During a town hall meeting yesterday in Angell Hall, four members of the University Board of Regents heard what students and faculty want to see in the next University president something regents say will weigh heavily in any decision they make.
“We recognize that we have a tremendous responsibility here and we want to choose the best possible person,” said Regent Larry Deitch (D- Bingham Farms). “We will select someone who is committed to the life and mind of the institution.”
The regents said they plan on having a well-defined outline for the search procedures by next month”s regents meeting.
The board could announce plans for the search process as early as this week and has scheduled a private conference call for 8 p.m. tonight, said Vice President and Secretary of the University Lisa Tedesco.
“We will have a search process and the mechanics thereof will be finished and presented by the next regents meeting,” said Regent Dan Horning (R-Grand Haven). “We”re dedicated to that timeframe.”
Although the exact format for the search process has not been determined, the regents said this search process will factor in more outside input than the last search, when Lee Bollinger was selected.
Bollinger is leaving the University at the end of the semester and will take over as Columbia University”s president in July. Former Business School Dean B. Joseph White will become Michigan”s interim president Jan. 1, 2002.
“During the last search process the regents were kind of an end piece. This search will involve more influence by the regents than the last one did,” Horning said. “It will be very important for the search process to include the wisdom of faculty, staff, students and alumni.”
John Lehman, secretary for the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, said that prior to the last search process student, faculty and alumni served on advisory committees to help direct the regents in the search process. But these groups were later dismantled and replaced by an outside consulting firm.
Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said she doesn”t know whether a consulting firm will be hired again because the regents are still in the beginning stages of the process.
“I”m committed to an open process. This is probably just one in a number of open discussions we will have,” Maynard said.
She added that the regents are still committed to selecting a president by June 2002 but that the ability to develop a presidential search guideline for next month”s regents meeting will be the first test in determining how successfully the board will be at accomplishing that goal.
“If in fact we are committed to reaching a decision by June, that is our goal,” Maynard said.
Most audience members who spoke yesterday said they hope the regents will develop criteria for the next president that have not been represented by previous presidents.
“Art is often viewed as mere entertainment,” said Music Prof. Travis Jackson. “We would like to have a president who will work hard to integrate those involved with the arts into the fabric of the University.”
Art history Prof. Joseph Grigely said he hopes the next president will approach the issue of affirmative action more open-mindedly and provide some new, creative solutions.
“I would like a president that is going to think very broadly about what constitutes as diversity and does not depend on the 20th century categories,”
SACUA Chair Moji Navvab labeled the town hall meeting a success.
“I have to say that I was pleased that everyone had a chance to state their desires and their comments. I was also very pleased by the civility of it,” Navvab said. “If we maintain that type of relationship with the regents we will get more input in the future from them. We were given an opportunity and we took it, hopefully it is a two-way street.”