Cellular and developmental biologist Dr. Sally Mason, who served as the 20th President of the University of Iowa from 2007 until 2015, has been named a member of the Board of Trustees of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive aviation and aerospace education institution.
Dr. Mason, who also retired in 2016 as President Emerita with the University of Iowa’s (UI) Department of Biology, oversaw a historic era of campus transformation. As President, her many accomplishments included helping the university rebuild after catastrophic flooding in 2008; renewal of an arts campus for the 21st century; and the construction of a state-of-the-art children’s hospital, a biomedical discovery research center, and the first new residence hall since 1968.
“Dr. Mason is a visionary leader with deep knowledge of higher-education challenges and an exemplary track record for making good things happen,” said Mr. Mori Hosseini, Chairman of Embry-Riddle’s Board of Trustees. “As Embry-Riddle embarks upon a five-year strategic advancement plan, she will bring outstanding ideas and insights to the table, and we look forward to working with her to support our mission of service to students.”
During her eight years as UI’s President, Dr. Mason’s achievements included helping to raise an unprecedented $1.7 billion in private funds through the “For Iowa. For Evermore” campaign.
“Before joining Embry-Riddle in 2016, it was my privilege to work with and learn from Dr. Sally Mason,” said University President Dr. P. Barry Butler. “Her steadfast, mission-based focus on student success as well as institutional advancement was both inspirational and effective. She will be an excellent addition to Embry-Riddle’s stellar Board of Trustees. We’re very pleased to welcome her to Embry-Riddle.”
At UI, Dr. Mason spearheaded a sustainable university initiative, making sustainability a central priority of all aspects of the university enterprise. Under her leadership, the UI successfully met economic challenges through careful planning, strategic prioritization and increased efficiency. She further established a student success initiative that drove increased enrollment and student retention rates as well as collaborations with Iowa’s community colleges to better serve students throughout the state through on-site and distance-learning programs.
Currently a Senior Fellow and Executive Search Consultant who advises on higher education issues for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – the world’s largest general scientific society – Dr. Mason earned her B.A. degree in zoology from the University of Kentucky and her M.S. degree from Purdue University. Her Ph.D. degree in cellular, molecular and developmental biology was awarded by the University of Arizona. Her academic training included two postdoctoral research years at Indiana University before she joined the biosciences faculty at the University of Kansas, where she received awards for outstanding advising and teaching and was awarded a prestigious Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.
She then held leadership roles at KU, serving as acting chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences before being appointed Dean of that college.
The daughter of an immigrant father and the first child in her family to attend college, Dr. Mason subsequently served as Provost of Purdue University (2001-2007). She holds two honorary doctorates, from the University of Kentucky and Notre Dame University.
She has more than 30 years of administrative experience at American Association of Universities research institutions and has directed the successful hiring of many academic leaders who have gone on to advance institutions from North Carolina and Florida to California, Michigan and Mississippi.
Dr. Mason served two terms as a presidential appointee to the National Medal of Science Committee, including a term as chair. Initially appointed to the committee in 2006 by President George W. Bush, she was reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2008. She has further served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources and as chair of a review panel convened by the AAAS – publisher of the Science family of journals – focused on the NSF Science and Technology Centers Program.
She has held myriad leadership positions in higher education and national organizations, including as president of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences; chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors; member of the Board of Trustees of the Universities Research Association; and many others.
She is married to Dr. Ken Mason, an educator and textbook author. They reside in Hilton Head, S.C.