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September 9, 2015

The University of Iowa’s new president has no experience, no ideas, and flubbed his own résumé

As the Yes Men performed at the press conference, the Iowa Board of Regents was in the final stages of selecting the next UI president. In a very unusual arrangement, the regents chose not to renew previous president Sally Mason’s contract two years ago; since then, she had been working “at will” on a day-to-day basis. If some observers worried that this arrangement would render her a tool of the regents, those fears were confirmed when Mason endorsed an ill-conceived regents funding plan that would significantly cut UI’s budget, infuriating many on campus.

Now, Mason is out: Eight days after the Yes Men’s visit, the Iowa Board of Regents unanimously voted former IBM and Boston Market executive Bruce Harreld as UI’s next president, despite Harreld having no university administrative background. He did work as an adjunct senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, but that’s the extent of his college workplace experience.

On the résumé Harreld submitted to the regents, he listed his current job as the managing principal for the Colorado-based Executing Strategy, LLC. This company “confidentially (advises) several public, private and military organizations on leadership, organic growth and strategic renewal.” However, that business doesn’t exist. The Colorado secretary of state has no record of a company of that name.

On Sept. 1, during a public forum that was part of Harreld’s on-campus interview and visit, I asked Harreld to explain this discrepancy. He replied that Executing Strategy was a company name he previously used and that he accidentally listed it in his current work history.

“Shame on me,” Harreld said. “I too quickly pulled it from out of my head and put it on the résumé. There is no Colorado corporation. I live in Colorado. That’s my post office box.”

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