Education

University of Iowa names committee to search for new liberal arts dean

'I had initially planned to wait'

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette/file photo)
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette/file photo)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa this week named 16 faculty members to lead the search for its new College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean — adding to the growing number of UI administrative searches underway and fulfilling a promise made to faculty last semester.

Henry B. Tippie College of Business Dean Sarah Gardial and David Ryfe, director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will co-chair the search committee to replace outgoing College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Chaden Djalali, who last March announced plans to step down June 30 — after serving since 2012.

Interim Provost Sue Curry initially told faculty the university would wait to search for his replacement until after completing a sweeping review of the university’s academic organizational structure, which is continuing this semester. But many — including some who feared that review is predestined to break up the college — pushed back, and Curry listened.

“I had initially planned to wait until after the completion of the second phase of the Academic Organizational Structure 2020 Initiative,” Curry wrote to faculty in an email last semester. “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.”

Arguments against delaying the search focused on faculty morale with uncertainty at the helm — along with the challenge of keeping esteemed academics on campus and recruiting top prospects. The college currently has about 50 tenure-track, clinical-track, and lecturer searches underway across 28 departments.

Still, progressing with a search now won’t negate the need for interim leadership. Curry this spring plans to name an interim dean, with plans to bring finalists to replace Djalali on a permanent basis to campus in the fall.

That interim leader — whoever she or he might be — will join numerous other interim leaders across the UI campus, including Curry, who stepped in after former UI Provost Barry Butler left last March for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

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Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Lon Moeller announced earlier this week he’s following Butler to Embry-Riddle next month, leaving his role vacant. The university also has interim leadership in its College of Public Health, Chief Diversity Office, and Office of Research and Economic Development — to name a few.

Chris Brochu, a UI earth and environmental sciences professor, was among the liberal arts and sciences faculty concerned about delaying a search for a new dean — in part — because of its potential impact on faculty morale, recruitment, and retention.

He told The Gazette this week he’s glad Curry listened to his colleagues’ warnings and kicked one off sooner — in that it showed the university does, in fact, plan to hire one.

“I was really gratified when Interim Provost Curry moved toward hiring a permanent dean,” he said. “That showed she really was listening to us.”

With the holidays and winter break, Brochu said, he didn’t expect a search to launch sooner — adding the provost took time to collect input from faculty on who should serve on the committee.

Other members of the committee include:

• Alan Christensen, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

• Kent Clark, vice president for the UI Center for Advancement

• Suzanne Doershuk, grants administrator for the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

• Carolyn L. Green, a UI alumnus

• Karen Heimer, professor in the Department of Sociology

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• Lisa Heineman, professor and chair with the Department of History

• Craig A. Kletzing, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

• Rebekah Kowal, associate professor, chair, and DEO with the Department of Dance

• Teresa A. Marshall, professor in the Department of Preventative and Community Dentistry

• Guowei Qi, undergraduate student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

• Rene Rocha, associate professor in the Department of Political Science

• Maggy Tomova, professor and chair in the Department of Mathematics

• Deborah Whaley, professor in the Department of American Studies

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• Kaleigh White, graduate student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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