Alumnus becomes college dean

Nancy Ngo

With his first day months away, the new College of Education and Human Development dean already carries heavy expectations on his shoulders.
Steven Yussen is the first dean to be appointed from outside the college in more than 40 years. He also must fill the shoes of Robert Bruininks, the University’s chief academic officer who picked him for the job.
Steven Yussen, the dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Education, will leave Iowa City and assume his new post on Sept. 1. But the move will be more like a homecoming for the former University graduate — and now he’s carrying a laundry list of educational experience.
Yussen, who received a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University in 1973, said Tuesday that he looks forward to returning to the Twin Cities campus, where he will be responsible for overseeing the 114 faculty members and 3,243 students the college houses.
“I’m looking forward to the new challenges, too,” he said. “I’m coming at a time when the University is involving itself more with other schools in the state.”
The search committee that recommended Yussen among two other finalists looked for candidates with strong research experience in human development, said committee chairman Willard Hartup.
“His record of scholarship and experience in this field is simply the highest anyone can find in the country at this moment,” said Hartup, a Regents’ professor emeritus in the Institute of Child Development.
During his time apart from the University, Yussen has done national and international research in cognitive development. He also spent some time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, serving as chairman of the educational psychology department.
Bruininks, University executive vice president and provost, said he chose Yussen not only because of his knowledge in education and human development, but because of his creative ideas in education.
Leslie B. Sims, associate provost for graduate education and dean of the graduate college at Iowa, described Yussen’s leadership in Iowa as innovative. He witnessed Yussen initiate a review of all the college’s programs.
“I think he set up a very good procedure. And the result is they have really focused on what they are doing by eliminating some programs and combining some,” Sims said.
At Iowa, Yussen also created a program directed for first-grade reading improvement. Yussen said he is interested in increasing the University’s interaction with K-12 schools, such as the St. Paul school system.
He also supports the University’s current legislative efforts, and anticipates helping reel in money for the school’s capital budget. Raising money in endowments and unrestricted gifts are some ways in which to meet these goals, he said.
Before Yussen can make his moving plans final, his appointment must be approved by the Board of Regents. Approval might come as early as next week.