Discussion Continues Over New Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost

Marlon Castillo | New University

The UCI administration continues its search for the next person to fill this prestigious role.

 

The UC Irvine administration hosted a second open town hall meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 16 in Crystal Cove Auditorium to invite input from students and faculty  during the search for a new Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP).

Albert Bennett, dean of the School of Biological Sciences and co-chair of the search committee, gave a brief summary of the EVCP’s role on campus and responsibilities. The EVCP is the “chief academic officer” to whom all the deans report, oversees all academic programs and manages the university’s budget.

David Bellshaw, a representative of Isaacson, Miller — an executive search firm who is assisting the administration — said that the committee’s purpose is “to make the pool [of candidates] as large as possible.” They plan to work through fall and early winter to narrow that pool, conclude their search by the end of the academic year and have the new EVCP in place by next summer.

There was some concern over whether students and faculty would be able to meet any of the candidates. Deborah Vandell, dean of the School of Education, said that the appointment of the EVCP is a “multi-stage process.” The committee will conduct a “quiet, confidential search” and hold off-campus “airport interviews.” After the interviews, there will be a period where candidates will be coming to campus. She established that it is ultimately Chancellor Drake’s decision to choose who the new EVCP will be, and that the committee will recommend candidates to him.

Bennett made it clear that there is no overlap between the candidates and the committee members. He recommended that if any of the committee members wish to be a candidate for EVCP, they should “withdraw now and not participate in the search.”

One graduate student claimed that the first thing that former EVCP Michael R. Gottfredson did when facing financial problems was to increase student fees. Bennett responded that Gottfredson’s main goal was to “maintain quality” and that “everyone wants to see student fees lowered to zero if possible.”

Vice Chancellor Thomas A. Parham concurred, saying that raising student fees is always a last resort. Before even considering that option, the administration will seek to maintain the quality of education, create greater efficiencies and consolidate resources and services and weigh faculty and staff reductions before even “taking a dime from the students.”

One issue that was brought up during the last town hall meeting involved the EVCP’s salary. Associated Graduate Students President Justin Chung discussed the ideology behind student concern about the matter as their tuition rises. He said that the pay for administrators is viewable online, and that between the fiscal years of 1998-1999 and 2008-2009, there was an “almost 200 percent increase” in pay for non-medical Management Senior Professionals (MSPs).

After the town hall meeting, Chung clarified that the statistic referred to the UC system as a whole and not to UCI alone. In fact, he said that during that ten-year period, “the number of student credit hours per non-academic staff members has actually increased,” meaning that UCI has increased the amount of instruction on campus relative to the number of administrators.

Chung said he brought up that statistic to show that administrators are easy targets for students, and that an ideal EVCP should look beyond criticism from students and into the source of their problems.

Parham stated after the meeting that UCI is not a campus that “expands administrative bloat.” He also said that from 1998-2012, “tremendous growth” in particular areas such as, but not limited to, the increase in the size of the student body and new academic disciplines, requires more professors and staff to be hired.

Various students and faculty were able to discuss what qualifications they would like to see in a candidate. Most shared the belief that the EVCP should be an effective and efficient financial manager with experience in higher education, given the EVCP’s yearly $2 billion-dollar budget with which to work. Many others believe that the EVCP should be conscious of various campus clubs and organizations, as well as being cooperative, innovative and concerned for academic equity and excellence.

One faculty member noted the lack of students in attendance for the meeting, suggesting that the student body does not grasp the importance of the EVCP, and that the EVCP should be someone who has the “ability to interact with students.”