Leadership in Times of Change

We salute the following leaders and UI legends who ensured the continued success of the University of Iowa in times of presidential change.



Jean Robillard


Jean Robillard, the vice president for medical affairs, is the 11th interim or acting president in UI history. Prior to assuming leadership in 2007 for the varied operations of UI Health Care—including UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Carver College of Medicine—Robillard served four years as dean of the medical school.




Nathan Ransom Leonard, a professor of mathematics, held the post of acting president first in 1867-68 and then for a second time in 1870-71. Leonard was judged the senior member of faculty at the time and afforded the honor of holding the presidency.[1]




Christian W. Slagle served as acting president in 1877-78, following George Thatcher and preceding Josiah Pickard. Under Slagle’s leadership, the State of Iowa for the first time voted an annual sum to support the university with one observer attributing this success to Slagle’s efforts and “his great popularity.”[2]





Amos Noyes Currier was named acting president in 1898-99, following Charles Schaeffer and prior to George MacLean. A professor of ancient languages, Currier taught university students for 40 years, beginning his career in 1867 and appointed as emeriti faculty in 1907. The Currier Residence Hall opened in 1914.[3]





Chester Arthur Phillips served as acting president in 1940 between the administrations of Eugene Gilmore and Virgil Hancher. Phillips was the first dean of the UI College of Commerce, a position he held for nearly 30 years (1921-1950). A pioneer in bank credit theory, he retired as dean in 1950. Phillips hall is named in his honor.[4]





Duane C. Spriestersbach, 40MA, 48PhD, served as acting president for seven months from 1981-82, between the administrations of Willard “Sandy” Boyd and James Freedman.[5] Spriestersbach served as Graduate College dean from 1965-89 and was also vice president for educational research and development, overseeing the development of the Oakdale campus. To recognize excellence in doctoral research, the Graduate College awards its most prestigious dissertation prize each spring in his name: the D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize.





Richard D. Remington served as acting president in 1987-88 between the administrations of James Freedman and Hunter Rawlings.[6]Remington was dean of the faculties and vice president for academic affairs. Following his interim presidency, Remington returned to teaching and research in the College of Medicine where he also directed the Institute for Health, Behavior, and Environmental Policy.





In 1995, Peter E. Nathan served as acting president following Hunter Rawlings and preceding Mary Sue Coleman.[7] Nathan came to Iowa in 1990 as the vice president for academic affairs, dean of faculties, and the UI Foundation Distinguished Professor of Psychology. In 1993, he was named provost. He returned to the Department of Psychology following his service as acting president where he remains an emeriti faculty member.





Willard “Sandy” Boyd’s service to the University of Iowa was further deepened when he became the interim president from 2002-03 between the administrations of Mary Sue Coleman and David Skorton. Boyd previously had served as president of the university from 1969-81. In 2002, he remained with the College of Law faculty, focusing on the development of the Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center. He holds the title president emeritus of the university, and the Boyd Law Building is named in his honor.





Gary C. Fethke, 64BA, 68PhD, was interim president in 2006-07 between the presidencies of David Skorton and Sally Mason.[8]Afterward, Fethke returned to the university to serve as professor of economics and management science. Fethke was named dean of the College of Business, where he expanded the focus on entrepreneurship, leadership, and communication skills.




More Information

For a list of UI presidents, see http://www.uiowa.edu/homepage/university-iowa-presidents. For brief bios, visit http://wordpress.iowalum.com/magazine/presidents/presidents.cfm.

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