Governance Report Faults Iowa Board of Regents

By Jordan E. Kurland

In late summer 2015, the University of Iowa academic community experienced a crisis in governance when its statewide governing board selected as its new president a businessman with no background in higher education administration. A search committee chaired by the vice president for medical affairs selected four finalists, three of whom held high academic administrative positions at other institutions. The fourth, actively recruited by the president of the state board, was the eventual appointee. The search committee chair then disbanded the search committee, leaving its faculty members with no role in the selection of the appointee.

It came as no surprise to the University of Iowa faculty to be informed a week or two later that the board’s choice had accepted the offer to assume the presidency and would be taking office on November 2. The university’s faculty senate voted no confidence in the state board by an overwhelming margin. The university’s AAUP chapter turned for assistance to the national AAUP, whose executive director immediately sent two consultants to campus and, shortly thereafter, authorized a formal governance investigation.

In November, the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance authorized publication of a report on departures from AAUP-supported standards of academic governance in the governing board’s selection of a new president at the University of Iowa. The report was published on the Association’s website in December and will be included in the 2016 Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors.