On Thursday, a day after Drake University announced that it had recruited Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise to become the next dean of its School of Education, I happened to have the chance to interview a likely candidate to replace Wise at the education department. Jeff Weld, executive director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, was at our office for a profile I’ll be writing about him for our 2020 InnovationIOWA magazine. 

As for possibly filling the director role: “That would be a crazy-cool opportunity,” Weld remarked. 

He then humbly added: “I can name off the top of my head two dozen outstanding Iowans who could all do that job swimmingly. “So if I include myself in that two dozen, that’s good company. I think the governor will have no trouble getting a top-drawer leader in that post, and I’ll be curious to see who it turns out to be.”

Having had successive state education leaders who have supported STEM has been instrumental in getting the initiative off the ground, Weld said. 

“Dr. Wise was all-in on STEM, as were his predecessors Brad Buck and Jason Glass. … [Wise] has such a passion for STEM education, so it was bittersweet news hearing that he was moving over to Drake. The sweet part is [that because he’s staying in Des Moines], ‘Oh good, we’ll keep him on the STEM Council.’"