The 21st president of the University of Iowa is reflecting on his sometimes tumultuous first academic year in Iowa City. Bruce Harreld spoke with KCRG-TV. “It’s been a whirlwind,” Harreld said.
Since his hiring in November of last year, the former Kraft and IBM vice president took flack for having too little academic experience. At public events, students and faculty have protested his appointment.
Brad Pector, a U-I junior and co-creator of the group Iowans Defending Our Universities, says members still want Harreld out. “Where he comes from, his background, (he) hasn’t supported higher education before,” Pector told KCRG. “He hasn’t exactly been welcoming of some of the community members.”
Harreld insists, these days, things have calmed and cooperation has started. He believes the major critics that remain are a loud minority. “A lot of people have really come out of the wood work to help, once they realize I’m not the ogre that’s going to slash and burn,” Harreld said. “Somebody said I was going to sell Mural. Give me a break. Come on.” The University of Iowa Museum of Art owns one of Jackson Pollock’s more famous paintings, called “Mural.”
Looking to the future, Harreld said he’s developed some core goals. They include finding and better focusing university dollars, retain and attract quality educators, continue to push up four-year graduation rates, and improve the U-I’s national academic rankings. “I think anything we touch, we need to do with excellence,” Harreld said. “That isn’t to say we need to do everything. But, the things we choose to do we need to do in a world class way.”
The Board of Regents approved a 5-year contract for Harreld at $590,000 a year.