UI liberal arts in search of dean following Maxson resignation announcement

BY KATIE HEINE | JULY 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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A University of Iowa dean with one of the school's longest streaks of service will step down.

Linda Maxson, the dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, announced her resignation July 22, though her dean status will be effective until June 30, 2012. Maxson said she is stepping down from her position to focus on writing a book about leadership and to spend more time with her family.

"It was a difficult decision," she said. "I love doing what I do."

And though UI officials said they are confident they will have enough time to fill her position over the next year, they know selecting someone to run the university's largest college won't be taken lightly.

Maxson took her position as the dean in 1997. During her 14-year tenure, she said, she has experienced some very notable moments in both the college's and the university's history.

She was particularly successful in acquiring resources the college needed to make it through some of the college's most devastating events — the flood of 2008 and the budget cuts due to the economic downturn, said Helena Dettmer, the college's associate dean for academic programs and student development.

"This has really been a challenging period for the college, and she's really been our rock," Dettmer said. "People can rely on her to help them through these times."

Maxson faced the largest incoming class for liberal arts in the fall of 2010, with an influx of nearly 4,946 students. She said the college is expecting similar numbers this fall.

Many of the buildings that house the college's programs have been built or renovated during Maxson's tenure, including the Adler Journalism Building, Biology Building East, and Stuit Hall, and more than half of the college's faculty was hired during Maxson's tenure.

"I don't think it will be a year where she will fade into the sunset," said John Keller, dean of the UI Graduate College.

Collaboration among deans is crucial to ensuring top-notch programs, Keller said. He and Maxson have worked closely in the past few years to assess, evaluate, and implement campus programs, he said.

During her last year as dean, Maxson said, she hopes to finish up some work related to particular academic programs and continue to push forward various learning opportunities such as peer advising programs for undergraduates and the innovative Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage classrooms.

UI Provost P. Barry Butler said the search for Maxson's replacement will begin early this fall. The process will begin with various meetings among staff, faculty, students, and alumni to discuss what qualities people hope the next dean will possess.

The goal, Butler said, is to have a new dean ready to go by July 1, 2012. Along with finding Maxson's replacement, the university still needs to fill two other dean positions — for the College of Engineering and the Tippie College of Business.

Though Butler said he was confident there would be plenty of time to fill Maxson's position, he said finding her replacement won't be easy.

"We have some big shoes to fill," he said.

But Maxson said she believes she will leave at a good time. All things considered, she said, she believes the college is in good shape and on the road to recovery after the flood and recent budget cuts.

She also said it is hard to believe she's been at the UI for 14 years, and she is certain her final year as dean will be equally as memorable.

"I've enjoyed every minute of my time here," she said.

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