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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Presidential search lacked transparency

    The Arizona Board of Regents announced its candidate to become the next UA president on Tuesday. Candidate, singular.

    Does this mean that there was only one applicant? That Ann Weaver Hart was so suited for the UA presidency that she rendered the entire process unnecessary?

    Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know the answers to these questions. No one does, save the 23 members of the presidential search committee.

    Wanda Howell, the chair of the UA Faculty Senate, said this blatant lack of transparency wasn’t an unfortunate oversight, but a conscious choice by the search committee.

    “It would have been nice for them (the top candidates) to visit campus and talk to us (the faculty) about what they see as important for the future of the UA,” she said. “It wasn’t my choice of process, but it is what it is.”

    It would have been nice. But unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced rat-race world, it’s unreasonable to expect a lengthy, drawn-out process of selecting multiple candidates and having them visit the place where they might work and live. If only the search had been conducted during a time when such niceties were feasible — a time like 2006.

    During the UA’s last presidential search in 2006, the final four candidates visited campus for a weeklong series of public forums, a chance for each candidate to visit the university they might lead. The UA even took out a half-page ad in the Daily Wildcat advertising the time and place for each forum.

    This time around? Nothing. On Monday, UA Vice President for Research Leslie Tolbert and J.C. Mutchler, two members of the search committee, told the UA Faculty Senate that a candidate could be named within a week or two. It was the first meaningful, or at least public, news about the search since September. But a day later, congratulations were in order.

    Then again, this is all par for the course for the regents these days. Former UA President Robert Shelton departed suddenly in June to join the Fiesta Bowl, after, in the words of one regent, the board made it clear that it was not inclined to renew his expiring presidential contract. A month later? Pop goes the provost as Meredith Hay announced she was leaving to take an advisory position with the regents. And now? The UA has a new president.

    Hart has served as the president of two other universities thus far and, if selected, she will be the UA’s long overdue first female president. Perhaps she was the most qualified candidate, and perhaps she did blow the search committee away. James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said she was his “clear No. 1” choice to assume the presidency. But here’s the rub: The UA deserves to know who choice No. 2 was, and every choice after that. The UA deserves to know what each candidate’s vision for the UA was, and why Hart rose to the top.

    More than anything, the UA deserved transparency and openness throughout the selection process. And now the UA deserves to know why the search committee made a calculated effort to deny that.

    But if there’s one thing the UA is teaching its students (and its faculty members), it’s how little their input actually matters.

    At the end of the day, Hart will visit the UA, get her contract approved during the regents’ meeting on Feb. 17, and the members of the search committee will congratulate themselves on a job well done.

    _ — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Steven Kwan, Luke Money and Michelle A. Monroe. They can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions._

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