Diversity of UW System president pool questioned

Board of Regents meets Thursday to decide next president
Diversity of UW System president pool questioned

Diversity of UW System president pool questioned

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System will meet Thursday to select and announce their next president, but now the question about diversity in the selection of candidates is being raised.

System leaders announced last week that three men were finalists for the position. The candidates include Raymond Cross, chancellor of the UW Colleges and Extension; Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; and Robert King, president of the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Council told News 3 late Wednesday that King had been informed he was not recommended by the selection committee, but was “honored to have been considered.”

But some are asking who else was considered as a candidate for the position after seeing the finalists, including Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire.

“The fact that we’ve been working so hard as an agency to raise the consciousness of people around everyone having access to opportunity, and to see now in 2014, the only thing we could come up with were three white guys?” Caire said. “[They are] accomplished, but it made me question who was in the pool.”

News 3 requested gender and ethnicity for those who applied to the Board of Regents.

According to the UW System, 25 applications were considered and three withdrew during the process. Of those 25, nine people voluntarily submitted their gender and race, as the UW does not require that information. All nine identified as white non-Hispanic, seven were male and two were female.

Based on the numbers released by system officials, News 3 does not know if a person of color was considered as a candidate.

The three finalists are the only names the UW is required by law to release.

“The history of our community, the university included, is that we don’t always emerge at the top or at the finalists of these pools people of color,” Caire said. “I think this community has to go an extra distance to demonstrate, based on its history, to do more to demonstrate that it is doing everything that it can.”

In a statement Wednesday, the UW System legal counsel said, “We are committed to and take very seriously our goals of having a diverse leadership at the UW System. In this search, as with chancellor and other high-level university position searches, we engaged an outside recruitment firm. The firm followed our direction to strive for a diverse field by reaching out to qualified individuals who were minorities or female. We also know that the opening was advertised widely and that it was well-known that the Board of Regents was willing to consider non-traditional applicants.”

Their statement does not say how many of those applicants it received or why none were chosen as finalists.

The Board of Regents will meet in closed session Thursday at 4 p.m. to choose the next system president with an announcement expected following that meeting.