Editorial: U prez search has poor balance

Published 10:49 am Friday, June 18, 2010

Some on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents apparently believe the state’s lone land grant institution remains a state of itself and needs little input from anyone outside its ivory halls.

The U’s elitist attitude is reflected directly in the 12-person “Presidential Search Advisory Committee” approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.

The statistics reflect this elitist composition of the committee, including:

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Six of the 12 on the committee are professors at the university.

Nine of the 12 are either a regent, professor or student at the university.

Only three of 12 on the committee are from outside the university, two lawyers and a retired judge.

Only one of 12 on the committee is a student at the university.

Only one of nine representing the University on the committee is from outside the Twin Cities campuses.

This majority of the committee is completely a Twin Cities university based group, basically ignoring the rest of Minnesota.

The most obvious exception to the search committee’s roster is the lack of one person of significant business or financial background. This is a glaring omission considering the strategic relationship of the University and business in our state.

Regent Patricia Simmons’ claim that the committee will interview business leaders is a weak excuse for an elitist search committee roster.

Regent Dean Johnson argued Thursday the committee was light on outside voices and heavy on professors.

We agree.

The fact that professors make up one-half of the seats on the committee appears to be a little bit generous, if not ill-advised.

The question for Regent Simmons is who is running the University — the professors or the board of regents?

There are critical sectors in Minnesota — such as business, agriculture, biotechnology, mining, medical and aviation, just to name a few — which all deserve a seat at the table in this presidential search.

Granted, not every critical sector in the state can have a seat on the committee. Definitely, a business and agriculture representative should have been included.

Certainly, a more balanced committee would be more appropriate, compared to the professor-academic-Twin Cities composition of the search committee announced.

— The West Central Tribune of Willmar, June 12