Director, UI Reach Program - College of Education, University of Iowa

Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2018

The University of Iowa College of Education seeks a dynamic and entrepreneurial leader to serve as the next Director of its UI REACH program. This position provides the opportunity to build upon a bold vision to empower young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become independent, self-determined individuals and live rewarding and impactful lives.

Founded in 2007, UI REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) is a nationally renowned two-year certificate program for 18-25 year olds with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For its 50 students, who are enrolled in classes Monday through Friday, the program offers an immersive college experience on the campus of the University of Iowa, which is designed to both empower and prepare them for independent living. Program participants live in a university residence hall and have full access to the resources that the University of Iowa offers. When outside of the classroom, the students are encouraged to engage with student organizations, participate in a number of weekly activities and outings ranging from trips to downtown Iowa City to Hawkeye football games, and intern with local organizations. A hallmark of the program is its committed, passionate staff that works tirelessly to meet the personal and professional needs of its students.

Reporting to the Dean of the College of Education, the Director provides leadership and strategic vision for the UI REACH program. S/he will strengthen UI REACH's external brand and reach, inspire and empower staff, solidify internal policies and procedures, diversify its revenue sources, and oversee the budget while building upon the program's reputation for the highest quality of services.

The University of Iowa (UI) is world-renowned for its commitment to the arts, sciences, and humanities. UI has been a member of the Big Ten conference since 1899 and the Association of American Universities since 1909. UI ranks #33 among the nation's 629 public universities (U. S. News & World Report). More than 33,000 students earn bachelor's, graduate, and professional degrees from UI's 12 colleges.

Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature, was ranked #2 in 2017 among best places to live by With 70,000 residents, Iowa City is an attractive haven for scholars, scientists, artists, writers, and professionals of all kinds. Highlights of living in Iowa City include outstanding affordable health care, excellent libraries and schools, historic neighborhoods, and a lively downtown. Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis/St. Paul are a short car or bus trip away, and nearby Eastern Iowa Airport (CID) connects travelers to the world. The relationship between Iowa City and the UI is very cooperative and supportive. Visit the University Build A Career / Build A Life website for more information: The University of Iowa is a member of HERC, the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.

The University of Iowa College of Education has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this critical recruitment. All inquiries, nominations, referrals and applications should be directed in strict confidence to the firm as indicated at the end of this document.

Founded in 1847 as Iowa's first public institution of higher education, the University of Iowa (UI) has won international recognition for achievements in the sciences, the humanities, and the arts. The UI was the first public university in the United States to admit women and men on an equal basis and the first institution of higher education to accept creative work in theater, writing, music, and art as theses for advanced degrees. It established the first law school and the first educational radio station west of the Mississippi, broadcast the world's first educational television programs, and developed and continues to hold preeminence in educational testing.

The University of Iowa is a major national research university with a solid liberal arts and sciences foundation. Respected for its excellence in education, passion for discovery, and tradition of public service, the university offers a close-knit intellectual community that draws students and scholars from around the world. It is home to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, an internationally acclaimed graduate level creative writing program that claims 17 Pulitzer Prize awardees among its alumnae. The UI has world renowned research programs in genetics, hydraulics, vision, speech and hearing, muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, and has recorded major innovations in biocatalysis, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, and medical education. Its graduate programs in audiology, printmaking, creative writing, speech-language pathology, and nursing service administration are first-ranked. Iowa scientists, including James Van Allen, have been pioneers in space research, designing and building research instruments for more than 50 successful U.S. satellites and space probes. It also has developed the most technically advanced driving simulator in the world.

Established in 1872 as the first permanent college-level department of education in the United States, the University of Iowa College of Education has been at the forefront of educational innovation for nearly 150 years. Through the development and subsequent success of the Iowa Testing Programs in the first half of the twentieth century, the college has led the way in testing and measurement, with the creation of the ACT standing as a signal achievement. In the ensuing decades, the college achieved additional notoriety in gifted education, through the establishment of the Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, and in the field of program evaluation and assessment with the opening of the Center for Evaluation and Assessment.

The College provides an affordable, first class education for undergraduate and graduate students alike. As a Big Ten research institution, the college is home to master's, specialist, and doctoral programs that consistently rank in the nation's top 20, and offers over 40 degree programs to more than 1,000 students. Moreover, with a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, students enjoy small class sizes and unfettered access to a host of world-renowned scholars. The college was ranked 42nd among schools granting doctoral degrees and as the 32nd best College of Education among public universities in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report "Best Education Schools." The college has attained particular distinction for its respective programs in Rehabilitation Counseling, Higher Education Administration, and Student Counseling and Personnel Services. It has also been recognized for outstanding online offerings with four of the college's online master's degree programs ranked #1 in Iowa and 18th best in the nation in the most recent U.S. News & World Report "Best Online Programs." With close to 28,000 alumni, the college has spirited ambassadors in 78 countries, all 50 states, and every county in Iowa. Since July of 2016, the college has been under the leadership of Dean Daniel Clay.

Founded in 2007 by Dr. Dennis Harper, Professor Emeritus in the Colleges of Medicine, Education and Public Health at the University of Iowa, UI REACH is a nationally recognized, two-year certificate program for college-aged students with learning and/or intellectual disabilities. For its 50 students, the program offers an immersive college experience on the campus of the University of Iowa, which is designed to both empower and prepare them for independent living. For over 10 years, the program has successfully cultivated an environment that promotes academic, professional, and social life while encouraging the students to readily inspire and bond with one another. A hallmark of the program is its committed, passionate staff that works tirelessly to meet the personal and professional needs of its students.

UI REACH students are offered the entirety of a Big Ten experience while on campus. They are enrolled in classes Monday through Friday, and their curriculum, which includes subjects such as Computers and Technology, Fitness, Life Skills, Internship Preparation, Personal Finance, Academic Enrichment, and Social Skills, has been designed to prepare them for self-sufficiency. Students are also encouraged to make full use of the residential experience provided by a major institution. Program participants live in a residence hall and have access to all the resources that the University of Iowa has to offer. They are also encouraged to engage with student organizations, participate in a number of weekly activities and outings ranging from trips to downtown Iowa City to Hawkeye football games, and intern with local organizations. This level of engagement outside of the classroom has increased significantly since the program's inception.

Over the past 10 years, UI REACH's reputation has grown significantly and now attracts many students from across the country. While the program is housed in the College of Education and receives infrastructural support and academic expertise from the College, its success has raised the profile of the College of Education. The program has also increased the awareness and understanding of disability both among traditional students in the College of Education as well as across the university community. UI REACH encourages sustained interaction between its students and the traditional student population by organizing and promoting extracurricular activities, an excellent example of which would be RAYS of REACH, a recently created student organization designed to promote inclusive educational opportunities for all students. UI REACH's placement within the College of Education also provides a direct level of engagement between student populations by creating opportunities for future educators to work with its constituents. As UI REACH enters its second decade of service, there is a strong desire for even greater integration with the College of Education and the University as a whole.

The program is committed to the continued success of its students, and one measure of such success is the employment rate of students upon completion of the program. While only 18% of people with disabilities nationwide were employed in 2015, 54% of UI REACH alumni were employed within a year of completing the program, and 81% were employed within two years of graduation. UI REACH provides transition and consultative support services to its graduates as well as an optional third and fourth year for students to continue their education in the program. During third and fourth years, students enjoy apartment living and gaining even more independence and preparation for life after UI REACH.

In addition to the professional staff of 17, the program benefits from the unwavering support and dedication of an advisory board, a number of graduate assistants, resident assistants, student workers, and mentors. Its interim Director, Deborah Carr, who has been an inspiring and supportive leader, is scheduled to retire in 2018.

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Reporting to the Dean of the College of Education, the Director provides leadership and strategic vision for the UI REACH program, and is responsible for the support and development of the program's 17 core professional staff members, approximately 45 assistants, mentors, volunteers, and nearly 50 students. S/he will strengthen UI REACH's external presence and reach, solidify internal policies and procedures, diversify its revenue streams while building upon the program's reputation for the excellent quality of services to its students. The key opportunities and challenges for the Director are as follows:

Developing a bold and distinctive vision for the future

For over a decade UI REACH has been a model program serving young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As the leadership and staff have begun to think about ways in which the program can continue to be a distinctive leader in the field, they have held a series of meetings to identify some strategic initiatives. The next Director will draw on this output to develop a vision for UI REACH's next chapter.

Supporting and Empowering Staff

A significant asset of the UI REACH program is its devoted staff. While staff members possess a profound commitment to their students and the mission, balancing the day to day demands of the job (i.e. teaching, advising, writing reports) with the occasional after- hours duty can be challenging. The Director will ensure that all members of the staff feel valued and have clearly identifiable opportunities for growth and professional development. S/he must also instill trust and confidence in the staff by recognizing their key roles in the program's success while fostering an environment that encourages collaborative thought and shared expertise so that UI REACH is a workplace of choice.

Developing a financial model that ensures the long term health and sustainability of the program

While UI REACH receives infrastructural support from the College of Education, its operating budget is primarily dependent upon program fees and tuition. The Director will need to make certain that the cohorts are fully subscribed and must be creative in the identification of new and diverse sources of income, such as grant and philanthropic support.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

A critical component of ensuring and enhancing UI REACH student success is increasing the diversity of the staff and students by refining the respective processes around hiring and recruiting. A more diverse staff and student body benefits all constituents of the program and is ideal preparation for entry into the increasingly diverse world that will await the students upon graduation. While these efforts are in their infancy, this is a key initiative and a place where the incoming Director can provide impactful leadership.

Building a stronger brand identity and developing a more strategic recruitment strategy

The Director will lead the effort to craft a narrative that melds the program's rich history with its dynamic future. With growth and enhancement as underlying goals for the future, s/he will need to demonstrate the capacity to inspire and communicate effectively, both internally and externally. Toward this end, the Director will oversee the development of consistent messaging and a comprehensive marketing/recruitment strategy that will distinguish the program in a burgeoning field and that will result in successful recruitment within Iowa as well as across the country.


  • A fundamental commitment to providing the highest quality of programs and services to young adults with intellectual disabilities.
  • Experience in organizational leadership and management as well as the capacity to inspire excellence in others.
  • Evidence of successful experience defining and communicating organizational vision and guiding effective strategic planning.
  • Budget management experience.
  • Devotion to the highest ethical standards, with personal and professional integrity above reproach.
  • Demonstrated skills in communicating with internal and external stakeholders, such as faculty, administrators, staff, students, and parents.
  • Open and transparent leadership style.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated experience with and/or commitment to diversity in a professional environment, including the ability to work collaboratively and with diverse populations.
  • A Master's Degree or a combination of related education and equivalent work experience required; a person with a terminal degree may be eligible for a faculty appointment.

The University of Iowa has retained Isaacson, Miller to assist in this search. Please direct all inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications in strict confidence to:

Phillip Petree, Managing Associate
David Ferguson, Associate

Isaacson, Miller
263 Summer Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02210
Phone: (617) 262-6500

Electronic submission of application materials is strongly preferred.

The University of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment free from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, religion, associational preference, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.