Regents leader reiterates support for Harreld after UI students, faculty vote no confidence

Bruce Harreld answers a question during a news conference after being announced as the 21st president of the University of Iowa at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Harreld was chosen out of four finalists that the Board of Regents interviewed earlier in the day. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Bruce Harreld answers a question during a news conference after being announced as the 21st president of the University of Iowa at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Harreld was chosen out of four finalists that the Board of Regents interviewed earlier in the day. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Responding to votes of no confidence from University of Iowa faculty and students in the Board of Regents for hiring a businessman to lead the institution, regents President Bruce Rastetter said Wednesday he hopes the campus will find a way to move forward.

Rastetter shot down any suggestion that J. Bruce Harreld’s appointment as UI president could be reversed.

“He’s president elect to the University of Iowa, and I appreciate that the faculty and students did not have a vote in no confidence in President Harreld,” Rastetter said. “But at the end of the day, the Board of Regents has hired him. He has a five-year contract. He’s excited about being there.”

Rastetter said Harreld is making calls “across the country” to gain support for the university.

“He’s president elect, and we’re looking forward to him coming to campus and looking forward to him helping us with the next Legislative session,” he said. “I think a number of Iowans are pretty excited about the choice.”

On Tuesday night, UI faculty senators and student government leaders voted no confidence in the regents for hiring Harreld, who has a largely business and not academic background,

“The voice of the undergraduate student body was not seriously considered in the final selection process,” according to the UI Student Government resolution, which stressed that undergraduate students make up 73 percent of the UI enrollment.

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The graduate student resolution revisited 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.”

The graduate students, however, vowed to work with Harreld to ensure the UI continues “on a path to greatness.” Some faculty members suggested they might not be so willing.

Faculty and students have issued apologies to the other three finalists for the job who were brought to campus and who received strong support from faculty, staff and students — Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein and Ohio State University Provost Joseph Steinmetz.

Harreld, a former top executive with IBM, Kraft and Boston Market, starts Nov. 2. His five-year contract calls for a beginning salary of $590,000 and a deferred compensation package of $1 million.

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