Capital Clicks

New president seeks to raise University of Iowa’s national profile

By: - July 15, 2021 1:31 pm

Barbara Wilson is the president of the University of Iowa. (Screen shot from University of Iowa video)

The University of Iowa’s new president, who started Thursday, said she wants to raise the university’s national profile.

Barbara Wilson is the 22nd person and the third woman to hold the position. In a video from the University of Iowa, she said she sees the most important role as president to facilitate people’s goals, dreams, and aspirations. She said plans to work on the university’s collaboration and ability to listen and learn from one another while ensuring Iowa stays relevant across the country.

“One of my goals will be to try to lift up what we do here so that the national arena knows more about the University of Iowa and how it’s changing the world,” she said.

Wilson plans to focus on listening, learning, and understanding the perspectives of members of campus, she said. 

Prior to her selection in April, Wilson served as the executive vice president and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Illinois system. In that position, she oversaw 90,000 students across three different campuses. As the top Hawkeye, she will oversee more than 31,000 students. 

Wilson has previously worked as a professor and administrator at the University of Louisville and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The biggest misconception about the Midwest, Wilson said, was that states are hard to differentiate between and are only “flyover states.”

“I know growing up in Wisconsin, that’s not true,” she said. “And now I’m learning about Iowa and seeing all of the vibrant activity that’s going on here in the health arena, and the research arena, writing, communications, psychology, I mean, the energy here is endless.”

Wilson signed a five-year contract earlier this year and will receive an annual salary of $600,000. 

She said she is looking forward to getting to know campus as she starts her tenure in Iowa.

“I can’t wait to move in, to start meeting people, to actually feel a part of the university,” she said. “And that’s going to be a fun part of the first journey of this chapter. I’m going to get out, meet lots of people, and get to know students, faculty, and staff.”

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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt

Eleanor Hildebrandt is a third-year student at the University of Iowa where she studies journalism and mass communication and global health studies. She worked as a news reporter covering shared governance and higher education and a digital producer for The Daily Iowan since her freshman year. In the fall, she will return to the paper as a news editor. As a second-year, she hosted and co-produced "On The Record", the DI's news podcast that was named Best Podcast by the Iowa Newspaper Association.