Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2006
IU Trustees President Steve Ferguson's statement at special board meeting
Editors' note: The following statement was made by Indiana University Board of Trustees President Steve Ferguson at a special trustee meeting on Jan. 14. The meeting was held for the trustees to respond to resolutions passed by the IU Bloomington faculty which called for a review of the performance of IU President Adam W. Herbert and an examination of the university's administrative structure.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In November, the faculty of Indiana University Bloomington approved two resolutions, one calling upon the Board of Trustees to conduct a review of the president, and one asking the board to reframe the position of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Bloomington Chancellor to give priority to Bloomington campus interests.
It was the first time in roughly 30 years that the faculty had spoken in this manner, and we took their statements very seriously. We cancelled many of our usual committee sessions at the December board meeting in Indianapolis so that we could meet with faculty from IU Bloomington and IUPUI, the chancellors of our regional campuses, members of the Bloomington Black Faculty and Staff Council, and others. Since then, every board member has been engaged in countless one-on-one conversations with constituents within the university and around the state. We have also spent untold hours on the phone with each other.
At the same time, Dr. Herbert was pursuing an equally intense analytical process. You have heard his comments and recommendations. Today, the board is taking the following actions:
1. We are approving the appointments of an executive vice president for Indiana University and an interim provost for Bloomington. These appointments fill leadership and administrative needs, and constitute our first response to the faculty's resolution calling for the reframing of the position of senior vice president for academic affairs/Bloomington chancellor.
2. We believe approval of these appointments is the first of three things we must do before we begin a search for our next president. Second, we must complete an assessment of the structure of the university, and repair the search and screen process, which we believe is flawed. Third, we must finish drafting a 10-year vision for the university that clearly defines where IU is going. We began this process in the fall, when the president presented his priorities for IU, and the board created its strategic work plan for coming months. We will discuss all three at our next meeting, which will be February 2 and 3 in Bloomington.
We do not intend to do this alone. We will honor our tradition of shared governance, and we expect to hear many points of view from the university family. We encourage dialogue, debate and reconciliation, but we believe time is of the essence; we must act rapidly. We cannot allow our processes to slow us down.
3. At the same time, we charge the faculty to move quickly on measures that will improve the quality of the student body, including raising admission standards and approving a general education curriculum. The recent announcements of new scholarships, and our fund-raising efforts to support them, provide us with ever more chances to aggressively seek out top students in Indiana. We must take advantage of these opportunities. We also charge the university with intensifying its efforts to bolster the diversity of our campuses, in part by stepping up recruitment of and support for minority students and faculty.
4. Finally, we charge the president to spearhead strategies that enable IU to serve the state's residents in a broader sense than in the past; raise the level of the university's research-based economic development activities; further intensify our progress in our life sciences program; elevate the institution's levels of instruction and program reputation; and figure out how to lower the cost of higher education.
We consider all of these actions absolutely necessary to address pressing issues. We also view them as the first steps in an ongoing process of analysis and transformation which we, as a board, believe is critical to IU's future. We describe the process more fully in a written response to the faculty resolutions, which describes the board's agenda for itself and the university for coming months. That statement is available here, and will be posted on the Web.
Given that President Herbert will conclude his term of office within the next two years, it is not too soon to begin consideration of criteria for the next president. We anticipate we will begin the search in the fall of 2006.
We have decided against undertaking a formal review of the president, which would continue to hold the university in the same state of suspended animation that has been evident over the last two months. In this day of competitive challenges, we need to advance. We've heard from all constituents and we have discussed with him the positive and negative comments that we have received. We will establish written criteria for annual reviews of the president. Today, we charge him with the responsibility of moving forward rapidly and decisively on the many issues we confront.
We wish to voice our support for President Herbert. Dr. Herbert has a long list of achievements at Indiana University over a wide range of activities. He responded to and resolved a number of pressing problems the board presented him with on his arrival, including difficult organizational, financial and personnel issues. During his tenure, IU has experienced record research funding and private sector support. In an era of declining state support he oversaw needed restructuring of our government relations operations to increase federal dollars flowing to IU. He identified strategic internal issues and initiated programs to deal with them, including mission differentiation, a review of Responsibility-Center Management, and leadership succession planning. He continued to define important external strategies, including the intensification of our life sciences efforts, which will have significant economic development impact for the state we serve.
The Board of Trustees recognizes these and other accomplishments. Trustees are confident that President Herbert can guide the board's call for change and improvement, and launch programs that will move the university forward. We believe the appointments and structural changes we have identified will be of assistance to him as we work together to address complex problems and opportunities. And we intend to support the president as he works to achieve our shared goals.
Today, we also approve the appointment of Kenneth Gros Louis as University Chancellor, which is entirely appropriate, given his tireless and dedicated service to IU. He devoted nearly a quarter century to IU, then retired -- if you can call teaching and research retiring -- and came back at IU's request to provide the leadership that was needed at an important juncture in our history. Ken's stamp will forever be on the university. Although his institutional responsibilities have been weighty, he has always found a way to personalize Indiana University, and to keep alive its history, its traditions and its spirit. We wish him well and hope he enjoys a long and productive second retirement.
If it isn't already obvious, I would close by noting that "business as usual" is out the window at IU. We ask all of you to join us as we build a new future for Indiana University. We appreciate the thoughtful comments we have received in recent weeks from faculty, students, staff, alumni and others. Without exception, the input we received has been considered and caring, and reflects great respect and affection for Indiana University. We are counting on that same spirit of cooperation as we look ahead.