Friday, November 24, 2006

UI President Search V

Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search

Today's (November 24) is the fifth installment in this blog's report and commentary regarding the continuing saga of the Iowa Board of Regents' efforts to find a president for the University of Iowa. Here are links to the prior four: Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006; Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search II," November 21, 2006; Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search III," November 22, 2003; Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search IV," November 23, 2006.

Each contains links to the full text of such reports, media stories, blogs and other commentary as I have found. Together I believe them to be the most complete collection available anywhere on the Internet. However, note that the references are not repeated from one entry to the next, so the lists in all the relevant blog entries must be checked to get the full collection.

The entries also contain some commentary of my own. For example,
  • The first contains, among other things, a summarized version of the facts, and a relatively long essay in paragraph 4 entitled, "What are the necessary qualifications for UI's president?"
  • The second includes my effort to identify eight separate categories of issues involved in these stories, provide a bit of legal analysis of Iowa's open meetings law, and reference a little history from Regent Michael Gartner's past.
  • In III I deal with the implications of the revelation that, among the reasons for rejecting the four candidates recommened by the search committee, these Regents, bedeviled by ties to health insurance company Wellmark in the past, may have nonetheless preferred the candidate they did because of her ties to a related health insurance provider. This story, of course, has implications for Governor Vilsack's presidential race, and the beginning of Governor-Elect Culver's term.
  • The fourth includes a contributor's list of Regents-Wellmark ties, and comment about what the Regents'-authorized search committee "Criteria Check List" reveals about the lack of early Regents' concern about health services experience, and some of the problems with search firms.
Michael J. Hogan

Two days ago was Deborah Freund's day. Today it is UI Executive Vice President and Provost Michael J. Hogan's.

The Press-Citizen reported this morning that Hogan was among the final four who were peremptorily rejected by the Regents on November 17, when they also fired the search committee and called off the search. Brian Morelli, "Hogan was finalist for president's job; UI provost 'disappointed' by outcome," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 24, 2006.

I have gone through many emotions during the past week -- it was, after all, only one week ago today that this fiasco began.

My ties to the University of Iowa began, literally, at my birth -- in the University of Iowa Hospital. I was, by age 2, a part of the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station; three years later I was enrolled in the kindergarten of the University Elementary and High School, a most remarkable institution from which I graduated in 1952. Both of my parents were Iowa grads, and my father became, and remained, a UI professor until his death, at age 59, in 1965 -- notwithstanding many lucrative offers to go elsewhere. I have been teaching in its law school since my return home to Iowa in 1980.

As a result of that history, I care about this place and the people who make it what it is. Indeed, it is that caring which is the reason I have put in the time and effort I have to build this resource of blog entries for the others who also care -- or at a minimum are just curious as to what in the hell is going on.

And of all those emotions, the one that predominates this morning is sadness.

It's one thing to write, as I did on November 18, "
Not the least of this adverse impact has fallen upon those 150, then 7, and finally 4, who believed they were to be at least potential candidates. They now find themselves with dashed hopes and the bitter realization that they have simply wasted the emotional energy, hours of valuable time away from other responsibilities -- and money -- that they reasonably believed were being rationally invested by them in pursuit of this position." Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," paragraph 3, November 18, 2006.

It is another thing altogether once "four finalists" becomes a name, and face, of someone you know and respect who has fallen victim to this process.

I don't concentrate this morning on Hogan to the exclusion of the other three of the final four. It's just that I now know his name, and the names and qualifications of the others have not yet been revealed.

Click on the link to his name, in the opening paragraph of this section, and read his background as an academic and an administrator. Note in Brian Morelli's story that Hogan has five deans of UI health science colleges reporting to him.

Given that background, and those responsibilities (qualifications apparently shared to some degree with at least two of the other three "final four"), for the Regents to say they were rejecting the final four because of a felt need for "
candidates who had more experience as leaders who oversaw complex health sciences operations" is really insensitive and insulting.

Put aside for the moment that the "Criteria Check List" (a) did not use the language "leaders who oversaw," (b) that it only referred to "experience with complex health care medical care enterprise" and "understanding of the role of the University Hospital," (c) that even those modest standards were added by search committee members, not Regents, (d) that a search committee member said the committee chair, "
Teresa Wahlert encouraged us to find people outside of health sciences because it [presumably the list of candidates] was too dominated by health science," and that (e) this high priority qualification, now interpreted to require oversight of "complex health sciences operations," was only accorded two items, worth 5 points each, out of a 180 point total on the "Criteria Check List."

And put aside that, even if it is an appropriate standard to require experience at oversight of "complex health sciences operations," Hogan clearly had that experience. Not only did he have it in general, but at this very institution, where his performance could presumaly be fairly easily evaluated -- and was, by those on the search committee who were very familiar with it and who voted him into the final four.

It would be different if the Regents had said something equally loony, perhaps that the problem was that they needed
"candidates who had more experience as leaders who oversaw complex collegeate athletic programs and had previously been football coaches."

To the best of my knowledge Mike Hogan, who has done many things, has never been a university football coach. Thus, it would be understandable if the Regents -- having made football coaching their highest priority in qualifying for the UI presidency -- would have found Hogan unqualified on that ground. But to say he -- and the other three -- should be cast aside for the reasons cited, after a 10 month search process in which they came to the top of a list of 150, is as inexplicable as it is insulting.

These bog entries are being read by hundreds of individuals all around the world. One reader emailed me,

Isn't it interesting how Vilsack/Gartner so closely resemble Bush/Rumsfeld? We have the 'stay the course' speech from Vilsack, we have Gartner's arrogant and condescending disregard of the university in much the same way that Rumsfeld disregarded the advice of the generals about whether to attack Iraq and if so, the number of troops that would be needed." Not a bad analogy; much of the problem -- in both cases -- really is a matter of style, common sense, decency and humanity. But what's the analogy for Halliburton? "Can you spell 'Wellmark' boys and girls?"

Charles Miller wrote yesterday that the University of Iowa is not "just another business."
Charles Miller, "Is UI Just Another Business?" Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 23, 2006. Of course, it's much more. But so are many businesses, each having its own, somewhat unique, mission and business model -- from Starbucks to Star Wars defense contractors, from Google to General Motors. However, among all the things a major, multi-hundred-million-dollar university may be, it is also a business.

And so it is especially poignant this morning that the other major piece in our saga is a column of Michael Hogan's in the Des Moines Register. Michael J. Hogan, "College Program Comes With Guarantees," Des Moines Register, November 24, 2006. Although it's very much worth your reading, I shall not discuss the substance here. My point in citing it is simply that this is the kind of original thinking -- and execution of ideas -- that any major corporation would be delighted to have. It involves a sensible integration of Iowa's community colleges and the University of Iowa in what Hogan rightfully characterizes as a "win-win-win" -- better education, of more students, at less cost.

If, after all this heavy stuff, you could do with a little lighter approach to the UI president search, you might want to give a read to Wick Sloane, "Application for U. of Iowa Presidency," The Devil's Workshop,, November 22, 2006.
Media Stories and Commentary

Brian Morelli, "Hogan was finalist for president's job; UI provost 'disappointed' by outcome," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 24, 2006

Michael J. Hogan, "College Program Comes With Guarantees," Des Moines Register, November 24, 2006

Wick Sloane, "Application for U. of Iowa Presidency," The Devil's Workshop,, November 22, 2006

"Regents Face Criticism In University President Search," KCCI-TV8, Des Moines, November 21, 2006

News Blog, "Iowa Regents Halt Presidential Search Amid Dissatisfaction With Candidates,"
The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 17, 2006

"Regents Meet on University of Iowa Presidential Search,"
November 17, 2006 [although provided earlier, this is a pdf of the Regents' official release]

Steve Nicoles, "Regents Dissolve President Search Committee, Reject Candidates," KCRG-TV9, Cedar Rapids, November 17, 2006
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The BOR presidential search process has self destructed and they burned an important bridge when they dismissed the search committee. They should be in the damage control mode but it does not appear that they think so since Gartner has not been told to shut up.

We need some mechanism to get both sides to cool off.