UI presidential search: Georgia State University Provost Wendy Hensel named finalist

Hensel, who is also the senior vice president for academic affairs, is slated to visit campus April 19. At Georgia State University, Hensel helps lead a research institution with roughly 53,000 students.


Kelsey Harrell and Sabine Martin

Wendy Hensel, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia State University, will visit campus on Monday as the third of four finalists for the University of Iowa presidency. 

She helps lead a research institution with roughly 53,000 students, which ranked No. 3 in most innovative universities and best in undergraduate teaching in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report rankings

Hensel began serving as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in October 2019, after serving as interim provost from July 2019 to September 2019. She oversees 13 academic units in her role at the university. 

Prior to Hensel’s current position, she served as dean of the Georgia State College of Law and as the first associate dean for research and faculty development. 

In her position at Georgia State, Hensel helped lead the university’s shift to online courses at the beginning of the pandemic and made decisions regarding the institution’s response to COVID-19. She has also pushed initiatives and helped develop strategies for growing and expanding online programs and courses. 

Hensel established a Task Force on Racial and Equality at Georgia State made up of faculty, staff, and students that developed a plan to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment on campus. 

Hensel received a bachelor’s degree in American public affairs from Michigan State University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. According to Georgia State University’s website, Hensel practiced labor and employment law for the law firm Alston & Bird with cases aligning with the Americans with Disability Act. 

In her career at Georgia State College Of Law, Hensel has contributed to articles and books centered around special education and civil rights. One contribution, “Students with Disabilities and School Choice” published in the Oxford University Press discusses the implementation of U.S. state laws, like the Education in Disabilities Act in schools.  

Another publication, “Hospitals Rationing Drugs Behind Closed Doors: A Civil Rights Issue” published in The Conversation is about bias in the medical field.   

Hensel was appointed a fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation in 2019. 

Current UI President Bruce Harreld announced his retirement in October 2020, beginning the search process for a new university leader. The initial pool of 80 candidates vying to be Harreld’s successor was narrowed to four finalists at the beginning of this month. After all four candidates have visited campus, the state Board of Regents will select the next president on April 30. 

John Keller, UI Graduate College dean and co-chair of the presidential search committee, was named interim president by the regents after Harreld announced he would be leaving campus earlier than expected. Keller will serve as interim until the next president assumes duties in the late summer or early fall. 

First finalist Hari Osofsky, dean of Penn State Law and Penn State School of International Affairs, visited campus and held a forum on April 12. Second finalist Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System, held a forum on April 15

The UI will hold a public forum with Hensel on Monday at 3:30 p.m. where she will answer questions submitted by the 40 in-person and online attendees. The event will be livestreamed on the Board of Regents Youtube channel and questions can be submitted to the search committee online. The deadline for submitting feedback is April 26 at 5 p.m. 

The final UI presidential candidate will be announced on Wednesday at 8 a.m. 

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