Two Years Later, Search for ASUCI Executive Director Drags On

In April 2004, Dennis Hampton retired from the position of executive director of the Associated Students of UC Irvine after serving for over 30 years. Since then, ASUCI has tried unsuccessfully to find a replacement. Four candidates are currently being interviewed, but based on past failed attempts to fill the vacancy, students shouldn’t hold their breaths.
The chances that any students are anxiously awaiting the decision seem pretty low. Although the position is an important one, students are mostly unfamiliar with what the executive director does.
‘I remember hearing about him during Welcome Week, but not about what he does,’ said first-year biological sciences major Mario Federis.
As the ‘chief administrative officer and advisor for Student Government,’ the executive director oversees most student and campus programs, clubs and ASUCI activities, according to the job description released by the search committee currently in charge of selecting a new candidate.
‘The recruitment for a permanent director is in the final stages,’ said Chuck Pieper, who has acted part-time as executive director since July 2005. According to Pieper, the committee is expected to finish by spring quarter.
Director of Verano Place Housing Beverly Chaney was asked to collaborate with ASUCI to facilitate the selection process.
‘From an initial pool of 235 applicants, a screening committee identified four candidates as having the necessary level of knowledge, skill and experience to perform the job and were invited to engage in a campus interview process,’ Chaney explained.
The committee is comprised of members of several different groups, and is headed by the ASUCI executive officers and representative Dan Dooros, who was appointed by Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez.
They will make a recommendation to Gomez, who will then make the final appointment. The four final candidates are Damon Bell (San Diego Mesa College), Mark Day (CSU San Bernardino), Lance MacLean (UC Irvine), and Brenda Andrews (Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Inc.).
Throughout the process, these candidates must not only go through interviews with the Screening Committee, the Selection Committee, Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services Managers and the ASUCI Legislative Council, but also give 15- to 20-minute presentations open to all interested students, faculty and staff members. Candidates are asked to speak on the following topic: ‘Given UCI’s growth, what is your vision of student government, the challenges it will face and how it will meet the demands of students?’
The extensive process alludes to the fact that the candidate chosen as executive director may make a big impact on campus. The position is ‘the liaison in both daily operation and highly sensitive situations between students and campus departments and administration.’ Furthermore, he or she will be given financial responsibilities, including ‘accounting services, budget development, financial management and disbursements, purchasing, material management and facilities planning.’
Though both Bell and Day have already given their presentations in the open sessions held last week, interested students are encouraged to attend the remaining sessions this week, since feedback from attendees is considered by the selection committee.
Timing, however, may pose a problem for many students.
‘Students might be interested in going, but most of them are probably busy studying for finals,’ Federis said.
The process will continue with Lance MacLean’s presentation on March 14, 3:30 p.m. at the University Club Dining Room and with Brenda Andrews on March 16, 3:30 p.m., University Club Library.
It is no secret that MacLean has long been a favorite of ASUCI. Last year’s executive council was asked to select three candidates to send to Gomez. Instead, they sent just two: MacLean, who had served as associate executive director in ASUCI for seven years, and Morolake Laosebikan-Buggs, associate director of student government at Tulane University.
When Laosebikan-Buggs withdrew from the selection process, ASUCI members hoped that Gomez would immediately appoint MacLean to the position.
Instead, he opened up the process to new applicants, which led to the year-long stalemate that has ensued.
At the time, ASUCI executives considered Gomez’s decision to be an affront on their powers of self-determination.
‘Personally, I feel as though the administration is trying to taint the entire process,’ said Adam Boothby, then ASUCI vice president of student services. ‘The administration, in my opinion, is trying to [hire] an individual that will begin to dissolve the student government autonomy that we have worked for so many years to build up.’
ASUCI executives last year had also tried to appoint MacLean as interim executive director.
‘Speculation has surrounded the issue of why Student Affairs has been reluctant to appoint ASUCI’s highest-ranking staff member to the interim director position,’ said Geoffrey Enriquez, then vice president of academic affairs. ‘Student Affairs has attempted to appoint staff members outside of ASUCI to the interim director position, but students have spoken against this in the interest of stability.’
ASUCI executives this year have not openly taken a strong stance in favor of MacLean.
Leslie Millerd, speaking to the New University last April on behalf of Gomez, expressed eagerness to fill the position.
‘[Gomez] is extremely anxious to make the selection as soon as possible,’ Millerd said.
Although Gomez apparently wasn’t all that anxious to make the selection, hopefully a resolution will be reached soon, putting an end to this saga.