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IOWA CITY — Three years after stepping in as dean of the University of Iowa’s nationally-ranked College of Engineering, Harriet Nembhard is leaving to become president of a Southern California liberal arts college specializing in science, engineering and math.
Nembhard will take the reins of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., on July 1 — three years after starting as UI dean in June 2020. She’ll continue serving as UI College of Engineering dean through June, according to UI officials.
During her tenure at the UI, Nembhard led initiatives in strategic planning, improving the college’s research profile and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion. She also led the college through the pandemic and its challenges, including virtual education and laboratory restrictions.
Managing a $100 million budget, Nembhard oversaw six academic departments hosting eight undergraduate academic programs that this fall welcomed 1,764 undergraduates, 75 master’s students and 198 doctoral candidates.
UI’s engineering college has 96 tenured and tenure-track faculty, including Nembhard’s husband, David Nembhard — a professor in both industrial and systems engineering and business analytics — who also will leave the UI.
“Under her leadership, the College of Engineering has continued to build upon its exceptional research reputation while advancing equity and inclusion in STEM education,” UI Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel said in a statement. “She leaves the college in a strong position moving forward.”
In announcing Harvey Mudd’s selection of Nembhard as its sixth president, its Board of Trustees Chair James Bean touted her breadth of experience and contributions to educating the next generation of STEM leaders.
“I’m excited to bring my passion for STEM education to Harvey Mudd College, a leading higher education institution in experimentation and innovation, especially in developing inclusive pedagogy, increasing diversity in STEM and incorporating interdisciplinary approaches,” Nembhard said in a statement. “I’m also excited to join a college that is so deeply dedicated to inspiring its students to have a positive impact on society.”
Nembhard’s departure leaves UI with one of its remaining 12 deans identifying as a minority -- College of Law Dean Kevin Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Half the remaining deans are women.
The Iowa Board of Regents’ most recent affirmative action report shows about 16 percent of UI’s executive, administrative or managerial staff in October 2021 identified as a minority, up from 8 percent in 2016 and 5 percent in 2011.
UI plans to launch a national search for Nembhard’s replacement this spring semester. The campus also is looking for a new College of Medicine dean after Brooks Jackson earlier this year announced plans to step down as soon as his successor starts.
Nembhard’s starting salary in 2020 was $350,000 and today she’s earning $360,500.
By accepting the presidency, Nembhard returns to Claremont — where at age 16 she began her college career studying engineering management at Claremont McKenna College.
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