Board of Regents approve Harreld’s retirement, start search for new president

The Iowa Board of Regents formally passed a motion to accept University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld’s retirement at a virtual meeting on Monday. The board also moved to begin the formal process of hiring a search firm and a UI committee.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa Board of Regents President Michael Richards sits alongside President Pro Tem Patty Cownie during a meeting at the Iowa State Alumni Center in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday, June 6, 2019. The Regents voted in favor of a four percent tuition increase starting in the fall semester of 2019.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The search is open for the next University of Iowa president.

The Iowa state Board of Regents accepted UI President Bruce Harreld’s plans to retire once his successor is selected at a virtual meeting on Monday, setting in motion the search for the next leader of the university.

The board unanimously passed a motion, which allows it to advertise for, select, and enter into an agreement with a search firm to consult on the hiring of the new president.

The motion also authorized the board to establish a search committee from the UI to look for candidates to be the next top Hawkeye. The board will now begin to develop a process of selection and a timetable for the search.

The board issued a Request for Qualification for consulting firms to help with the search following Monday’s meeting. The board plans to award a contract to a firm on Nov. 13. Executive Director of the board, Mark Braun, will be overseeing the process of firm selection.

Harreld thanked the regents for all they have done to support him and the university over his five years as president, specifically its actions in his announcement of retirement on Thursday.

Reaffirming his past comments, Harreld said he announced his retirement in order to improve the succession planning the board and the UI have for his position and other positions.

RELATED: Harreld to retire, opening search for new University of Iowa president

“I think succession planning connected with resource allocation are probably the two most important responsibilities of a president, a chair, or a board,” he said. “The succession planning, I think, we’ve done in a rushed fashion. I think what we’ve done is tended to wait for someone to retire or resign, and then we appoint an interim…What happens is a natural tendency for an organization to relax and go on pause. I think there’s too much going on at this university…to put anything on pause.”

Harreld reminded the regents that he plans to stay in his position until a successor is selected – even if it takes up to June 2023 when his contract ends or longer.

Reflecting on his personal experience with the role, Harreld said it took more than a year for him to feel productive at the UI. He said his goal was to help whoever his successor is in their transition in whatever capacity they want.

RELATED: Shared governance groups on campus prepare for search for next UI president

“If my successor would like, I would like to help them in that transition,” he said. “It may not take that long, but I just don’t think it’s [okay to] disappear. I think it’s some meaningful transition, if useful to that individual.”

Harreld said he “is absolutely sure” that the board can pick co-chairs and a committee that is well respected at the UI from across the university. Board members did not elaborate on who would lead the search committee.

The new search comes five years after Harreld was selected to be the university’s president — a decision that had some backlash from faculty members.

In September 2015, the faculty senate had a vote of no confidence in the board and in Harreld, suggesting the board had bypassed the branches of shared governance in its selection of the university’s 21st president.

As The Daily Iowan previously reported, the four branches of shared governance at the UI intend to be a part of the search and have a place on the committee as it searches for the 22nd president of the university.

Mike Richards, the president of the board, was not a regent when Harreld was hired. He told the DI the regents would commit to meetings with shared governance groups.

“We will sit down and we will take into consideration the commitments we have made to faculty in regard to shared governance. I was president with the Iowa State process, which was considered to be very acceptable,” Richards said last week. “I personally would commit that we’ll have the same type of search or better at the University of Iowa.”

Regardless of what the process looks like, Harreld said he loves the UI and he will do whatever he can to ensure the next president is as prepared as they can be to lead the university.

“Let’s find a great leader who has got wonderful Midwestern values and understands the importance of teams and collaborates really, really well,” he said. “I love this institution. I am in no rush to leave, but I do believe it’s time to start the process, and let’s do it really, really wisely.”