The University President as CEO

The University of Iowa selected a new President. Let’s see how this has gone:

Harreld, a former IBM executive with no experience in higher education administration, had “a clear lack of faculty support,” Faculty Senate President Christina Bohannan told the Iowa Board of Regents in the Sept. 2 email. Choosing him over three other candidates who were warmly received would “destroy the goodwill” with faculty leaders and prompt calls for a no-confidence vote in the regents, she warned.

A day later, the regents voted unanimously to make Harreld the school’s 21st president and gave him a five-year contract, sparking protests from faculty and staff.

Board President Bruce Rastetter has said the regents considered Harreld the best leader for the university and received feedback from the “greater Iowa community” as well as from campus.

The clear lack of support is shown in this poll which shows that 89.3, 93.1 and 98.3% of faculty members thought the other 3 candidates were qualified while 2.5% thought Harreld was qualified (4.9% of non-faculty thought he was qualified).

Well, the faculty and students will get over it, right? Not so far:

Faculty members at the University of Iowa on Tuesday voted no confidence in the statewide Board of Regents, less than a week after the regents fanned a controversy at the state’s flagship university by unanimously appointing J. Bruce Harreld as its next president.

But that’s just the faculty, what about students? Oops:

Both the UI Student Government student senate and the UI Graduate and Professional Student Government passed votes of no confidence in the board Tuesday night.

“The voice of the undergraduate student body was not seriously considered in the final selection process,” according to the UISG resolution, which stressed that undergraduate students comprise 73 percent of the UI enrollment. “The undergraduate student body has overwhelmingly expressed their discontent and frustration over the regents’ dismissal of their concerns in the selection of the new president.”

The graduate student resolution revisits the board’s vow throughout the presidential search process to value feedback from the UI community.

“However, it is clear that this ‘open’ search was truly not transparent, and the collective voices of all the constituencies at UI were not taken into account and further, actively ignored,” according to the resolution. “It is unfortunate that the board took this action in the face of such fierce and vocal opposition from the UI community.”

Well, the board will certainly be feeling meek now. Umm:

Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter described the faculty’s vote as a sign that professors were resisting changes needed to make the school’s business practices sustainable.

“We are disappointed that some of those stakeholders have decided to embrace the status quo of the past over opportunities for the future,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

That would be this Rastetter:

Bruce Rastetter, an agribusiness mogul who’s made a fortune in pork, ethanol and farm real estate, has long worked behind the scenes to help bankroll conservatives across the country, but Saturday is a public coming out party of sorts for Rastetter as he hosts the first-ever Iowa Agriculture Summit. It’s an event designed to promote farm policy in a state where pigs outnumber voters 10 to one, but it’s also a bold display of the political power Rastetter has amassed — and a reminder to candidates that his endorsement would be a big get ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

I worry very much about what such a person means by “opportunities for the future” and it seems most of the students and faculty at the University of Iowa agree.

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