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Some regents and deans to discuss presidential search

Arbisser: Goal is to collect information

Diane Heldt

The Gazette

December 1, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, 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 Gazette.]

  IOWA CITY — Several state regents will meet with University of Iowa Interim President Gary Fethke and some of the UI’s college deans at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss issues related to the stalled UI presidential search. Regent Amir Arbisser of Davenport said Thursday he will participate, though he didn’t know who the other attendees would be beyond Fethke, some deans and a small number of regents — not enough to constitute a board quorum.

  Discussion about the presidential search and possible next steps probably will be a ‘‘significant component of the meeting,’’ Arbisser said.

  The search for a successor to David Skorton, who left the UI in June for the presidency at Cornell University, has been in limbo since a 6-2 vote by the regents Nov. 17 to reject four recommended candidates, scrap the search committee and restart the process. That drew the ire of many at the UI, and Gov. Tom Vilsack stepped in this week in an attempt to resolve the problems.

  ‘‘We’re just continuing to collect information about what’s going on. I would say that it’s not any different from some of the small meetings that some of the same regents had with faculty and members during the search,’’ Arbisser, a member of the former search committee, said. ‘‘Not all meetings are official committee meetings. I really am interested in hearing from various members of the university community as we all work toward the same goal of getting a new president.’’

  Arbisser said he’s unsure who initiated the meeting but said he’s happy to participate. ‘‘It’s my understanding there were some folks who wanted to share their thoughts about what was going on,’’ he said. UI Faculty Senate President Sheldon Kurtz said he was concerned about the meeting and what impact it might have on the governor’s work to resolve the conflict. Kurtz was not invited but said it’s his understanding that Regents Michael Gartner of Des Moines, Ruth Harkin of Cumming, Arbisser and possibly Bob Downer of Iowa City will attend and that all UI deans were invited.

  ‘‘ My concerns run to whether or not this meeting would be consistent with the efforts of the governor to get the search back on track,’’ Kurtz said.

  Fethke, Gartner and Downer did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.