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IOWA CITY - Without conducting a formal search - despite earlier suggestions it would - the University of Iowa on Friday named another interim administrator to assume a top leadership post on campus: dean of its largest college.
Sara Sanders stepped in as interim dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in July after its former and short-lived dean Steve Goddard abruptly resigned just a year into the job following a contentious Zoom town hall about budget cuts and fall return plans with 400-plus faculty and staff.
Sanders - a social work professor who before her interim appointment served as associate dean for strategic initiatives and director of the college's diversity, equity, and inclusion division - will earn an annual salary of $375,000, up from her interim pay of $305,000 and previous $160,980 salary.
Goddard - who came to Iowa in May 2019 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln following a lengthy search that netted four finalists - had been making $382,300 before his demotion on the heels of faculty complaints.
Now a tenured professor in the Department of Computer Science, Goddard is making $251,370.
Upon his resignation last summer, then-interim UI Provost Kevin Kregel told faculty and staff the university would conduct another search to replace Goddard - after spending nearly one year and more than $116,000 on the previous search that landed him.
'I want to assure you that we will move forward in an inclusive and transparent manner and that faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to be engaged throughout the search process once a timeline has been determined,” Kregel wrote at the time.
But Kregel, in response to questions from The Gazette on Friday, said although he believes in the value of national searches, present circumstances justify circumvention of that process.
'During a time of so much uncertainty, Dean Sanders has provided excellent leadership over the last seven months in the role of interim dean, and she has inspired trust and excitement about her ability to lead the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences into the future,” Kregel said.
Although typical top administrative searches involve a committee of representatives from a broad swath of campus, Kregel said those who've worked over, under, and alongside Sanders through the years have seen more of her leadership capabilities than they could have through an application process.
'Iowa needs consistent and principled leadership, and we are fortunate to have someone like Dean Sanders who has served in multiple leadership roles throughout her career at the university,” Kregel said. 'During that time, we've learned more about her ability to lead and work well with others than we would learn about an applicant during a two-day campus visit as part of a national search.”
The university, which has seen numerous administrative departures or announced departures in recent months - including deans of its colleges of business, engineering, dentistry, and graduate education; its provost; and its president - has filled many with interims or internal candidates.
Recent internal or interim hires include Provost Kregel; Dean of Students Angie Reams; Tippie College of Business Dean Amy Kristof-Brown; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Executive Officer Liz Tovar; Vice President of Student Life Sarah Hansen; Associate Provost and International Programs Dean Russ Ganim; and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and University College Dean Tanya Uden-Holman.
Some of those appointments are dual posts involving a college and the provost's office, and UI spokeswoman Anne Bassett told The Gazette the campus aims to fill dual appointments with internal candidates to give 'talented faculty interested in higher education an opportunity to advance their careers while remaining at Iowa.”
In that UI didn't conduct or complete searches as part of their provost, diversity, or College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean appointments, Bassett said the administration requested search waivers for those hires.
Sanders, who officially assumes her new title Monday, takes over a college that - like UI as a whole - has seen enrollment losses of late. It's spring numbers include 13,132 undergraduate and 1,827 graduate students, down from 15,749 undergraduate and 1,909 graduate students in fall 2019. The college also, like others across the campus, faces major challenges in navigating instructional and financial complexities in the waning pandemic.
Earlier in her UI career, Sanders served as undergraduate program director from 2011 to 2015; director of the School of Social Work from 2015 to 2019; and administrative fellow from 2018 to 2019.
She earned a doctorate in social work from the University of Maryland in 2002 and joined the UI faculty in 2003.
During her time as interim dean, according to the UI Office of Strategic Communication, Sanders enhanced the college's focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating a more 'inclusive and civil” community; maintained high-quality education while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic; realigned collegiate and budget priorities; and completed a strategic plan for the college.
'I am deeply honored to be asked to fill such an important role during a time of transition in higher education,” Sanders said in a statement. 'We are very fortunate to be part of a community in which we are surrounded by creativity, discovery, and new innovations. Through our work, we get to change the course of life for so many people.
'It is my goal as dean to lead with compassion so that every member of our community can thrive and reach their highest potential.”
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