Regents address search for new UNI president


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The state Board of Regents held a telephone meeting Monday afternoon accepting University of Northern Iowa President Benjamin Allen’s retirement effective upon appointment of a successor, as well as approving a plan for the presidential-search process. 

After Allen’s retirement, University of Iowa President Sally Mason will become the longest sitting president among the three regent universities. She was hired in 2007.

After accepting Allen’s retirement plans, the regents outlined the search process and asked if any members opposed or felt any actions needed to be amended.

Regent Katie Mulholland voted to amend the action of having two members from the regents on the Search and Screen Advisory Committee, proposing the addition of another regent.

“One of the things that’s extremely challenging if you don’t live in the university area is getting to know how the school works,” she said.

She said having an additional regent on the committee closes that disconnect, allows for a better understanding of how the school works, and aids in choosing a better president.

Adding an additional regent to the committee would bring the member count up to 20 from the originally planned 19. Though Lang said the even number could pose problems if a vote is tied, he sees that as a sign the choices of the committee will need more work.

“I’m not afraid of 20,” he said.

The budget in mind for the search committee would be under $150,000, he said, around the same amount the search for Iowa State University President Steven Leath cost last year.

Regent Nicole Carroll also addressed the regent presence on the search panel.

“Three Board of Regent members would not be excessive on the committee, because of the size of the committee,” she said.

President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter seconded Mulholland’s amendment and the motion to another regent to the committee, in addition to the two others was voted on and accepted.

Lang said Mulholland and Jack Evans are the prospective regent nominee search panel. Lang said he would talk to Rastetter to decide on the third regent.

The Board Office is receiving potential nominees now, and hopes to approve the Members of the Committee during a Sept. 12 meeting. The contingency groups should offer up the final nominees by Sept. 10 or 11.

Lang said the regents plan to request three individuals from the public to hold positions on the search committee, one of whom will be the co-head.

“This individual will be a UNI graduate who has proven leadership, has been recognized statewide; one who strongly believes in the value of higher education,” he said.

Lang said this member will not be a legislator, because the regents hope to have a balanced demographic on the committee and not be involved with politics.

Lang hopes that a potential presidential candidate will be chosen by Christmas.

“Ben is not in a hurry to step down,” Lang said. “I would hope the search committee will be formed soon.”

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