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Student to help select new UW president

Christopher Johnson, News Writer
September 19, 2013
Filed under News











UW-Green Bay will have a student representative on the committee tasked with finding a new UW-System president.

Heba Mohammad, UWGB senior history and political science major, will be the sole student on the search and screen committee.

UW Board of Regents President Michael Falbo appointed the 18-person committee in response to current president Kevin Reilly’s announcement that he will be resigning from the position.

Reilly, who has held the position since 2004, will step down in January and plans to return to teaching and work as an advisor to the American Council on Education, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The committee is comprised of Regents, former Regents and current UW-System personnel. Being selected as the lone student on the 18-person committee came as a surprise to Mohammad.

“When I was first informed that I was nominated for the committee I was very shocked,” Mohammad said. “I had no idea I was nominated until I received a phone call from the chancellor’s office informing me a representative from the Board of Regents was trying to contact me.”

Each of Wisconsin’s 13 four-year universities was asked to submit names of potential candidates for the committee.

As for the act of selecting the next UW-System president, one characteristic will be most important, Mohammad said.

“The people you have to respond to are the students because they are going to be your foundation,” Mohammad said.

Mohammad has been involved with representing her peers for years, but this experience will be more challenging.

“I will effectively be representing all 181,000 students in the UW-System, so it’s a little unnerving,” Mohammad said. “It’s going to be a good experience overall, and I’m really excited about the people I get to work with going through this process.”

The primary task of the search and screen committee will be to find and analyze the professionals applying for UW-System presidency. The difficulty won’t be in finding qualified people, the difficulty will be narrowing the field, Mohammad said.

“I understand we are going to have a lot of applicants, and we have to narrow it down to a certain number,” Mohammad said.

A consulting firm specializing in executive searches will also provide insight into the search and screen process. This is an effort to establish a level playing field and to facilitate a neutral selection process.

“We will go through all the applications and follow the instructions of the consultant who will be working with us to ensure our process is unbiased,” Mohammad said. “The consultant will assist us in responding to opinions of all students, not only at UWGB, but throughout the UW-System.”

Mohammad feels the incoming president will have big shoes to fill.

“I think he has a very difficult job,” Mohammad said. “I think it’s going to be difficult to make sure things are in order for whoever his successor will be.”

Michael Falbo, president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, has instructed the search committee to focus on candidates who have financial expertise and who can motivate and inspire people.

In addition to receiving a house and a car, the incoming president will earn a salary ranging anywhere from $360,000 to $444,000, according to the Associated Press.

The search committee will submit a list of five finalists by December of this year.  A second committee will recommend one candidate from the five. The UW-System Board of Regents will make a final decision during a January, 2014 meeting.

The 18-member committee is comprised of six regents, including Regina Millner, the acting chairperson of the committee.

UW-System, members from UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Madison, UW-River Falls and UW-LaCrosse are also contributing representatives.