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New UNI president could be chosen by December, Regents president says

Diane Heldt, CR Gazette –

State regents hope to have a new University of Northern Iowa president selected by the first of the year, and presidential search committee members will be appointed by the board at a Sept. 12 regents meeting.

The state Board of Regents met briefly via telephone conference call Monday to approve some initial items to start the UNI presidential search. UNI President Ben Allen announced earlier this month that he would retire by next summer.

The regents on Monday approved the general make-up of the 20-member search committee, though specific members will be approved by the board in September. The board also approved the duties of the search firm and gave the OK for board staff to solicit bids from search firms and enter into a contract with the selected firm.

There is no budget for the search, but officials said they expect it to cost less than $150,000. The recent presidential search at Iowa State University cost about $133,000.

“I hope this committee would work very quickly, maybe have a potential president by Christmas time, but maybe that’s hopeful thinking,” Regents President Craig Lang of Brooklyn said.

For the ISU presidential search last year, the regents conducted public interviews with several search firms before selecting a firm. The public interview process will not happen with this search, officials said, and instead the board staff will select the firm. That’s partly because the staff is knowledgeable about the search firms on the market, having just helped with the ISU search, and partly because not having the public interviews for the search firms saves time and money, Lang and Regents Executive Director Bob Donley said.

The search firm will assist the search committee in recommending a final group of three to five prospects to the board.

The search committee will have total membership of 20, including three regents, four UNI faculty, numerous faculty leaders, staff and administrators, a student representative and three members of the public, to be chosen by the regents after an application process.

Lang said Monday he has asked regents Katie Mulholland, of Marion, and Jack Evans, of Cedar Rapids, to serve on the search committee. The third regent hasn’t been chosen, since the initial board agenda for Monday’s meeting called for only two regents to serve on the search committee. A third regent was added to the committee membership at the urging of Mulholland and Regent Bruce Rastetter, of Alden, both of whom served on the ISU presidential search committee last year.

Mulholland and Rastetter said serving on a presidential search committee is good experience for a regent, and a way to better understand faculty and staff issues.

Because the search committee will have 20 members, having three regents will not be an “excessive influence,” Regent Nicole Carroll of Carroll said.

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