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Provost search committee to focus on longevity

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | NOVEMBER 30, 2010 7:20 AM

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While members of the search committee chosen to select the next provost haven't met yet, they are already creating an image of the person they want to fill former Provost Wallace Loh's shoes.

And longevity, strong leadership, and a concrete vision for the university are at the top of the list for many members.

"We need someone who's really willing to think outside the box and how we're going to implement those initiatives," said search committee member and Staff Council President Amber Seaton.

Seaton, who is serving for the first time on a high administration search panel, said longevity is among her personal criteria. Loh, who came to the University of Iowa in 2008, left in October to become president of the University of Maryland. Some UI officials acknowledged the difficulties that come with administrators serving short terms.

"I think we need someone to get in the position and stick with it," Seaton said.

A commitment to stay is something many committees look for in candidates, said Ruth Prescott, an associate of Edu Search Consulting — an organization that works with university search committees.

"You invest a bunch of yourself in these committees, and you've invested in a certain individual," she said. "It's just human nature when you've gone through all that trouble to want the successful candidate to stick around."

UI President Sally Mason named the 18-member search committee on Nov. 23. The members will meet formally for the first time Dec. 2 to discuss logistics of the search, said Professor Richard Fumerton, a co-head of the committee. Officials have not yet set the search budget.

The last provost search cost the UI $56,000.

The committee members received materials to prepare for Thursdays meeting over Thanksgiving break. They plan to use recruiting materials similar to those used in Loh's search, said Associate Professor Ken Brown, a member of the committee.

University of Iowa Student Government President John Rigby, a committee member, said he is looking for a candidate with a strong commitment to interacting with students, noting past UI Provost and current University of Illinois President Michael Hogan's involvement with students.

"I know it's a big commitment, but I think it's important to fill Loh's shoes," he said.

And Prescott said it is necessary for a provost to be relatable across all levels of the university.

"Ultimately, you've got … two major constituency groups — faculty and students," she said. "It would seem completely reasonable for the person you are going to ask to implement curriculum and educating young men and women to have the ability to relate to them."


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