The search for the University of Iowa’s next associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (AVP for DEI) is ending after several candidates either withdrew, or indicated they would likely withdraw, in the wake of President Bruce Harreld’s retirement announcement.
“In light of these developments, the search firm strongly recommended ending the search,” says search committee co-chair Tiffini Stevenson Earl. “Russell Ganim and I, as search committee co-chairs, were in complete agreement with this guidance and conveyed the recommendation to the interim provost, who supported the decision as well. Everyone involved believes this course of action is in the best interest of the university.”
Isaacson, Miller, Inc., the firm assisting with the search, reported to the committee that withdrawals during a leadership change are not unusual.
“According to the firm, changes in senior leadership often greatly disrupt searches for open positions, and what has occurred for Iowa is no different from what occurs at other universities across the country,” says Ganim.
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel says the university has a strong interim AVP for DEI in place, and campus will move forward under Liz Tovar’s leadership.
“In the short time since Dr. Tovar was appointed interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, she has already made a significant impact by listening to and engaging with many parts of campus,” says Kregel. “I am grateful for her service and leadership, and look forward to her continuing in this role.”
In July, President Harreld acknowledged that while many members of campus expressed the importance of a new AVP for DEI reporting directly to the president instead of the provost, changing the job description would mean delaying the search. He said such a delay was not acceptable to members of the campus community or the search committee.
“The university is not without significant challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Kregel. “I am confident Dr. Tovar will help lead us through these challenges, but we must remember that the responsibility for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion belongs to the entire campus community.”