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UI may lose another official

Kurt Hiatt and Ashton Shurson

The Daily Iowan

January 25, 2007

[Note: This material is copyright by The Daily Iowan, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Daily Iowan.]

Less than a year after former UI President David Skorton left the university, another top official could now be on the way out.

Meredith Hay, the UI vice president for Research, has been named as one of five finalists for the presidency at the University of New Mexico. If Hay - who assumed her current position in June 2005 - is offered the position and leaves, she will join other top UI officials who have moved on or considered positions at other institutions.

In addition to Skorton's departure to Cornell University last June, UI Provost Michael Hogan was one of two finalists for the presidency at the University of Delaware this past fall, and Linda Everett, the UI Hospitals and Clinics senior associate director and chief nursing officer, will leave to become an executive vice president in the nursing department at Clarian Health in Indianapolis.

Hay could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Hogan and Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, said that administrators are leaving the university could be a compliment to the UI because it shows that the school is attracting people that other institutions want.

"I wouldn't read too much into it," Hogan said. "Iowa is a very good university."

But Rep. David Jacoby, D-Coralville, had a different take.

"It surely is indicative that we don't have a permanent captain of the ship at the University of Iowa," he said. "Our president and the Board of Regents are not performing well."

Regent Jenny Connolly said she doesn't necessarily believe circumstances at the UI are behind the officials' departures but rather that the university helps open more opportunities for the various administrators.

Connolly and Dvorsky both mentioned that a lack of funding and lower salaries are possible deterrents in hiring faculty at state institutions.

"We need to make sure we have the salary and benefits comparable with peer universities," Dvorsky said.

Along with providing competitive salaries and assistants, the state senator said completing the presidential search will "help us move forward" and hopefully reduce the number of officials leaving the UI.

The recent search to name Skorton's successor has stirred much controversy on campus, most notably last November when the regents voted 6-2 to reject the UI presidential-search committee's four finalists and disband the panel. The committee leading the second round of the search was named earlier this week.

"It's the uncertainty that bothers faculty," Dvorsky added.

Even if Hay or other UI administrators do continue to leave the university for other endeavors, Dvorsky said, he doesn't blame them.

Interviews for the New Mexico presidency will begin in early February, and that university's leader will not be chosen until at least Feb. 14, according to the school. New Mexico Regent Raymond Sanchez said in a statement that all finalists are "exemplary" and considered "serious candidates."

"We'll lose a great VP for Research," Hogan said, adding that he commends Hay's energy and good ideas. "She is a terrific person. I love working with her."