Seeking a Leader

Members of the UCI community involved in the search for the new UC president speak out.


The University of California Board of Regents took the first steps in the international search for the next UC President last month. The initiation of the search came almost two months after current UC President Mark Yudof announced his intention to resign effective Aug. 31 of this year. Sherry Lansing, the Chairman of the Board of Regents, appointed a Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President that will recruit, screen and interview applicants.

Lansing serves as Chair of the Special Committee, which consists of nine other individuals. On the committee are six other Regents, Alumni Regent Ronald Rubenstein, Student Regent Jonathan Stein and California Governor Jerry Brown as an ex-oficio member.

The Special Committee will be assisted by an Academic Advisory Committee and will consult with three additional Advisory Committees that represent the voices of students, staff and alumni. The Academic Advisory Committee will aid the Special Committee in screening candidates and, along with the Student, Staff and Alumni Advisory Committees, make recommendations on selection criteria.

UC Irvine has one representative on each of these committees, with Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychology and social behavior, medicine and public health, on the Academic Advisory Committee; ASUCI President Traci Ishigo on the Student Advisory Committee; Jason Valdry, Director of Technology at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, on the Staff Advisory Committee; and Alumni Association President Greg Mickelson on the Alumni Advisory Committee.

In addition, the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller will assist the Special and Advisory Committees. The services of Isaacson, Miller, whose work is concentrated in higher education, is also currently assisting the UCI administration in their search for a new Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP).

After consulting with the Advisory Committees, the Special Committee recommended a set of selection criteria to the Regents, which they approved on March 14. It is available for the public to view on the official Presidential Search page on the University of California website.

Ishigo and Valdry both spoke about certain qualities that their respective committees sought in the next president.

“What I felt like were really important points that we drove home on [included the candidates for the] UC President [be] a real advocate for diversity in the UC system, meaning that they are fluent on the issues affecting underrepresented students in the UC system, that they are going to support student advocacy driving what the UC should adapt to for the campus climate initiative, and hopefully that they would be diverse themselves. We mentioned that there’s never been a woman or a woman of color as the president before,” Ishigo said.

“We would really like them to value student input and know how to incorporate student input in various Regent policies and processes,” she continued. “We were calling for the affordability and the quality of the UC system […] Personally, I would make sure that they are representing the UC system as a whole very well, that they also have the political skill to make sure that our legislature knows how valuable the UC system is to the state because we need more funding, and I’m looking for a president who can do that for the students and do that for the UC system.”

“We’re looking for a president that supports the mission of the university as a public research institution, one that has a commitment to the employees, that has experience with engaging with employees of the university, to make them want to do their best,” Valdry said.

Both of their committees gave presentations to the Special Committee regarding selection criteria, and their points were taken into account and even implemented.

“The thing I’m most proud of that is now in the requirements is […] a little more emphasis on diversity [and] inclusion, and the words ‘public research’ were actually put together. All the words were there before, but public research is something that I think we’re committed to in California and we have to recognize that it’s a public university, and it’s supposed to be about being inclusive and getting people here,” Valdry said.

Members of the UC and the public can submit nominations for presidential candidates to Isaacson, Miller on the Presidential Search 2013 web page, where additional information can be found. The Special Committee is expected to make a recommendation to the Regents at their meeting in July.