The state board of Regents today (Friday) turned down the finalists for the University of Iowa president’s position and dissolved their search committee. Most of the board members participated via telephone and held a closed session before taking the 6-2 vote.
Regents president Michael Gartner of Des Moines would not comment on the vote. Gartner did issue this statement after the meeting: “The search committee worked long and hard and did a wonderful job, but in the end the Regents felt that while these candidates were wonderfully accomplished people, the Regents needed candidates who had more experience as leaders who oversaw complex health-sciences operations as well as the myriad of other academic and non-academic operations of a large university.?
Gartner wouldn’t comment beyond referring reporters to the statement and had this to say when he was asked what happens next. Gartner says everyone will go and have a Thanksgiving with their families and they’ll decide what to do then. Regent Teresa Wahlert of Waukee did elaborate more on the number of candidates involved.
Wahlert says there were over 150 candidates throughout the process. She calls the group “diverse” and says seven candidates that made it to the interview process. Wahlert was asked if the seven candidates were semifinalists, and said only that they were interviewed. Wahlert was asked about the background of the candidates. Wahlert says the candidates were from all over the place, and said she couldn’t comment on whether any of the candidates were from Iowa.
Wahlert referred reporters to the statement issued by Gartner for any further information on the candidates. Wahlert was asked where the search goes from here. Wahlert says they have a great interim president who will continue on and after Thanksgiving the board will determine what the next move is. U-of-I faculty and others have been critical of the process because there have not been any on-campus forums with the candidates and the list of candidates has not been made public.
Wahlert says they’re keeping the search process quiet for a reason. Wahlert says, “The reason is because it’s a confidential process. And what that means to me and to others is that there are peoples lives and careers at risk. And so it’s best to respect all the candidates, and respect their situation in life and to not release any information. And each time we had a meeting we had a search committee meeting we signed a confidentiality agreement specific to that nature.”
Wahlert says they listened to concerns from the faculty and others, but says they never got far enough in the process to hold any open forums on campus. The board is searching for a replacement for David Skorton who left in June to become the president of Cornell College in Ithaca, New York.