VP at Univ. of Iowa Leaves for Job at Univ. of Connecticut

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

University of Iowa professor Ben Hunnicutt gives a lecture to his Historical and Philosophical Perspectives of Leisure class Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008 on the lawn in front of the Old Capitol building on the UI campus in Iowa City. Hunnicutt said he moved the class outside after his students suggested it because it was such a beautiful day. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

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By Liz Blood

IOWA CITY, Iowa - It's to be determined if the University of Iowa will hire a new vice president for strategic communications after its current administrator in that role leaves for a job at the University of Connecticut.

Connecticut officials announced Thursday the hiring of Tysen Kendig, 40, as the university's new vice president for communications. Kendig has been the vice president for strategic communications at the UI since February, 2010.

UI President Sally Mason is evaluating and it's to be determined if the position will be filled, university Spokesman Tom Moore said Friday. The position went unfilled for several years before Mason re-established the role and Kendig was hired. He earned about $210,400 at the UI in Fiscal Year 2012.

Kendig said he'll continue at the UI through December and expects to start at Connecticut in mid-January. He'll earn $227,500 at Connecticut, officials there said. He was hired for the post after a national search.

A native of New Jersey, Kendig said Friday the Connecticut job offered him the opportunity to be closer to family in the northeast, a long-term goal for his family. It's also a chance to work at "another great public university like the University of Iowa," he said.

He points to the development of Iowa Now, a UI multimedia news service, this fall's roll-out of a new branding campaign called the Hawkeye Way and the new statewide Hawkeye Network television initiative as three of the more visible accomplishments during his tenure.

"I've been fortunate enough to work with some really creative innovators," he said. "It has been a pleasure for me to work alongside Sally Mason and her leadership team."

UI communication efforts faced criticism in recent years during high-profile controversies, including in recent weeks when some questioned whether the university was publicly responsive enough during news of sexual harassment allegations against an athletics adviser who resigned last week.

Regarding those criticisms, Kendig said "we did the best we could under the way the laws of the land are presented." In situations where there is a great demand for the university to "rush to judgment or maybe to be more transparent," Kendig said, those often involve personnel matters and the law specifies what officials can say.

"We're restrained a little bit from being as forthcoming as we'd like to be," he said.

Mason in a statement said Kendig led major initiatives, such as the development of Iowa Now, the Hawkeye Network and the new branding campaign, Hawkeye Way.

"While I fully understand and support his decision to move closer to his roots and family, we will miss his drive, passion and commitment," Mason said. "UConn's gain is truly our loss."

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