AP NEWS

U of Nebraska committee debates president’s job description

July 10, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The nearly two dozen members of a committee charged with whittling down a list of potential candidates to become the next president of the University of Nebraska system don’t agree on the criteria that should be used in the selection.

The 23 met Tuesday in Lincoln and discussed the pillars upon which the new president’s job description will be built. The search committee will help AGB Search find nominees to replace University President Hank Bounds, who announced in March that he was leaving the post he has held for less than five years.

The system president is its overall administrative leader, while the chancellors oversee the operations of the four campuses in Kearney, Lincoln and Omaha.

The pillars so far include proven leadership of complex organizations; prioritization of higher education, including academics and research; the ability to think strategically and with vision; political skill; fundraising success; and an appreciation of the value of intercollegiate athletics — especially Husker athletics at the Lincoln campus.

The athletics pillar raised a question from former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, who wondered why the committee would suggest that only one campus “has sports that you’re really going to pay attention to.”

He said the campus chancellors — not the system president — should oversee their sports programs.

University Regent Rob Schafer said the pillar acknowledges how important big-time athletics are to places such as Nebraska and Alabama. They’re a key part of the university brand, building enrollment and support, Schafer said.

Stancia Jenkins, an assistant vice president for diversity, access and inclusion at the Lincoln campus, said the president should be mindful of the state’s growing diversity. And Lincoln English professor Kwame Dawes said a commitment to diversity, inclusion and national and global leadership should be among the pillars.

A representative for AGB Search, Roderick McDavis, said he and the regents want to keep the pillars list small and place other concepts into the text of the job description and promotional material.

“That’s not enough,” Dawes said.

The committee is expected to pare a list of presidential candidates to four. McDavis said he wants to complete the process so the regents can make their selection before December.

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