UI President Barbara Wilson begins tenure at university

Wilson’s initial term begins July 15 and ends June 30, 2026.

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Ayrton Breckenridge

The new University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson addresses reporters in the Levitt Center for University Advancement on April 30, 2021. Wilson becomes the 22nd president for the University of Iowa and was previously the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the University of Illinois. (Ayrton Breckenridge/The Daily Iowan)

Natalie Dunlap, News Editor


Barbara Wilson’s tenure as University of Iowa President began on Thursday.

In April, the state Board of Regents chose the former executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System from four finalists following a public forum with each candidate. As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Wilson had the highest approval rating among the candidates in a campus survey.

On the day she was selected, Wilson said she planned to spend the first year at Iowa building relationships on campus.

“I’m eager to meet with faculty, staff and the range of students here – both undergraduate and graduate and professional and all the people affiliated with the people of Iowa City,” Wilson said in a press conference on April 30, as previously reported by the DI. “I want to meet with people who love this place as much as I’m going to learn to love it as well. And meetings with donors and alums around the state, legislators. That’ll take me a couple months – I hope I lay my head down every day and I’m exhausted from meeting people.”

As president, Wilson will oversee more than thirty-thousand students and twenty-five-thousand employees.

Wilson is the 22nd president of the university, and the third woman to hold the position.

Before her time at the University of Illinois System, she spent one year as interim chancellor for the Urbana-Champaign campus. She also worked as an assistant professor at the University of Louisville and was a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, a Master of Arts in communication arts, and a PhD in communication arts, all from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

She is replacing former President Bruce Harreld, who began his tenure in November 2015. In October 2020, he announced he would retire before his contract was set to end in 2023.

Harreld’s last day was May 16. For the last several months, UI Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College John Keller served as the Interim President.

Harreld had an annual salary of $590,000 and received $200,000 in deferred compensation annually through 2020. He was set to receive $400,000 through 2023.

Wilson’s initial term begins July 15 and ends June 30, 2026.

According to the Board of Regents, Wilson will receive a five-year contract with an annual salary of $600,000 and a 5-year deferred compensation plan with an annual contribution of $400,000.

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