Three colleges in the Corridor are now looking for a new president — searches that are being complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld announced last week he would be retiring, though he will remain on the job until a new president is hired and his team guides the campus during a hybrid semester — or year.
At Coe College in Cedar Rapids, President David McInally announced in February plans to retire after the 2020-21 academic year.
On Wednesday, the college announced McInally will transition to retirement by becoming chancellor Jan. 1 while David T. Hayes, Coe’s vice president for advancement, steps in as interim president.
Hayes, a Coe graduate and a lawyer, said in a statement said he’s “honored to continue serving my alma mater alongside my faculty and staff peers. Together with Dave McInally, I am eager to build on the momentum Coe has experienced during his tenure.”
Coe had seen enrollment growth for years, although it dipped slightly this fall, as did many campuses nationally. This fall, the private liberal arts college reported 1,356 full-time students, down from 1,391 full-time students last fall, and 1,431 total students.
Coe’s board said in February it would “move quickly” to find a successor to McInally, who became Coe’s 15th president July 1, 2013. But board members halted the process in July, citing pandemic-related complexities.
Coe Trustee Ken Golder, chairman of the presidential search committee, said in a July 15 update that potential presidential candidates were hesitant to leave their current jobs, given the pandemic and “the unpredictability of Coe’s condition as we get to this fall.”
Finalists, he wrote, would have been scheduled to visit campus just after Coe’s fall reopening, “when we are unsure of our ability to hold large group meetings.”
“We feel that it would be shortchanging the candidates, the campus and the selection process itself with COVID-19-related limitations on our effectiveness as a committee,” Golder wrote.
Coe’s national search will resume “as soon as it is safe for candidates to travel to campus,” Coe spokeswoman Natalie Milke told The Gazette.
Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids also is looking for a new president.
Its new president, Robert Beatty, resigned abruptly after two months on the job — and as the campus was facing the same COVID-19 woes as others across the country in addition to widespread cleanup following the Aug. 10 derecho.
A Cedar Rapids-native, Beatty assumed his first presidency at Mount Mercy.
His background included short stints at other colleges and universities: dean at Whitworth University from 2010-12; dean of the College of Business at Rowan University from 2012-14; business dean at Florida Gulf Coast University from 2014-19; and business dean for University of Texas at Tyler from 2019-20, when he came to Mount Mercy.
In announcing his resignation, Mount Mercy in September appointed Tim Laurent, its provost and vice president for academic affairs, as interim president.
Although a spokeswoman told The Gazette that Laurent remains interim president, the college’s website lists him as “president,” adding he was named president in September 2020.
“The board of trustees is determining plans for Mount Mercy’s future leadership team,” spokeswoman Jamie Jones told The Gazette, when asked about the discrepancy.
With all three campuses taking different tacks to finding a next president, Coe — although on pause — has reported completing “great prep work thus far,” with listening sessions, a clear agenda and “compelling search profile.”
“That part of the process will be ready to go whenever we determine that conditions will allow an effective restart for ads and interviews,” according to Trustee Golder’s July message.
Hayes, the interim president, graduated magna cum laude from Coe in 1993.
He earned a law degree from the UI and launched a professional career before returning to Coe in 2001. He worked as a full-time professor, director of gift planning, legal adviser to the president, and he directed Coe’s prelaw and environmental studies program — among other things — before transitioning to vice president in 2014.
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