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UI search to restart Monday

Not clear who will lead process

Brian Morelli

Iowa City Press-Citizen

December 12, 2006

Brian Morelli, Regents OK New Admission Policy for Universities

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

The Iowa state Board of Regents will take "step one" in restarting the University of Iowa presidential search next week, Regent President Michael Gartner said Monday.

Some regents are talking about using a dean-led search committee and are shooting for a summer deadline to find a replacement for David Skorten, who was named president of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Monday's regents' meeting in Iowa City came before a planned UI Faculty Senate no-confidence vote today and a similar Staff Council vote Wednesday in regent leadership.

Gartner shrugged off the vote Monday and reaffirmed his intent to keep his post. Regent President Pro-tem Teresa Wahlert also has ignored criticism identifying it as coming from a "radical" minority.

"That is their right to do it," Gartner said of the vote. "It has no impact on me."

Gartner said he is focused on moving forward, and the first step is a 5 p.m. telephone meeting Dec. 18.

"I expect to discuss what the view of the majority of regents is as to how to precede," Gartner said.

Gartner said he was not sure if the meeting would be open to the public and would follow regent's lawyers' advice on that point.

"I suspect it will be more than just about process," he said, adding that candidate names likely would not be discussed.

The search has been in flux since Nov. 17 when regents halted a controversial and secretive search that lasted seven months and cost $195,000. The board voted 6-2 to reject four finalists and disband the search committee that recommended them. On Dec. 4, regents reconsidered that vote and extended a job offer to one of the candidates, but the unidentified candidate refused.

Gartner said UI, which funds the search, would not have to pay additional costs other than expenses to the Atlanta-based search firm Hedrick & Struggles. That firm was retained in April as a consultant. The contract states that there will be no additional fees up to nine months, at which point if there were no president the search would be re-evaluated.

Gartner said he hopes to have a president as soon as possible, though he would not specify or speculate on a timeline.

Regent Bob Downer of Iowa City and Wahlert of Waukee said they would like to see a president named this summer. Downer said he hopes it is by the beginning of summer with the president on board by the start of fall semester.

Wahlert, who chaired the past search committee, has recommended having a dean lead the search and the committee include an entirely new cast.

"I don't have an objection to that. I've already thought of a couple of deans as well as some others," Downer said.

Downer, who declined to be on the initial search committee for scheduling reasons, said he seriously will consider being on the new committee if asked.

Regent Mary Ellen Becker of Oskaloosa said she thinks it's important to allow campus groups to have significant control and influence in the search.

"We haven't lived that life on campus," Becker said. "It is probably a good idea to have some representation (of regents on the search committee), but I would have a board member lead it."

Becker said she hopes this next search stays focused on the task at hand.

"(The last search) changed from what is best for the university to who has the power," she said.

On Monday, Gartner would not share his thoughts about who should lead the search or what kind of regent presence there should be.

Much of the recent criticism started when campus groups rebuked the initial search committee's makeup because of the presence of four regents. Traditionally, presidential search committees have been led by faculty members, but this most recent search was led by regent Wahlert.

Regents also participated in the University of Northern Iowa presidential search that led to hiring Ben Allen this spring.

Regents OK new admission policy for universities

Some fear new standard not tough enough

Brian Morelli

Iowa City Press-Citizen

December 12, 2006

The Iowa state Board of Regents adopted a new admissions policy at their board meeting Monday in Iowa City.

The nine regents, six of whom participated in the meeting via a telephone hookup, also approved a tuition increase of 5.2 percent as well as giving the green light to a multimillion expansion of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

For years, the regents' admissions policy stated that the top 50 percent of graduating Iowa students be automatically admitted to regent universities. However, regents unanimously agreed to implement a new policy for fall 2009.

Called a Regent Admission Index, the new standards will be based on a four-part weighted score of grade point average, the number of core courses taken, ACT score and class rank that totals 245.

According to regent and education committee chairwoman Mary Ellen Becker of Oskaloosa, the cutoff would keep the number of automatic admissions the same. The policy would be reviewed one year after the policy change takes place, then every other year after.

An admissions study group had recommended a score of 250. University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University recommended the score of 245, and UI asked for a flexible range between 245 and 260 to be set at the discretion of each institution.

UI enrollment is at an all-time high, while UNI and ISU numbers are falling. UI Provost Michael Hogan said the 245 score will further deteriorate retention and six-year graduation rates as under-prepared students enroll but do not succeed in college.

"It doesn't send the right message to high school students where we want to be," Hogan said.

Several regents argued against creating different standards for different schools.

"We don't want to start limiting students," Becker said.

Some UI student leaders who advocated for higher standards, said they were not pleased with the decision.

"This decision has made it so UI cannot compete with universities of the same caliber," UI student vice president Addison Stark said. "UI cannot compete with many of the Big Ten universities now. This will, in the long run, devalue our degrees from UI, since we cannot any longer compete with other large research universities."

Also Monday:

The regents granted permission for the UI athletic department to move forward with renovation plans for Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

UI next will look for an architect to conceptualize a $25 million to $40 million renovation and expansion that would add an extra practice facility for basketball and volleyball, upgrade a conditioning area, spruce up office space and possibly add club seating and air conditioning.

Athletic gifts and earnings would fund the project. UI will bring a blueprint and financial plan back to the regents at a date that wasn't specified.

The board unanimously approved the tuition increase for in-state students at public universities in the 2007-2008 school year.

Including mandatory fees, in-state students at University of Iowa would pay a total increase of 6.1 percent increase while for non-residents students the increase would total 7.2 percent. The tuition and fee hike would represent an increase of $358, to $6,273 annually, for residents while non-residents would pay $1,306 more, or a total of $19,445.