Judging from the official profile of the candidate being sought to be the next chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, the state will be spared turmoil like that which has blown up in Iowa.
Selection of Bruce Harreld, a former IBM executive who has no experience as a university administrator, as president of the University of Iowa resulted in a “no confidence” vote by the Iowa Faculty Senate, and a vote of support of the Iowa faculty by the faculty senate at UNL.
In contrast, the profile released earlier this month says that the ideal candidate for the UNL chancellor position would have “experience in and familiarity with the complexity of a major public research university.”
The profile was developed by NU president Hank Bounds with the help of the search firm Isaacson, Miller and input from the search committee and various stakeholders.
A smooth transition when current UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman steps down in June would help preserve the momentum toward improvement at UNL.
The opposite situation exists in Iowa. A survey by the American Association of University Professors showed that only 1.8 percent of faculty members believe that Harreld is qualified to be president.
The lack of support will pose problems for any initiative that Harreld might want to implement. And the situation there already was less than ideal. Current President Sally Mason has served the past two years without a contract.
Other characteristics of the ideal candidate for the post of UNL chancellor include:
* An earned Ph.D. or other relevant terminal degree with credentials sufficient for appointment as a professor with tenure in an academic department at UNL, as well as teaching experience.
* Support for academic freedom and shared governance and a commitment to transparent decision-making, as well as a collaborative, consultative, and facilitative style.
* Tangible evidence of fostering diversity and inclusivity, affirmative action and equal opportunity for all students, faculty and staff.
To be sure, taken in their totality, profiles of the dream candidate for a position usually describe someone too perfect to actually walk on earth. But they are useful in a general sense.
We note that in addition to advanced degrees and a superb record of achievement in multiple areas, the UNL profile also specifies that the candidate should possess “a sense of humor and a deep sense of personal humility.”
Come to think of it, a few jokes along the way to selection of a UNL chancellor might be beneficial.
It certainly would be preferable to the acrimony and distrust that envelop the selection process in Iowa. So far, the selection process at UNL seems on track. The profile of the ideal candidate helps quell some worries.