Interim president selected

Jocelyn Marcus

The Board of Regents has selected Richard Seagrave, distinguished professor of chemical engineering, as Iowa State’s interim president.

Seagrave will take over when President Martin Jischke leaves for the presidency of Purdue University Aug. 14. The board announced its decision about Seagrave Tuesday.

Seagrave said he will faze into the job of president gradually.

“We’ll try to make it transparent to the public, to the community,” he said. “We’ll try to make sure nothing falls into the cracks.

“I think I should be able to fill the gap between [Jischke’s] leaving and the other person coming,” Seagrave said.

Owen J. Newlin, president of the Iowa Board of Regents, said Seagrave’s selection will be confirmed at the June 14 and 15 regent meetings.

Seagrave will be acting as ISU president at times from now until Jischke’s departure, Newlin said.

“Jischke’s going to take some vacation during that time [through Aug. 14], and we don’t have the details yet, but there will be a time where Dr. Seagrave will be in charge,” he said.

Newlin said the current and interim presidents will work together this summer.

“They’ll be doing [the presidential duties] jointly and in collaboration with each other for that time,” he said.

Jischke said he has not spoken with Seagrave since the announcement, but the current president said he hopes they can work together.

“I would certainly intend to work with Dr. Seagrave over the next couple of months to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for the university,” Jischke said.

Seagrave has taught at Iowa State since 1966 and has received numerous awards, including winning the Outstanding Teaching Award in Chemical Engineering about 12 times, he said.

Newlin said Seagrave “has the confidence of the campus.”

“In our making inquiries about him, we got very positive feedback about him from people on the campus,” he said.

Seagrave’s work as interim provost last year was key to his selection as interim president, Newlin said.

“That was very important, because it gave us an opportunity to meet him and talk with him as regents,” he said.

Regent Clarkson Kelly said the board was impressed with Seagrave’s “age and experience, vast experience.”

“I think we’re very fortunate to have someone of his caliber to step in before we get a permanent president,” he said.

Knowing Seagrave does not want to be Jischke’s permanent replacement was important as well, Kelly said.

“He has expressed an interest in not being considered a permanent president,” he said.

“And that’s what we wanted, a temporary president who wouldn’t be campaigning for the permanent job.”

Jischke said he thinks Seagrave is a suitable choice for interim president.

“I have a very, very high regard for Professor Seagrave, and I am confident he will do a superb job.

“He’s an extraordinarily accomplished member of the university’s faculty, a very distinguished teacher, a widely recognized scholar and someone who’s contributed to the university’s excellence in a number of ways,” he said.

Jischke said he believes Seagrave will continue to work to improve Iowa State.

“I have a lot of confidence in Professor Seagrave’s judgment and his commitment to the university,” he said.

“I think the university is fortunate he will be taking on these responsibilities.”

Seagrave said he wants to keep with Jischke’s reputation for advancing the university.

“What President Jischke’s been doing is trying very hard to promote all aspects of what we do: undergraduate education, graduate education, research, scholarship, outreach, make us into a better land-grant university. So in that sense, yes, [I plan to continue Jischke’s work],” he said.

Although Seagrave said there will be differences between his presidency and Jischke’s, he doesn’t know yet what they will be.

“I’m just guessing there’ll be some differences. I don’t have any specifics yet,” he said.

Seagrave said he knows from past experience it can be hard to make the right amount of changes as an interim.

“Being an interim — I think this is my fifth interim assignment since I’ve been here — it’s somewhat difficult,” he said. “You have to make sure you don’t do too little or do too much.

“One of the goals is to try to keep the momentum going without breaking anything along the way,” Seagrave said.

He said he considers undergraduate education, research, scholarship and outreach all equally important aspects of a university.

“The thing that makes Iowa State a great place is I think we do all these things reasonably well — better than reasonably well, in some cases excellent,” Seagrave said. “And you can’t let any of them fall into second place. They all have to be in first.”

He said a philosophy he will incorporate into his new job is “openness.”

“We’re all in it together — we all kind of learn from each other, and we all kind of get where we go through team efforts,” he said.

“I have a good working relationship with all the players, I think, the people who work in Beardshear, the faculty. I think that I know how to be on a team.”