Amanda Thein named University of Iowa’s next Graduate College Dean

Thein, the associate dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor of literacy, culture, and language in the UI College of Education, will succeed John Keller in the role.


Nathan Charles

Amanda Thein, a finalist for the Associate Provost and Graduate College Dean position is asked interview questions on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021.

Robert Read, Summer Editor

Amanda Thein, the associate dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor of literacy, culture, and language education in the University of Iowa College of Education, has been named the new dean of the UI Graduate College.

Thein will begin her new role on July 1. She succeeds John Keller, the longest-serving Graduate Dean in the Big Ten, who stepped down from the role May 16. He is currently serving as interim president of the university until July 15, when the UI’s 22nd president, Barbara Wilson, will begin her term.

“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead the Graduate College as we embark on a new era in higher education,” Thein said in a release on Thursday. “My goal is to work collaboratively with faculty, staff, and students in the college and across campus to build on the University of Iowa’s history of excellence in graduate and professional education.”

Thein will also serve as the new associate provost for graduate and professional education.

After arriving at the UI in 2011 as an associate professor of language, literacy, and culture, Thein was promoted to a full-time professor position in 2017. Thein served as the program coordinator for the Language, Literacy, and Culture doctoral program from 2013 to 2016, before beginning her current role as associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Education in 2016.

Before coming to Iowa, Thein was an assistant professor of English education at the University of Pittsburgh from 2005 to 2011.

She received a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver in 1999, and a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction in English Education from the University of Minnesota in 2005.

“Along with her strong commitment to graduate and professional education, Dr. Thein will bring invaluable experience to her new role,” Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel in the release. “I am confident in her ability to guide the Graduate College toward a successful future.”

Thein was one of three internal finalists who interviewed for the associate provost and dean position and participated in open forums earlier this month. Christine Getz, associate director of graduate studies at the UI School of Music and Steve Varga, associate dean of academic affairs and graduate student development, were the other two finalists.

During her public forum via Zoom on May 5, Thein said if chosen for the dean position, she would focus on restructuring how people understood graduate education.

“I stumbled into graduate education, as do so many people,” she said during the May 5 forum. “I’m a white woman, I grew up with educated parents in the suburbs of Denver, but I still stumbled into graduate education. I thought graduate education was for doctors and lawyers and maybe rocket scientists and I discovered graduate education through an advisor who gave me insider knowledge and I pursued it because I could.”

The UI has recently filled other top roles internally — most notably appointing Liz Tovar as permanent executive officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion and permanently naming Kregel as the executive vice president and provost. 

The Graduate College Dean search was led by a committee co-chaired by Amy Kristof-Brown, dean of the Tippie College of Business, and Kevin Legge, director of the immunology graduate program in the Graduate College and professor of pathology in the Carver College of Medicine.

As dean of the Graduate College, Keller made $284,087 in 2020. 

Thein’s appointment must be approved by the state Board of Regents.

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