The second finalist seeking to become the next president at the University of Iowa is currently serving as the second in command in the University of Illinois system.
Barbara Wilson spoke at a public forum Thursday and says this job provides her an opportunity to continue working in a system she loves. “The Big Ten is true and dear to my heart. It is where we make this big phenomenal, magical experiences for students. And it is where we have these tremendous ways that we can be impactful on the research side. And we typically impact the whole state,” Wilson says.
Wilson admits that universities face an enrollment cliff as enrollment continues to drop. She says it is something she will have to address. “I think there are a couple of things any vibrant and competitive university needs to think about. One is, do we have the right story? Are we defining who we are? And are we in the marketplace in a way that our brand is obvious to students and their families? Are we committed to the things they care about? And how are we different from other institutions?,” according to Wilson.
She says they also need more focus on transfer students. “And about what we’re going to do to educate older workers and people who want to return to college. We are doing a lot of that at Illinois,” Wilson says. “We are thinking about online degrees and certificates that we are going to provide in certain fields.”
Wilson was asked about how the school can help rural communities. “The healthcare aspect of what you’ve got here gives you a natural connection I think to all of the counties. All 99 counties in the state are served by the healthcare enterprise here. So, I would want to lift that up as much as we can, and figure out ways to partner with the community,” Wilson says.
Wilson will continue meeting with campus leaders today. The last two candidates for the post will visit next week.