Representatives of staff organizations from the nine UC campuses and the federal laboratories gave a Board of Regents' special committee their views on what they want to see in a new UC president.
At a meeting at San Francisco Airport March 6, the staff members said that given the tight financial situation of UC, the new president must be a visionary who's able to secure increased funding from many sources. They also said they want a leader who will acknowledge the need for mutual respect among constituencies and set the tone at the highest levels.
"Our impression was they were actively listening to us. They took notes and asked us several questions after our presentation," said Tracey Chilson, who represented Berkeley. She is the coordinating committee member of Berkeley Staff Assembly.
"I felt like I got more than my two-cents worth in," said Chilson, who added that the regents' committee assured the staff representatives that there is no one with the inside track on the job to replace Jack Peltason when he steps down in the fall.
The Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President is being chaired by Regent Roy Brophy.
Cheryl F. Hagen, chair of the Staff Advisory Committee, told the regents' committee, "We believe that we are in the beginning stages of a major shift in focus to a world that will be separated into two distinct levels. One is of knowledge, the other service. The educational community as we have known it must be prepared to take the initiative in this new setting, and so must its leadership."
In addition, the staff made it clear that the systemwide administration must understand and support the role of each campus.
"Decentralization and relinquishing authority to the lowest possible levels" is particularly important, they said. "To accomplish this, we need a president who has made accountability a demonstrated cornerstone of his/her own organization at all levels."
The staff talked about the need for the new president to be a leader in educational innovation as well as someone willing to fund and implement new technologies to increase efficiency.
They told the committee that what's needed is "an outstanding communicator.... Someone with the skills to convey to our constituents the value of the university in meeting the needs for economic development, research applications and technology transfer."
The regents' committee then asked the staff representatives if they had an opinion on whether the candidate should be from UC's own ranks or an outsider and what their view of affirmative action policies were.
"We didn't take a position on whether the new president should come from inside or outside. We said there were benefits to both and that since the academic world is so small, we felt confident that the track record of an outside candidate could be fully known," said Chilson.
As for affirmative action, she said, "we said our leanings were that we aren't done yet."
She added that the opinion was "those who had benefited from affirmative action far outweighed those who might not have gotten opportunities."
The selection committee is placing advertisements for the job opening in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Affirmative Action Register.
Final selection criteria may be presented to the UC Board of Regents this month.