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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Regents launch president search

The search is on for a new UA president.

Former president Robert Shelton announced his departure from the UA to accept a position at the Fiesta Bowl in June. In early September, a committee formed by the Arizona Board of Regents will begin the nearly year-long process to select his replacement.

The UA Presidential Search Committee comprises 23 people, including regents, faculty and community leaders. Committee members will give input throughout the search process, though the ultimate decision is made by the board.

The UA’s last presidential search began after Peter Likins announced his retirement in 2003, though he served as president until 2006. The timing of the departures of both Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay caught some members of the campus community off guard, said JC Mutchler, associate professor of history and member of the committee as well as the secretary of the Faculty Senate.

“How can you not be nervous about a major change in leadership?” Mutchler asked. “We’re living in a period of great change. Where we’re going next is on everybody’s mind right now.”

Eugene Sander, former vice provost and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will serve as interim president while Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff Jacqueline Lee Mok will serve as interim provost. Their leadership will enable the committee to complete the replacement process, said Regent Rick Myers, who is co-chair of the search committee.

“That gives us time to be very thorough in the search we do to get the best person,” he said.

The committee has already received nominations for candidates from around the country, according to Myers. The next step is to draft a list of characteristics the new president should possess.

“I think there needs to be a special focus on someone who can help the University of Arizona be a positive change in the state,” Myers said. “We can use the university to shape the future of Arizona.”

Faculty members are looking for someone who can guide the UA from both an academic and business standpoint, Mutchler said.

“Our job is to teach and research,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll do that no matter who comes and goes. The tone of the institution changes, though. You get a tone and direction that you feel top to bottom.”

The search committee will also create an advisory council. The board has reached out to several organizations that expressed disappointment over a lack of representation in the committee, Myers said.

“We’re not trying to exclude anyone,” he said. “It’s hard to get everyone exactly in the roles we want to play.”

The committee will hold several meetings open to public participation. Representatives will also attend the Faculty Senate meeting in September.

“The key issue really is defining characteristics of the individual we seek,” said Wanda Howell, chair of the Faculty Senate. “We’ll make sure the regents are in agreement about what we need.”

James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and a member of the search committee, plans on using social media to ask students what they want in a president. He also said he will keep people updated on the process through a blog.

“Anything I can share, I will share,” Allen said.

Mutchler commended Shelton for his service to the UA and said he is confident the committee will find someone to continue the university’s progress.

“I like change and chaos,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity to assess where you’re going next.”

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