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Search still up in air

Danny Valentine

The Daily Iowan

November 29, 2006

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

UI Provost Michael Hogan may soon have two presidential job offers on his plate - something that would have been unthinkable just two days ago.

The Wilmington News Journal reported on Tuesday that Hogan was one of two finalists in the University of Delaware's search for a new president. And although the state Board of Regents voted 6-2 on Nov. 17 to disband the UI presidential-search committee and reject the four finalists - including Hogan - some in the process remain optimistic that the four finalists could once again be considered.

In statements made to the Cedar Rapids Gazette Editorial Board on Monday, Gov. Tom Vilsack said he would favor having the regents reconsider the nominations from the search committee.

UI Student Government President Peter McElligott said he is "still not going to give up hope" that the four candidates' names could be re-examined by regents.

He said many top candidates could be solicited by other institutions. Numerous schools, including Ohio State University, Indiana University, and Purdue University, are searching for new leadership.

Hogan did not return phone calls on Tuesday, but in an e-mail, he declined to comment why he applied for the position.

"You know, I am not usually at a loss for words, but this time, I really am," he said.

In an interview with the Review, the University of Delaware's student newspaper, however, Hogan said the school was a good fit.

"I come out of an undergraduate college where I also have a very strong research record in graduate education, and all of those things exist here in high quality," he told the Review. "The university is really at a tipping point."

After a meeting on Monday evening involving members of the UI community, Vilsack, and Regent President Michael Gartner, three campus organizations - the Faculty Council, the Staff Council, and the UI Student Government - decided to postpone votes of no-confidence in the state Board of Regents that they had been considering.

The meeting left many in those organizations feeling "hopeful," some of the members said.

No one is saying why the no-confidence votes had been postponed.

Vilsack "intends to spend as much time as necessary to work through these issues and intends to report back to us soon what progress has been made," UI Faculty Senate President Sheldon Kurtz said in a prepared statement to the Faculty Senate. "I have confidence that we will be able to resolve the issues."

UI Staff Council President Mary Greer uttered similar statements in one of the many e-mails sent out Tuesday by the UI administration, faculty, and staff.

"Gov. Vilsack never asked us to cancel our vote of no-confidence," she said. "He simply asked us if he could have some time to work on the issues we presented to him, including our concerns about our relationships with" the regents.

UI interim President Gary Fethke, who was also present at the Monday meeting, declined to comment except for a statement that the meeting "proved helpful in moving our presidential search toward a positive conclusion."