Harreld met with more regents before the deadline for UI president applications.
By DI Staff
Recently released documents shed more light on the events leading up to Bruce Harreld’s appointment as the University of Iowa president.
On July 30, the day before applications closed for the job, Harreld met with four members of the state Board of Regents in Ames, including Regents Katie Mulholland and Milt Dakovich, who were members of the Presidential Search Committee.
In a separate meeting, he met with Regents Mary Andringa and Larry McKibben, who were not on the Search Committee. Harreld also had dinner with Iowa State University President Steven Leath.
“I especially appreciated your candor and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities at UI,” Harreld wrote to Andringa at 1:26 p.m. on July 31, the application deadline. “As we discussed, institutions can only go up or down. It is clear many critical elements are in place to take the institution to the next level. I am sure you will attract an excellent academically orientated leader as you finalize the search.”
Andringa replied to Harreld and 7:17 p.m.
“I urge you to continue to give us in Iowa a chance to tap into your great skill set, experience, and passion for excellence through strategic change by being open to the presidency of the U of I,” she wrote. “Higher education, as you articulated in our meeting, is heading toward crisis. Crisis necessitates change — it may be the big challenge that can energize you in the next five years.”
In a statement, Regent President Bruce Rastetter — who was on the committee — wrote, “the purpose of these meetings, which were at Mr. Harreld’s request, was for him to become more informed about the expectations the board had for the next president of the University of Iowa.”
“I considered Mr. Harreld’s requests for these additional meetings on July 30 not only appropriate but due diligence on his part. He wanted to gather as many facts as he could about the position,” Rasetter wrote. “I appreciate the fact that he was interested enough to want to do his research on the job and took his time gathering facts.”
Harreld has served in leadership roles at IBM, Boston Market, and Kraft Foods and taught at Harvard Business School but has no administrative academic experience. His appointment by the regents has prompted deep public concern from faculty, staff, and student leaders on campus.
The regents have said they want to change the “status quo” at the UI and that Harreld’s experience leading turnarounds at other organizations would prove valuable and necessary.
In his statement, Rastetter noted that he helped to recruit six candidates for the presidency, including Harreld. He wrote that four of the candidates he reached out to made the airport interview stage and that all nine considered candidates were nominated or recruited.
Harreld also visited the UI campus on July 8 to speak at UI Hospitals and Clinics as a guest speaker.
“This was part of the recruiting process,” Rastetter wrote. “Each of those who had lunch with Mr. Harreld that day, as well as others on the Search Committee, recruited candidates to apply as we were encouraged to do.”
On Sept. 26, UI English Assistant Professor Stephen Voyce publicized on his website an email exchange he had with UI Faculty Senate President Christina Bohannan, who was on the Search Committee.
Referring to an email chain between her and Harreld after the UIHC gathering, she wrote to Voyce, “You will see that I was trying to determine whether Harreld was thinking of being a candidate, because as I said before, he never indicated his intentions at the UIHC visit.”
She noted a deleted email from Harreld that she was told could not be recovered because it had been deleted for more than 14 days.
“I also wanted to tell you that there was a subsequent email in which he answered that he had been considering the position at [UI interim President] Jean Robillard’s and Regent Rastetter’s requests, but that he abhors search processes like this,” Bohannan wrote to Voyce. “This led me to believe he would likely not be a candidate.”