A coalition of University of Washington groups is asking for an open search for the university’s next president.
A group of faculty members and a coalition of student groups are urging the University of Washington regents to conduct the search for the next UW president in the open by publicly naming the finalists and allowing the university community to meet them.
That request was one of several different demands on a petitionsigned by more than 3,000 people and delivered to the Board of Regents office Wednesday. The group argues that the UW is “behav(ING) more like a private corporation than a flagship public university” and that it needs to use an inclusive process in picking the next university president.
The group — which includes a coalition of campus unions, faculty members and student groups such as Reclaim UW and United Students Against Sweatshops — also plans to present the petition to Gov. Jay Inslee next week. As governor, Inslee is responsible for appointing trustees and regents to the state’s colleges and universities.
The UW is in the market for a new president after former President Michael Young took a job at Texas A&M University this spring. The university regents are charged with choosing the next president, and they have debated whether to make the final selection process public.
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Rob Wood, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the UW and head of the UW chapter of American Association of University Professors (AAUP), said many faculty believe that the last couple of presidents have not served the UW well, and that stems partly from the way they were hired.
Young and his predecessor, Mark Emmert, were selected after a secretive search process. There’s been a trend toward this type of closed-door search process at major U.S. universities, AAUP research has shown.
Wood said he hopes that a more open process would “lead to having presidents that were more loyal to the university, that would stay longer and reflect the interests of the faculty on campus.”
The group is also asking Inslee not to appoint regents who have ties to major corporations because they bring a “corporate mentality to the university,” Wood said.
“We’re a public institution,” he said. “I feel we should reflect that.”
The terms of two regents with corporate ties will expire this September: Orin Smith, former CEO of Starbucks, and Joanne Harrell, who works at Microsoft.
Wood noted that Inslee’s regents picks, chosen in the last two years, have not had ties to major corporations. Inslee appointed Constance Rice, senior executive fellow for Casey Family Programs, and Rojelio Riojas, president and CEO of Sea Mar Community Health Centers, in 2013.
The petition also raises concerns about a $4,000 increase in in-state undergraduate tuition between 2009 and 2012, and noted that half of UW students graduate with student loans.
Petitioners are calling for state legislators to increase UW employee wages, and to raise revenue to roll back student tuition increases and fund student financial aid.