Iowa Board of Regents narrows executive director search to five

Names of two candidates made public

Former Regents Executive Director Bob Donley looks on during a Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on March 11, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Former Regents Executive Director Bob Donley looks on during a Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on March 11, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

A Board of Regents committee has narrowed a pool of 42 applicants to become its next executive director down to five semifinalists — including an ethics and diversity director for Northern Illinois University and a director of research regulatory affairs at Des Moines University.

The board’s governance and evaluation committee this week reviewed applicants to replace former Executive Director Bob Donley, who resigned July 15 after nine years. Of the 42 who submitted resumes by the Aug. 7 deadline, 12 did not request to be evaluated in private — allowing the committee to mull those applicants in open session.

Of those 12, the board agreed to advance three to the semifinal stage — one of whom dropped out shortly after being chosen because he has accepted another position. The committee advanced another three from the pool of 30 they discussed in private — leaving the regents with five semifinalists.

The board committee tentatively plans to interview semifinalists Sept. 13 at the board office in Urbandale, according to Board of Regents spokesman Josh Lehman. An earlier timeline suggests the board will interview finalists and make a selection in September, allowing the new executive director to start Nov. 1.

Donley’s resignation came less than a month after Iowa State University President Steven Leath resigned to lead Auburn University — leaving the board to conduct two high-profile searches at once. Since 2015, the board has been tasked with replacing all three of its public university presidents and now its executive director. In none of the university president searches did the board make public names of semifinalists — out of concern the publicity would limit the pool.

In all the presidential searches, however, the board announced plans to introduce the finalists to their respective campuses. Lehman said the board hasn’t decided whether to make public finalists for its executive director post — which answers to the board and oversees its office staff, among other things.

The two semifinalists whose names were made public this week are Diane Ament, director of research regulatory affairs at Des Moines University’s Osteopathic Medical Center, and William McCoy, director of ethics education and diversity initiatives at Northern Illinois University’s College of Business.

As part of his duties at Northern Illinois, McCoy directs a BELIEF program — a nationally-ranked business ethics enterprise. His highest degree is a doctorate in educational leadership from Edgewood College in Madison, Wis.

Ament’s highest degree is a master’s of public administration from Iowa State. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration, management and organization from University of Iowa. She worked for Iowa State in various roles between 2001 and 2011 — including as an export and regulatory control administrator and director of the Office for Responsible Research.

The third candidate advanced from those names made public — the one who later dropped out — was Tad Brinkerhoff, who lists his most recent employment as assistant dean of MBA programs at the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.

He was employed there earlier this year, but no longer is listed as an employee on the college’s website. Brinkerhoff also served at earlier points in his career as director of MBA programs at Purdue University and Brigham Young University. His highest degree is a doctorate in educational leadership and foundations from BYU.

A main reason the board’s governance and evaluation committee cited for dismissing the candidates reviewed in open session was lack of education or job experience.

One candidate, for example, directed a federally-funded environmental restoration program in North Dakota for 20 years and conducted research at North Dakota State University but has no academic administrative experience.

Another candidate lives in Uganda and has run for political office there, while another spent most of his time in the marketing world — his highest degree is a bachelor’s from Summit University in Pennsylvania.

“This is not what we’re looking for,” one member of the regent committee said about his application.

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