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Regent: UI should not rush its search

Universities may be competing for candidates

Kathryn Fiegen

Iowa City Press-Citizen

November 30, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, 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 Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

The University of Iowa is one of at least 11 universities shopping for presidents right now, but the increased competition to secure qualified candidates should not rush the search, officials said Wednesday.

The University of Indiana, Purdue University, Ohio State University, Texas Tech University, West Virginia University and the University of Delaware are among the schools conducting presidential searches, according to a list compiled by The Associated Press.

Many of these universities could be competing for the same candidates, said Marlene Ross of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C. The council is an education advocacy and research organization.

"There are always lots of people who are interested in these jobs," said Ross, who teaches seminars to future candidates on higher education leadership. "There are always searches going on. And when people are ready to move, they apply at multiple places."

UI Provost Michael Hogan is a prime example. Hogan confirmed last week that he had been one of the four finalists in the UI presidential search that was terminated Nov. 17 by the Iowa state Board of Regents. He also is on the short list for the presidential search at the University of Delaware.

"I think it is getting competitive, and the salaries are getting higher," Ross said.

Regent Amir Arbisser of Davenport said the board was aware of other university searches and weighed the possibility of losing a good candidate to another university.

"I think we're always aware of the market conditions," he said. "It's of interest, but I don't think it would ultimately drive the process."

Even with the competition, the search should not be rushed, he said.

"Time is a consideration. But who the individual is supercedes time," Arbisser said. "I think at this point, clearly the consideration is obtaining the optimal candidate."

No timeline has been set for the regents to appoint a new president.

The search appears to be in limbo since Gov. Tom Vilsack met with university and regent leaders Monday. UI leaders have been critical of the search process, and rifts between the university and regents spilled over after the board terminated the search and dismissed the candidates. The UI Faculty Council planned to take a no-confidence vote involving the regents on Tuesday but reconsidered after meeting with the governor in Cedar Rapids.

Vilsack plans to consider the perspectives outlined by each person at Monday's meeting and get in touch with leaders in two weeks. Board of Regents President Michael Gartner declined comment Wednesday.

Regent Bob Downer of Iowa City said the board plans to have a special meeting early next week to talk about how to proceed.

Downer said he hopes to name a president by the end of the year.

"It is my desire to select someone from the four (finalists)," he said.

The controversy could even be attractive to a candidate for the UI presidency, Arbisser said.

"I think a thoughtful candidate would pay attention to the local issues," he said. "I think they can be stimulated to improve the situation."