Out-going Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s confident the feud between members of the board that governs the University of Iowa and some U-of-I faculty will not prevent the board from finding a “more than qualified” leader for the university.
Next week, the Faculty Senate and the student government at the University of Iowa plan to take votes of “no confidence” in two members of the Board of Regents who’ve been instrumental in the search for a new U-of-I president. Vilsack says he “trusts” the Board of Regents to find the right person for the job.
“This has been a difficult period for everyone associated and involved with the University of Iowa. Everyone shares the same goal, which is to find the best president for this university,” Vilsack says. “I’m confident that despite the troubles, we will find the best president.”
The university has been without a president since June. In mid-November, a search committee rejected the four finalists for the job. Vilsack convinced the search committee and the board to reconsider and a candidate was picked from among the four, but he turned down the job Thursday.
“I know that there are some concerns on the campus and I appreciate and respect those, but I’m going to continue to keep my focus on what is, I think, the most important job we all have which is to do all we can to get the best president — which is why I made the call I made earlier this week,” Vilsack says. According to Vilsack, the prospect turned the job down for personal reasons and not because of the uproar on campus.
The Board of Regents meets Monday, and while Vilsack says he’ll talk with the board about restarting the process of searching for a new U-of-I president, he will not publicly offer advice or suggest what lessons were learned from the aborted search.
“I still have confidence in all of us — not just the Regents, but the faculty and the staff and the students and the deans and all of the people on the campus,” Vilsack says. “We will eventually find a very, very top-notch candidate for this job and we will see the University of Iowa continue to have a strong tradition of excellence.”
Vilsack’s term in office will end January 12th when the next governor is sworn in, and he concedes it’s unlikely a president for the University of Iowa will be chosen before he leaves office.
“Regardless of what happens in terms of activities on campus, they should not loose focus on the single most important thing out of this…that we get the very best president,” Vilsack says. “I am confident at the end of all of this…we will find that candidate.”