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Faculty leader hopes for progress in search

Danny Valentine

The Daily Iowan

December 6, 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 Faculty Senate President Sheldon Kurtz warned faculty on Tuesday to keep their calendars open Dec. 12 for a potential "special meeting."

The session, which would be held at 3:30 p.m., comes the day after the regularly scheduled state Board of Regents meeting - held every six weeks - in Iowa City.

The Dec. 11 meeting - which originally was a two-day event ending on Dec. 12 - was shortened to one day because of "a very light agenda," board spokeswoman Sheila Doyle said. The regents' agenda items will be released today around 11 a.m.

This will be the first one-day meeting so far this year. December meetings in 2004 and 2005 were only a single day.

"I continue to be optimistic that before next Tuesday we will see substantial progress on the two issues I mentioned to the Senate at our meeting on Nov. 28, namely restoring an effective governance structure and finding a great president for the University of Iowa," Kurtz wrote in the e-mail.

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

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

"I will keep you fully informed, as best I can, as events unfold, but I may not know until as late as next Monday whether we will need to have a special meeting," Kurtz' e-mail read.

The law professor distributed the e-mail to faculty around 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

After a Dec. 4 closed meeting, Regent Amir Arbisser said the regents would reconsider the four finalists, but he declined to say whether they would consider outside candidates as well.

Recently, UI faculty and staff have expressed their dismay about waiting much longer to choose a president. There is no timeline to pick a new president, yet regents have said they are aware of the concerns.

The heads of the now defunct UI presidential-search committee issued a statement to the media over the weekend that a prolonged search would hurt the university's reputation, make it difficult to find a good candidate, and harm other UI earches, among other problems.