Forums to aid search

By Nicole Santa Cruz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Members of faculty and administration met with the Presidential Search Committee yesterday to discuss what they wanted from the next UA president, with topics ranging from state funding to domestic partner benefits.

Faculty and administration outlined the desire for a president who understands the problems that arise from the university's lack of funding, such as unsatisfactory faculty salaries and the lack of available classes for students.

The UA is not unique in higher education in terms of funding, said Regent Jack Jewett.

"We are not as a nation making investments in higher education," Jewett said.

Jewett said there are many issues that need to be addressed within the university, such as faculty salaries, building renewal and student tuition, and a new president might not be able to fix everything.

"I don't know if we will get a miracle worker," Jewett said.

Instead of putting funding into new buildings, the new president should focus on faculty salaries, said Oscar Martinez, professor of history.

"Attention given to employees has deteriorated," Martinez said.

Faculty told the committee they should look for a candidate who can find a way to make the UA an appealing institution for recruiting top-notch faculty.

"A top research university is as good as its faculty," said Deborah Young, associate director for Arizona Cooperative Extension.

Administrators said the committee should look for an effective communicator who can talk to both the legislature and the public about university needs regarding recent changes to admissions standards and the impact it will have.

Check it out

What: Presidential search student forum
When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Gallagher Theater

Administrators mentioned the UA is being seen as "elitist" for changing admissions standards, and a potential candidate should be able to effectively communicate so the public and government understands otherwise.

"Even if we wanted to become elitist overnight, we couldn't," said Patti Ota, vice president for enrollment management.

Administrators said a potential candidate should attempt to get prospective students to stay in Arizona for their education instead of going out of state.

Other issues the committee needs to consider priorities are domestic partner insurance benefits and to find someone who is knowledgeable about these benefits and recruiting top-notch faculty.

The search committee should ask potential candidates about their knowledge of domestic partner policies, said Susan Shaw, assistant professor of anthropology.

When the committee asked faculty members about the future of the university and what message the university should aim to give, attendees were silent.

Later in the forum, Laura Tabili, associate professor of history, addressed the question by saying, "We cannot project into the future when we are in a constant state of crisis."

Yesterday's forum was part of a series of forums being held this week for different groups on campus to voice their opinions about what the committee should look for in the next president.

"We want the search to be as inclusive as possible, and this is another way of accomplishing that," said Regent Fred Boice, chairman of the search committee.