Position Description

Executive Vice President and Provost Search

The University of Iowa (University), a comprehensive research university governed by the nine-member Board of Regents, State of Iowa, seeks an Executive Vice President and Provost (Provost) to serve as chief academic officer and a voice of the institution. Reporting to the President, the Provost provides intellectual leadership to create, advance, and implement the academic mission of the University and oversees academic programs, a wide range of faculty matters, and student academic affairs. At a time of national debate about the role of public universities in our society, the University seeks an intellectual leader who is bold, innovative, and collaborative.

Founded in 1847 as the state's first public institution of higher education, the University enrolls more than 33,000 students, employs over 18,000 faculty and staff, and offers a number of top- ranked programs. As a major national research university and member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) with a solid liberal arts and sciences foundation, the University is known nationally and internationally for excellence in education, passion for discovery, and a tradition of public service. The University offers a close-knit, collegial intellectual community that draws students and scholars from around the world. As a comprehensive institution, the University includes eleven colleges, one of the nation’s leading medical centers, and the only comprehensive academic medical center in the state. The University-wide budget is nearly $4 billion. In FY17, University researchers brought in $443.3 million in external research funding. Research is a key economic driver in the state and is projected to have a $2.4 billion impact on the Iowa economy by 2020.

The next Provost will be an experienced administrator with a distinguished scholarly record and an uncompromising commitment to academic distinction enriched by a diverse and inclusive academic community. The Provost will partner with the President and the University community in building a strategic direction under a new financial model, balancing the excellence of individual colleges with a strong commitment to interdisciplinary endeavors and collaboration. The University seeks a strong spokesperson who will communicate on behalf of the University campus-wide, within the state of Iowa, nationally, and internationally.

The next Provost will join the institution at a transformative time. The University seeks a Provost with the vision and talents to match the aspirations of campus leaders. Working closely with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, the Provost will be ideally positioned to leverage the institution’s excellence in academics and service to achieve even higher levels of success and impact.

The University of Iowa has engaged the national executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller to assist in conducting a global search for its next Provost. Please direct all inquiries, nominations, and applications to the firm as described on page seven of this document.

University Leadership

J. Bruce Harreld became the 21st President of the University of Iowa on November 2, 2015. President Harreld has served in corporate leadership positions including Senior Vice President of IBM, President and board member of Boston Market Company, and Senior Vice President and Division President of Kraft General Foods. President Harreld has also served as a consultant, advising public, private, and military organizations on leadership, organic growth, and strategic renewal, including serving as Manager, Vice President, and member of the board of the Boston Consulting Group.

President Harreld served on the faculty of Harvard Business School from 2008–2014, with dual appointments to the entrepreneurial and strategy units. He was faculty chair of the Building New Businesses in Established Organizations program. As a faculty member, he taught in numerous executive programs in Cambridge, Qatar, Mumbai, and Shanghai. He also has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University in the Kellogg School of Management, developing the first- ever MBA course on Strategic Use of Information Technology.

He received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University.

The University appointed Sue Curry to the role of interim Executive Vice President and Provost on April 1, 2017. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Curry served as Dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, where she holds the rank of Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy

The Role of the Provost

The Provost is the University’s chief academic officer and the second highest ranking University official. The Provost fosters the creation, advancement, and implementation of the academic vision for the University. Responsible for all colleges, academic departments, and programs, the Provost oversees the processes of faculty appointment, development, promotion, and tenure. The Provost also establishes all academic policies, oversees reviews of all academic units, and leads and implements strategic planning. In fulfilling the responsibilities of the office, the Provost works with Deans, Associate Provosts, and Vice Presidents to attract and retain a diverse faculty, staff, and student body.

The Provost represents the University in all respects in the President’s absence. The Provost and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations & Treasurer (SVP) manage the annual university-wide budget process, working closely with the other Vice Presidents, Deans, and the leaders of the shared governance organizations representing faculty, staff, and students. The Provost represents the University at the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The Provost participates in all major decisions affecting the campus and reports directly to the President, as a member of the President’s cabinet. The Provost also works closely with the State Board of Regents on all aspects of academic planning, processes, and reporting requirements.

The Deans of the University's eleven colleges report to the Provost, as do the Deans of University College (Distance and Online Education, Student Success Initiatives), International Programs, along with the University Librarian and the Director of the Stanley Museum of Art. The Chief Information Officer reports jointly to the Provost and SVP, and the Chief Diversity Officer reports jointly to the Provost and the President. The Director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and the Executive Dean of the Carver College of Medicine report jointly to the Provost and the Vice President for Medical Affairs.

Opportunities and Challenges for the Provost

The next Provost will work closely with the President and other Vice Presidents to ensure the continued promotion of excellence in teaching and research in a manner that serves the State of Iowa and places the University at the forefront of higher education nationally and internationally. Faculty and staff desire an intellectual leader who confidently and boldly approaches challenges, operates with an optimistic attitude, and seeks pragmatic solutions that further academic and educational excellence. The Provost should strengthen lines of communication between the academic administration and campus constituencies in order to support strong collaborative relationships with the President, leaders in the office of the Board of Regents, and other universities in Iowa as well as peer institutions nationally and internationally.

The Provost should be prepared to address the following opportunities and challenges in consultation with leadership throughout the University:

Facilitate the continued growth of research and scholarship and promote enhanced capabilities through interdisciplinary research

The Provost will be integral to continuing to expand research at the University. The Provost will work closely with the Vice President for Research and the Deans to pursue research opportunities in a purposeful way that builds upon the University’s strengths. The Provost will also work collaboratively to ensure that there are support systems that lead to even higher levels of research success and that make the University an inspiring place for faculty with ambitious research goals.

Setting undergraduate and graduate students on a path to lifelong learning through arts practice and research is central to the mission of the University. Working with the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology, the Provost will create a culture of student-researchers. Students not only participate in research collaborations with faculty, but also gain expertise as artists, scholars, and researchers through experiential and cross-disciplinary learning experiences.

With a broad and distinctive life and health sciences enterprise, a strong and growing array of graduate and professional programs, a nationally prominent arts and sciences core, and world- renowned writing programs, the University presents an incredible opportunity for interdisciplinary and cross-collegiate collaboration. The Provost will lead in encouraging research and scholarly collaborations among Colleges and in strategically promoting the use of collegiate resources to further distinguish the academic strength of each College and the overall impact of the University.

Support and advance strategies that build a strong student body and promote student success
The Provost will engage with the University’s enrollment management strategies to further the institution’s goals to attract and retain an intellectually talented and diverse student body, ensuring access to Iowa students and a welcoming and inclusive environment for students from a wide range of underrepresented groups and international students, as well students from Iowa, from other states, and from around the world. The Provost will help create an environment that enhances student success. Working closely with the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Vice President for Student Life, the Provost will ensure that the collaborative work of both offices will provide an environment that enhances the living and learning experience for students.

The Provost contributes to the institution’s fiscal stability by stewarding student enrollment and retention strategies. The Provost will work with the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, as well as the key leaders in related areas, to identify and execute effective means to develop and sustain robust applicant pipelines. These pipelines include students from across the state of Iowa and in other geographical areas nationally and internationally that the University identifies as areas of opportunity to increase the number of out-of-state and international students matriculating at the University. The Provost will also work with the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management to ensure that the University attracts a broad and diverse student body. The University embodies public higher education as a public good, and the institution will continue to conduct its operations and devise strategies aimed at enhancing student success and welcoming students and their families as members of a vibrant University community.

Foster a culture of public service and civic engagement

As a public institution, the University supports the outreach and engagement activities of students, staff, and faculty that enrich the University’s academic, educational, creative, and research mission. The Provost will nurture a growing culture of campus-community partnerships that serve the public good while also advancing knowledge and providing students with skills needed for their future careers.

Enhance excellence through diversity

The next Provost will provide institutional leadership for a University-wide focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Provost will lead efforts to further diversify the University community, ensuring the success of students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds. The Provost will demonstrate a personal commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion by acting to create and encourage an atmosphere that welcomes and celebrates all aspects of diversity, including differences in social and economic backgrounds, lifestyle, gender, gender expression, age, race, ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, and varying approaches to, and views on, intellectual issues.

Provide leadership in the implementation and refinement of a new budget model

The University is changing the way in which it distributes its general education funds, transitioning from a centralized model to a budget allocation model intended to increase collegiate and unit control and accountability. The model will be implemented at the start of the fiscal year 2019 budget cycle.

The new budget allocation model results from approximately two years of a collaborative, campus-wide discussion process led by the interim Provost, SVP, and Chief Financial Officer. Understanding the collegiate and central service unit finances and transparently sharing the University’s financial data has facilitated this strategic shift. The new model is intended to increase financial responsibility and awareness, encourage entrepreneurial action, and increase operational efficiencies. At the same time, as part of the shift to this model, the next Provost will need to provide strong encouragement and incentives to fortify the long tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration and respond to the 21st-century need for creative intercollegiate partnerships. In the face of a national trend toward state disinvestment in public higher education, the shared responsibility for managing the University budget is a key priority of the new model.

The Provost will be a leader in securing the success of the new budget allocation model. The Provost’s role will include effective communication to support the model, evaluation of the model, and participation in its refinement to ensure the University’s ongoing success. The new budget model needs to encourage excellence in teaching, arts, scholarship, and research; facilitate collaborative, innovative interdisciplinary academic initiatives across departments, Colleges, and institutions; and enhance the University’s strength, resource base, and academic reputation.

Coordinate the development of the academic priorities for the next capital campaign

During the tenure of the next Provost, the University expects to initiate a capital campaign. As the chief academic officer of the University, the Provost will coordinate with Deans and other academic leaders to develop the strategic academic priorities of the individual Colleges and other academic units for the campaign. Based on these priorities, the Provost will be a leader in formulating the fundraising goals and objectives for the capital campaign.

When the campaign begins, the Provost will be a University spokesperson and work closely with the advancement team and campus leaders to engage with prospective individual donors, foundations, and companies to achieve the campaign’s goals.

Communicate the goals and the value of the University to internal and external audiences
As a highly visible academic leader with a role that includes strong ties to the institution’s faculty leadership through the shared governance structure and interaction with key faculty committees, the Provost will communicate to both internal and external audiences about the University’s goals, values, and contributions. The Provost also will uphold practices of transparency and shared governance to further strengthen the lines of communication between the academic administration and the faculty.

The Provost will be the academic leader for the University in the AAU and the Big Ten Academic Alliance. With this significant national and international profile, the Provost must tell a compelling story of the work of students, faculty, and staff to a variety of audiences. The Provost will work with colleagues to share the University’s story to an expanding audience - to the Board of Regents and state public policy leaders; prospective students and their families; alumni, friends, and potential donors; and higher education and industry leaders who do or could engage with the University and its programs.

The University’s broadly shared message of student success, professional and liberal arts education, access, value, and contributions to the state’s economy and culture does and should continue to attract public and private philanthropic support to enhance the institution. The University has an opportunity through the Office of the Provost to broadcast widely its outstanding programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields as well as its excellence in graduate and professional education. This communication will enhance the University’s ability to recruit highly qualified students, highlight its societal impact, and achieve its strategic goals to promote economic development and facilitate social and cultural enrichment.

Qualifications and Candidate Attributes

The successful candidate will possess the following skills and qualities:


  • An established intellectual leader, teacher, and scholar of recognized accomplishment appropriate for appointment at the rank of Professor with tenure.
  • An earned terminal degree at the doctoral level, or the equivalent.
  • Administrative experience, preferably at a major research university.
  • Demonstrated record of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Demonstrated personal and professional integrity, honesty, and ethics.
  • Demonstrated commitment to academic freedom.
  • Demonstrated commitment to fundamental fairness and due process in the implementation of professional and academic standards, the tenure system, and different academic cultures at a complex university.

While no one candidate will likely possess all of them, the successful candidate will also possess many of the following values and experiences:


  • Understanding of and commitment to the multiple missions of a public research university that includes a strong commitment to quality undergraduate education and student success, distinguished graduate and professional programs, and the operation of a major teaching hospital.
  • Demonstrated ability to understand and articulate the University’s strong liberal arts tradition and its importance to the University’s broad educational mission.
  • Experience with creating and sustaining an environment in which interdisciplinary learning, teaching, research, creative activity, experiential learning, arts, and scholarship flourish and complement one another.
  • Considerable experience in higher education administration, including hiring and developing an administrative team, budgeting and financial planning, and implementing a strategic plan.
  • Ability to serve as an effective leader and to articulate the value of the University and the University’s values internally and externally.
  • Understanding of the infrastructure and resources needed to support contemporary comprehensive education for undergraduate, professional, and graduate students.
  • Commitment to shared governance with faculty, staff, and students as demonstrated through effective communication and accessibility.
  • Ability to identify and analyze problems or controversies, to conceive practical steps to resolve them, and to explain decisions persuasively.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with external governing boards, such as the State Board of Regents, and within a system environment.

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