Students want nonconforming UA president
Undergraduate students told committee members yesterday they want a president who can address faculty and student retention while also keeping lines of communication open for students.
The Presidential Search Committee assured students at the undergraduate forum that the new president will be able to tackle and address student needs, although the committee was unable to offer solutions to many of the issues UA faces.
The pool of 75 candidates is considered to be top quality and "cream of the crop," said Cade Bernsen, student body president and one of two students on the committee.
Adam Labay, an electrical engineering senior, said it's important for the new president to understand that while some "blanket solutions" - like mandatory meal plans or requiring freshmen to stay in residence halls - may work for other universities, they are not the best solutions here.
Tyler Carrell, Bernsen's chief of staff, asked the committee if there were any specific criteria candidates need to meet to be considered for the position.
Committee Chairman Fred Boice responded by listing President Peter Likins' qualifications and also mentioned the current president of Arizona State University, Michael Crowe, but did not give a direct answer.
A candidate can't be purely academic or purely entrepreneurial, said Regent Boice, adding that faculty members have voiced a desire for someone who is a "proven researcher and academician."
If there's any line that will be drawn, it will be for stamina because the job of the president is extremely difficult and time consuming, Boice said.
When the committee was asked about Likins' goal of keeping tuition low, Boice responded by saying, "You don't get excellent (education) on the cheap."
The UA has had a 70-percent tuition increase in the past three years, and a new candidate should be able to think more broadly about financing the UA "enterprise" rather than "haggling" over tuition, Boice said.
Ben Graff, one of the two students on the committee, said the concept of keeping tuition on the top of the bottom half will not leave when Likins retires, and said a candidate should have a commitment to keeping financial aid in pace with tuition.
"We really do need a president who understands the makeup on our campus," said Graff, a third-year law student.
Representatives from areas of Greek Life voiced their opinions about the desire for a new president who will support and help facilitate communication with greeks, and also not be "so strict" with them.
Students said there have been issues in the past with presidents "not liking" the greek community.
Bernsen thanked students for their input and acknowledged the role that greek life plays on campus.
"They do give UA personality and color," Bernsen said.
Yesterday's forum was part of a series of 20 forums geared at receiving input from different interest groups on campus.
The last forum will take place Friday, Boice said.