The University of Guam Presidential Search Committee defends its list of finalists for UOG president, amid mounting criticisms over its selection of three off-island candidates with disputable records.
William Leon Guerrero, committee chairman, said all candidates went through thorough evaluations during the “extremely rigorous” selection process.
“The Presidential Search Committee (PSC) is aware that the community has expressed several concerns about the individuals selected to be the final three candidates as well as the search process,” said William Leon Guerrero, committee chairman. “This is understandable because many people care about the university and want what’s best for the institution.”
Named finalists were Dr. Thomas W. Krise; Dr. Bruce T. Murphy and Dr. Hamid Shirvani. In the final selection process, one of them will take over the seat Dr. Robert Underwood, who is retiring on June 30 after 10 years as head of the university.
“As chairman of the search committee, I want to assure the public that the integrity of the search process has remained intact since its start and that the committee stands behind its selections,” Leon Guerrero said.
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Krise is formerly president of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where he continues to serve as President Emeritus and Professor of English. He served 22 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Murphy is a consultant with the Registry for College & University Presidents Inc. of Peabody, Massachusetts. He was the fifth president of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana for four years.
Shirvani served as president of Briar Cliff University and has worked in the field of higher education for 39 years, with 28 years spent in senior level executive leadership and management posts.
The three were chosen among 60 applicants, according to the committee.
“The process of evaluating all of the 60 applicants for University of Guam president and narrowing them down to nine semifinalists and then to three finalists was extremely rigorous,” Leon Guerrero said. “Countless hours were spent reviewing resumes, interviewing semi-finalists, conducting background searches, and calling references.”
Guam residents’ posts on social media were critical of the list, questioning the panel’s preference for off-island over local candidates.
Leon Guerrero the nine semi-finalists included women and Guam residents but the committee declined to release the list of all applicants, citing confidentiality protocol.
Some critics cited Guam law, which requires familiarity and knowledge of Guam and the region’s culture and history.
“While none of the finalists have Chamorro heritage or have resided on Guam, the PSC is confident that all of them possess the necessary experience, skills and traits to learn fast, adapt, and work in a unique place like Guam, which is a melting pot of various cultures,” Leon Guerrero said, adding that the three finalists came from communities with diverse populations and unique needs.
“These individuals were unanimously selected by the PSC members. All finalists have been fully vetted by AGB Search. Their education, employment and scholarship have been verified,” Leon Guerrero said.
He said extensive research and reference checking have revealed actual facts in each stage of their employment history and have verified their many accomplishments.
An independent firm conducted background checks which included examination of all motor vehicle, civil and criminal court records, as well, Leon Guerrero added.
“The qualifications of the three individuals selected to become finalists ultimately stood out over all the other candidates,” he said. “The purpose of a thorough and rigorous search process is to produce the very best. From the beginning of the search, all candidates were given the same opportunity to compete for the position.”