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Panel begins UI-head search

Terry McCoy

The Daily Iowan

January 29, 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.]

As it ventures into the "idea collection" stage of its search for the next university president, the new UI presidential-search committee has vowed to keep a majority of its meeting public, officials said on Sunday.

The panel met for the first time on Jan. 26 to discuss what protocols it should adopt to best seek out the university's next leader, said committee head David Johnsen, the dean of the UI College of Dentistry.

Before the panel establishes how it will sift through names for the university's next leader, various university constituencies need to be consulted, said committee member Gene Parkin, a UI professor of civil-environmental engineering.

Johnsen has formed a small subcommittee to determine what characteristics various university groups and colleges think the next president should possess, as well as how to attract prospective candidates. He said he doesn't know which college he will meet with first.

"We want ways to engage the community," he said. "We are just trying to get input from the greater UI community and then trying to get the best person that we can."

Parkin said the ideas amassed from the university groups will help searchers adopt a concise, unified message to aggressively lure candidates.

The 13-member search committee must complete the "idea collection" phase rapidly if it is going name the next president by its July 1 deadline, Johnsen said. He understands the deadline is an ambitious one, he said, but without it, the search would drag.

The Jan. 26 meeting was the first in what Johnsen said he hopes will turn into a series of public Friday assemblies.

He said he will only call for executive sessions - meetings closed to the public - when the committee needs to discuss the names of presidential candidates.

If a hopeful's "confidentiality is breached, there is a very good chance that the next day he or she will no longer be a candidate, and the legitimacy of the committee could be compromised," Johnsen said.

Regardless of what measures the panel implements, the most important decisions regarding former UI President David Skorton's successor will be made by the state Board of Regents, Johnsen said.

"This whole search began with the regents," he said. "And it is going to end with the regents."