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UW president search back to square one

The Brillion News

MADISON - In an embarassing turn of events, the only remaining candidate to become the next president of the University of Wisconsin System has turned down the job offer from the UW Board of Regents.

Jim Johnsen is the president of the University of Alaska system, and was offered the Wisconsin job, but said "no" to the offer.

That drew harsh criticism from the University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate's public face, PROFS (Public Representation Organization of the Faculty Senate).

"The Board of Regents now has an opportunity to get the search right," the statement issued by PROFS on Monday, June 15, said. "The process that led to the naming of Johnsen as the sole finalist was flawed."

The group said the search committee included no faculty members, no students, and was "shrouded in unnecessary secrecy."

The faculty group called for a new search effort, with better representation and transparency.

"PROFS strongly urges the Regents to appoint a committee that includes representatives from among faculty, academic staff, university staff, and students; to engage in frequent and open forums with members of the university community on the search's progress; to make public the names of multiple finalists for the position; and to allow finalists to engage with student, faculty, and staff stakeholders during their presentations to campus," Monday's press release said.

Johnsen withdrew his candidacy suddenly.

“After deep reflection as to where I am called to lead a university system through these challenging times, it is clear to me and my family that it is in Alaska,” Johnsen said. “I appreciate the strong support from the search committee at Wisconsin, and for all those who supported my candidacy, but it’s clear they have important process issues to work out.”

An organization representing the faculty and staff of the UW-Oshkosh was critical of the process that selected Johnsen, and issued a statement saying “the legitimacy of the search process has been marred from the outset by the Board of Regents’ unprecedented exclusion of any faculty, staff or non-Regent students from the search committee.”


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