To the editor:
It’s old news that J. Bruce Harreld received preferential treatment during the University of Iowa presidential search process, treatment given to no other candidate or prospective candidate.
This included pre-application-deadline meetings with members of the Board of Regents who weren’t even on the search committee.
In that regard, and before all of this becomes ancient history, I want to add one observation. From my perspective as a teacher of writing, I was struck by the language that Regent Mary Andringa used in her email on July 31 to Harreld: “I urge you to continue to give us in Iowa a chance to tap into your great skill set, experience, and passion for excellence through strategic change by being open to the presidency of the U of I.” And she continued, “Higher education, as you articulated in our meeting, is heading toward crisis. Crisis necessitates change — it may be the big challenge that can energize you in the next five years.”
That’s not simply the kind of language you use to encourage a person to apply for a job; that’s the kind of language you use to signal that the job is his for the taking. And that is preferential treatment indeed.