IOWA CITY — A month after announcing plans to re-up its deal with a search firm to find a new dean of students after nearly two years without one, the University of Iowa two weeks ago requested a waiver from its normal search process to hire the woman who’s been serving as the interim dean for a year-and-a-half.
Angie Reams, who’s been with UI for more than a decade and most recently served as associate dean of students and director of Student Care & Assistance, began acting as dean of students in May 2018 — although she didn’t get the official interim appointment and its $140,000 salary until January.
She was filling the void left by former dean Lyn Redington, who left after two years to become vice president for student life at Idaho State University in January 2018.
The university had hoped to hurry a search for Redington’s replacement without using an outside consultant. But while that effort brought four finalists to campus in April 2018, none were hired. The university moved forward by signing on search firm Isaacson-Miller to aid in a national hunt. That second try brought three finalists to campus in November 2018 — but none, again, were hired.
The university’s estimated fee for the firm’s first round of services was $50,000, and UI to date has paid it $61,363.63, according to spokeswoman Anne Bassett. The university last month said it would use Isaacson-Miller again for its third go at finding a dean — with the same fee structure.
But with Reams’ appointment, “the search is over for this position,” Bassett told The Gazettein response to a question about whether the university owes Isaacson-Miller more money.
The waiver that drops the third search just weeks into its start is necessary, per UI policy, to circumvent standard search procedures.
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UI policy allows search waivers if an employee develops a disability making it impossible to continue in his or her role; an employee’s position was eliminated; a position was created uniquely for an individual; or an applicant’s “unique qualifications and expertise are such that no other applicant would be expected to surpass this individual’s qualifications.”
The justification for Reams’ waiver notes the length the position has been open and the repeated search failures, along with Reams’ performance as interim.
“Angie has provided the continuity needed in the role of the dean of students,” according to the waiver request, which spells out the “critical” role a dean plays in “creating a supportive, positive and inclusive community for our UI students and creating meaningful learning experiences.”
“Angie has done a great job in fulfilling this commitment to our students during this one-and-a-half-year time period,” according to the waiver.
Reams received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and both a master’s and doctorate from the UI, with her doctorate in educational leadership and her policy studies concentration in higher education and student affairs.
She boasts more than 14 years of experience and, in her interim role, oversaw more than 70 professional and merit staff.
“Angie has been serving in this important role successfully, and she meets the requirements of the position,” according to the waiver. “In order to provide the continuity of leadership, we request consideration to appoint Angie to the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students through this search waiver request.”
Isaacson-Miller has become a go-to search firm for the university’s many open positions — receiving hundreds of thousands in payment for help finding a new UI provost, vice president for research, vice president for medical affairs with UI Health Care, and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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Isaacson-Miller also was involved in the university’s failed search for a new diversity head — which like its dean role has been vacant for years and, after securing a hire over the summer, saw TaJuan Wilson resign just six weeks into the job.
The search firm has offered to conduct another diversity director search free of the standard fee, but UI officials have not said whether they are going to do another search and take Isaacson-Miller up on its offer.
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