Editorial: Credentials, experience should be focus of committee

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

With the Presidential Search Committee gearing up to replace President Peter Likins, it was almost inevitable that some students and administrators would advocate for the selection of a female or Hispanic president.

But while such assertions are laden with good intentions, the selection of our next president should be blind to gender or race, instead focusing on a quality that Likins has so ably evinced - the ability to lead.

Of course, none of this is to say that a qualified Hispanic candidate, a qualified female candidate or even a qualified Hispanic female candidate is not to be desired. To be sure, demographic trends at the UA would suggest that a president who is representative of the student body would be either Hispanic or female.

Hispanics, a full 14 percent of the student body, account for the largest minority contingent here at the UA, and women outnumber men by almost 2,200 - 53 percent of the student population.

Students and administrators seemed to be thinking in a similar vein. Nearly 10 percent of the 100 students who filled out an anonymous questionnaire for the Arizona Daily Wildcat indicated that they wanted the search committee to focus on finding a female candidate. Saundra Taylor, the vice president of Campus Life, told the Daily Wildcat, "I'm hoping that the pool will include women and also women of color."

Even so, the UA stands on shaky financial footing, and the many challenges that lie ahead will require a candidate that is well versed in the kind of balancing act that combines political wrangling with consensus-minded compromise.

Thus, the committee should seek a candidate with burnished credentials and extensive experience as a matter of necessity. The UA stands at a most precarious fork in the road, and a more seasoned hand would be better able to guide our university to prosperity.

Whether or not students agree with such reasoning, though, it is imperative that they voice their opinion. As a matter of representation, all students - from the deeply concerned to the utterly indifferent - would be well-suited to attend the upcoming student input forums, the first of which is scheduled for this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center's Gallagher Theater.

Whatever stance students might have on the selection process, it's not likely to matter much if they are either unable or unwilling to voice them. So go to the forum and tell the search committee what you think. Generations of future Wildcats depend on it.

Opinions Board
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield, Katie Paulson and Tim Runestad.