Daily Cougar Staff
Because of a UH System Board of Regents decision Monday, an "all-powerful chancident" will preside over the UH System beginning August 1997.
UH System Chancellor William P. Hobby said, "The board's decision will affect the way certain administrative functions are performed.
"It will not affect the autonomy of our four free-standing universities. It will not affect the academic missions of these institutions, except to make those missions easier to fulfill."
Only one regent voiced her opinion against restructuring the four-university System.
Board of Regents Secretary Zinetta Burney said combining the position of System chancellor and UH president would not alleviate problems of low enrollment and retention.
The problem is in the community, not the System, she said.
Most board members made their decision based on a report, nicknamed "the three wise men report," which was written May 22, 1995, by a panel of higher education consultants.
The experts, Bryce Jordan, president-emeritus of Pennsylvania State University; Robben Wright Fleming, president-emeritus of the University of Michigan; and E.K. Fretwell Jr., chancellor-emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, were commissioned to research the UH System and offer alternatives to the current structure, which might help to solve the problem of decreasing enrollment and retention.
Although the report favored the "chancident" position, the consultants expressed concern over the positions of the smaller schools.
The report points out that UH-Downtown and UH-Victoria are especially sensitive because they are unsure if their interests are represented in the System.
The UH System currently includes UH, a comprehensive research university; UH-D, an open-admissions undergraduate university; UH-Clear Lake and UH-V, two master's-level universities.
"This situation has produced fracture, mistrust and unhappiness," the report states. "The single CEO model (chancident) would, we think, compound these schisms."
UH-D President Max Castillo said, "I tend to agree that we shouldn't overdramatize the impact (of the decision). I feel very confident that we're going to work together, but how do you make positive restructuring work without compromising the integrity of the institution?"
UH geosciences professor John Butler, who led the Academic Affairs Task Force, one of the three tasks forces name to propose a new System administrative structure, said, "This is not the decision that the task force came up with."
"If (the task force) had voted, it would have been three (against the single CEO model, and) one (for the single CEO model)," he said. "(The task force) showed that we don't work really well together."
After the board made a decision, regents and administrators agreed to work together to find a chancident by the end of the summer.
Regents who were rumored to vote no, such as Kay Kerr Walker from Victoria, made the decision almost unanimous after hearing passionate testimonies by Vice Chairman John O'Quinn, Chairwoman Beth Morian and Regent Eduardo Aguirre Jr.
O'Quinn said UH is taking a step in the right direction by eliminating the "out-of-hand bureaucracy" of the chancellor position.
"We shouldn't take two or three years to get to that point," he said. "In order to pick the right person, we need to give them a job description."
Morian said, "We're hoping that we'll get a search committee (started) by the end of this month, (but) there are no immediate changes taking place."
UH interim President Glenn Goerke said the administration needs to inform faculty to prevent fear of the unknown.
Goerke also said that although some System schools may be upset now, they are committed to the System.
"I really mean committed to the four universities coming together," he added.
Morian said, "We have conducted what I believe is the most comprehensive self-examination undertaken by a Texas system of higher education.
We have asked the hard questions. Our decision should position us to meet the challenges of a new century."
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