Iowa Board of Regents

Barbara Wilson Named University of Iowa President

April 30, 2021

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Barbara Wilson will be the 22nd President of the University of Iowa. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the University of Illinois System, will take office July 15, 2021

Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System, will become the 22nd president of the University of Iowa on July 15, 2021. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, announced Wilson as its unanimous selection at its meeting in Iowa City on Friday.

Wilson brings extensive leadership experience to her role as UI president. Since 2016, she has served as executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System, which enrolls more than 90,000 students across three main campuses and includes a 462-bed hospital. Before that, she served one year as interim chancellor for the Urbana-Champaign campus, a top-ranked land grant research institution with more than 45,000 students and nearly 2,000 tenure-track faculty.

Wilson’s other administrative roles at Illinois have included two years as the university’s Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, two years as executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, three years as vice provost for academic affairs, and seven years as head of the Department of Communication.

Wilson, 63, will succeed Bruce Harreld, who served as Iowa’s president from November 2015 to May 2021. Harreld announced in October 2020 his intent to retire. John Keller, UI associate provost and dean of the Graduate College, will serve as interim president after Harreld’s last day on May 16 until Wilson begins.

Wilson’s research interests include the social and psychological effects of the media. She is co-author or co-editor of four books and has authored more than 80 research articles, book chapters, and technical reports.

Before joining the Illinois faculty in 2000, Wilson was an assistant professor at the University of Louisville for three years and a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for 12 years. She also spent eight years as director of graduate studies in UCSB’s Department of Communication.

A native of Appleton, Wisconsin, Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, a Master of Arts in communication arts, and a PhD in communication arts, all from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Wilson will receive a 5-year contract with an annual salary of $600,000. She also will receive a 5-year deferred compensation plan with an annual contribution of $400,000.

Sandy Daack-Hirsch, UI associate professor and interim executive associate dean of the College of Nursing, and Keller served as co-chairs of the 21-member search committee charged with recruiting and vetting applicants for the position. Professional consultant AGB Search guided the recruitment process at the direction of the Board of Regents.

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Josh Lehman


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