The UI Board of Trustees officially began the search for a new university president at its Feb. 19 meeting, establishing an 18-member consultative committee that will recommend finalists to the board. "This will be the most important thing you do during your term on the board," former UI president Stanley Ikenberry told trustees at a board meeting in the Chicago Illini Union.
President James Stukel announced last month that he will retire after 43 years with the university, including 10 years in the top position. Trustees plan to select a successor before Stukel's intended retirement in February 2005. Because as many as 10 other universities, including the University of Wisconsin, also are seeking new presidents, several board members expressed a desire to start the search as quickly as possible. During the meeting, the board also decided to hire a search firm, and could select the firm and approve the members of the university consultative committee at its March 11 meeting.
The board also is in the midst of planning for the search for a new chancellor for the Urbana campus. Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced last month that she will leave the university in July to become chancellor and president of Syracuse University.
|Search for a President
The university committee will include:
• Eight faculty members from the Chicago, Urbana-Champaign and Springfield campuses, selected by the campus senates and the University Senates Conference
• Three students chosen from among the campuses, recommended by the student governments and student trustees
• One academic professional staff person, selected by the board from among recommendations by the professional advisory committees of the three campuses
• One civil service employee, selected by the board from recommendations by the Employee Advisory Committee
• One university administrator, selected after consultation with the president and chancellors
• Three representatives from the Alumni Association and UI Foundation, recommended by the two organizations
• One alumnus at large selected by trustees
" Once the board of trustees gets the presidential search up and unning, the university can begin to focus on the search for new leadership at the Urbana-Champaign campus," said Thomas Hardy, executive director of the Office for University Relations. "A first step will be to name an interim chancellor, with the approval of the board. The board could hold off on a search for a permanent replacement for chancellor until after a new university president is named, or it could begin a search for a chancellor on a parallel track with the search under way for the next president."
"The input of the university family is important to us," said board chair Lawrence Eppley at the beginning of the meeting in discussing the presidential search. The board then heard comments from Ikenberry, former trustees chair Thomas Lamont, Urbana provost Richard Herman and speakers representing the faculty, academic professional staff, civil service employees, the Alumni Association and development.
"It's a tough job, a demanding job - and one of the most marvelous leadership roles in our society,"said Ikenberry, university president from 1979 to 1995. Ikenberry outlined other qualities the next UI president should have, including integrity, ability to build consensus, vision and communication skills.
Lamont, who was board of trustees chair during the search that led to Stukel's hiring, recommended the board hire a search firm, establish a search committee, then "keep some distance" during the process. He stressed the need for confidentiality and warned the board to expect external pressure, particularly from political leaders. "It's manageable, but certainly things can get awkward from time to time," Lamont said.
Other speakers urged trustees to keep in mind the needs of the groups they represented. UIC student trustee Natalie Garcia and political science professor Gerald Strom, chair of the UIC Senate executive committee, reminded the board of UIC's diversity, its urban setting and special requirements as both a health sciences center and major research university. "Few, if any, other universities are like us and we hope you hire a president who not only understands the challenges we face but supports our efforts to grow and develop," Strom said.
The two representatives speaking for the Urbana campus - student trustee Nate Allen and genetics professor Michael Grossman, chair of its Senate Executive Committee - urged the board to settle the 15-year controversy over Chief Illiniwek, the campus symbol. "The university must resolve the controversy that is causing such intense divisiveness and disproportionate distraction for the Urbana campus and even for the board," Grossman said.
UIS student trustee Andrew Hollingsead and legal studies professor Nancy Ford reminded the board of the special qualities of the Springfield campus, including its many returning adult students and its small staff, drastically affected by budget cuts. "We need a president who can get more money - state, public and private," Ford said.
Vera Mainz, a spectroscopist at the Urbana campus representing academic professional employees, and Daniel Sarhage, a UIC plant operating engineer speaking for civil service staff, reminded the board of the loyalty of its workers. "Nobody cares about the university more than a university employee," Sarhage said.