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Some want woman for next UA president

By Nicole Santa Cruz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
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Among the many characteristics that could be deemed necessary for the next UA president to possess, some faculty and students are in favor of one trait in particular - estrogen.

The university has yet to employ a female to fulfill the position of president, according to the UA Web site.

"I'm hoping that the pool will include women and also women of color," said Saundra Taylor, vice president of Campus Life.

Taylor said other universities, such as Brown University and the University of Michigan, have or have had women presidents.

"It's happening and it could certainly happen at the University of Arizona," Taylor said.

Like the UA, no other Pacific 10 Conference school currently has a woman president, although some have in the past, according to each university's Web site.

"Many of us are excited by the prospect of women as finalists," Taylor said.

Students have also expressed an interest in having a female as a potential candidate.

Two weeks ago, staff members of the Arizona Daily Wildcat randomly surveyed more than 100 students by walking into classrooms and asking students to anonymously fill out a questionnaire about the most important university issues and characteristics the next president should have.

About 10 percent of the students wrote the one thing they wanted the search committee to focus on was finding a female candidate.

"The committee needs to get at least one female candidate," one student wrote. "Females solve problems in different ways, and I think it's time the U of A explores that."

Wanda Howell, chair of the Faculty Senate, said she also believes women possess some essential qualities that could be important in leading the UA.

"Women are certainly strong academicians and fundraisers and diplomats, which is what a president has to be," Howell said.

If the committee does recruit women for the position, however, the amount of female applicants will most likely be a smaller than that of the men, Howell said.

"You have to throw in the known fact that there aren't many known women at the level of qualification at the high level of university positions," Howell said.

But the low numbers aren't because women are being overlooked, Howell said.

"It is not that they are being ignored, it is that women are not being put into the pipeline to become top administrators," Howell said.

Taylor said although there are qualified women to hold the UA presidential position, it may be hard for females to beat the odds and make it to a finalist position.

"The reason that women have not broken through the glass ceiling at larger universities is that (those universities) have more prestige," Taylor said.

Taylor said women have made advancements in terms of administrative and executive positions in small and private colleges.

But President Peter Likins' actions have made the possibility of hiring a female president more attainable, Taylor said.

"He's done a lot to bring women into his cabinet." Taylor said, mentioning the presence of seven women vice presidents. "He has shown it is possible for women to occupy those positions."

Cade Bernsen, student body president, said he could easily see a woman leading the UA.

"I am very proud to say that some of the highest positions at this school are

held by women," Bernsen said.

Bernsen said he would love to see a woman president because it would send a message to the community that the UA is a progressive and inclusive school.

"For a woman to climb up the ladder and beat the odds, they would bring a set of perspectives and life experiences that would be invaluable in leading the

university," Bernsen said.

The search behind the search

A consultation service has been hired to help the search committee find the best possible presidential candidate for the UA, said Fred Boice, chair of the presidential search committee.

"They are responsible for talking to candidates, checking credentials and trying to find the best person for the job," Boice said.

Ann Hasselmo, of Academic Search Consultation service, is working on finding the UA a good candidate and has made about 500 phone calls on the UA's behalf, Boice said.

"She knows the people and I don't," Boice said.

The UA could choose from 13 different consultation firms, but felt that Hasselmo could do the best job, Boice said.

"In search, nothing avails for candidate generation and review like personal networks, and Ann Hasselmo brings to her work rich and comprehensive networks of colleagues across higher education sectors," according to the ASC's Web site.

Boice said the UA has asked the consultation group to be thorough in their search.

"We've asked the Search Consultation to turn over every stone," Boice said.

Although there is no strict level of academic accomplishment required for the position, he couldn't really see someone without a Ph.D. running the university, Boice said.

In comparison to the UA's budget for the search, the consultation service will be paid a reasonable amount, Boice said.

"They'll probably get paid $75,000 to $100,000," Boice said.

Hasselmo was not available for comment because of confidentiality purposes.

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