UI College of Engineering dean resigns for presidency at private school

Harriet Nembhard will begin her new position as the president of Harvey Mudd College Claremont, California, on July 1, 2023.


Tim Schoon/The University of Iowa

Harriet Nembhard, the then-new Dean of the UI College of Engineering, is photographed on the John Deere Plaza outside the new expansion to the Seamans Center.

Grace Katzer, News Reporter

Harriet Nembhard, dean of the University of Iowa College of Engineering, will be leaving her position at the university in June 2023 after accepting the position of president at Harvey Mudd College.  She will begin her position as president on July 1, 2023. 

The announcement comes nearly three years after Nembhard first joined the UI College of Engineering in June 2020, assuming the role of the college’s chief executive officer

Nembhard will be the sixth president of Harvey Mudd College, located in Claremont, California, according to a UI Office of Strategic Communication statement Tuesday. 

Nembhard manages a budget of $100 million at the UI and oversees the academic programs, departments, and institutes for more than 1,800 undergraduates and 250 graduate students, the release stated. 

“She has led initiatives in strategic planning and implementation, improving the college’s research profile and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

UI Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel contributed to the statement and wished the best to Nembhard. 

“Under her leadership, the College of Engineering has continued to build upon its exceptional research reputation while advancing equity and inclusion in STEM education. She leaves the college in a strong position moving forward,” Kregel said in the release. 

The release stated that the UI will conduct a national search for Nembhard’s replacement.

“Harriet Nembhard is an exceptional academic leader with a breadth of experience and contributions that align with Harvey Mudd’s mission to educate the next generation of STEM leaders,” James Bean, chair of the Harvey Mudd College board of trustees, said in the release. 

Members of the presidential search committee at Harvey Mudd College also shared their thoughts in addition to the press release. 

“[Nembhard] impressed all of us in the search process as a well-grounded, thoughtful leader who listens carefully and has a warm, personal touch,” Tom Donnelly, cabinet member vice president for academic affairs and the R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty, said in the release. “She’s a natural fit for the college.”

Sydney Cornell, the student representative of the committee, said in the statement Nembhard was her choice because she showed eagerness to work with everyone involved throughout the selection process.

“We interviewed a lot of candidates who showed promise and had a strong background, but ultimately there were a number of visible qualities Harriet had that really put her at the top,” she said in the statement. 

Nembhard’s husband David Nembhard also announced in the college’s release he will be leaving the UI in 2023. David Nembhard  is one of the UI’s 96 tenured and tenure track faculty in the College of Engineering.

Nembhard started her college education at 16 years old at Claremont McKenna College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in management. She then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Arizona State University and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan. 

She also held academic leadership positions at Oregon State University and Pennsylvania State University before her position at the UI.

“I’m excited to bring my passion for STEM education to Harvey Mudd College, a leading higher education institution in experimentation and innovation, especially in developing inclusive pedagogy, increasing diversity in STEM, and incorporating interdisciplinary approaches,” Nembhard said in the Harvey Mudd College’s press release.