Letter to the Editor

Faculty in opposition to LB 1109

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dear Editor,

The University of Nebraska is nearing a decision on who will be the next chancellor of the Lincoln campus. And at the same time the Nebraska Legislature is nearing a decision on LB 1109, a revision to state law that would deny the public information about future searches for chancellors and NU presidents.

Last week and this week, the students, faculty and staff of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been listening to and asking questions of the four finalists for the job of UNL chancellor. Those candidates have described their ideas about how the university should be governed, what the university needs to do to excel in the 21st century and how it should allocate its resources to achieve its goals.

Because we have had the opportunity to see and question all four finalists, students, staff and faculty will be better prepared to support the next chancellor, whoever that might be, and to help that person strengthen the university.

If LB 1109 were in place, we would not see four finalists, but only one "priority" finalist. We would not have an opportunity to compare and evaluate. We would be forced to accept someone else's judgment that this one person was the best choice for the university. But the only way one can determine which candidate is best is by having four or more from whom to select.

Faculty members have asked the chancellor candidates about the public nature of the selection process and about LB 1109. While the candidates have avoided injecting themselves into the politics of the issue, all of them have spoken of the need for transparency in management of university business.

They all have embraced the notion that the only way to get the support they need to manage the university is by being as open and frank as they possibly can be with everyone who has a stake in UNL. And that means just about everyone in Nebraska.

It would be sadly ironic if the Legislature decided to eliminate the last vestige of transparency from the process of selecting university chancellors and presidents at the same time that the new chancellor of UNL was promising transparency.

The Faculty Senate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln voted 48 to 4 in February to oppose LB 1109.

Our reason for doing so was to send a message that we value the opportunity to participate in the process of selecting university leaders and that a public university deserves leaders who are committed to the widest possible public participation in all of the major decisions they make.

John R. Bender, Ph.D.

President, UNL

Faculty Senate

Professor, College of Journalism and Mass Communications

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