UI restarting dean of students search — again

Following the continuation for the search for the UI’s dean of students, VP for Student Life Melissa Shivers provides details on the ongoing search.

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Lily Smith

The Old Capitol is seen on Nov. 25, 2018.

Alexandra Skores, News Editor

The University of Iowa has announced that it is searching for candidates to fill the position of associate vice president and dean of students — its third shot at hiring a person to assume the role.

In its first attempt to hire a new dean of students, the UI in the spring of 2018 brought a round of candidates to campus for visits to replace Lyn Redington, who left the UI in 2017 to become the vice president of Student Life at Idaho State University. The UI announced the extension of the search in June 2018.

In November 2018, the UI conducted a search to fill these positions and was unsuccessful in hiring the recommended candidate. Angie Reams was appointed to fill the role on an interim basis in January and will serve until a new leader is found. 

In the previous search, the UI utilized the search firm Isaacson Miller, but the UI was not successful in landing their candidate of choice, UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers said. Through January, the search cost amounted to $61,363.63. 

Shivers said the search firm’s previous work with the UI will continue with no additional search expenses to the university. This is because the last search did not result in the hire of the candidate the search committee recommended, she said.

“They continued to do the search and there is no additional charge besides the consultant’s travel,” Shivers said. “We are not paying them anymore, but they will continue to identify the candidates, [and] conduct all reference checks on candidates.”

Shivers emphasized that the search is important for the student body to be aware of, and said the UI is putting forth its best effort into finding a candidate.

“Our hope is that we’ll be able to recruit folks who are thinking about now — and may not have been thinking about it before — to throw their hat in the ring,” Shivers said.

Liz Tovar, the associate athletics director for Student-Athlete Academic Services, will chair the search. 

Shivers mentioned the UI “brings the best” three to four candidates, but the number of candidates depends on the committee itself.

“I don’t engage with the process at all until they bring me the final list of candidates that they want to invite,” Shivers said.

Although Shivers is alerted of meetings with the candidates, she said she is not able to speak with them directly until they arrive on campus.

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“It’s one of the most central positions as it relates to the student experience,” Shivers said. “The portfolio of the Office of the Dean of Students is pretty exhaustive as it relates to student engagement, involvement, accountability, Student Legal Services, and all of those services that we learned about through the [Center for Student Involvement and Leadership] rework.”

Shivers wrote in an August email to staff that what was formerly known as the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership will shift from functioning under its overarching name to operating as separate offices reporting through the Dean of Students.

“Those are key units,” she said. “And so this person needs to be a pretty visionary leader, and someone who is ready to step into the role of being a supporter for our students and an advocate for our students.”

Public candidate forum dates are currently being drafted, Shivers said. She anticipates large interaction from campus with the forums. 

Shivers said the committee hopes to have candidates on campus by the end of the semester while students are still on campus, but there is not a concrete timeline.

“It’s a really important hire,” Shivers said. “My philosophy with the searches is to hire the absolute best candidate. I don’t settle. You all don’t deserve that. You deserve the best candidate that we can get at the University of Iowa. That will be my commitment.”

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