Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hawkeye's Land a Boilermaker?

The U of Iowa's (apparent) New President

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a post:

Iowa's New President is Sally Mason?

June 20, 2007

U. of Iowa to Name Purdue's Provost as Next President

Sally Mason, provost of Purdue University, will be the University of Iowa’s next president, according to The Des Moines Register. Ms. Mason’s appointment, which is to be announced at a news conference on Thursday, is the result of a difficult search to replace David J. Skorton, who left Iowa last July to become Cornell University’s president. After the university’s first search failed, staff and graduate-student groups voted no confidence in Iowa’s Board of Regents.

—Paul Fain

Mr. B. mentioned this matter recently. The only knock on Dr. Mason was lack of experience in dealing with a medical school since Purdue has none. (Lucky her...) Apparently the Board of Regents decided that her other good qualities outweighed this perceived deficit. Given that university presidents are supposed to walk on water and raise money, it seems pretty difficult to come up with someone who makes everyone happy. Based on her achievements at Purdue, however, it appears that Iowa has come up with yet another outstanding president after David Skorton, who went to Cornell, and Mary Sue Coleman, who went to Michigan. It is interesting that Iowa has, apparently, succeeded in hiring two women presidents and that the presidents of Brown, Harvard, and RPI are all women. Perhaps BigU could learn something from this? Maybe having a string of outstanding presidents from the outside is better than promotion from within? Mr. B. also notes that the generous Dr. Mason and her textbook author husband have in the past donated more than two million dollars to Purdue. That is certainly a too rare example of an administrator putting their money where their mouth is.

Mr. B. is a little surprised at this decision because the final report to the Iowa Regents seemed to slightly favor another candidate. The official word should be out tomorrow.

Full disclosure: Mr. B. is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MS, Biochemistry, 1970). He feels that the U of I does an outstanding job for the citizens of Iowa, as does Iowa State which has an excellent reputation as an outstanding place for undergrads in the sciences and engineering. One of Mr. B.'s good friends, the best chemist he knows, is a Corporate Scientist at 3M and an Iowa chemistry PhD. Perhaps a little intra-state competition is a good thing and helps to prevent unrealistic self importance and, dare I say it, hubris?

A pleased Bonzo - if this turns out to be true...