Butler committed long-term in provost post

BY NINA EARNEST | JUNE 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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P. Barry Butler’s appointment as the University of Iowa’s permanent executive vice president and provost could provide stability to the administrative position.

UI President Sally Mason named Butler to the position May 17. He had served as interim provost following former Provost Wallace Loh’s departure last fall.

“I will serve as long as President Mason wants me to serve,” Butler told The Daily Iowan. “That’s my commitment here. She’s expressed her support for me, and I plan to give her my support.”

The new appointee is expected to receive an annual salary of $375,000; his interim salary was $350,000.

Butler said his primary goal is to implement the UI’s strategic plan — a framework to pursue its academic goals — which he described as his “responsibility.”

“We just developed the plan and got approval,” said Butler, the former dean of the College of Engineering. “And it really speaks to everything that we need to do as an institution.”

Mason’s selection followed a search that began in October 2010.

“I can’t think of anyone better suited to this position or more committed to the University of Iowa than Barry Butler,” Mason said in a press release.

Alongside Butler, Uday Sukhatme, the executive vice chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and Yash Gupta, the dean of the Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School, were finalists for the job.

Some members of the search committee, appointed by Mason, had indicated longevity could be a key factor in their decision process.

Loh served in the position for two years before leaving to become president of the University of Maryland.

UI philosophy Professor Richard Fumerton, a co-chairman of the Provost Search Committee, said he believed Butler’s record in his own college recommended him for the job.

“I think he’s going to be a terrific leader for the university,” Fumerton said. “He’s absolutely committed to this university becoming the best teaching and research institution it can be.”

And Butler appears devoted to the UI, Fumerton noted. The former dean has spent his entire academic career at the university after receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.

“It’s not just the amount of time he’s going to be here, it’s that he’s absolutely passionate about the University of Iowa,” Fumerton said.

The state Board of Regents is scheduled to approve Butler’s selection during its meeting Wednesday at the UI.

Regent Robert Downer said he didn’t see any reason the regents would not approve the appointment.

“I think he has every attribute they would be looking for in a leader, including strong efforts on behalf of the state of Iowa,” Downer said.

And the regent said he doesn’t foresee Butler abandoning the position.

“I hope he stays for a long period of time,” Downer said. “I’ve never seen anything that would say he’s not totally engaged in his position. If someone does try to lure him away, he or she has fixed on a great member of the university.”

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