18 March 2014

Newspaper breaks secrecy around UTRGV’s presidential search

The Monitor is reporting on the names of four finalists for the position of the first president of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (left to right):

  • UTPA President Robert Nelsen.
  • Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz.
  • Former University of Alabama President Guy Bailey.
  • Former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera.

I am not surprised that our current president, Robert Nelsen, is one of the finalists. I am surprised by the journalism on display, since the names of these individuals were secret until yesterday. And that secrecy is the main section of the story.

In a news release earlier this month, the UT System public affairs office explained the strategy — which was employed in recent presidential searches at UT Arlington, UT Health Science Center - Houston and UT MD Anderson — as a way to better attract top-tier talent.

"Names of candidates are kept confidential to attract the absolute highest quality of candidates," the release read. "Executive search firms advise that top candidates are reluctant to pursue a position without a promise of confidentiality, as it may jeopardize their current positions." ...

After UTPA President Robert Nelsen and his predecessor, Blandina "Bambi" Cárdenas, made open campus visits prior to their hirings, faculty members have become accustomed to meeting their leaders before their hiring.

“We’ve had all this emphasis on community involvement,” said Dora Saavedra, a member of the UTPA faculty senate. “It seems very odd that the inclusivity will be discontinued, or seems that it will be discontinued with the new university.” ...

(University of Texas Chancellor) Cigarroa contacted Sanchez on Monday, asking not to publish the names, as the UT System had promised to protect candidates’ identities and making them public could negatively impact the hiring. But the editor decided public interest in identifying the candidates — thus allowing a public vetting — trumped UT System’s desire to keep the process hushed.

External links

In search for inaugural UT-RGV president, 4 of 5 remaining candidates identified

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