University of Iowa selects Montse Fuentes as new provost

Montse Fuentes has been selected as the UI’s next provost, pending state Board of Regents approval, effective June 28.


Ryan Adams

Montse Fuentes speaks during the provost forum on Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Reporter

After two years without a permanent provost, the University of Iowa announced on Monday that Montserrat (Montse) Fuentes will assume the role of executive vice president and provost, effective June 28.

Currently the dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, Fuentes was one of three candidates vying for the position. As provost, her annual salary will be $435,000.

Search committee member Teresa Mangum said in a release Fuentes’ wide breadth of talent won out.

“She is a razor-sharp researcher and scholar who is also passionate about students,” Mangum said in the release. “She is a warm and generous listener who has a stellar track record of inspiring her colleagues to work with her to turn good ideas into action.”

Mangum said she is thrilled to work with Fuentes in the future, in part because she values both disciplinary expertise and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

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Search committee member Gail Agrawal said the release that Fuentes met the faculty’s request for a strong, intellectual leader on campus.

“Conducting a provost search is daunting in many ways but also very reaffirming,” Agrawal said. “The strength of our candidate pool, and thoughtful and engaging questions from our faculty and staff, demonstrate the caliber of our institution and the dedication of those who choose to be here.”

UI President Bruce Harreld agreed, and said in the release that Fuentes brings to the table impressive skill in fostering interdisciplinary research and academic programs across campus, which aligns with the university’s strategic plan.

“This makes her uniquely positioned to lead this great university to the next level in national and international recognition,” Harreld said in the release. “Dr. Fuentes is also deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

In particular, he added, Fuentes supports the encouragement of first-generation students, which is a critical priority at the UI. A first-generation student herself, Fuentes said at a public forum in February that her primary motivation is to provide similar opportunities to UI students.

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To turn this desire into reality, she said at the forum that her strategy for success can be summed up in the “three I’s” of integration, integrated programs, and interdisciplinary teams.

“In academic environments we have brilliant minds and we want to make use of that,” Fuentes said in February. “It’s about the quality of our faculty, the quality of our staff. It’s all about relationships, building those partnerships to be successful.”

Fuentes said she chose to visit the UI because she believes it is a place people come, and want to stay. Her visit to campus revealed to her that the UI is special for its lasting relationships among faculty and staff, and their desire to make a difference.

“Higher education changed my life, and I’m excited to join a university that is transforming the lives of its students, the state, and in many disciplines, the world,” Fuentes said.