IOWA CITY — Three days after University of Iowa President-Elect J. Bruce Harreld delivered his first campuswide message addressing critics and communicating his vision and ideals, the same Faculty Senate that cast a no-confidence vote in his hire voiced appreciation for his “explicit support of our fundamental values.”
“As leaders of the Faculty Senate, we are beginning to work with President-Elect Harreld to discuss faculty ideas and concerns,” according to an email sent to faculty Friday morning from the UI Faculty Council — the executive body for the Faculty Senate.
“Building trust will undoubtedly take time and will depend on the good faith of all of us,” according to the message. “But creative thinking and problem solving are what faculty do best, and we look forward to working for the future of this great university.”
Friday’s message to faculty, signed by 19 senate officers and council members, expressed encouragement by Harreld’s statement, which they said articulated support for the teaching, research, and service missions of the university. The message noted portions of Harreld’s statement showing he values tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance.
In Harreld’s message, delivered Tuesday, he also discussed his reasons for wanting the job, in part, citing challenges facing higher education.
“Our goals are timeliness but our circumstances new,” he wrote. “Higher education stands at the threshold of changes driven by increased competition, diminished federal and state funding, increased tuition, rapid technology shifts, and questions about its value.”
Harreld cited communication he’s had with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and UI friends and said the campus and community is “ready to meet those challenges with creativity and commitment.”
“And I want to help us chart our future,” he wrote.
UI faculty, in their Friday message, acknowledged challenges facing UI and said they have been a “driving force behind innovation and discovery at the University of Iowa for 170 years.”
“We are proud to know that our teaching and research have been major engines of economic growth and public service for the state,” according to the message. “We know all too well that this important work is vulnerable when funding and other support are diminished.”
The faculty leaders stressed Harreld’s appeal for unification on efforts to confront challenges and advance the institution, and they agreed.
“Faculty engagement is crucial for advancing an outstanding university,” according to the message.
But some professors have been outspoken about their disapproval of Harreld and the Board of Regents process that hired him. In addition to no-confidence votes by the Faculty Senate and student governments for the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, the Faculty Assembly for the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — the largest college of campus — last month passed a motion of censure against Harreld specifically for inaccuracies on his resume.
Harreld, who has an accomplished business background helping turnaround IBM but no academic administrative experience, listed a company as his current employer that isn’t registered in any state. He also failed to cite co-authors on several publications.
The UI chapter of the American Association of University Professors asked the national organization to investigate Harreld’s hire and whether it violated shared governance values, as hundreds of faculty, staff, and students voiced concern about his candidacy and asked the board not to choose him.
The national AAUP agreed, and two of its officials are in Iowa City on Friday and Saturday to meet with faculty about their concerns. If the investigation finds violations, the AAUP could censure the university or the Board of Regents — sending a national warning and potentially making it more difficult to recruit faculty, staff, and students.
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A group calling itself “Iowans Defending Our Universities” also is organizing a rally against the board and Harreld during the regents meeting on the UI campus next week.
“By corrupting the search for a new UI president, the Iowa Board of Regents has tarnished UI’s reputation and undermined university integrity,” according to the group’s website and call to protest at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Iowa Memorial Union. “The board’s illegitimate search process has produced an illegitimate president.”