UI advances its search for provost, holds second open forum

The University of Iowa held the second public forum on Aug 27 for search for provost.


Megan Nagorzanski

Professor of Law Gail Agrawal speaks to University of Iowa faculty at a Provost meeting. The meeting was an open forum to discuss qualities to look for in provost nominees at the IMU on August 27, 2018.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

Prioritizing shared governance, having prior work experience at a public university, and boosting faculty retention were some of the expectations that members of the University of Iowa community laid out for a new provost in the second open-forum related to the search.

Approximately 20 staff, faculty, and search-committee members attended the forum. Senior Associate Director of Enrollment Management John Laverty and Faculty Senate President Russ Ganim conducted the discussion.

Attendees of the forum expressed their views on the kinds of experiences and perspectives the next provost should bring to the UI.

UI President Bruce Harreld has asked the search committee to present two candidates to him with the reasons that the committee chose them, said Gail Agrawal, a co-chair of the committee. After reviewing the two candidates, Harreld will decide on the provost.

The former provost, P. Barry Butler, left the UI in March 2017 to become president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. He had served as UI provost since 2011.

Sue Curry, formerly the dean of the College of Public Health, has stepped in since his departure to fill in as the interim provost.

Laverty encouraged the audience to remain active in the search for the provost, as well as other ongoing searches including ones to for a new dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and a chief diversity officer.

The discussion was kicked off by debating the kinds of experiences faculty and staff want the provost to have.

“I would love to see the provost being excited to work with our new chief diversity officer in the spring,” Diversity Resources Coordinator Dana Dominguez said. “[And] to make sure that our diversity and inclusion efforts are really promoted and valued and also figuring out a way for faculty to get more involved.”

Officials working in the Chief Diversity Office want someone who can see and value the diversity and inclusion efforts, she said.

It is also important to make sure the candidate chosen is open to suggestions and can views after listening to others, Cunning said.

“It would be good if the person has experience either as a dean or as a provost of a major academic institution,” said Professor David Cunning, the chair of the Philosophy Department. “And also, somebody who has a record of making difficult decisions and explaining those decisions.”

Members of the search committee said it would be beneficial if the provost has experience with a large public university, because private universities have different ways of functioning.

Committee members emphasized that UI students come from different backgrounds compared with students at other universities of similar size.

For example, upward of 20 percent of the UI’s incoming class is composed of first-generation students, a population that UI officials have tried to focus on through programming and other resources.

The committee also highlighted the importance of the new provost making a long-term commitment to working at the UI.

“It is a constant worry that they will use Iowa as a steppingstone to get to their final destination,” Laverty said. “We have to look for someone who plans to be here, because if a university is to run well, there has to be long-term commitment.”

Joyce Tsai of the Stanley Museum of Art said she would be interested in seeing somebody with a track record of identifying various partnerships on campus that benefit students and faculty.

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