The committed assigned to help find the replacement for retiring University of Iowa president Sally Mason met for the first time Wednesday. U-I vice president for medical affairs, Jean Robillard is the chair of the committee, and he talked about the expectations he’s hearing on the Iowa City campus.
“People want the university to renew itself. They want a person with relevant experience, but they want also the committee to have really an open mind and to cast a wide net to identify a candidate,” Robillard explains. “Their expectations is to be in the top ten of the public universities in this country. They want a charismatic leader who will excite the students and faculty and give a sense of pride to everyone, including the staff, about what this university is all about. They want somebody who is entrepreneurial as well,” Robillard says.
Robillard joked that when you add up all the things people are looking for in the new president, they want someone who can “walk on water, not just in the winter, but also in the summer.”
Mason is set to retire in August, and the committee plans to wait to hold interviews of the finalists on campus until everyone is back for the fall semester. Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter told the committee that will require the appointment of an interim president once Mason steps down. “Myself and president pro-tem Mullholland intend to recommend to the board of Regents at the April meeting, that Jean Robillard be appointed interim president when that happens. We think that’s an important part of the search, since he is chairing the search, that that be known ahead of time,” Rastetter says.
Rastetter says its key to have an interim president in place until the new president is found. “Because I think it’s really important that through this process there be a smooth transition,” Rastetter says. Rastetter says the board will conduct a large national advertising campaign to search for the new president. He also encouraged the members of the search committee to reach out to their contacts to seek the best possible candidate.
The Board of Regents has also hired a search firm to help with the process.