Fearing a direct takeover by the government, Rafsanjani first tried turning the university into mortmain property. When that failed, he re-registered IAU as a private nonprofit organization.
While this change in status guaranteed a degree of university autonomy, it also removed the majority influence of the board of founders over the board of trustees — and thus Rafsanjani’s direct control over the university. Henceforth, the government and the supreme leader would play a more decisive role in determining IAU’s president.
Delays, opposition and bureaucratic obstacles prohibited Ahmadinejad from getting his own favored candidate elected as IAU president. When Hassan Rouhani, a Rafsanjani ally, was elected president in 2013, both agreed to appoint Mirzadeh.
The temporary appointment of Nuriyan — who is reported to be a cousin of Velayati — shows that any Reformist or conservative attempt to assert more definite control over IAU is likely to remain postponed until after the tightly watched presidential election on May 19, in which Rouhani will face off conservative rivals. Whether that means replacing Nuriyan, or putting him in a more definite political position, any incoming government is expected to take a front seat in shaping the future of Iran’s largest private university.