Second provost finalist visits campus, discusses issues facing higher education

The second finalist for the UI’s executive vice president and provost position, Margaret Raymond, visited campus on Monday afternoon.


Ryan Adams

Margaret Raymond speaks during the second provost candidate meeting Monday afternoon on Jan. 28, 2019. This is the second of four provost meetings meant to fulfill the position.

Charles Peckman, News Reporter

In the second of four forums, UI provost and executive vice president candidate finalist Margaret Raymond spoke to dozens of students, faculty, and staff members gathered in the Iowa Memorial Union Monday afternoon.

Raymond, whose career has ranged from clerking for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to serving as the Fred W. & Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, said she values the importance of higher education, and the principles that lead to its success.

“Learning to be knowledgeable consumers of information may be the most important skill we can impart,” she said. “Learning how to communicate effectively is a job requirement and survival skill and these days is an essential tool of engaged citizenship. I believe in what we all do.”

Hira Mustafa, president of the University of Iowa Student Government, shared her concerns about student and administrator interactions on campus.

“Not many students know exactly what the role of a provost is, but I know it plays a critical part in student success,” Mustafa said. “I was wondering if you could share a specific example from either your current role or a previous one you’ve held that included students on a project or initiative.”

RELATED: David DeJong, first candidate for UI provost, speaks at forum

Raymond described her role in working with undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin to implement an alcohol code for law school events. Although the audience laughed as Raymond described herself “underestimating the importance of alcohol in the state of Wisconsin,” she said the experience better allowed her to understand the needs of the undergraduate population.

Meenakshi Gigi Durham, associate dean of CLAS, shared her concerns about diversity in the university community during the forum. Throughout the discussion, a number of students and faculty members brought up inclusion-related topics.

“I was glad to hear you mentioned diversity,” Durham said. “You mentioned diversity a number of times in your presentation, but I was wondering if you could give us a little bit more about specific strategies that you would envision to turn the needle on diversity, equity, and conclusion at the university.”

Instead of speculating about what the UI could do to increase its diversity, Raymond said she would rather discuss her previous work at the University of Wisconsin and how similar initiatives could be implemented in Iowa City.

“I really feel like we’re putting people [of different backgrounds] in a position to lead…I feel like the University of Wisconsin has played a role not just in growing individual students, but allowing other students to look and say, ‘That’s a person who can be a guide for me, who can help me grow into what I want to become,’” she said.

More important than any specific initiative, Raymond said, is establishing an environment that is equitable for everyone.

“I think one of the challenges we need to think about is people aren’t going to come to Iowa unless they know Iowa is going to be an accepting and friendly place for them,” she said. “One way to create that expectation is to give people an experience of being here where they meet mentors and see how [college] could work for them.”

One candidate for the position, David DeJong, visited campus last week. Other finalists have yet to be announced – the third forum will take place on Thursday, Jan. 31 in the Iowa Memorial Union.