Sally Mason

Sally Mason joined AGB Search in 2015. Dr. Mason is president emerita of the University of Iowa, having served as the institution’s 20th president from August 1, 2007 to July 31, 2015. 

Dr. Mason has held many leadership positions in higher education and national organizations, including president of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences; member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education (ACE); member of the executive committee of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC); member of the Board of Directors of Campus Compact, the national coalition of college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education; chair of the Iowa Coordinating Council for Post-High School Education (ICCPHSE); and co-chair of the Task Force on National Energy Policy and Midwestern Competitiveness of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 

Dr. Mason also has served as chair of the Board of Directors Executive Committee of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors; member of the Board of Trustees of the Universities Research Association; member of the Washington Center Council of Presidents; member of the board of trustees of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association; member of the Executive Committee of the APLU Commission on the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI); member of the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents; and member of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) of the National Academies.

At the University of Iowa, Dr. Mason oversaw a historic era of campus transformation, including rebuilding in the wake of the historic 2008 flooding, especially the renewal of an arts campus for the 21st century; the construction of a state-of-the-art children’s hospital and biomedical discovery research center; and the first new residence hall since 1968. Dr. Mason also spearheaded a sustainable university initiative, making sustainability a central priority of all aspects of the university enterprise. Other major accomplishments during Dr. Mason’s tenure were a student success initiative that led to increased enrollment and student retention, as well as an expansion of partnership agreements with Iowa’s community colleges in order to offer UI degrees to students throughout the state through on-site and distance learning programs. During her presidency, Iowa conducted a $1.7 billion comprehensive campaign through the University of Iowa Foundation, the largest campaign in university and state history. 

Trained as a cell developmental biologist, Dr. Mason holds a tenured full professorship in the Department of Biology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is the author of many scientific papers and has obtained a number of research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Wesley Research Foundation, and the Lilly Endowment. Dr. Mason was appointed by the President of the United States to three terms on the National Medal of Science President’s Committee, including a term as chair. She has also served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) review panel of the NSF Science and Technology Centers Program.

The daughter of an immigrant father and the first child in her family to attend college, Dr. Mason received her B.A. in zoology from the University of Kentucky, her M.S. from Purdue University, and her Ph.D. in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology from the University of Arizona. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Kentucky and the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Mason is married to Ken Mason, an educator and textbook author who taught biology at the University of Iowa.