It's official: Robillard will become interim leader


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The search continues, but one major step is complete.

The state Board of Regents appointed Jean Robillard, the University of Iowa vice president for Medical Affairs, to serve as interim president during its meeting in Council Bluffs on Thursday.

Robillard is also the head of the Presidential Search Committee tasked with helping to find a replacement for President Sally Mason.

He will become interim president on Aug. 1, immediately following Mason’s retirement.

Robillard opted not to receive an additional salary as interim president. During fiscal 2014, Robillard’s salary was more than $760,000.

“We hadn’t even gotten to [salary], and he volunteered that he did not want additional pay for that,” Regent President Bruce Rastetter said. “I think that, in the true spirit of what a terrific individual he is, he wants to help provide leadership for the university during that interim.”

The search panel will play a major role in helping the regents select the next president.

As the head, Robillard said gaining an understanding what the UI community wants to see in the new president has been one of his main goals.

He said he visited with the leadership of each college as well as community leaders, such as elected local officials.

Robillard listed a wide range of criteria he said he felt these groups think are important, including someone who could energize the student body.

When Regent Subhash Sahai asked Robillard what traits were most important, he said they included the candidate’s ability to work with an interdisciplinary team and to connect with the community and donors.

“I think we want a leader to be highly intelligent in communication and relationship-building,” Robillard said.

He said the committee membvers had not yet decided exactly how many interviews they would conduct privately during the preliminary interview stage, but the panel would bring three or four to campus during the public portion.

Sahai expressed concern about the number of applicants the committee would present to the regents as finalists.

“I know it sometimes can be tough, especially going out in public, for such high-caliber people,” Sahai said.

Rastetter, however, said he wasn’t particularly concerned the search committee would come up short because the same process the UI search committee will use worked in the past at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

“We think that process will work well, and the committee’s a good committee,” Rastetter said.

He said they expect 70 to 80 applications, 12 to 14 of whom would be interviewed, with three to four finalists that would visit campus for town-hall meetings in the fall.

The regents have previously discussed concerns over the number of candidates brought to the table in past searches.

So far, the committee members have gathered once to meet one another as well as the search firm, Parker Executive Search, which will help them find and interview candidates.

At their second meeting, Robillard said, the members will establish a position description for president, more clearly define their search processes, and establish a firm timeline for meetings and, ultimately, bringing a president to campus.

“They feel that, now that we’ve passed the flood, that the place is extremely well-positioned to do well,” Robillard said. “Everything has been put in place.”

The search committee’s next meeting is set for May 8 in the Carver Biomedical Research Building.

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