Shelton sees 'new beginning' for the UA

Departing university president hopes for better economic outlook
2011-06-15T00:00:00Z Shelton sees 'new beginning' for the UABy Becky Pallack and Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Outgoing University of Arizona President Robert Shelton said Tuesday that he was hopeful about the school's financial outlook.

Speaking one day after announcing his resignation to become the executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, Shelton addressed reporters at the offices of his future employer.

He spoke about recent state budget cuts to higher education, but added he's hopeful the state's financial picture will not be as bad when the new president begins at the UA.

"Every now and then, legislative leaders and I disagree, but - I've got to hand out credit here - they bit the bullet, just like we did at universities, and they passed a tough, tough budget," Shelton said.

He called fiscal year 2013 "a chance for a new beginning," with a new leader at the UA and a recovering state economy.

"The argument I've always made is that education overall - and my sphere, higher education - is part of the engine that is going to drive the economy in the state of Arizona," Shelton said.

Shelton officially leaves his post Aug. 1 after a vacation. He takes over the Fiesta Bowl, which is trying to move beyond a financial and political scandal.

So what will happen next?

Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal explained two key processes:

interim president

A regents committee will choose an interim leader, who will likely be in charge for about a year.

Although the regents are meeting in Flagstaff this week, they likely won't announce an interim president by the end of the week, DuVal said. But they will make a choice quickly, he said.

The last time the UA needed an interim president, in 1997, the provost filled in for two months.

At the time, new hire Peter Likins recommended that the regents make Provost Paul Sypherd the interim president for the two months when the job would be vacant after Manuel Pacheco left.

Shelton said he will talk with the regents about what they want him to do, but he added that it's their choice.

Likins said Tuesday that a number of current and former UA deans would be good choices - if they are willing to take an "impossibly difficult job." He said the interim president can't be a candidate for the president's job.

a new president

The regents will organize a search committee, which will work with a search-consulting firm to find Shelton's successor.

The ideal committee would include about 15 people from different backgrounds, including faculty members, business leaders, community leaders and state officials, former Regent Fred Boice said. He chaired the committee that recommended hiring Shelton. That search took about nine months.

The first thing the committee will do is put together a list of characteristics and criteria that it wants in the next president, Boice said. That list probably will be topped by experience in academic administration at a land-grant university, he said.

Well-qualified candidates will be drawn to the UA's academic excellence, Likins said. But, he added, it will be hard to find someone who matches Shelton's quality. He said Shelton was a superb president in extremely difficult circumstances.

Likins said the committee will want candidates with complete integrity, who understand academics and who have the kind of energy and stamina needed to do the job 24/7 in challenging economic and political times.

A successor will be named no later than July of next year, DuVal said. The new hire will become the UA's 20th president.

On StarNet: Read Becky Pallack's blog on higher education in Tucson at go.azstarnet.com/campuscorrespondent

Did you know

The average term for a University of Arizona president is six years. Richard Harvill, the 14th president, served the longest at 20 years.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 807-8012.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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