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Regents ready for the search, round 2

Danny Valentine

The Daily Iowan

December 12, 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 search for a new UI president will begin anew next week, with a Dec. 18 phone conference about the search process, state Board of Regents members announced on Monday.

Regents, who scrapped the previous search on Dec. 7, said they had not yet discussed a future search, and the Dec. 18 meeting would be the first step in that process.

"The sooner the better, but it is really important that we get a terrific man or woman," Regent President Michael Gartner said. "There is no timetable, but step one will occur a week from" Monday.

Regent Robert Downer said he hopes to see a new UI president in place by the beginning of the next academic year.

"I would like to see the election made by the beginning of summer, with a new president in place by the fall semester," he said. "I don't think that is an impossible goal."

The nine-member board sparked anger throughout the university community when it voted 6-2, with one abstaining member, on Nov. 17 to disband the search committee and reject the panel's four finalists.

Former UI business Dean Gary Fethke has served as interim president since former UI leader David Skorton left earlier this year to take the top job at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Regents are still unsure whether the conference call will be open or closed to the public, but Gartner said he suspects the meeting will be about the search process. Under Iowa law, meetings that discuss such issues must be open to the public.

The search could be shorter than the previous seven-month process, Gartner said, because much of the legwork - such as creating marketing materials and finding a search firm - is already completed.

Meanwhile, UI faculty and staff are pursuing votes of no-confidence in the regent leadership. The UI Faculty Senate will vote today.

"That's their right to do," said Gartner, who has recently been called on by Iowa City Democrats to step down. "I intend to continue to do my job."

As of now, there has been no discussion of potential candidates nor has there been discussion of the composition of a future search.

Downer, who declined to serve on the previous search committee, said he would now strongly consider accepting a spot on a new panel.

The Iowa City lawyer said he has a few UI deans in mind that he would also like to see on the new committee.