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Forum focuses on community's suggestions for next UI president

BY CARLY MATTHEW | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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Low attendance marked the town-hall-style meeting Monday afternoon that was intended to gather feedback on selecting the next University of Iowa president.

“It’s a small turnout, but I think we are very, very early in the process,” said Jean Robillard, the University of Iowa vice president for Medical Affairs and head of the Presidential Search Committee. “I think you often have that with a first forum.”

Approximately 20 people attended the forum, which lasted just over 12 minutes.

The meeting was also available for live streaming through the presidential-search webpage. Four people asked questions or suggested qualifications for the new president, including a single online comment.

“I didn’t have any expectations when I came here whether this would be crowded or empty or somewhere in between,” Regent Milt Dakovich said. “I certainly appreciate all the comments.”

Robillard hosted the forum in order to allow the UI students, faculty, and staff to share the qualifications they “believe will be most important in selecting the next president of the [UI],” according to a mass email he sent to students, staff, and faculty on Feb. 13. 

The first was a general forum open to the community members, students, staff, and faculty.

UI junior Sam Wampler, the speaker of the UI Student Government Senate, said he would like the next president to be involved with the students through shared governance similarly to the way he said he felt President Sally Mason was.

Wampler said he hopes the new president will work on preventing sexual assault on campus, boosting sustainability efforts, creating a welcoming environment for international students, and promoting diversity.

Linda Stuart Kroon, the director of the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center, asked why more staff members were not included in the search panel.

The state Board of Regents chose to have one staff constituent — either the UI Staff Council president or a designee — in its 21-member search committee while choosing seven faculty members.

“To my understanding, there’s only one, which seems small to me, given the sheer numbers of staff who work here at the institution in a wide variety of capacities and are critical to the university’s success,” Stuart Kroon said. “I’d like to see as much representation as possible.”

Robillard noted that the regents, not the university, outlined the committee’s membership.

The regents have yet to release the names of the search-committee members.

On Monday afternoon, the regents released the name of the firm that will help conduct the search, Parker Executive Search of Atlanta.

The firm’s role will be to develop criteria for the position, evaluate candidates, facilitate interviews, and participate in follow-up communications, according to the Monday release.

The regents previously selected Parker Executive Search in past Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa presidential searches.

Stuart Kroon, along with others who spoke at the meeting, believes the next university president should be able to relate well to UI students, staff, and faculty as well as the regents and the institution.

Though she was dissatisfied with the number of staff members who will be appointed to the committee, she said she appreciated the opportunities to speak at open forums.

On Friday, various UI governance groups will host three similar targeted forums for students, staff, and faculty.


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