The beginning of every journey begins with a first step.
The University of Houston System Board of Regents finally took that first step Monday as it began a critically important journey that will take the entire UH System down an entirely different road than it has traveled anytime in recent memory.
After lingering at a fork in the road for what seems like an eternity (actually, it was at least two years), the regents finally committed to the "single CEO model" to administer the System. As a result, the positions of UH System chancellor and UH president will be merged into one job.
Although the importance of this decision may not immediately register with many members of the UH community, this decision will affect everyone connected with UH and the UH System, now and in the future.
Monday was a long-awaited day for many UH faculty members and administrators who cheer the regents' decision.
It was also a long-dreaded day for faculty members and administrators from UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake and UH-Victoria, who fear their schools will be grossly underrepresented in the System's new administrative structure.
Actually, no one on the Board of Regents, or at the UH System administration office or at any UH System university, is absolutely clear on what the long-term ramifications of the reorganization of the System will be. The entire reorganization process will likely be a learning process for everyone involved.
For example, during Monday's meeting, UH System Chancellor William P. Hobby pointed out the futility of continuing a national search for permanent president for UH-Clear Lake until the new chancellor/president is in place. It was obvious to everyone at the meeting that no one had considered that scenario. The regents then realized they should suspend that search.
The UH System Board of Regents make hundreds of executive decisions each time they meet. But their decision Monday was the most momentous decision they have been called on to make in years. The regents' decision sets a definitive course for the UH System for years to come.
Next, the regents will be called on to make an even more important decision - the selection of that "chancident." Failure to select the right individual for that job could scuttle the administrative reorganization and put a serious damper on recent cooperative efforts between the four campuses in the UH System.
The regents must now select a strong leader who will be able to lead UH while fairly representing the other three campuses. Unless that leader has a mandate to lead without interference from the Board of Regents, this exercise in vision will be doomed.
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