As Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Northern Iowa, José Herrera reports to the President as the chief academic and operating officer of the campus. He is responsible for the academic and organizational functioning of the campus and the advancement of high quality teaching and learning, scholarship, and service. He provides oversight for the planning, development, implementation, assessment, and improvement of all academic programs and participates in the development of academic policies and supporting infrastructure, including facilities and information technology. Finally, he also provides leadership for faculty recruitment, development, and retention.
As Provost, Herrera works closely with Vice Presidents and other senior administrators to address issues that cross divisional lines and manages the $110 million Academic Affairs budget. Through 13 direct reports, he oversees about 500 full-time faculty and 150 part-time faculty and provides oversight for approximately 300 staff.
José Herrera is a microbiologist, professor and administrator with decades of experience in academic and scientific leadership roles. A Chicago Public Schools graduate at age 15, Herrera has held leadership positions at the National Science Foundation, Western New Mexico University and Mercy College, where he was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
He began his higher education career as a biology professor, and received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences from Northern Illinois University. An extensive author and lecturer on varying environmental sciences themes, his experience also includes researching and advising on the challenges and opportunities of first-generation college students and minority-serving institutions
In June 2021, Hererra was named Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to his appointment, he was Mercy College’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs (since January 2017) and the founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Associate and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Western New Mexico University.
Throughout his career, Herrera has held a variety of increasingly complex leadership roles at institutions where he has successfully served students, faculty and staff in an ever-changing educational landscape.
He served as a NSF Program Director within the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) from 2011 until 2013. In this position, Herrera oversaw a diverse portfolio of innovative scientific programs to develop scientific and educational capital at various institutions across the United States.
He is a lifetime member of SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), former Senior Editor of Life Science Education and the current Handling Editor of BioScience.
After graduating from high school early, Herrera attended Northern Illinois University where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry, graduating magna cum laude in 1988 before completing a master’s degree in biology.
He earned his microbiology doctorate at Kansas State University in 1996. Herrera worked in the biology department at Truman State University where he served as chair of the department from 2009 until 2011.
During his career, Herrera has collaborated with many undergraduate students, publishing several scientific articles characterizing the microbial community structure and function of root-associated fungal endophytes. He has served as a principal investigator on several NSF-funded research and educational projects as well as serving as a Program Director of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence award. In 2017, he was elected chair of the 2019 Gordon Research Conference on Undergraduate Biology Education Research in Lewistown, ME.
Herrera and his wife, Becky, have three children, Lincoln, Cielo and Samuel.