More turnover atop University of Iowa

School of Music Director David Gier to leave for Michigan

David Gier
David Gier

As administrative openings continue to accumulate at the University of Iowa, even the search teams to fill those vacancies are seeing departures – most recently with UI School of Music Director David Gier leaving for Michigan.

Gier, who came to Iowa in 1995 and worked his way up to director in 2010, leaves Sept. 13 to start Oct. 1 as dean of University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. He was serving as co-chair on a search committee to find a new vice president for research.

Art history professor Dorothy Johnson will fill Gier’s role on that search committee, one of many working across the campus to fill a growing number of UI administrative vacancies. As part of the university’s announcement about Gier, it reported another search committee member – Tonya Peeples, engineering professor and associate dean for diversity and outreach in the UI College of Engineering – has accepted a new position at Penn State University.

Her last day was July 20. The college is evaluating whether to fill her vacancy via search or assign her duties to other associate deans in the college. Her tasks in the interim will be managed by executive associate dean Larry Weber.

The university expects to name Gier’s interim replacement in late August. No additional information about a search for a permanent replacement was provided Monday.

Iowa already has numerous high-level searches underway with the recent departures of Georgina Dodge, chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator; Lena Hill, Dodge’s interim diversity officer infill and associate vice president; and Daniel Reed, past vice president for research and economic development.

The university also is searching for a new provost, after former UI Provost Barry Butler left last year for the presidency at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he was followed by former UI associate provost for undergraduate education Lon Moeller.

Other UI posts that have experienced recent turnover include dean of students, vice president of student life, and UI Museum of Art director. The university also has seen turnover among its collegiate deans, with changes atop its colleges of public health, law, medicine, and liberal arts and sciences.

On the UI Health Care front, turnover is equally rampant in the upper echelons, with changes at vice president for medical affairs, UI Hospital and Clinics chief executive office, and chief financial officer.

UI President Bruce Harreld has talked about the state’s disinvestment in higher education and the challenges that has presented in the university’s battle to compete for the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff,.

But Gier, in talking with The Gazette on Monday, stressed he was not looking to leave Iowa. Rather, Gier said, he was courted by his alma mater – as he graduated from the University of Michigan and has family living in the state.

“I love the University of Iowa and always assumed I would complete my career here,” he said.

When Gier took over as director in 2010, the university was in the midst of massive flood recovery efforts – with the school of music among the hardest hit. And thus he oversaw redevelopment of a new state-of-the-art Voxman Music Building at the corner of Burlington and Clinton streets – marking one of the major accomplishments of his tenure.

“But dealing with the circumstances post-flood took a team effort,” he said. “We had to have all the oars in the water.”

As for the Iowa City community, Gier said, it can never be replaced.

“We raised our kids in Iowa City, and when you do that, you develop connections to a place that I think are unmatched,” he said. “We leave here knowing there will never be another place like Iowa City for us.”

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