By Tom Ackerman
The controversy over the University of Iowa presidential-search process has crossed state lines.
The Faculty Senate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln voted last week in favor of a statement advocating for the importance of shared governance in public schools, specifically aimed at supporting UI faculty.
The statement was introduced and written at an annual meeting for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which comprises 15 large Midwest schools including the UI, although not all were present.
“Principles of shared governance dictate that the voice of the faculty, which carries out the core mission of the university, is accorded considerable weight in all important decisions of university governance,” the statement reads.
The state Board of Regents appointed business consultant Bruce Harreld as UI president last month. Various groups — including the UI Faculty Senate and the student-government bodies — on campus have criticized the search process and expressed concern about whether their views were taken into account.
“Shared governance is a core value for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation as well as for most other top universities around the country,” UI Faculty Senate President Christina Bohannan said in an email.
No UI representatives were present at the meeting, said Nebraska Faculty Senate President-elect David Woodman.
The meeting took place from Sept. 23-25 at the University of Illinois.
“We were all familiar with the Iowa situation,” Woodman said. “There was discretion as to what had happened in Iowa and the public statement from the Iowa Faculty Senate.”
The UI had no comment on the issue. The regents declined to comment as well.
The UI Faculty Senate as well as undergraduate and graduate student governments voted no confidence in the regents to effectively govern earlier this month. The Staff Council drafted a letter of disappointment.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Assembly went a step further, censuring Harreld for concerns about his résumé and calling on all the regents to resign or be dismissed by the governor.
The American Association of University Professors have also taken notice of the stir at Iowa as well, and it will send representatives on Friday to evaluate whether the organization needs to conduct an investigation.
Much like at the UI, the Faculty Senate at Nebraska is composed of individual departments that send representatives to vote on their behalf.
“The faculty at the University of Nebraska overwhelmingly supported the statement,” Woodman said, noting that among the estimated 50 members present at Nebraska’s faculty vote, only one voter opposed.
For now, the UI community waits for a sign of cooperation as progress continues.