecks.

“You don’t get as much bang for the buck,” she said.

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