Higher education

New University of Iowa vice president Melissa Shivers a 'tremendous asset'

She'll oversee student life following retirement of Tom Rocklin in July

The University of Iowa announced Melissa Shivers will succeed Tom Rocklin as vice president of student life on June 30,
The University of Iowa announced Melissa Shivers will succeed Tom Rocklin as vice president of student life on June 30, 2017. Shivers currently serves as associate vice chancellor for student life and the dean of students at the University of Tennessee. (University of Iowa)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa’s next vice president of student life, who takes over for outgoing Tom Rocklin on June 30, is going to be an “immediate and tremendous asset for the university,” said UI President Bruce Harreld.

Harreld chose Melissa Shivers for the vice president post after reviewing a search committee’s recommendation. As current associate vice chancellor for student life and dean of students for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Shivers “has a long history of making sure everything she and her team does is focused on having a positive impact on students and their success,” Harreld said.

Shivers will succeed Rocklin, who retires in July after serving at UI for more than 30 years in various roles — including vice president for student life since 2010. She brings with her 20 years of experience serving students, and has been in her current role at the University of Tennessee since 2014.

At Iowa, Shivers will head the Division of Student Life, focused on three priority areas — health and safety, multiculturalism and student leadership development. If her appointment is approved by the Board of Regents at its June meeting, she’ll earn a starting salary of $280,000.

Rocklin’s salary for 2016 is listed in the state database as $254,325.

In an interview with The Gazette, Shivers said she’s spent most of her time in the south but was intrigued by the UI scope and mission.

“The University of Iowa to me represents a lot of what is in alignment with my own personal and professional values of providing all types of students with the opportunity and access to higher ed,” she said. “The work that’s happening at Iowa specifically around health and safety and also multiculturalism and those things really resonated with me.”

Shivers’ education background includes a bachelor of science degree in communication arts, with an emphasis in broadcast journalism, from Georgia Southern University; a master’s degree in education from Clemson University; and a doctorate in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia.

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She previously served as assistant vice chancellor for student life at University of Tennessee and helped coordinate an effort to move the campus into the nation’s top 25 public research universities. She’s also held posts at all the institutions from which she received degrees.

In her current role, she supervises the offices of New Student and Family Programs, Off Campus and Commuter Programs, Center for Student Engagement, Sorority and Fraternity Life, Student Media, Center for Leadership and Service, Student Government Association, PRIDE Center, Multicultural Student life and the Center for Career Development.

Shivers said she plans to spend a lot of time listening when she arrives to campus, and she’s “humbled by this opportunity to serve the University of Iowa in this collaborative role to support student success and be part of the Hawkeye family.”

“I look forward to immersing myself in the culture and understanding the unique values and ideals that make the UI a special place for all students to learn and grow,” she said.

In a black faculty and staff association bio on the University of Tennessee website, Shivers spoke personally about her role model — her mother — and her past as a broadcast journalist.

The best advice she’s received, according to the bio, “If it’s not your story to tell, don’t tell it. Individuals are the authors of their own story, and who am I to rewrite history?”

The search for a new UI vice president of student life was led by Laura McLeran, senior adviser to the president and associate vice president for external relations, and Ken Brown, professor and associate dean of undergraduate programs at the Tippie College of Business, co-chaired the search committee.

“We are especially proud of the large role played by students on the search committee,” Brown said. “Five of the committee’s 20 members were UI students who made invaluable contributions to the committee’s final recommendation.”

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

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