University of Iowa replaces liberal-arts dean following violation of employee ethics policy

The UI announced it will replace College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Steve Goddard, citing violations of employee policy on ethics and responsibilities.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Steve Goddard speaks during a forum as one of four candidates for the University of Iowa’s Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Voxman Concert Hall on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Previously, Goddard has served as the Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Rylee Wilson, News Editor

The University of Iowa has removed former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Steve Goddard from his position, following an unspecified investigation that found Goddard had violated the Policy on Ethics and Responsibilities for UI staff. 

Goddard has been replaced by Sara Sanders, the associate dean for strategic initiatives and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the liberal-arts college, and a professor in the School of Social Work.

In a letter sent to Goddard on July 29, UI Interim Provost Kevin Kregel said he had multiple concerns with Goddard’s performance as dean. 

“I have considered your perspective, but under the circumstances, I believe your conduct warrants removal from the position of dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences,” Kregel wrote in the letter.  

According to the letter, Goddard was investigated for violating Chapter III-16 of the UI operations manual, though the letter did not specify which section was violated or the reason for the investigation. 

Goddard has received criticism from faculty following comments he made during a town hall meeting in June addressing COVID-19 questions and concerns. 

During the meeting, an anonymous question from a faculty member who identified herself as a woman of color diagnosed with an autoimmune condition expressed concern about the mental and physical health effects of returning to teaching in the classroom. Goddard suggested she seek mental-health counseling.

“I would also encourage you to think about trying to manage that,” Goddard said in the forum. “As an underrepresented minority, as a woman of color, you have a tremendous impact in trying to overcome some of that anxiety and fear … to not participate in the community more fully would be an effect on you and the students.”

Effective immediately, Goddard will assume a faculty role in the department of Computer Science. He has served as dean since June 2019. 

Sanders, Goddard’s replacement, was the director of the School of Social Work from 2015-2019 and an administrative fellow in the liberal-arts college from 2018-2019, according to the press release announcing Goddard’s replacement.

“Sara has successfully served in leadership positions within the college for almost two decades, earning the respect and trust of her colleagues,” Kregel said in the press release. “I’m confident that she will provide the leadership needed to continue the history of excellence in education, research, and scholarship within the college.”

Sanders will receive an annual salary of $305,000 until a permanent dean is appointed. Goddard’s salary in his faculty role will be $251,370. As dean of the liberal-arts college, he received a salary of $382,230. 

Goddard’s replacement comes two weeks after the UI announced that former provost Montserrat Fuentes would no longer serve in her role, and would work instead as a special assistant to the president. Fuentes retained her current salary of $439,000. 

As liberal-arts dean, Goddard was responsible for identifying $25 million in budget cuts within the college in June. Fifteen faculty in the liberal-arts college did not have their contracts renewed, and administrators are set to retain full salary in the first and second round of cuts. Goddard previously said in an email to The Daily Iowan that salary reductions for administrators wouldn’t fill the long-term budget gaps that were needed.

This is a developing story. Check back with The Daily Iowan for updates. 

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