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Regents to look anew at four finalists

Danny Valentine

The Daily Iowan

December 5, 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.]

The state Board of Regents will re-examine the four candidates proposed by the UI presidential-search committee, Regent Amir Arbisser said on Monday night.

The decision to take another look at the four candidates came as a result of 90-minute closed session on Monday morning, he said. But Arbisser declined to comment on whether the regents would also examine outside candidates or if they would choose only from the four finalists.

On Nov. 17, regents voted, 6-2, to reject the four finalists forwarded by the search committee and disband it, angering many UI faculty, staff, and students.

Since that time, secrecy has enshrouded the process, and closed meetings and a need for confidentiality have clouded future plans for the next UI president, who will replace former UI leader David Skorton.

The possibility of re-evaluating the four finalists has floated around since Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack announced that he would like to see the candidates reconsidered. The governor and presidential hopeful cooled previously heated emotions when he met with regents and UI faculty, staff, and students on Nov. 27.

Arbisser said the 7:30 a.m. telephone conference on Monday was "very constructive."

"We have a direction to move after being at an impasse for a few weeks," he said.

Regent President Pro Tem Teresa Wahlert, as well as Regents Robert Downer and Arbisser, echoed Regent President Michael Gartner's statement at the conclusion of the meeting that it was a "productive session."

Although the regents do not have a timeline in place, Downer said, there would be further developments regarding to the search panel this week.

Meanwhile, Monday's meeting was the third closed meeting in two weeks involving regents about the presidential search. Although a number of UI leaders have been tight-lipped about the search process, many faculty and staff feel the process is too secretive and that the regents are to blame.

UI assistant research scientist George Hospodarsky, a member of the Staff Council, believes the process has been "overly secretive."

"I have not understood the reasoning behind the need for the changes in the process," he said, referring to former UI-led presidential searches. "We are obviously not picking losers."

But he said he still has faith in the presidential candidates picked by the search committee.

UI nursing Professor Gloria Bulechek, a member of the Faculty Council, said there was no reason to change the process from previous searches.

"Why fix it, if it is not broken?" she said.

Bulechek said the lack of stability has hurt the College of Nursing's ability to hire a new dean.