UH faculty, state rep. examine new System

by Al Greenwood

Daily Cougar Staff

UH faculty members applauded and criticized the combined chancellor and president office at the University of Houston Monday.

"They said all the right things this morning," said Robert Palmer, Faculty Senate executive member and a professor of history and law.

"The changes aren't being done with an aim to benefit or hurt any campus," Palmer said. "The benefits will come to the System."

Getting the search committee together is the next step, Palmer added.

Although each campus should have representation on the committee, "it shouldn't be that all campuses participate equally," Palmer said. "What they'll be looking for is someone addressing their needs."

Palmer added, "(UH- Downtown) might want someone appreciative of an open-admissions university ... you can get that appreciation in other ways."

UH faculty want the leader of the search committee to be friendly to the main campus, Palmer said. "What we want is a person who'll be a top administrator (and) who wants to be the senior person at a research university."

Palmer said the new, more powerful position would attract a better candidate than two separate positions. "If you're going out after an administrator, you're going to look for people who like power."

System schools voiced opposition to the change mainly because they were not fully informed about what was happening, said Giles Auchmuty, math professor and member of the UH Faculty Senate.

Harrell Rodgers, political science professor and member of the Coalition for Excellence said the System schools' fears were unfounded. "It's going to be easy to protect the missions. Lines of communication and leadership will be clean."

"I think Alex Schilt fomented (these fears)," Rodgers said. "He always played us off against the other campuses."

Not all faculty members like the new System. Bill Cook, a mechanical engineering professor at UH, said, "I think we've essentially lost a president. This guy is going to be so busy he'll have little time devoted to the campus."

George Magner, professor of social work and a former interim president of UH and UH-D, said, "I think it will seriously dilute the ability of the president to devote full-time energy and commitment to our campus."

Cook added, "I think we're the loser because this guy can't speak for UH."

When UH represents itself in Austin, each of the System schools will have a president as a representative, Cook said. However, the chancellor/president for UH will represent the UH System and not only the main campus, Cook added.

However, Cook found no reason why the other schools should fear the new System.

George Reiter, head of the UH chapter of the Texas State Employees Union and a professor of physics, said, "(The smaller UH schools) have more to worry about than we do. The interests and missions of the other universities need to be protected."

On the state level, District 147 Rep. Garnet Coleman said, "It has the potential for people in the other campuses to feel their business is controlled by the main campus.

"I have not heard any good arguments why this is the best system. The structure should work regardless of the personnel who does the job."

Coleman added, "There was a way to downsize the System. You could have still moved the chancellor to the main campus. Those roles could have been split into the four separate campuses."

Also, separate offices "have not diminished the prestige or stopped quality applicants from moving up to chancellor" at other universities, said Coleman.

Although Coleman found problems with the new System, he "supports the decision of the board because they've spent more time analyzing the structure than (he has)."

Last Modified: 8-17-96    © 1996 The Daily Cougar

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