IOWA CITY — The head of University of Iowa’s largest college has been appointed executive vice president and provost of Ohio University — more than a year after he announced his long-term plan to resign this coming summer due to, among other things, “ongoing academic, administrative, and financial changes.”
UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Chaden Djalali’s last day will be June 30, which lines up with his announcement to faculty in March 2017 that he planned to step down July 1, 2018.
“Taking into account both personal matters (involving health issues in my family) and the ongoing academic, administrative, and financial changes faced by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of CLAS and myself that I do not seek another term as CLAS dean,” he wrote in his faculty message.
Djalali’s departure is among many in the UI administrative and leadership ranks of late — with ongoing or recent turnover atop the colleges of Law, Medicine, Public Health, and Liberal Arts and Sciences, along with changes in vice presidential posts and its dean of students, chief diversity officer, and provost and associate provost positions.
UI Health Care, similarly, has seen significant turnover among its leadership recently, including at the top — with Vice President for Medical Affairs Brooks Jackson taking over for Jean Robillard and searches underway for a chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
The 16-month notice that Djalali gave was meant to allow him to fully carry out his duties and commitments, “and allow for a smooth transition as CLAS moves toward new leadership.”
Despite the early notice, UI officials initially planned to delay a search for his replacement until after completing a campuswide review that some faculty worried was fated to break up the college. That review, officially labeled the “Academic Organizational Structure 2020 Initiative,” involves two phases and a committee, which is expected to provide a report to Interim Provost Sue Curry this spring.
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Following pushback from faculty worried delaying a search could drive away elite scholars, inhibit talent recruitment, harm the UI standing with the Association of American Universities, and affect its national ranking, Curry in the fall changed 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 wrote in an email to faculty.
The university in February named 16 UI community members to a search committee, including co-chairs Sarah Gardial, dean of the Tippie College of Business, and David Ryfe, director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
A search website, which includes a position description and a call for applications and nominations, reports the university has retained the firm Isaacson, Miller to assist. The site does not include a timeline.
Despite Djalali’s early notice, the university expects to appoint an interim dean later this month, according to the UI Office of Strategic Communication.
Djalali, who also holds the title physics and astronomy professor, has served as UI dean since 2012. He came to UI from the University of South Carolina, where he had taught since 1989 and served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 2004.
During his time at UI, Djalali supported creating the UI Instructional Faculty Policy, aimed at improving the status and strengthening the role of lecturers on campus. He also helped maintain “high levels of external grant support for research despite a difficult national climate,” according to the communications office.
“I would like to thank him for his service and congratulate him on his exciting new role,” Curry said in a statement. “With a history in research, instruction, and administration, we appreciate the dedication Chaden brought to our community.”
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In an Ohio University news release Monday, that campus’ President M. Duane Nellis noted Djalali has a reputation for collaborating with faculty and engaging external partners while maintaining an “impressive record of research.”
“In my conversations with him, it has become clear that Chaden possesses the critical balance of experience as a dedicated scholar and teacher and as a visionary leader of a comprehensive and diverse college at a large public university,” Nellis said in a statement.
Djalali, who officially assumes his new duties Aug. 1, told Ohio University he sees “an energy among my new colleagues and on the faces of the students.”
“Ohio University is poised to become a national leader in student success by building on its impressive record of experiential learning, undergraduate and graduate research, and community and regional engagement,” he said in a statement. “Together, we will strengthen Ohio’s reputation as a quality research institution that transforms our students by providing top-tier educational experiences.”
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