The University of Iowa has been looking for a new president. You might be wondering how a university president gets that position: they are appointed by the Board of Regents, which in this case is appointed by the Republican governor, Terry Branstad, and led by a prominent Republican, Bruce Rastetter. You might be having presentiments of trouble already, since the GOP is never a friend to higher ed.
Further signs of concern: they got a distinguished list of candidates, including Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, and Ohio State University Provost Joseph Steinmetz — as you can tell, all people with solid academic credentials — and then suddenly sprang a surprise candidate on Monday, Bruce Harreld. Harreld is completely unqualified for this job.
Harreld has a largely business background that includes service as president or vice president for the likes of Kraft General Foods, Boston Market Company, and IBM. His curriculum vitae list his current position as managing principal for “Executing Strategy LLC” in Avon, Colo., although he explained publically – after The Gazette pointed out that an LLC of that name isn’t registered in Colorado – that he simply does private consulting under that business head.
Harreld’s highest academic degree is a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School, where he served as an adjunct lecturer from 2008 to 2014. He has no academic administrative experience, and his non-traditional background has sparked heated debate on campus.
Harreld was introduced to the faculty at a meeting on Tuesday. It was like the interview from Hell: the audience was not happy with him, and one person asked, “Why did you even apply for this job?” A quick survey found that he had virtually no support among the faculty.
University of Iowa faculty members appear to be quite skeptical of Bruce Harreld, a businessman who made it to the finalist round of the school’s presidential search. An American Association of University Professors survey released Wednesday found that just 3 percent of surveyed faculty found him qualified to be Iowa’s next president.
At least 90 percent of surveyed faculty members believe the other finalists — including Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College; Michael Bernstein, provost of Tulane University; and Joseph Steinmetz, provost at Ohio State University — are equipped to be Iowa’s president.
But wait! Doesn’t this man sound like the perfect leader of one of our major state universities?
He also served as president and member of the board for Boston Market Company in Golden, Colo., from 1993 to 1995, working with five partners to grow the organization from 20 stores in the Boston area to more than 1,100 stores nationally, according to his CV.
From 1983 to 1993, Harreld was senior vice president and division president of Kraft General Foods in Northfield, Ill., leading the $2 billion “frozen foods unit,” which included Tombstone Pizza, DiGiorno, Budget Gourmet, and Lenders Bagels.
Churning out frozen foods (Which includes bagels? Unforgivable) is exactly like managing student educations and a research university. Not. This guy was the odd man out in a group of qualified candidates, and he was roundly rejected by the faculty — he was entirely a creation of the Republican ratfkers on the Board of Regents. So guess who was appointed president of the University of Iowa yesterday?
Bruce Harreld, of course. University of Iowa students are now frozen bagels, and the faculty are like the waiters and waitresses at Boston Market. And the Board of Regents doesn’t give a damn about what the faculty think — this appointment really is a rude slam against the professors at the University of Iowa.
The real mystery to me, though, is why Harreld would take the job when offered — there was so much animosity to his candidacy that it’s going to be an unpleasantly adversarial position, and the lack of support is going to make it tough going.
Harreld will take over at the helm Nov. 2 and will make $590,000. He was given a five-year contract.