Regents should hire an interim president

With the exit of one finalist from consideration Thursday, and another candidate up for a separate job, it is entirely possible that the next University president will be determined by default. Despite these developments, and despite warnings from the Advisory Search Committee that the search process itself may have eliminated the best candidates, Regents Chairman Tom Reagan has no plans to reopen the presidential search. This is a mistake.
Given the gravity of hiring a new president, The Minnesota Daily feels it necessary to make the following plea in the only language the regents seem to understand: Bureaucraspeak.

WHEREAS William V. Muse, a finalist for the University presidency, withdrew himself from consideration on Thursday after signing a five-year contract at Auburn University, and
WHEREAS finalist Judith Ramaley is also a candidate for the presidency of the University of Vermont, an attractive East Coast position without the nebulous difficulties facing the University, and
WHEREAS finalist Mark Yudof, though not currently seeking any other presidency, has twice in the past two years backed out of a Big Ten presidential search (Illinois and Iowa) at the last minute, and
WHEREAS we agree that the search process may not have provided the University with the finest candidates, and
WHEREAS there are a myriad problems facing the University that include, but are not limited to, tenure; the Fairview merger; General College; lingering concerns about the U2000 restructuring plan; state funding; and an extremely damaged trust between the students, faculty, administration and regents, and
WHEREAS these problems will present any new president with a formidable enough challenge without the controversy of a flawed, if not completely inadequate, selection process, and
WHEREAS the regents’ decision to hold meetings and open forums on the presidency conflicts with finals and winter break, prohibiting most students and staff from participating,
NOW, THEREFORE, WE STRONGLY SUGGEST that the regents abort this search, appoint an interim president, examine and modify the search process, and begin the presidential search anew. The University is currently an institution in free-fall. Whether a new president is the person who can successfully put the University on the road to recovery or is merely another factor in a rapid descent down the slippery slope is the pivotal question at hand. In light of recent turmoil, a fading reputation and a shaky future, no decision will have a greater impact on the future of the University.
When University President Ken Keller resigned amid scandal in 1988, the regents appointed Richard Sauer, a standing vice president, as interim president. The regents wisely tapped someone within the University, familiar with its problems and dynamics, to see it through a difficult period. Following that example today would work to restore the damaged aura of trust, rather than further erode it. Appointing an interim president, perhaps Dr. McKinley Boston, is the most prudent, responsible course of action the regents could pursue.