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Picking a president

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The Arkansas State University chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) says the process for seeking a new ASU president is flawed, the interim president defends the process, and the president of the ASU Faculty Senate says she's more or less satisfied at this point.

Saying that he was speaking on behalf of the executive committee of the AAUP at ASU, professor William Rowe sent fellow faculty members a memorandum in which he said that "the current search for a system president ... is a serious breach of the principles of shared governance, and one which has no relation to what the AAUP considers to be best practices in institutional governance." He told a reporter he was referring primarily to the lack of voting involvement by faculty members.

The ASU Board of Trustees, which will make the final decision, created an advisory committee to help with the search. Originally, there was no faculty representation on the advisory committee, but the Board responded to a request from the Faculty Senate by adding four non-voting faculty "delegates" to the committee.

The original 11 committee members include chancellors from various campuses in the ASU System, representatives of the alumni association and the ASU Foundation, the mayor of Jonesboro, and Robert L. Potts, the interim president. Potts is not a candidate for the full-time job.

Faculty Senate President Beverly Boals Gilbert said the faculty was pleased with the amount of involvement it got, even though it might have wished for more. Potts said the lack of a vote for the faculty on the advisory committee was not important, because the committee was merely advisory. The only votes that will count are those of the trustees, he said. He noted that the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, also seeking a new president, hadn't bothered to create an advisory committee.

Rowe, a persistent gadfly, said the ASU chapter of the AAUP would seek advice and help from the AAUP national office in Washington. He told a reporter: "We have no idea who's in charge here. Is it the board, is it the so-called president's cabinet (private-citizen advisors), is it still Wyatt? [Leslie Wyatt resigned as ASU president and was hired as a professor.] ... The rumors here run from holding the job for [Lt. Gov. Bill] Halter to waiting until [U.S. Sen. Blanche] Lincoln loses the election and giving her the job."

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