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Plan might be stalled

Matt Nelson

The Daily Iowan

November 27, 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.]

In disbanding the UI presidential-search committee on Nov. 17, the state Board of Regents inadvertently hindered the much-debated strategic-change process and delayed its progress for months, faculty members said.

"The regents have already completely bungled the timeline and goals laid out for the strategic-change process," said Steve McGuire, a member of the disbanded panel and a UI professor of curriculum and instruction.

Under the strategic-change process, an effort headed by Regent President Michael Gartner and Regent Teresa Wahlert, the state university presidents and the regents have been working on a plan that could change the structure of the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Previously, the process was slated to be completed by November 2007, but faculty members now expect the process to take much longer and require further attention on their part.

"As a consequence [of the committee's being disbanded], I am sure the Faculty Council/Senate will revisit this issue," UI psychology Professor Michael O'Hara, a member of the UI Faculty Council, said in an e-mail.

The faculty government had passed numerous resolutions responding to the regents' initiative, but members had been ultimately pleased with the timeline for strategic change because the end date would leave ample time for the new UI president to contribute.

Meanwhile, the search committee's disbanding highlights a separate problem: weak levels of communication between the faculty and the regents, faculty members said.

"At this point, it's the regents' ability to determine the speed of the strategic-change process," McGuire said. "We can influence; we can present advice. But at this point, our advice is not considered at all."

Faculty Senate President and law Professor Sheldon Kurtz had previously spearheaded efforts to slow down or halt the proposed process, citing lack of input from stakeholders involved. With this recent delay in choosing a UI president, the issue will likely be revisited.

Kurtz also stressed the importance of collaboration between regents and the UI community, in lieu of a permanent president, as officials now move forward with the strategic planning.

"We had every reason to believe that there would be a president in place by November," Kurtz said. "Obviously, that's not going to happen."