The State Board of Regents voted today to approve the retirement of University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld once a successor can be found.
The board also voted to hire a consulting firm and set up a search committee. Harreld spoke to the board during their online meeting about his decision to announce his retirement last week.
“Personally I think the university has not over the last several decades done a great job in succession planning. Not only for my position –but for other positions. I think succession planning connected with resource allocation are the two most important responsibilities for a president, a chair, a board,” Harreld said.
Harreld says the school has reacted instead of planned. “I think what we’ve done is tended to wait for someone to retire or resign, and then we appoint an interim. The interim comes in — and we’ve had some great interims, I’m not picking on the individuals — but what happens is the natural tendency for an organization to relax and go on pause,” according to Harreld.
Harreld said there are too many issues facing the U-I for anything to be paused. He also pitched the importance of having someone there to help with the transition of the new president. “I could have really used someone to have guided me around the issues, the strategy, meeting people not only on campus, but also the major donors — and certainly I got through that — but it probably took a year or maybe more for me to get productive,” Harreld said.
He offered to help the new president with the transition. “If my successor would like, I would like to help them in that transition. It may not take that long — but I just don’t think it is disappear,” Harreld said. The Board of Regent’s statement last week announcing the retirement said the hope is to have a new president in place by the start of the fall 2021 semester — but said it will be coordinated with the search committee to make sure there is an appropriate time frame to do a thorough search.
Harreld said he has been told it could take 12 to 18 months in a normal time to find a replacement — and that could take longer under the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.