Dear Commons Community,
Iowa’s statewide Board of Regents named J. Bruce Harreld last Thursday as president of the University of Iowa. Mr. Harreld is a business consultant and speaker and a former executive at several multinational corporations, and has taught at Harvard’s business school. But he has no experience in higher-education leadership and his appointment has sparked controversy. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that:
“… many rank-and-file faculty members described the appointment as the Board of Regents’ latest attack on the state’s flagship university.
The nine-member board announced its decision Thursday afternoon, after interviewing the four finalists for the position earlier in the day. The other three candidates — two provosts and a college president — have traditional academic backgrounds.
Mr. Harreld, who is 64, will succeed Sally K. Mason, who retired on August 1 after leading the university for eight years. The regents signed Mr. Harreld to a five-year contract, and he’ll make $590,000 annually.
Ms. Mason has had a strained relationship with the regents during much of her tenure. And over the past year, the board had tried to impose a new model for allotting state money to the state’s three universities, proposing initially to take millions of dollars away from Iowa and give them to the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University.
Some faculty members and others raised fears that Mr. Harreld would simply be an ally of the board, by agreeing to such cuts in the name of efficiency, effectiveness, and transformation.
“Someone who has not had academic administrative experience, just those things make me not have as much confidence in how the person is going to serve as our president,” said Cornelia C. Lang, an associate professor of physics and astronomy.”
As financial pressures continue to plague higher education, I believe we will see more appointments like Mr. Harreld in the future.