StuGov president shares thoughts on search for ISU president

Maggie Curry

The presidential search committee met this week to create a candidate profile. They’re now asking community members to provide feedback at one of four open forums or by email.

Iowa State Student Government President Cody West said one more open forum will be held just for students on Tuesday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union. There will be snacks provided just before. This is in addition to the other four, and just specifically for students.

West wanted another opportunity for students to bring their input to the table. When the semi-finalists come to campus there will be more open forums, but none are planned between June and September.

West said he saw a “copy-paste” method from 2011 for choosing who was on the committee to find Iowa State’s next president. He was pasted into the Student Government President position, just one of two student representatives on the committee.

West is the only undergraduate. The other, Vivek Lawana, is the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

“I think times are a little bit different and more students should be on that committee, at the same time I realize the duties of the president and how much he interacts with faculty and how important that decision is,” West said. “Especially with everybody on that committee talking about our student-center focus at Iowa State, I really think we should have more representation.” 

The rest of the committee is eight faculty members, one staff member and representatives from the alumni association, ISU Foundation and Ames community, along with Board of Regents members and the two students. The committee is co-chaired by Luis Rico-Gutierrez, Dean of the College of Design.

West said he normally doesn’t get nervous for public speaking, but seeing the group of “proud, prominent Iowa State alumni and community members” and Iowans got his nerves going.

“It was really cool to see all these people who were involved in the process simply because they had a deep passion for Iowa State,” West said.

The committee got to know each other and the representatives from AGB Search, the firm chosen to help bring candidates to the position. They set out a timeline and began to talk about the campus environment and what the person needed to be able to do.

All three regent universities have had presidential changes recently, but Iowa State is making its own list of criteria.

“I think our needs as a university are a lot different from the other two regent schools, so I don’t think the criteria they’re looking for is similar at all,” West said. “With the state situation, you can’t ignore something that President Leath was good at, and that’s the ability to fundraise. That nowadays is more important than ever, with wavering state support.”

West said the committee is also looking for someone to preserve the community culture.

“You have faculty and staff that are here for 15, 20, 30 plus years, that’s because there’s something special about this place that makes people want to stay,” West. “Making sure the next president facilitates that culture along and makes sure thats not something we lose is absolutely most important.”

The committee also talked about transparency, and making sure the student input is part of the conversation.

“A lot of it came from things past presidents have done well,” West said. “With every presidential change it gives us a chance to step back and evaluate what we need right now, and that’s what we came up with.”

The decision for what kind of diversity in background to accept was part of the debate Monday, West said.

“We’ve all kinda butted heads about that, our faculty believe that someone should come from an academic background when across the country we’re seeing the trend going away from that,” West said.

The timeline ends the search process with presentation of candidates to the Board of Regents at the end of October. West said the process was quick but appropriate.

“I don’t think we should go too long without the main figurehead of campus, especially when we’re being asked by the Regents to evaluate and do long term plans for tuition,” West said. “We can’t really plan ahead like the other schools are doing.”

More information on the search is available at