Seattle Times reporter Lewis Kamb’s story about the University of Washington’s presidential search suggests the UW Board of Regents violated the Open Meetings Act in selecting Ana Mari Cauce as president [“Emails suggest regents decided on UW chief days before voting,” Page One, Feb. 29]. The board, of which I served as chair throughout the search process, had two major objectives: to be totally compliant with the law and to select the very best president for the university.
At every step of the process regarding board meetings, we were guided by the UW division chief of the Attorney General’s Office to ensure compliance with both the letter and intent of the act. We also appointed a 28-person search advisory committee, chaired by the former chancellor of UW Bothell, with support from a highly experienced search consultant.
As permitted by law, we discussed the qualifications of candidates in executive sessions, again with the oversight of the Attorney General’s Office division chief. I called a special meeting of the board only when I believed it was ready to make a decision. The decision to select Cauce was made in a special open public meeting of the board on Oct. 13. There was no voting or polling of regents before that public meeting.
The university’s communications staff prepared a news release and other material in the event the board selected Cauce. If it had not, the preparatory work would have been discarded.
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I believe the board was fully compliant with the Open Meetings Act throughout the search process, and on Oct. 13 made what we all consider to be a wise and excellent decision.
Bill Ayer, Bellevue, UW Regent