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IOWA CITY - The search for a 22nd University of Iowa president has seemed mostly quiet for months while consultants, along with committee and community members, engaged in the behind-the-scenes work of recruiting and nominating prospects - in hopes of developing a robust applicant pool.
But in one week, the 21-member search committee finally will get to glimpse the fruits of those labors after the application period 'for best consideration” closes Monday and the group on Tuesday achieves access - for the first time - to the portal of applications.
On March 26 - giving the search committee 10 days to sift through applicant names and materials - the group will convene for a closed-door full-day meeting to weed out applicants falling short of candidate standards and identify semifinalists.
'The rest of the timeline is based somewhat on the number of semifinalists that we believe we might be bringing into consideration, and then the number of finalists,” UI Graduate College Dean and search committee co-chair John Keller said during a search committee meeting Friday.
The tentative plan, though, is to conduct virtual semifinalist interviews April 1-3 - given them as long as an hour and a half each to answer committee questions and ask some of their own. Should the committee identify four finalists it wants to engage in hybrid campus visits - bringing them to town to meet with individuals in safe spaces, while also inviting them to participate in online town halls - prospects would start coming in two-day increments April 12.
If the committee finds only three top prospects, they'd start the visits April 15 and wrap them April 23. Between now and then, the committee will identify methods of collecting and measuring community feedback.
Committee co-chair Sandy Daack-Hirsch, interim executive associate dean of the UI College of Nursing, said the group also must determine how it will systematically evaluate applicants.
'We need to do a candidate evaluation tool,” Daack-Hirsch said. 'When we're evaluating our semifinalists, we need a tool that we use consistently to evaluate and decide how do we make our decision to get to finalists?”
The tentative campus-feedback deadline will be April 27, and the search committee will meet to compile that feedback April 28. The committee expects to meet to communicate its findings to the state Board of Regents the next day.
The board will pick a new leader to succeed outgoing UI President Bruce Harreld on April 30.
'That is the time frame that we are working on,” Keller said. 'We know it's very ambitious, that it is very time-consuming, for us, for all of you.”
One week after the board is scheduled to choose a new president, UI classes close for the spring semester - ushering in the start of finals week in an academic year like none before. Commencement ceremonies - including those now in person - are scheduled throughout t May.
When Harreld in October announced his retirement - three years before his contract expires - he explained the need to get the search started sooner, given lengthy delays he expected the pandemic might create in netting a new president.
He also said he plans to stay on until a new president begins and is acclimated - negating the need for interim leadership. Although Harreld said he'd even stay on beyond his contract's expiration in 2023, if necessary, the search seems to be running smoothly and typically.
During its meeting Friday, the UI presidential search committee also discussed questions it wants to ask semifinalists and finalists - including about challenges they've faced, how they'd communicate with the campus, and what they would do to prioritize free speech and diversity.
'We are looking for a leader that will be the ‘face' of the university on campus, in our local community, in the state, and for our state on the national stage for higher education,” according to one draft question the group proposed, asking the candidate to describe experiences 'demonstrating your ability to take on these roles.”
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