UW trustees name McGinity president

University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity listens to questions and comments during a UW Board of Trustees meeting Thursday at Coe Library, where the board voted 9-3 that McGinity will be the university’s president. JEREMY MARTIN/Boomerang photographer

Dick McGinity will likely be president of the University of Wyoming for the next two and one-half years.

After open discussion and three executive sessions, the UW Board of Trustees voted 9-3 Thursday to remove “interim” from McGinity’s title, effective immediately through June 30, 2016.

McGinity has served as interim president since November. Trustees Warren Lauer, Brad Mead and Howard Willson cast dissenting votes; trustees David Bostrom, David Palmerlee, John MacPherson, Jeffrey Marsh, Richard Davis, Betty Fear, Larry Gubbels, Dave True and Wava Tully cast “aye” votes.

“We’re dealing today in extraordinary circumstances,” Board President Bostrom said. “We could not spend the time necessary for a search and have this university without leadership.

“The discussions were long and wide-ranging. It’s hard to hire a provost or vice president of academic affairs if they don’t know who they’re reporting to.”

Bostrom said the discussion to search for a permanent president is evolving and would not start for at least a year.

The trustees began with a two-hour discussion about whether to change McGinity’s title. Halfway through, Bostrom opened it to the audience. Faculty members and former trustee Pete Jorgensen expressed disapproval of the board’s idea, in favor of launching a search for a more permanent president.

Others were also concerned about the university’s by-laws, which state in order to appoint a president, the trustees must confer with a committee of faculty and staff.

Before the vote, Lauer explained his opinion.

“Sometimes decisions aren’t always unanimous,” he said.

“I have reluctance not with Dick McGinity; I have reluctance about how we got here. I don’t like being told that we failed on a process.”

Engineering Dean Khaled Gasem argued that the perception of the university trumped the reality of how UW operates, echoing Bostrom’s months-long mantra of stability to attract good faculty.

“We need a respite,” Gasem said. “The institution needs to recover reputation-wise. How we approach that is important. Having an interim president would be fine if we had a permanent provost. Since they are both interim, it seems a little iffy in my mind.”

Faculty Senate President Colin Keeney said during the morning session that the board needs more time, and that he thinks more faculty need to be consulted before a decision is made.

After the announcement, he said he was disappointed by the lack of procedure.

“There’s been a debate about the next presidential search, from open to confidential to none at all. That solves the open and confidential debate,” he said.

“This is no reflection on Dick or his leadership ability. It’s the cavalier attitude toward following procedure.”

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