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Regents OK search-panel members

Terry McCoy

The Daily Iowan

January 24, 2007

[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 voted unanimously via telephone on Tuesday afternoon to approve the seven new appointees to the UI presidential-search committee.

Although some regents voiced discontent at the exclusion of a UI undergraduate representative, most were appeased with the appointment of UI graduate student Sarah Vigmostad, who, officials say, will represent the undergraduate constituency in addition to the graduate students.

"I was disappointed not to see an undergraduate name," Regent Jenny Connolly said. "But I was excited to see that Sarah [Vigmostad] went to the UI as an undergrad. I just hope that she keeps in mind the difference between grads and undergrads."

Search-panel head David Johnsen, the dean of the UI dental school, said no undergraduates were included because it was impossible to have every view and every UI constituency directly represented on a 13-member committee. The previous search committee that was disbanded in November boasted 19 members.

Johnsen added that the committee members who had already been appointed before Tuesday have tried to find individuals who could adequately elicit the concerns of more than one UI group.

"We are going to do our best to reach out to all UI groups and prod them to put down what issues they want to see get done," Regent Mary Ellen Becker said.

UI Student Government Vice President Addison Stark said he, too, initially was worried at the lack of an undergraduate voice on the search committee, but he sees Vigmostad as an excellent choice as a representative for all students.

He said he and UISG President Peter McElligott hope to meet with Vigmostad weekly to ensure she is properly meeting the needs of UI students.

Regardless, the exclusion of regents from the search committee will mean a more efficient search, Stark said.

Now the regents "will just be given a choice," he said. "Before when the regents were in it, they had already made up their minds going into the discussions" to determine the next UI president.

In November, the regents voted 6-2 to reject all four finalists to replace former UI President David Skorton. The previous search panel had included Regents Michael Gartner, Teresa Wahlert, Amir Arbisser, and Ruth Harkin.

Johnsen said he hopes this new search committee will concentrate on "looking ahead" rather than dwelling on the general distrust of the regents.

This skepticism was highlighted last December when the UI faculty, staff, and student government all voted "no confidence" in the regents. The resignation of Regent Tom Bedell soon followed.

The next action the UI search committee will take is to meet Friday to develop appropriate methods of searching for the next UI president.