The search to replace retiring University of Iowa president Sally Mason will begin later this month. U-I vice president for medical affairs Jean Robillard is the chair of the search committee and he told the Board of Regents Wednesday they will get together on March 25th.
“The first meeting will be really an organizational meeting in which the president of the board will give the committee a charge for what we are to do. The second thing I think, we will discuss the process with the search firm,” Robillard says.
Robillard says there’s no consensus thus far his discussions in with the 21 members of committee on what they are looking for. “When I say there is no consensus, it’s more about the type of person and so on. I think about where they university should go there’s clear consensus — absolutely clear. But about what type of leader there are all sorts of ideas,” Robillard says. “And I think this is healthy for the university community to have an opportunity to really discuss that and express what they want.”
Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter says the timing of the search means they will be taking applications through the spring and work toward selecting the candidates. He says in June and July they will go through the applications and narrow them down and then bring the finalists onto campus for interviews the first week of the fall semester when everyone is back on campus.
The board came under criticism for a lack of openness in the last search for a U-I president. The early selection of candidates will not be public but the names of the finalists will be as they come to campus. Rastetter says the public process does create some concerns for candidates. “There’s a hesitancy for some of those…to make their name public when they may be one of four,” Rastetter says.
He says despite the concerns of potential candidates, they will use the same process they used recently in hiring presidents for Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. Rastetter was asked about how the process could impact the number of candidates.
“A growing trend nationally has been to have trustees and the regents to do private searches so that those who in strong leadership positions can continue to remain confidential,” Rastetter says. “In this search we’ve opted to conduct it the same way we have the other two. The challenge with the other two is a couple of finalists who were chosen to be finalists that would have been quality presidents didn’t want to make their names public.”
Mason became the school’s 20th president in August of 2007 and will retire in August of this year.