Education

After months of uncertainty, University of Iowa picks dean for largest college

Steve Goddard comes from Nebraska, with research and external funding expertise

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)
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IOWA CITY — After spending more than two years in a state of leadership limbo — and in anxiety as questions swirl over what its future holds — the University of Iowa’s largest college will receive a new dean next summer.

Steve Goddard, University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior associate to the executive vice chancellor, will take the helm of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on June 1.

Goddard, whose appointment still is subject to Board of Regents approval, will earn $372,000 annually. He’ll oversee the largest of the UI’s 11 colleges, which contains 37 departments spanning visual, performing, literary and cinematic arts; humanities; natural and mathematic sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines.

More than 16,000 undergraduate students are enrolled in the college, accounting for about 68 percent of all UI undergraduates. The college also enrolls the most graduate students, with 1,914 this fall — about 33 percent of the total.

Several of its programs sit among the top 25 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings, including its Nonfiction Writing Program, Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Speech-Language Pathology department, all of which rank No. 1.

In a statement following his appointment, Goddard called the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences “a tremendous resource for the people of Iowa.”

“I am excited to work with the amazing students, faculty, and staff of the college, as well as alumni and community partners, to build on its strong legacy,” he said.

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At Nebraska, Goddard also serves as chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and as a computer science and engineering professor.

Touted as an expert in computer systems and patent litigation, he’s received over $22 million in research support from the federal government, including from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.

He’ll succeed interim dean Joseph Kearney, a UI computer science professor who has been temporary leader since former dean Chaden Djalali left on July 31.

Djalali is now provost at Ohio University. But Djalali had been planning for some time to leave the UI, announcing in March 2017 that he would leave by July 1 this year. In announcing his resignation more than a year in advance, Djalali cited personal issues and changes facing the UI college.

For much of that year, Djalali was in the job hunt as a top finalist for provost positions nationwide — including at the universities of Illinois, Cincinnati, Connecticut and Texas, according to a review by The Gazette.

He earned $348,317in his last year. Though he and UI officials announced his last day would be June 30, the university extended his contract through the end of July, paying him $26,123.77 for that month.

News that we would depart came as faculty in the sprawling college feared administrators were posturing to break it up following a sweeping “academic organizational” review.

The review aimed to help the UI “become a more forward-looking, nimble university that focuses our limited resources in support of academic excellence.”

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A first-phase report criticized too large and too disparate academic units. A second-phase report including recommendations and implementation strategies was expected in the spring, but UI officials said finalizing it has taken longer than expected. On Monday, they told The Gazette they aim to release it later this week.

With state support for higher education floundering, UI President Bruce Harreld has pushed for the university’s focus to increase external funding by bringing in more elite faculty — who come with research dollars.

At Nebraska, Goddard served as associate vice chancellor for research and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Steve brings a foundational commitment to liberal arts and sciences as a cornerstone of higher education along with an engaged and inclusive leadership style,” Interim Provost Sue Curry said in a statement. “With new leadership, the college is poised for continued innovation and growth in education, scholarship, and engagement.”

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

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