Feeling cheated: the UOG presidential search

May 23, 2018

 

Google search: Dr. Thomas Krise

 

  • Former president, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington (2012-2017). April 2017 article in The News Tribune reports he stepped down with no explanation. Despite some financial difficulties, Krise reportedly made important strides there.  

  • Two master’s degrees, Ph.D. in English, founding president of the Early Caribbean Society; past president of the Society of Early Americanists; former Fulbright Scholar at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

  • Served as Dean of the Arts and Sciences College at University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA.

  • Served 22 years in the Air Force, retired as a lieutenant colonel.

 

Google search: Dr. Bruce Murphy

 

 

  • Former president, Nicholls State University (Jan. 2014 - Dec. 2017). Left “to engage in other strategic initiatives in higher education,” according to a University of Louisiana System press release.

  • Brought Nicholls from warning status to full accreditation within six months; gave some faculty and staff small raises; increased enrollment

  • Served 8.5 years as vice president for Academic Affairs of the Air Force’s Air University.

  • Served 23 years in the U.S. Army, retired as lieutenant colonel in 1995.

  • Master’s degrees in systems management, higher and adult education, Doctor of Education in human resource development

 

Google search: Dr. Hamid Shirvani                                                            

 

  • Former president, Briar Cliff College in Sioux City Iowa (left after 14 months, with unsubstantiated multiple claims of sexual harassment (never formally charged);

  • Former chancellor, North Dakota University System (left after 11 months with a nearly $1 million buyout);

  • Former president, California State University Stanislaus (in 2009, faculty reportedly gave him a vote of no confidence four years into his seven-year term; the university reportedly paid $10,000 and six months of paid leave to a former female administrative assistant under his charge for "events that took place.")

  • Former Dean, University of Colorado at Denver (Denver Post reported an adversarial relationship with faculty)

  • Three masters degrees (one from Harvard); Ph.D. from Princeton University

 

   The above are partial Google searches for the top three candidates for the position of president of the University of Guam, a position soon to be vacated by the retiring and mostly beloved Dr. Robert Underwood.

 

   On the K57 Breakfast Show on May 23, Patti Arroyo interviewed Dr. Richard Wueste, executive search consultant for AGB Search, about the search process as it related to the most controversial of the candidates, Dr. Shirvani. The University of Guam Search Committee hired AGB Search because it is the “only firm that specializes in all aspects of executive search exclusively for higher education institutions,” according to the UOG website. The Search Committee reportedly spent $100,000 on the search.

 

   Arroyo asked Wueste about Shirvani because of the negative news and opinions that have surfaced about his terms at several institutions.   

 

   “At this point we have vetted Dr. Shirvani thoroughly, he has agreed to a background check which is conducted by an internationally reputable independent firm,” Wueste told Arroyo. He noted that AGB Search had even done off-list reference-checking with people Shirvani had not recommended to find out facts about him. Wueste noted that the firm found sexual harassment allegations against Shirvani to be “not just false, but a set-up.” He said people in a largely white area (Iowa) that felt that Shirvani, an Iranian, did not belong.

 

    “Every single one of these we checked out, and we checked out thoroughly, and we did not find substance to them. He has enemies. He has made changes under circumstances where people were not happy with the changes,” Wueste said.

 

   Of course, Wueste is going to defend AGB’s choice of Shirvani because the firm was paid a substantial amount of money to come up with him as one of the candidates. But sexual harassment accusations (which UOG definitely does NOT need right now) aside, Shirvani left not one, not two or three, but four institutions under less than stellar conditions. Not a great track record. My sister, a professor at a private university in California, says there is a term for people like that – it’s called “failing up.”

 

   If the man is such an agent of change, why does the Search Committee feel someone needs to upend the proverbial mango cart over at UOG? They were just accredited for a full eight years. Also of important note here is the fact that not one of these candidates is currently employed as a leader at an institution of higher education. I find that odd.

 

  Let’s Google search Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez, the current senior vice president of Academic & Student Affairs at UOG, who also applied for the position. Gee, no negative publicity, no unexplained exits from institutions here:

 

  • Joined UOG in 1995, served as dean of the School of Business & Public Administration

  • Secured over $1 million in technical assistance grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to establish UOG Pacific Center for Economic Initiatives; Defense Logistics Agency to establish the Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center; U.S. Small Business Administration to establish the new Guam Veterans Business Outreach Center; and Dept. of Interior Office of Insular Affairs to launch the “Buy Local Guam” marketing educational campaign.

  • Founding Vice President of Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, among other community involvement

  • DBA degree in International Business-Marketing U.S.I.U. (Alliant International University), MBA from University of Guam, BS in Management and Associates degree in Computer Studies from University of Maryland, certificate from the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Former corporate planning and development manager, and management consultant.

   The three Search Committee choices have me feeling gypped at it having spent $100,000 of our precious tax dollars to come up with three former – not current, but former – higher education leaders, not one of whom is local. I realize that the Search Committee may think we need some “new blood” at UOG, but this is clearly the wrong way to go. Dr. Enriquez recently visited mainland universities to gain new insights into enrollment and program initiatives – I think she’d bring plenty of fresh ideas to the job.

 

  Scrap the search, committee. You’ve wasted enough of our time and money. Go local.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jayne Flores is a longtime journalist. Send feedback to jayne.flores59@gmail.com.

 

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