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BETTER KNOW THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PRESIDENTIAL FINALISTS

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And then there were four.

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The biggest hire of the year in Iowa City is happening tomorrow -- that's when the Iowa Board of Regents are planning to announce who will be the new President of the University of Iowa, replacing the now departed Sally Mason.  The job could have some significant impact on athletics -- the UI Athletic Director reports to the UI President, so Gary Barta's job performance figures to come under review when a new president is installed.  Kirk Ferentz's own position at Iowa figures to come under greater scrutiny if the football team continues to struggle and attendance numbers continue to plummet.  But the appointment of a new UI President will also have an impact far (very, very far) beyond athletics.

I'm an alumnus (twice over) of the University of Iowa.  Many of you all have degrees from Iowa as well.  (And if you don't, that's OK, too -- we don't discriminate against "TavernHoks" around here.) Hell, many of you are still attending Iowa and working on a degree or are living and working in the Iowa City area.  We care about what happens to the University of Iowa, now and in the future.  So we should at least know who the candidates are for the UI Presidential job -- because 24 hours from now, one of them will be the new man in charge of running an institution that we care deeply about.

MARVIN KRISLOV

EDUCATION: B.A, Economics and Political Science, Yale University (1982); B.A./M.A., Modern History, Oxford University (1985); JD, Yale Law School (1988)
EXPERIENCE: Civil Rights Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice (1989-1993); Associate Counsel, Office of Counsel to the President (1995-1996); Acting Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor (1997-1998); Vice President and General Counsel, University of Michigan (1998-2007); President, Oberlin College (2007-present)

Krislov is the only candidate who has experience as a president of a college or university, although obviously being president at Oberlin College and being president at the University of Iowa are just a bit different.  He worked primarily as a government lawyer for several years, but has been working in the higher education field in some capacity for nearly 20 years.  He also has experience around large Big Ten universities, having been at Michigan for nearly a decade before taking over at Oberlin.  His public forum seemed to be a mixed bag.

MICHAEL BERNSTEIN

EDUCATION: B.A., Economics, Yale University (1976); M.A., Economics, Yale University (1978); M.Phil., Economics, Yale University (1980); Ph.D., Economics, Yale University (1982)
EXPERIENCE: Faculty, University of Cambridge (1976-77); Staff Economist; U.S. Department of Energy (1978); Lecturer, Mills College (1979); Faculty, Yale University (1980); Faculty, Princeton University (1982-87); Faculty, University of California, San Diego (1987-2007); Dean of Arts and Humanities, University of California, San Diego (2005-2007); Faculty, Tulane University (2007-present); Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Tulane University (2007-present)

Barring a brief stint at the U.S. Department of Energy early in his career, Bernstein has spent his entire career in higher education and has worked as an administrator since 2005.  He's been at Tulane University since 2007, serving as the Provost, which is a common jumping-off point to university president gigs.  He turned heads during his public remarks by wanting to transform Iowa into an "elite" university, on par with institutions like the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley.  He was a bit vague on specifics in many of his responses at the public forum.

JOSEPH STEINMETZ

EDUCATION: B.S., Psychology, Central Michigan University (1977); M.A., Experimental Psychology, Central Michigan University (1979); Ph.D., Ohio University (1983)
EXPERIENCE: Postdoctoral work/research assistant, Stanford University (1983-1987); Faculty, Indiana University (1987-2006); Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas (2006-2009); Faculty, Ohio State University (2009-present); Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences and Vice Provost, Academic Affairs, Ohio State University (2009-2013); Executive Vice President and Provost, Ohio State University (2013-present)

Like Bernstein, Steinmetz is a lifelong academic who has spent his career in higher education. Steinmetz has the most experience at major research institutions, with all of that experience coming at a) fellow Midwestern universities and b) peer institutions in general (Indiana University, University of Kansas, Ohio State University).  That said, he doesn't have quite as much experience in higher ed administration as the first two candidates, having served as a Dean from 2006-09, an Executive Dean and Vice Provost from 2009-13, and Executive Vice President and Provost since just 2013.  That might be quibbling, though. He spoke about extolling the virtues of university educations, as well as the success Ohio State had at attracting and retaining more high-achieving students, although he was also somewhat light on specifics in response to several direct questions.  He seemed to be received the most favorably at the public forum.

BRUCE HARRELD

EDUCATION: B.Eng., Purdue University (1972); MBA, Harvard Business School (1975)
EXPERIENCE: Consultant, Manager, Vice President, Boston Consulting Group (1975-1983); Senior Vice President and Division President, Kraft General Foods (1983-1993); Faculty, Northwestern University (1993-1994); President, Boston Market Company (1993-1995); Senior Vice President, IBM (1995-2008); Faculty, Harvard Business School (2008-2014); Managing Principal, Executing Strategy, LLC (2014-present)*

*Or not:

On the resume available on the University of Iowa website, J. Bruce Harreld listed his current job as the managing principal for the Colorado-based Executing Strategy, LLC — a company that "confidentially (advises) several public, private and military organization on leadership, organic growth and strategic renewal."

The Colorado secretary of state, however, has no listing for a company of that name.

Harreld explained during Tuesday's public forum that the listing had been a mistake. He used the name of a limited liability company that he had been using in Massachusetts but no longer needed now that his clients wanted to work with him to assume liability directly. He allowed that company to lapse.

"So that's ‘shame on me,'"Harreld said. "There is no Colorado corporation. That's my company. ... It's me personally working."

And now for something completely different... Harreld is the most unconventional candidate in the field -- his highest degree attained is an MBA and he has no experience in higher education beyond his time as a student and some work as a faculty member.  He has no experience at all in higher education administration.  He does have considerable experience in corporate administration -- 30 years worth, in fact.  How relevant -- or how useful -- that might be in administering higher education is up for debate.

Harreld's public forum was the most contentious by far, providing controversial responses to questions about state funding and addressing sexual assault concerns on campus.  But some respondents indicated that he provided better responses during a small group presentation earlier in the day and state business leaders were pleased to see Iowa include a candidate outside of the traditional academic context.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to interview the candidates on Thursday and (likely) name the new president later in the day, with the aim of presenting him around Fry-Fest and at Iowa's season opener against Illinois State on Saturday.  So who's it going to be?  We'll find out very soon.