Can business execs be good college presidents in the COVID-19 era?
Bruce Harreld’s background as a business executive made him an attractive option to lead the University of Iowa, at least in the opinion of its governing board, which thought his corporate experience would help him find new funding sources for the institution and help it grow.
Yet faculty were skeptical of his limited time in academe, and some people believed the regents hand-picked him after some wooed him to apply behind the scenes. The selection process even earned censure from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for its minimal faculty involvement. After Harreld’s hiring, the institution developed new presidential search standards and the AAUP removed the mark.
Harreld’s tenure was similarly complex, marked by high turnover among senior administrators and moves to eliminate some student scholarships and funding for popular academic units.