Open forum held to discuss next UNI president - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Open forum held to discuss next UNI president


What type of person should be the next president of the University of Northern Iowa?

That was the question at a public hearing Monday night on the Cedar Falls campus.

Current UNI President Ben Allen announced earlier this summer he's retiring no later than July 1, 2013.

The Board of Regents hosted an open forum to find out what people want in their next president and they got an earful.

Allen has been at the forefront of budget and program cuts at the school - cuts which have been unpopular among many of the faculty, students, and staff members.

Several members of those groups spoke out to push for a leader who will work them and not - they say - someone who ignores them.

"It is probably safe to say the days of strong trust between the faculty and the executive administration are at least for now, a thing of the past. Our next president must be able to help us rebuild that trust," said Joe Gorton.

Gorton is a criminology professor at UNI.

He spoke out at the forum to let the board of regents know the next UNI president should be someone who listens, collaborates, and inspires faculty members.

"We need someone who's going to have the courage to put us on a better financial footing by making some of the tough decisions related to athletics and some auxiliary enterprises and doing so in ways that strengthen the academic mission for the university," said Gorton.

Members of the Board heard from individual faculty members, those representing faculty groups, students, and others.

Many say they want Ben Allen's replacement to look at the underlying problems at the university and be a transformational leader.

Students like Dylan Hill say they want assurances their majors won't be cut before they graduate.

"Can you the board, please give us a president that will bring back a staple of quality education, stability to our programs and a feeling of optimism and trust back to the students?" asked Hill.

Regents say they have a lot to think about as the process gets underway.

"What we're going to do is take a look, categorize and find the main themes. We'll share these with the committee and the Board of Regents. What we'll try to do is get that sense - we want to be careful because we don't want to knock out or have people think it's a done deal and then they stop talking to us. So it'll be a draft or a running document," said regent Katie Mulholland.

No timetable is set for a replacement.

A search firm will be commissioned to find prospective candidates who meet the qualities the board is looking for.

After that, there will be a list of finalists who will go through the public interview process.

Ben Allen was selected UNI president in 2006.


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