Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Search for a New

University of Minnesota President

Is the Fix On?

From the Daily:

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents will commence the presidential search process next week at its May meeting.

Current University President Bob Bruininks’ term will expire at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. Regents Chairman Clyde Allen said the board will seek to name Bruininks’ successor by next spring.

Bruininks said the incoming president will assist him in selecting individuals to fill what will be vacant top administrative positions, such as Frank Cerra’s senior vice president for health sciences and medical school dean position, which will be left empty after Cerra retires in December.

[That will certainly make the job attractive to a candidate. Having to "consult" with his predecessor in making appointments for his/her new administration.]

The board will announce its schedule and plans for the search in a May 13 meeting. In June, the regents are scheduled to choose the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, lead by Regent Patricia Simmons.

The Faculty Consultative Committee recommended four faculty members to sit on the search committee in March. Professor Marti Gonzales, chairwoman on the FCC and one of the selected faculty members, said they will play an important role on the committee.

[For an indication of where Professor Gonzales is coming from, please see: Who will bell the cat. Pay special attention to the beginning of the video.]

“Administrators come and go, students come and go, the one constant … are faculty, many of whom spend their whole lives here,” Gonzales said.

To assist in compiling a pool of candidates, the University has hired Bill Funk of R. William Funk & Associates, a higher education consulting firm. Funk aided in the 2002 presidential search that resulted in Bruininks’ appointment.

[Sounds like deja vu, all over again. How did that one go? Wasn't there something about a violation of the open meeting law? And wasn't the list of candidates, when it finally emerged, shall we say, rather thin?]

As a consultant, Funk specializes in knowing the individuals who “might fit the job description, know who’s available [and] might be worth interviewing,” Allen said.

Funk, whose firm is located in Texas, said he will make a trip to Minnesota soon to meet with constituent groups.

Allen said the University will not restrict its prospects to individuals presently within the University, even though the current administration is in the middle of finding long-term solutions to a complicated state funding problem.

[Perhaps it shouldn't even consider inside candidates? Most good schools get their leadership from outside and our most successful recent president has been an outsider. The current inside leading contender does not have a history of shared governance or consultative leadership. Can you say graduate school? Here the provost demonstrated unequivocally his unfitness to lead the University of Minnesota as provost, let alone president. As someone put it at a recent FCC/Regents professors meeting: " One hopes that the Bruininks/Sullivan regime will be gone; the University needs new leadership."]

“Any candidate we would have would most likely come from a similar situation,” Allen said, acknowledging the University’s plight aligns with the state of higher education all over the country.

A new president who is familiar with the institution already would be beneficial, Gonzales said. However, a “fresh perspective” from an outsider could bring ideas no one has presented yet.

“I just want a person with integrity. I want a person who understands that academia is a different kind of institution than corporate America, who is a scholar of national and international prominence and who has demonstrated excellent skills heading up administratively,” she said.

Of the past five presidents, three first filled other roles at the University prior to their appointment to president. Bruininks was a faculty member, a dean and the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

However, Bruininks’ predecessor Mark Yudof, now president of the University of California system, had no Minnesota ties before he took the lead in 1997. The Philadelphia native held an executive vice president and provost position at the University of Texas.

[And Yudof put most of the other U of M presidents in the last thirty years to shame. The fact that he now heads the UC system is evidence of his excellence. The best schools in the Big Ten have consistently gone outside for new leadership. Presidents at the University of Iowa have gone on to Michigan and Cornell. Biddy Martin came from Cornell to Wisconsin and Teresa Sullivan is going from Michigan to the University of Virginia. It is rare for our top tier competition to hire from within. However, there is a soft underbelly of people with vice president in their title at Minnesota who would probably prefer that (another) insider be chosen. Given the sad record of the Morrill Hall Gang, to promote from within in this situation would seem foolish indeed. However it appears from the way this search is being conducted that this is the plan.]

The board is scheduled to outline the search criteria in June, but Allen said the search committee will look for a visionary who works well with other strong leaders.

“It’s going to be a very careful task,” he said.

I doubt it.

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