Keller will continue work on several projects already underway
Thursday, March 4, 2021

John Keller, the University of Iowa’s associate provost for graduate and professional education and dean of the Graduate College, will step down as associate provost and dean on July 31.

john keller portrait
John Keller

Keller—the longest-serving graduate dean in the Big Ten—will continue to serve the university as a member of the faculty and as a leader on several projects already underway in Office of the Provost. Keller was named dean in 2002 after serving as the interim for two years. An internal search will be conducted for his replacement.

“John has made a tremendous difference across campus and within the Graduate College,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “The university has benefited from his leadership, and his efforts have ensured that the Graduate College will be in good hands as he steps down.”

Keller will remain a professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the UI College of Dentistry and, beginning Aug. 1, will continue to serve the university as a special assistant to the provost. In that role, he will assist with the development of the university’s 2022–27 strategic plan, participate in the management of the UI’s P3 program, review and update university policies as needed, and direct other projects that align with Iowa’s strategic priorities.

In addition, Keller will continue to co-chair the presidential search committee.

During his tenure as associate provost and dean, Keller has undertaken several major initiatives to enhance graduate student success. He oversaw the development of 14 new graduate programs, including three interdisciplinary programs. He developed and implemented a model for systematic assessments to improve graduate programs. Under his leadership, time to degree has fallen and completion rates have improved.

“John has been a consistent and effective leader throughout his career at Iowa, and I am pleased he will continue to serve the university and our students in important ways,” says Kevin Kregel, UI executive vice president and provost. “During the two decades he has served as dean of the Graduate College, he has had immeasurable impact on graduate and professional education at Iowa, and he has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of students.”

Keller joined Iowa’s College of Dentistry as an associate professor in 1988 and soon after became a professor of dental research and oral and maxillofacial surgery. During his time in the College of Dentistry, he served as director for the Biomaterials Research Program in the Dows Institute for Dental Research. He was elected to the board of the American Association of Dental Research, including a term as its president. In 2002, he was named associate provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate College after serving in the role as an interim for two years. Keller served on the boards of both the Association of American Universities (AAU) American Association of Graduate Deans and the Council of Graduate Schools, and was twice the chair of the Big Ten Academic Alliance graduate deans’ group. Keller also served as interim vice president for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development from October 2017 to June 2019.

“I am so proud to have spent the majority of my career at Iowa,” says Keller. “This university is rich with opportunity, and I am fortunate to have been a part of it. I have worked with so many talented students, faculty, and staff to accomplish our goals. One of my most cherished remembrances will be the students I helped mentor through their undergraduate and graduate careers. This has been the privilege of my lifetime.”

Jodie Plumert, professor and Starch Faculty Fellow in the UI Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says Keller has been a strong advocate for creating training and career opportunities for graduate students.

“He partnered extensively with departments to support their efforts to enhance training opportunities for graduate programs,” Plumert says. “He also created the Office of Graduate Student Success to assist students with their career goals, including alternatives to academic career tracks. All of these efforts have had a lasting impact on graduate programs across the university and have opened doors of opportunity for our graduate students.”

The UI plans to begin an internal search to fill the position of associate provost for graduate and professional education and dean this spring. A search committee will be named later this month.

About the Graduate College

Thirteen of the graduate programs at Iowa rank among the top 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Iowa’s Graduate College accounts for more than one-fifth of the university’s total enrollment, supporting graduate education campuswide.

The college approves proposals for new graduate programs, evaluates existing programs, and confers most University of Iowa graduate degrees. It also administers interdisciplinary graduate programs in fields ranging from genetics to book arts, a point of distinction for the college.