Education

Another University of Iowa departure adds to growing list

Lon Moeller

UI associate provost
Lon Moeller UI associate provost

Another University of Iowa administrator on Tuesday announced he’s leaving campus for a different job – adding to the growing list of administrative departures and increasing turnover within the upper UI ranks.

Lon Moeller, who has been UI associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College since 2014 and on campus for more than 20 years, has been named senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

He’ll join former UI Provost Barry Butler, who nearly one year ago announced he was leaving after 33 years on campus to become the sixth president of Embry-Riddle, a private institution focused on aviation, aerospace, and research.

Butler started his new gig March 13, and Moeller – who worked with Butler in the UI provost’s office – has said his last day at Iowa will come in late March.

Moeller’s announcement means the university will add another search to its list – as it’s currently in need of a permanent provost, chief diversity officer, and vice president for research and economic development – to name a few of the open administrative roles.

Just two weeks ago, UI Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Lyn Redington announced she’ll be leaving in the coming months to become Vice President for Student Life at Idaho State University. The university has not announced plans for an interim replacement or search to fill that job.

Announcing Redington’s departure was Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers, who has been on the job just six months after UI President Bruce Harreld picked her to succeed Tom Rocklin.

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Although Butler left one year ago, the provost post continues to be filled on an interim basis – by former UI College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry. Replacing her at the college, while she serves as interim provost, is Interim Dean Keith Mueller.

Public health isn’t the only UI college in a state of impermanence, with College of Law Dean Gail Agrawal planning to retire at the end of this academic year, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Chaden Djalali planning to step down in July.

Curry in September appointed a search committee to replace Agrawal, and that process is ongoing. She initially told members of the liberal arts and sciences college, the biggest on campus, she planned to wait until after a campuswide review to search for their new dean.

But after many expressed concern about how a delay would affect the moral of faculty – some who fear the campus review, called the Academic Organizational Structure 2020 Initiative, is destined to break up their college – Curry reversed course.

“After listening to your concerns, I agree that it is in the best interest of the college and the university to begin a search sooner rather than later,” Curry said in a November email.

Justifying their opposition to a delayed search, faculty argued interim leadership would make it difficult to recruit new hires, drive away top scholars already on campus, and affect its standing with the prestigious Association of American Universities.

“The current dean in CLAS at the moment is in transition of departure, creating a hiatus in leadership,” according to a faculty committee letter in October. “There does not appear to be sufficient apprehension of the serious risks to the college’s reputation in not appointing a permanent dean.”

The university is continuing its campus organization review and has not yet launched a search for a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean, although officials on Tuesday said they expect that will be announced “soon.”

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UI vice presidential roles in flux include associate vice president and chief diversity officer, formerly held by Georgina Dodge and filled on an interim basis by associate professor Lena Hill; and vice president for research and economic development, formerly held by Danial Reed and filled on an interim basis by Graduate College Dean John Keller.

Dodge, who also served as the university’s Title IX coordinator, left in July to become associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Bucknell University, a private institution in rural Pennsylvania. Monique DiCarlo, the UI’s sexual misconduct response coordinator, has been named Title IX coordinator, but the university hasn’t yet launched a search for a permanent chief diversity officer and associate vice president.

It has formed a search committee charged with replacing Reed, and it’s also searching for a new UI Museum of Art Director after Sean O’Harrow left at the start of last year. Former Iowa congressman and visiting professor Jim Leach is serving as interim director.

Across the Iowa River, on the university’s medical campus, transition has been just as prevalent. Former Vice President of Medical Affairs for UI Health Care Jean Robillard officially stepped down in November after Harreld picked Brooks Jackson, from the University of Minnesota, to replace him. Jackson also filled the role of Dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, as Robillard covered both jobs.

Shortly Before Robillard’s departure, but long after he announced plans to make a change, Ken Fisher – chief financial officer of UI Health Care – retired in June. Former UI Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer Doug True is filling in on a temporary basis. And earlier this month, UI Hospitals and Clinics CEO Ken Kates announced he’ll be retiring this summer.

The university also has seen faculty resignations increase in recent years. A report last February, the most recent available, showed UI resignations in the 2016 budget year reached 94 – up from 90 in 2015 and 66 in 2014, which was more representative of the UI average of 68.4.

UI officials have said aggressive recruiting across the health care industry has had some effect on the numbers. And the university has landed several big names – like Ted Abel, an internationally renowned neuroscientist from the University of Pennsylvania and its Biological Basis of Behavior Program.

Harreld has warned the Board of Regents and state lawmakers that without sufficient resources to compete for esteemed academics, faculty will continue to leave. The Legislature, however, continues to cut its support for Iowa’s public universities — again proposing a midyear multimillion dollar takeback in appropriations.

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