Board of Regents approves the candidate selections

by Brian Bakst

With little discussion, the Board of Regents unanimously accepted an advisory search committee’s slate of candidates to be finalists for University president.
In Wednesday’s special meeting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, the regents affirmed the likelihood that either Auburn University President William Muse, Portland State University President Judith Ramaley or University of Texas at Austin Provost Mark Yudof will be named the next University president later this month.
“Each of the candidates would be a great choice to lead the University into the next millennium,” said regents Chairman Tom Reagan, the lone regent at Morrill Hall for the meeting. Nine other regents participated via teleconference.
Reagan is the only regent to have met personally with all three finalists. Public interviews at various locations on and off campus are scheduled for Dec. 9, 10 and 11.
But immediately following the early publication of the candidates’ names in November, some faculty members were quick to name Yudof their favorite because of his position at a large, flagship research institution. Texas has an enrollment of 48,000.
The search committee’s selections were not based solely on the enrollment factor, said student committee member Matt Musel. Each of the 11 search committee members checked off their favorites on a ballot that included seven names. Ramaley received 10 votes, Yudof nine and Muse seven.
The top three vote-getters were then forwarded to the regents by a vote of eight to three.
Win Wallin, one dissenting voter, last week called on regents to suspend the search. Wallin said he was unhappy with the search process and the candidates forwarded by the committee.
Wallin, who represented Gov. Arne Carlson on the panel, said high-profile candidates did not want to participate in the process because being named a finalist means public disclosure of one’s status. Wallin said some did not want to jeopardize their current jobs by being named finalists at the University.
Reagan rebutted Wallin’s claims and defended the openness required by law. “I think our open meeting laws in Minnesota were drawn for a good reason and have served us well,” he said.
The fact that the three candidates didn’t withdraw from the process despite early disclosure shows how highly the candidates think of the University, Reagan said. “It made life very difficult back at their campuses,” he added.
A successor to retiring University President Nils Hasselmo could be named as early as Friday, Dec. 13. The new president and his or her administration would start sometime next spring to provide for a smooth transition when Hasselmo retires June 30.