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Either UO has a new president, or Parker Search’s Laurie Wilder lied to us

Last updated on 09/02/2015

Update: I’ve been told that Laurie Wilder asked the UO Board for permission to get involved in a second search.

3/19/2015: She seemed so honest, when she talked to the Senate that afternoon:

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3/19/2015 update: I distinctly remember Parker Executive Search’s President Laurie Wilder saying, while sitting there with Connie Ballmer, that UO would get an exclusive: Parker would not take on another presidential search for an AAU university while they were working on the UO search.

But last week the Daily Iowan reported that the University of Iowa had also hired Parker to find them a new president, also in February, for $200K + expenses:

The search for the next University of Iowa president will soon be in full swing.

Jean Robillard, the UI vice president for Medical Affairs and head of the Presidential Search Committee, announced at the state Board of Regents meeting in Iowa City on Wednesday that the panel would have its first meeting on March 25. …

Regent President Bruce Rastetter said the committee’s first official meeting with Parker Executive Search — a firm the regents hired whose duty is to define the goals of the search, develop specifications for the presidential position, create a timeline, and be heavily involved in the interview process — will mostly likely take place in late April or early May. …

The regents announced they had chosen Parker in mid-February. 

Iowa has been in the AAU since 1909, so I see three possibilities:

  1. Laurie Wilder lied to the UO faculty and Ms Ballmer,
  2. UO was kicked out of the AAU in February, or
  3. the Board picked a new President in February and they forgot to tell the faculty.

UO’s search has been botched from day one, when Chuck Lillis snuck secret rules, with minimal faculty participation past the board. Faculty Trustee Susan Gary should have helped him avoid the resulting embarrassment, but she was asleep at the wheel as usual, and isn’t even on the search committee.

The Iowa search committee has 21 members. Seven of them are faculty, including the president and president elect of their faculty senate:

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There are also two students – undergraduate and graduate. Chuck Lillis’s search committee has no students, and more Moffitts than faculty.

Maybe it’s time for the Board to give it up, and beg Coltrane to keep the job?

2/11/2015 update on 9AM search meeting. Trustee Connie Ballmer, Parker princip Laurie Wilder, some people from the search committees. Only others were me and maybe 2 other faculty, one or two OA’s and staff, and Diane Dietz and RG photographer Chris Pietsch.

I have to say that I was surprised and impressed by Ms Ballmer’s and Ms Wilder’s willingness to answer some tough questions. Wilder got into the nuts and bolts of what candidates ask her (e.g. what sort of board does UO have? Control-freaks, laissez-faire, etc.) The Senate is not going to like some of the answers we’re going to get this afternoon about the process, but personally, I’m no longer quite as paranoid about the likely outcome.

2/10/2015: UO Board’s Parker Executive Search firm is not exactly top shelf

From their bid to handle the search for a new Florida Atlantic University president, here. Their past successes searches?

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The good news is that they charge accordingly:

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 11.49.44 PM

Update: Diane Dietz has the story on this meeting in the RG, here:

The search is closed. The public won’t know the identity of the top candidate until the trustees schedule a public vote to hire her or him. Ballmer and Wilder declined to say whether there are in-house candidates.

… “This is mostly higher ed — presidents, provosts, maybe some deans. It’s a pretty small world,” Ballmer said.

Candidates ask what they might encounter at the UO, Wilder said, including the notion of a revolving-door presidency; contention between faculty, administrators, athletics officials and other groups; and other troubles, such as campus sexual assaults and labor strikes.

Candidates are definitely asking about those issues, Wilder said. “They want to make sure that they can have a working relationship,” she said. “That has been something that’s been critical to candidates.”


  1. Wasaduck 02/11/2015

    A search firm that is currently conducting searches for “chairs” in academic departments does not strike me as being up to the task. Way to set the bar low…

  2. disappointed 02/11/2015

    The UO strategic communicators would like to look in the mirror and see AAU peers, the Michigans, the Wisconsins, the UVA’s, but when it comes to a search committee for prez it picks a firm specializing in solutions for West Mississippi State and Delta U. Depressing.

    • UO Inc. 02/11/2015

      It’s a set-up for Lillis to find his own candidate.

  3. Anonymous 02/11/2015

    Is it just that the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet or does their response make no sense?

    “Since January 2012, we have conducted six University President searches…” and they list six. Okay, I’m with them so far. Then: “Other Presidential searches conducted in the last four years include…” and they list twelve more. So first they have conducted six searches, but then they have conducted another twelve. How many is it?

  4. that effing Dog again 02/11/2015

    indeed the bottom 12 on that list would be make a great set of “peers” for the UO and we might actually look good …

    Armstrong Atlantic State University … Really?

    • anon and on and on 02/11/2015

      Besides Iowa State, I don’t think there’s an AAU institution in the bunch. A revolving presidential office at a university that’s dealing with some major structural issues is going to be a hard sell for even really good headhunters. What caliber of person did they find for ISU or Wilmington? That might be a good indicator.

  5. Max Powers 02/12/2015

    No one in their RIGHT MIND should want to work as an Admin at the U of O right now unless you end up with a President who completely cleans house. If you came in as an admin you won’t win. You have no margin for error. If you make any mistake you end up on the blog or get eviscerated in a public way. The relationship is so toxic. I can’t imagine walking into that voluntarily unless you had absolutely nothing to lose. I can’t imagine deciding to move my family to Eugene, buy a home, etc. going into that kind of situation. Sorry folks, both sides are to blame here (faculty and admin.) for a climate that is untenable. I am not saying that blame is 50/50 but there is some on both sides of the aisle. You are either going to get someone who is very naive or thinks they can do this but really can’t. Good luck.

    • charlie 03/19/2015

      Great point, because we all know U of Owe’s problems began when that damn pesky UO Matters went online….

    • Ben 03/20/2015

      You are confusing cause and effect.

  6. Anonymous 02/12/2015

    From “Around The O” November 6, 2014:
    …”The firm has worked with the University of Oregon in the past, most recently in the search for a dean at the College of Education that resulted in the hiring of Randy Kamphaus this past summer. The firm also was involved in the selection of Rob Mullens, athletics director, in 2010.”…

  7. just different 02/12/2015

    If you make a mistake, you could astonish the hell out of everyone by voluntarily disclosing all information about the mistake, publicly assuming full responsibility for your mistake, providing a clear and actionable plan for fixing whatever went wrong, and then following up to be sure your plan was followed. I’d bet anyone who did that would find themselves overwhelmed with people supporting them, at least outside of Johnson Hall.

  8. Anonymous 03/19/2015

    Or maybe they forgot to tell us we got kicked out of the AAU.

  9. Licensed to drive 03/19/2015

    I’m going to go with door #1, and I’ll double down on a bet this is not Parker’s only lie to the UO trustees or the faculty about this search.

  10. anon 03/19/2015

    If Prof. Gary hadn’t jumped on the issue as soon as the initial search committee list was released, we wouldn’t have the faculty representation on the committee that we have. But of course it would be a shame to let facts get in the way of the opportunity to smear someone else in a position of authority.

    • uomatters Post author | 03/19/2015

      Please explain exactly how Prof. Gary helped get faculty on the search committee, and who.

      And I don’t mean on the potemkin “advisory committee”.

      And why was she so out of the loop she didn’t know this was happening until after it happened?

      • anon 03/20/2015

        It’s highly unlikely that all trustees are brought into the workings of each subcommittee. I expect a quick check with anyone connected with the BOT would provide insight into her efforts. It’s a quaint practice, but gathering a little information is not a bad thing to do before publicly flaming people.

        • uomatters Post author | 03/20/2015

          So, you’ve got no answers to the questions?

          I’ve collected a lot of information on this and many faculty agree. Gary’s decision to take on this job even though she knew she’d be out of the country on sabbatical for most of the crucial pre-meeting discussions was pretty bad. She shouldn’t have taken the job of representing the faculty if she knew she’d be unable to do the most important part of it.

  11. SaveUofO 03/19/2015

    We’re all wishing for a president who will come in and clean house but the reality is that it will not happen. U of O is too top heavy and any incoming president will not get his information from the people who actually know what is going on at the U of O like the faculty and staff. The incoming president is going to heavily rely on the entrenched administration for all info. A thorough house cleaning in JH would be a good start and breaking down the upper administration with the needless vice presidents and provosts and all of the other useless positions along with it. We all pray for and have high hopes for someone to come in and save the U of O but we are always left with our hopes crushed and the same stale game that every modern U of O administration has played.

  12. A more important promise 03/20/2015

    Connie said that you’ll get your say in the final vote of the Board, since there is a faculty, student, and staff member represented.

    Connie/Laurie later promised that the entire Board, not just the exec and especially not just Chuck, will have a public vote on at least three finalists.

    • uomatters Post author | 03/20/2015

      A public vote? I’m pretty sure this was never promised.

  13. A more important promise 03/20/2015

    Hmm, you may be right about the public part, but as a public body, the Board would have to have a legal reason to go to executive session to kick out the public. They definitely promised the vote part.

    • public vote 03/20/2015

      14:42. It was Angela who promised.

    • concernedduck 09/04/2015

      Thank god UO’s search wasn’t open

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