The state Board of Regents decided Monday evening to re-start the search for a new University of Iowa president with a search committee that will be radically different than the one that was dissolved in November. The original committee was led by a regent and drew criticism for its lack of input from the university community. The regents met in a telephone conference call Monday night and Regent Robert Downer proposed a U-of-I dean as the chair of the new committee.
Downer made a motion that David Johnsen, the dean of the College of Dentistry be named the chair of the new search committee. Downer says Johnsen recently served as the spokesperson for the university deans when the deans met with the regents. And Downer says Johnsen is the senior dean at the Iowa City school in terms of years on the faculty.
Downer says, “He (Johnsen) heads a very highly ranked college, one of the top two or three dental schools in the country and I believe the highest ranked college within our regents universities. So, it seemed to me that all of these things taken together pointed to someone who would be a superb leader, and who would have the confidence of all involved.” The board dismissed the four finalists selected by the first committee saying they didn’t have enough experience in the health sciences, and the unanimous approval of Johnsen gives them someone with that experience to lead the new search committee.
Regents President Michael Gartner says the group has also made another decision about the new committee. Gartner says one of the things the board has agreed upon is that the new committee will not include anyone who served on the first committee. The regents also discussed the possibility that the new committee will not contain any regents, depending on how the new chair wants to proceed.
The first committee came under fire after paying some 200-thousand dollars to a consultant who brought forward finalists who were rejected by the board. Regents executive secretary, Gary Steinke, says the consultants will continue working with the new committee at no extra charge. Steinke says the consultants won’t charge any extra fee, they will only charge for expenses. Steinke says the criticism of the fees paid the consultants for a failed search wasn’t a factor in their continuing without additional fees. Steinke says the original contract called for the consultants to continue if the search did not work out. Steinke says it’s good to see the search get started once again.
Steinke says he’s excited and believes they’ll move to a successful conclusion. The regents say they would like to move as quickly as possible in selecting a new University of Iowa president, but can’t say how quickly things will proceed until they have a chance to meet with the new chair and approve the rest of the committee.