Tuesday, January 09, 2007

UI President Search - UI Held Hostage: Day 54

Jan. 9, 8:15 p.m.
Blogger.com, and its servers that support this blog, have been down much of the day (Jan 9). Although I had nothing to do with that, I'm sorry if it was a frustrating inconvenience for you.

(Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here.)

The big stories of the day are (1) the predicted "new position that's not really a new position" came to be ("UIHC: Changing Titles, Changing Lives"), (2) the announcement of five (of 12) appointees to Search Committee II, (3) the Regents' admission that the rumors were true, and that they do plan to meet this Thursday, and (4) Governor Vilsack managed to give his last "state of the state" address this morning -- 5100 words -- without mentioning "Gartner," "Regents," "University of Iowa" or its "president."

The "new vice president" announcement pretty much played out as predicted earlier, and as I commented in "A Shift in Time Saves Nine" on January 6.

Dean David Johnsen, Chair of the Search Committee, has earned good reviews, according to the grape vine I listen to, for his candid e-mail report to the "UI Community" regarding what's going on with the search. (It's linked below.)

Questions that remain:

1. What was the process that produced the five individuals announced as members of the search committee? Who did the nominating? Who did the evaluating? Who made the final selections? What was Gartner's role? Fethke's? Johnsen's? Any others participate? We'll never know, of course, but there's spectulation. How about the six additional search committee members, yet to be selected? Dean Johnsen has suggested they'll be selected by the present five (plus him).

The same questions can be put (but will not be answered) with regard to the notion of "four finalists," and the six-month schedule. It's just hard to know how much of the planning and announcements are exclusively the search committee chair's ideas, and how much reflect the input of Regent Gartner or Interim President Fethke.

2. Dean Johnsen says the Regents "will" select the president from the "final four" recommended by the search committee. Really? Wasn't that what we thought we were doing before with Search I? Or have the Regents pledged they're going to play by the rules this time? And, if so, at what meeting was that discussed and adopted?

3. Dean Johnsen indicates that if top candidates decline to have their names disclosed, and decline to come to campus to interact with the UI community, they will be permitted to remain in the shadows (rather than leaving the search committee with nothing but the "second tier." Isn't that just another way of saying there won't be any on-campus appearances? That is to say, if you give candidates this option, if you ask them what they'd prefer, isn't it likely enough will opt for secrecy that campus interviews won't be held?

More significant, haven't we had enough of secrecy around here? Do we really want a president who is comfortable wheeeling and dealing in secret -- let alone one who insists on it? Isn't a candidate's insistence on confidentiality -- isolation from faculty, staff and students -- a sign of their disqualification for the position?

4. Dean Johnsen hopes to have the next president "named" by July 1. (a) Presumably, this means that by July 1 four finalists are recommended to the Regents, who then select one, who accepts, and whose name is then revealed. (b) No telling how much later we actually have a new president in the office in Jessup Hall. (c) By doing this in the summer we insure that it will receive relatively less attention from the UI community -- especially students -- (kind of like everything done during the recent winter break). (d) It is a schedule that continues to reflect a relative lack of urgency about the need for a president -- now one year after it was known that Skorton was leaving. (e) I find it difficult to believe that, less than two months after a major national search was concluded by the Regents search committee, that there is that much more to do with regard to the probable available candidates at this time. And (f), the elephant on campus remains Regent Gartner, and the impact his continued presence will have on the committee's ability to create a pool of "great" potential university presidents -- indeed, whether a candidate who would be willing to serve under the control of this Board of Regents is someone who would be qualified to hold the position.

"UI Held Hostage: Day 52"

Today's stories are linked below.

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[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story, these blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006. For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to FromDC2Iowa.Blogspot.com will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006. My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006. And the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References".]

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Media Stories and Commentary

Dean David Johnsen, "Report to UI Community on Presidential Search," January 8, 2006

Diane Heldt, "Leader Wants Campus Interviews Left to Committee," The Gazette, January 9, 2006

Diane Heldt, "Medical leaders shuffled; UI dean becomes VP; hospital chief exec becomes associate VP," The Gazette, January 9, 2006

Kathryn Fiegen, "UI selects Robillard as VP," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 9, 2006

Brian Morelli, "5 Selected for UI Search Committee," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 9, 2006

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