Feedback indicates wide support for new UI president, unlike predecessor


New University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson is already proving to be much more popular than her predecessor.

That’s according to feedback released by the Iowa Board of Regents following the announcement of Wilson’s hiring on Friday. Of the 320 people who submitted feedback…including faculty, staff, students and other community members…Wilson had an 80% approval rating. That’s the highest among the four finalists interviewed by the Regents.

Wendy F. Hensel, Georgia State University provost, had a 73% approval rating, while Penn State Law Dean Hari Osofsky received a 63% positive rating.

The only candidate with a negative rating from respondents was UI College of Education dean Dan Clay, who earned only a 36% approval rating.

Wilson’s 80% rating was in stark contrast to that received by her predecessor, Bruce Harreld, who only had a 1.8% approval rating among UI staff and 2.6% among non-faculty…by far the lowest score of any of the four finalists at the time of his hiring in 2015.

Harreld had no academic background, unlike Wilson. Since 2016, Wilson has served as the executive vice president of the University of Illinois System, which includes 90,000 students and 6,000 faculty members on three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.