University of Iowa presidential search costs start to trickle in

Search committee has billed $15K to date

The Old Capitol Building and Jessup Hall (left) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9 TV9)
The Old Capitol Building and Jessup Hall (left) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9 TV9)

IOWA CITY — Once the University of Iowa campus knew the names of all four finalists in the running to become its next president, many immediately began questioning the group’s lack of diversity.

All four candidates were white men — Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov; Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein; Ohio State University Provost Joseph Steinmetz; and former IBM executive J. Bruce Harreld.

Those men were chosen from among 46 applicants — none of whom were publicly identified, prompting questions of whether the presidential search complied with state and board equal opportunity and affirmative action mandates.

The search committee declined to disclose details about the applicant pool, including the number of women and minority candidates, but the Board of Regents this week shared some information reflecting the applicant pool’s diversity and the steps taken to recruit minorities.

8 percent of the broader pool was female.

24 percent of the broader pool was minority.

58 women declined to apply after having a discussion.

100-plus women were contacted about the position.

Board of Regents policy requires it provide equal opportunity in all aspects of operations regardless of race, creed, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. That policy also applies to officials responsible to the board and contractors, including its public universities.

“Each institution under the Board of Regents shall promulgate a clear and unambiguous written policy of non-discrimination and shall adopt an affirmative action program,” according to board policy.

UI programs and policies include a recruitment and selection process that aims to attract a diverse array of applicants, provide all applicants an equal opportunity to apply, take affirmative action to address underrepresented areas for women or racial and ethnic minorities, and work to reach employment targets for those groups.


Sarah Fisher Gardial, dean of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business and one of eight faculty members on the 21-member UI presidential search committee, said the group of finalists didn’t lack racial and gender diversity because they didn’t try.

“There was diversity in the larger pool,” Gardial told The Gazette last week. “And I will tell you that it was a constant and important issue that we discussed at every meeting.”

Gardial said she personally called women she thought would be good candidates for the job.

“At the end of the day, we couldn’t get the finalist pool we would have all liked,” she said. “I think everyone would have been happier with more diversity.”

Search costs

Now that the hunt is over — the Board of Regents last week hired Harreld to become the 21st UI president at a starting salary of $590,000 — costs associated with the search are beginning to trickle in.

To date, members of the search committee have requested $15,830 in expense reimbursements, and that amount is expected to go up. For starters, Parker Executive Search — the firm hired to facilitate the process — hasn’t yet submitted a bill.

The Parker bill is expected to include its $200,000 services charge plus additional expenses for candidate travel, lodging, food and other costs.

The $15,830 charged to date includes $4,431 for travel, $6,377 for publication expenses, $2,282 for food and beverages, and $1,523 for “event services.”

For the Iowa State University search that netted President Steven Leath in 2011, final expenses totaled more than $38,000, including $17,000 for travel costs and $14,000 for interview expenses.


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The Board of Regents used Parker for that search as well but paid the firm $95,000 for its services, less than half the $200,000 charged this time around. The board also used Parker in 2012 for its University of Northern Iowa presidential search, paying the consultant $90,000 in that case.

For the most recent UI presidential search, search committee members traveled to Chicago in early August to interview nine prospects at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. The four finalists chosen from that pool were brought to the UI campus in late August and early September.

They came one at a time — on a Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. The first three candidates went home after their individual visits and then were brought back to campus for a final interview with the Board of Regents, a board spokesman said.

UI records officials on Friday said they have not yet seen reimbursement requests from any candidates.

Earlier this week, UI faculty members and students passed votes of “no confidence” in the regents for appointing Harreld despite widespread and vocal concern that he’s not qualified for the job.

The votes aimed to reflect “no confidence” in the board’s ability to govern the institutions and in its ability to fulfill its mission and values. And both faculty and students criticized the board for being wasteful, accusing it of bringing three candidates to campus who it never intended to hire and paying a premium to a search firm that missed “glaring errors” in Harreld’s resume.

“The sense of waste in the whole process of our time and of our energy and all of that is pretty devastating,” said UI Faculty Senate President Christina Bohannan during the meeting that resulted in the no-confidence vote.

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter addressed the votes during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, saying those critics were not the only people he heard from. And, he said, the board believes Harreld presented the best vision and plan for moving the university beyond the status quo.


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