3 finalists for University of Iowa business dean begin virtual campus visits

First group of finalists dismissed in May

The Pappajohn Business administration Building on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)
The Pappajohn Business administration Building on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa this week once again started virtual visits for the three finalists to become dean of the Tippie College of Business.

The search committee had three finalists in May, but dismissed them in hopes of “on-campus visits in the fall,” which were “preferable” to virtual visits.

But the pandemic didn’t go away and in June, the UI said it was restarting its search for a new dean “and recruit a new and diverse pool of strong candidates,” according to a UI communication.

The university last week announced it has another set of three finalists.

The candidates — again — will participate in virtual visits this week and next, with their names announced the day before their visits begin.

The first finalist — Paolo F. Volpin, finance professor and dean of the Cass Business School at the University of London — visited virtually Wednesday and Thursday, participating in a town hall-type discussion with about 150 people Thursday.

The second candidate is scheduled for his or her visit Monday and Tuesday, with an open forum planned for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The third will visit Wednesday and Thursday, with an open forum scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Volpin — originally from Italy with some academic experience in the United States, including Harvard University, where he earned a doctorate in economics — fielded questions during his UI campus discussion about, among other things, how he would adjust from a big city like London to a smaller Midwestern community.


Noting international student and faculty recruitment is not a challenge for his current institution, Volpin highlighted that as an issue for the UI.

“That means that there is need for you to think about ways to introduce international electives, international experiences that you can add to your curriculum,” he said.

Suggesting the explosion of online options “could be actually quite good,” Volpin argued, “You could have people from all over the world very easily. You could set up specific relationships with other institutions around the world.”

Jumping off the discussion about more virtual opportunities, though, Volpin responded to a question about what he sees as potential long-term implications of COVID-19. And he stressed not everything in business education can be duplicated online — or at least not well.

“My view is that we will go back to a system where there will be both online programs … as well as the programs that will be face-to-face,” he said. “We will go back to that, and it’s just because with business schools the networking aspect of it is absolutely critical.”

Amy Kristof-Brown is serving as interim dean for the business college.

Serving as search committee co-chairs are Amy Colbert, professor and department executive officer of management and entrepreneurship, and College of Engineering Dean Alec Scranton.

The first three finalists announced in May for the business dean’s job were Laku Chidambaram, associate dean for academic programs and engagement at the University of Oklahoma College of Business; Kurt A. Carlson, business professor at the College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business; and Gerard “Gerry” Sanders, dean of the College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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