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Letter From Regents to AAUP: Misses the Point?

Response to AAUP from Herb Simon, Chair of the Board of Regents.

The AAUP had written a letter to the regents expressing concern about the Search and the need to undo damage done by President Emmert to the University’s systems of Governance. (search Aprikyan or search Emmert Coup on this blog).

The response, with no acknowledgment of the issues mentioned in the AAUP letter and no offer to meet with the AAUP, is a polite dismissal.

Regent Simons’ background may be relevant here.  He is a real estate developer from Tacoma and perhaps the foremost advocate of creating the campus of the UW Tacoma. and since that time he has lobbied, intra alia, for other UWT expenditures, including a 201 State appropriation to create a UW Institute of Technology in Tacoma.

This focus on UWT may explain some of the positions in the letter.  Although called the UW, in many ways “UWT” functions more like an extension of  the community college system with a decreased emphasis on faculty research or opportunities for students to work in the environment a UW degree implies. UW Tacoma’s problems with its faculty, moreover, have been more like those facing a company and its union.

This UWT point of view  may explain the emphasis in the letter on the UW Faculty Senate rather than on our most successful academics.  I wonder how many of the UW McArthur awardees, Nobelists, or Members of the National Academy have had their say to Mr. Simon’s Board?

The letter follows:

November 19, 2010

Janelle S. Taylor
President, AAUP-UW
M39 Denny Hall, Box 353100

Dear President Taylor and Executive Board Members:

Thank you for your letter of November 10. We are pleased to confirm that our search committee has made a commitment to shared governance a vital criterion in evaluating candidates for the position of President of the University of Washington. This commitment stems first from the Board of Regents’ charge to the Committee (see http://www.washington.edu/regents/search/evaluation_criteria.pdf), which specifically lists a commitment to shared governance as part of our evaluation criteria. Further, the Search Committee has discussed this criterion many times during our process, including during meetings held with the Faculty Senate and its Executive Committee, and has a sophisticated understanding of the context of shared governance at the University of Washington. We have also made certain to include questions about shared governance in our evaluation process, both for candidate interviews and in rigorous reference checks.

Thank you again for your letter and for your constructive engagement in recruiting an outstanding leader to the University of Washington.

Best regards,

[signed]

Herb Simon
Chair, Board of Regents

Kellye Testy
Chair, Presidential Search Advisory Committee
Dean, School of Law


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