UNI presidential process feedback

Mark Nook, former chancellor at Montana State University-Billings, will soon be UNI’s president. He was favored by the faculty.

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor | [email protected]

Courtesy Photo
Mark Nook, former chancellor of MSUB, will take over the duties of President on February 1.

February will soon usher in the official reign of UNI’s 11th president, Mark Nook, the former chancellor at Montana State University-Billings. With a strong showing of support, the search committee voted unanimously for the appointment of Nook. 

Nook beat out Neil Theobald, former Temple University president, and Jim Wohlpart, current UNI interim president.

“This university has done amazing work,” Nook said during his acceptance speechin December. “Cheryl and I are very excited for this opportunity to work with you and continue that amazing work to build this university, help support this state and to continue to educate Iowans.”

Along with the search committee, many students and community members were able to give input on this decision.

Chris Kennedy, senior supply chain management major, said, “I helped through the different panels that student organization leaders were invited to sit in on… given my role as the University of Northern Iowan Veterans Association president.”

Jim Gorton, professor of criminology and United Faculty president said, “I think most faculty have a very good impression and I’m very optimistic about the leadership he’s going to bring to UNI.”

Gorton went on to say, “One of the positive attributes that faculty see in President-elect Nook is that he has a lot of experience leading comprehensive public universities.”

According to The Gazette, the greater campus community — namely students, staff and administrators —  supported Jim Wohlpart, current interim president and former provost, over the other three finalists.

The Gazette also reported that Nook was the only candidate to receive higher ratings in every category from the faculty.

Commenting on the survey results, Wohlpart said, “The decision has been made, it’s a great decision. I think we’re poised for elevating the remarkable work we do and I don’t know how sharing those results helps in any kind of way.”

“I saw that and take it for what it is but, if I had to attribute that to something, it would be familiarity,” said Kennedy. “Everyone’s either spoken to him or knows him, so it doesn’t surprise me.

“However, it also doesn’t mean that the president selected wasn’t a better candidate by any stretch,” said Kennedy. “Overall I am incredibly pleased by the process.”

Cory Anderson, senior management information systems major, said of Wohlpart “a lot of people thought he was going to be the default candidate.”

Nick Connolly, a senior finance major, said, “It seemed like he did an okay job, but it seemed like he wasn’t really ever the surefire candidate. I’m glad they looked around for someone other than just the next guy in line.”

“[Nook] seems like a good candidate, he seems like a good fit for UNI,” said Anderson. “We don’t want the turnaround that we had with Ruud, which was unfortunate.”

“[Nook] seems like he has a heck of a resume,” Connolly said, “and it seems like he’s excited about the job. I think it’s good they’re bringing in somebody from [outside UNI] and someone completely new and different.”

Speaking to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Regent Katie Mulholland, on the appointment of Nook said, “What we were looking for was a match for what UNI is and aspires to be, and that’s how we moved forward with our decision.”

Mulholland served as the co-chair of the presidential search committee.

Despite not being appointed to the position of president, Wohlpart said, “This is an amazing place and to be selected as a semi-finalist or a finalist on a campus like University of Northern Iowa is a great honor.”

He has agreed to stay on as interim president until Feb. 1, and then resume his role as provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“The most immediate thing that I will face in February is that we have promotion and tenure for faculty decisions that we have to make,” said Wohlpart.

Wohlpart also listed the goals in academic affairs to continue to work closely with the faculty and work on more applied learning experiences for students. The teacher education accreditation is also one of the more long-term goals he will be helping prepare for.

As for Nook’s presidency, Northern Iowa Student Government Supreme Court Chief Justice Maggie Miller is very excited about the experience that will be brought to the role.

Nook, a native of Holstein, holds his Ph.D. in astronomy and recieved his M.S. degree in Astrophysics from  Iowa State University.

“Cheryl and I are very excited for this opportunity,” Nook said in his acceptance speech, “[we want] to work with you to continue that amazing work to build this university, help support this state and to continue to educate Iowans.”

Miller said the most encouraging thing she heard from Nook’s presentation was all his different experiences working at a university.

Nook told the NI in December that diversity will be one of his highest priorities going forward at UNI.

“The thing I was most excited about is that Dr. Nook has experience implementing a diversity exit requirement or something of that equivalent,” said Miller citing previous NISG talks on the subject.

Miller said that Wohlpart is fantastic, but that Nook is just different, not necessarily better. Miller also said she is hopeful that Nook can help NISG bring those ideas to reality.

-Jacob Madden

contributed to this story.