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News Clips 11/21/2012
UF presidential search committee narrowing down interview times
Source: The Gainesville Sun, 11/20/12
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By Nathan Crabbe
After nearly four months of searching for a new president, the University of Florida is poised to interview candidates and make a hire as soon as early December.
Then again, the search might take longer or even end in failure, members of a presidential search committee said Tuesday.
Search committee chairman David Brown told the group to set aside time for possible interviews on Dec. 7-9 or Jan. 10-12. The group is planning for three whirlwind days during which presidential finalists would be picked and interviewed, the list would be narrowed for a second round of interviews and the next president chosen.
But former UF President Marshall Criser Jr. warned that the search might end in failure, noting that he was hired for the job after a failed search.
“Let’s keep alive the possibility that we may end up with the necessity of a selection after a failed search,” he said. “We’ve done that before. It’s worked out pretty well.”
UF trustee Michael Heekin said the committee should avoid scheduling a reception for the next president at the end of the three-day process.
“There is at least some chance that we won’t have a new president at the end of the third day … A reporter could not resist the temptation to run a story about the reception for no one,” he said.
Current UF President Bernie Machen announced in June that he was retiring by the end of 2013, with the exact date determined by the search for his successor. A search committee of administrators, faculty and others first met Aug. 1.
Search consultant Jan Greenwood said she has talked so far with 363 potential candidates but expects just one to three top candidates to apply for the job at the 11th hour. Some top candidates have been scared off by the state’s Sunshine Law requiring open meetings and public records, she said.
The committee had been preparing for interviews as early as next week, but Tuesday’s meeting pushed back that timetable. While faculty had been told that interviews would happen before the end of classes or wait until after the holidays, the first set of possible interview days falls between the end of classes and start of finals.
“It’s later than we originally thought, but I think that it would work fine if we do it then,” said committee member Scott Nygren, an English professor and former Faculty Senate chair.
As the timing of interviews remains in question, the committee is working on issues such as the next president’s contract. A subcommittee heard Monday about possible contact terms including an annual performance bonus for meeting state goals.
“That is a common feature that we’re seeing today in presidential contracts,” said Ray Cotton, an attorney who has worked on the contracts of hundreds of presidents nationally including Machen.
The subcommittee didn’t discuss presidential pay, but a report by a consulting firm at a previous meeting found an average base salary of about $674,000 among presidents at 11 peer institutions. Total compensation including bonuses and benefits averaged more than $1.1 million.
Machen is paid about $508,000 in annual base salary and benefits, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey. His contract had included performance bonuses but was reworked to replace them with retention bonuses and retirement contributions.
His successor's contract might include a “completion payment” that provides a certain amount for every year the person stays at UF. Cotton said other universities have included the payment in presidential contracts, including the University of Michigan paying $100,000 to President Mary Sue Coleman for every year she stays there.
“I’m not suggesting that number for the University of Florida,” Cotton said. “Your number should be determined by your own board, but it’s just to give you an idea of something that’s being done out there and has been done for years.”