U-Md. names new president: Iowa provost Loh
Updated with Tuesday's developments.
Wallace D. Loh, provost at the University of Iowa, has been appointed president of the University of Maryland, university officials announced Tuesday.
Loh will take the lead of Maryland's flagship public university Nov. 1, replacing C.D. (Dan) Mote, who is retiring after 12 years. News of the appointment leaked out late Monday in e-mails sent to members of the university community. Nariman Farvardin, provost at University of Maryland, will serve as interim president until Loh arrives.
"Dr. Loh is the right person to lead our flagship university to its next level of greatness," said Clifford Kendall, chair of the governing board of the state university system, in a prepared statement. "His wealth of experience and achievements in higher education demonstrate his strong commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and service as well as his exceptional ability to move institutions forward."
In a note to the Iowa university community, Loh said his short tenure there had been "the most professionally and personally fulfilling of my entire career." He also stressed that he had not been job-hunting.
"This new opportunity is not one that I sought," he wrote. "The institution and the search consultants recruited me to take part in a relatively quick and confidential search process. I was -- and still am -- rather stunned, while honored to have been appointed."
Loh has more than three decades of higher education experience. As second in command at the University of Iowa since 2008, he has overseen personnel and budgets for the state university's 11 colleges. The University of Iowa has 30,000 students and a $2.6 billion budget.
At College Park, Loh will join an institution that has ascended to the highest rank of public universities. Once known as a "safety school," U-Md. rose in stature under Mote and now ranks among the top 20 public universities in the annual U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. The university has 37,000 students and is the largest public institution of higher education in Maryland.
Mote has said he would take a one-year leave and then return to the university to participate "in any way that is helpful to the campus." He retains his status as an engineering professor.
Loh earns at least $350,000 a year as provost. Mote, by comparison, earned $464,600 in 2009, according to a report in the Diamondback, the U-Md. student newspaper. Loh's salary at U-Md. has not been disclosed.
Loh, 65, is an accomplished academician with an unusual life story. He was born in Shanghai and emigrated at a young age to Lima, Peru, following his diplomat father. After high school, he journeyed alone to the United States. He earned a bachelor's degree at Grinnell College in Iowa, a master's from Cornell, a doctorate in psychology from the University of MIchigan and a law degree from Yale.
He served as dean of the University of Washington Law School, vice chancellor of the University of Colorado and a dean at Seattle University before becoming provost of Iowa's flagship in 2008.
At Iowa, Loh has been front and center in a campaign to curb excessive student drinking. He and the university have played an unusually public role in advocating for tougher underage drinking laws.
He was also involved in an initiative to hire faculty in "clusters" to serve evolving research areas, and in an effort to build learning communities for freshmen to live and study together within the large state university, according to Iowa news accounts.
Loh is married and has a daughter at Occidental College in California.
According to the U-Md. statement, the University of Iowa has "increased the number of honor, minority, and international students; improved retention; expanded international exchanges; and increased administrative efficiencies and effectiveness" under Loh's lead.
"Dr. Loh brings a remarkable intellect, talent and life experience to the University of Maryland, College Park, the University System of Maryland, and the state," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, in a prepared statement. "His commitment to excellence, inclusion, internationalization of higher education, cross-disciplinary research, and outreach to the communities we serve align perfectly with the priorities of the system and the campus."
Loh said in a prepared comment that he is "thrilled to join the University System of Maryland to work together with the other presidents -- under the leadership of the Regents and Chancellor Kirwan -- for the advancement of the state's public higher education system."
His appointment at College Park drew mostly favorable reaction overnight, although a few comments appended to news accounts hinted that he might be too old to begin a presidency, or that U-Md. might have been better-served by a leader drawn from a more prestigious university. The University of Iowa ranks 29th among national public universities on the U.S. News & World Report rankings released Tuesday, 11 places behind U-Md.
Loh is the university's first Asian American president. Student leaders voiced hope that he will raise its currency on the global stage.
"He brings a worldly perspective that any university would relish," said Kevin Ford, a member of the university's Student Government Association, in a statement.
There has been at least one hint of controversy in Loh's long career, a reverse discrimination lawsuit filed against the University of Washington law school while Loh was dean there. Three white applicants sued the school, claiming they were denied admission in the mid-1990s because of their race, according to an account in the Iowa City Press-Citizen newspaper. An appeals court ruled in the university's favor, but state officials barred public universities from considering race in admissions.
University officials plan a reception for the president-elect and his wife at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the university's alumni center.
There had been concern that the U-Md. search committee would not find a replacement for Mote by his Aug. 31 retirement. The committee, assembled shortly after Mote's February announcement, finished its work a half month before that date.
Loh's delayed start date means, however, that an interim leader will have to step in for a few months.
That man is Farvardin, the No. 2 leader in College Park since summer 2007. Farvardin is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and previously served as dean of the university's esteemed engineering school.
Farvardin is credited with leading U-Md.'s strategic plan, including development of a highly competitive Honors College and efforts to increase student retention and graduation. He holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Mote has already left College Park, according to a report in the Diamondback student newspaper.
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Daniel de Vise
August 16, 2010; 11:39 PM ET
Categories: Administration | Tags: Dan Mote, UMD president, University Maryland president, Wallace Loh
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