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Secrecy key to UA search for president

Courtney Smith/Arizona Daily Wildcat
From left, Regent Jack B. Jewett, Executive Director of the Arizona Board of Regents Joel Sideman and Presidential Search Committee Chairman Fred Boice listen to comments at the first Presidential Search Committee meeting yesterday.
By Anthony D. Ávila and J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 9, 2005
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31-member search team agrees on confidentiality

The importance of keeping candidates' names confidential was emphasized yesterday at the first presidential search committee meeting.

The committee of 31 members discussed the conditions of confidentiality, as well as guidelines for conducting the search, the role of the search consultant and arranging campus and community forums.

Regent Fred Boice, who is also the committee chair and spokesman, warned the committee that the identities of candidates and nominees must be kept a secret. The candidate's names will not be made public until the Arizona Board of Regents chooses finalists.

Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of the search committee, said Benjamin Graff, voting student regent and one of two students on the committee.

"We have to balance confidentiality with keeping the public informed on where the committee is in its process," Graff said. "But at least in the beginning stages, confidentiality outweighs public need for information."

Keeping candidates confidential will be stressed throughout the entire search because of the negative consequences revealing such information could have on the applicant pool, Graff said.

Elaine Ulrich, the Graduate and Professional Student Council president who attended the meeting as a guest, said she hopes issues of confidentiality do not cause nonmembers to be excluded from information unnecessarily.

"That's disappointing because it's going to be limiting for us (in GPSC)," said Ulrich, an optical sciences graduate student. "But I'm going to be working closely with committee members and be as involved as possible."

However, Ulrich said, she is confident the committee will do an "excellent" job and was impressed with its commitment to hold forums to get input from "as many voices as possible."

As stated in the committee guidelines, Boice reiterated that it was also important "to target women and minorities as candidates."

Likins addressed the committee to give his opinion about the search process and the important characteristics of the future UA president.

"I'm doing everything I can do to make the handoff a smooth process," Likins said.

The most important quality to look for in the new president is integrity, not whether the candidate has a genius mind, Likins said.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist for this job, but you have to prove your academic mettle to them," Likins said.

The introductory meeting also confirmed there is substantial work the committee needs to accomplish.

"Honestly, I don't think there's a single person that left that meeting without realizing the important task this committee has before it," Graff said. "The decision is one that will truly affect and mold the future of UA, and I left appropriately humbled by the importance and the level of work to be done."

Cade Bernsen, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president, said he is honored to be on the committee because of how important the objective is.

"The committee is full of capable and talented people," Bernsen said. "I feel very confident we're going to find a really good president."

The regents, however, will ultimately make the decision about whom the new president will be. The search committee's objective is to find quality applicants, Bernsen said.

Seven of the 10 regents are also committee members, ensuring clear communication between regents and the committee, Boice said.

Because the regents will not choose someone who has not gone through the committee, that puts a lot of pressure on the committee members, Bernsen said.

"The board has really given legitimacy to the committee and has made students and their representatives have a voice in the process," Bernsen said. "They're putting power in (our) hands, which they don't have to do."

The schedule for the community forums, which will begin in the middle of October, was approved during the meeting and should be made available next week.

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