by Max Brantley
UALR reports a full house at the meeting site on campus today for a public forum on the search for a University of Arkansas System president to succeed the retiring B. Alan Sugg.
Among the Twitter feed and other reports:
* Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, suggested former Farm Bureau president Stanley Reed for the job. Reed, a former UA trustee, has been angling for the job for months. A closed-door effort by his allies on the board to work the deal in private led, more or less, to the open process that Board Chairman Carl Johnson is now leading. But, Reed may yet be the last candidate standing. Not a happy prospect to some. I'm hearing this is part of an orchestrated Farm Bureau lobbying campaign. They're good at lobbying, whether fighting animal cruelty legislation, promoting discrimination against gays or opposing anything remotely resembling progressive governance, from fair taxation on down. Just the sort of thinking you want at the top of institutions of higher education. Opposition to Reed's selection remains strong among at least some UA Board members.
* Little Rock City Director Dean Kumpuris called for selection of a "visionary."
* Outgoing UALR Provost David Belcher said the president should foster "diversity" among campuses and should understand the new order of what's needed for a 21st century university.
* One speaker, a UALR alum, was applauded for saying the new president could be a "she." When nine members of a 10-member board are men, captain of industry types, what do you think the chances are? I believe there are qualified women to consider.
* Faculty members want a leader with academic credits and experience in academic governance.
* UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson saw value in selecting someone who knew the "business" of higher education. He said he respected Stanley Reed, but said the president needed to understand the nuts and bolts of higher ed.