University of Iowa business dean finalist knew President Bruce Harreld at Harvard

The third and last finalist for the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business dean post — who UI President Bruce Harreld happens to know from Harvard Business School — participated Thursday morning in a virtual public forum, taking questions about enrollment concerns, programmatic calls, and COVID-19.

Tom Steenburgh, who holds a professorship in business administration and is senior associate dean for the residential MBA program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, wrapped Iowa’s second set of virtual visits from business dean candidates — after a first set of finalists was dismissed over the summer in hopes of being able to do on-campus visits come fall.

When it became apparent the pandemic wasn’t waning, UI restarted the search — aiming to recruit a “new and diverse pool of strong candidates.” Previous finalists had to reapply.

Steenburgh, among his academic and professional experience, worked from 2003 to 2012 as an assistant and then associate professor at Harvard Business School — eclipsing time Harreld worked there as a lecturer from 2008 to 2014.

In an email this week after Steenburgh was unveiled as a finalist, Harreld told The Gazette he and Steenburgh knew each other from being on the Harvard Business faculty at the same time.

“His appointment was in the marketing unit and mine was in strategy and entrepreneurial leadership units,” he said. “So, we traveled in very different circles.”

Steenburgh’s professional experience also includes time as a manager at the Xerox Corporation from 1994 to 1997, while Harreld worked at IBM from 1995 to 2008.


“We also met many years earlier when he was at Xerox and I was at IBM,” Harreld said Wednesday in response to questions from The Gazette. “However, I had no involvement in recruiting him to the Tippie opportunity. In fact, we had not talked for many years until this morning.”

Harreld said although he’s guest lectured at Steenburgh’s current school, he “never met with Tom while there.”

Interim UI College of Business Dean Amy Kristof- Brown, who also holds the Henry B. Tippie research professor of management post, participated in a virtual campus forum Tuesday as the second-named finalist.

The first finalist — Paolo F. Volpin, finance professor and dean of the Cass Business School at the University of London — visited virtually last week, participating in a town hall with about 150 people Thursday.

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