The newly appointed University of Iowa president, J. Bruce Harreld, met in private with several members of the state’s Board of Regents in July, the day before the application deadline for the position, according to emails The Chronicle has obtained through an open-records request.
In a written statement issued on Thursday, Bruce L. Rastetter, the board’s president, said several key regents met with Mr. Harreld, a former IBM executive, in Ames, Iowa, “as part of the recruiting process.” Mr. Rastetter said he had helped coordinate the meetings.
“The purpose of these meetings, which were at Mr. Harreld’s request,” Mr. Rastetter said, “was for him to become more informed about the expectations the board had for the next president of the University of Iowa.”
Since Mr. Harreld’s appointment this month, questions have swirled about the process that led to his selection. In the weeks after the board elected him, news reports have revealed that Mr. Harreld met with members of the search committee in July, spoke to leaders of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in the same month, and was on a call with the state’s governor, Terry Branstad, that Mr. Rastetter arranged.
When asked if Mr. Harreld was the only candidate to meet with members of the board, a board spokesman, Josh Lehman, said in an email that “several” other candidates had met with the university’s interim president and search-committee chairman, Jean E. Robillard, and Mr. Rastetter. He added: “Any candidate that requested to speak/meet would have been granted that request.”
Mr. Harreld’s appointment to the position has prompted a wave of criticism from faculty members about his lack of academic experience. Professors in the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences voted unanimously on Wednesday to censure Mr. Harreld for inaccuracies in his résumé.
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