The Arizona Board of Regents has named Temple University President Ann Weaver Hart, as the candidate to assume the UA presidency.
Hart announced last September that she planned to leave Temple effective June 30, according to a release from the university. Hart was also the president of the University of New Hampshire before becoming Temple University’s first female president in 2006. She would also be the first female president in the UA’s 126-year history.
“She (Hart) brings a lot to this campus and to this great university we have,” said Dennis DeConcini, a regent and co-chair of the presidential search committee.
The presidential candidate will bring her “vast experiences” from Temple University to the UA, he said, which includes overseeing a medical school, raising the university’s endowment as well as its graduation and student retention rates, developing $1.2 billion of new construction and marketing intellectual property. As a former teacher and professor, Hart can also establish a credible relationship with the UA’s faculty, DeConcini said.
“Personally, I am pleased that Dr. Hart has agreed to be the next leader of this great university,” wrote UA interim President Eugene Sander in a message to the campus community. “Academic leaders of her caliber make my term as your president a well-spent period of my career.”
James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and a member of the search committee, said Hart was his first choice for the position.
“Ann is an incredible student advocate because she was one of the few prospects that brought up students herself,” Allen said. “She made a point that the university system is for and by the students, and her commitment to diversity and access were huge for me.”
Allen also praised Hart’s understanding of the nature of the UA.
“I thought she had all of the tangible paper accomplishments, but she also understood the UA’s culture in an incredible fashion, in a way we haven’t seen in the recent past,” he said.
Wanda Howell, the chair of the UA Faculty Senate, said that, if she had her way, the faculty would have had the chance to speak with the top three or four candidates for the position.
“It would have been nice for them (the top candidates) to visit campus and talk to us (the faculty) about what they see as important for the future of the UA,” she said.
But, she said, this particular search committee did not intend to be transparent with the public.
“It wasn’t my choice of process, but it is what it is,” she said.
More than 100 individuals were considered as presidential “possibilities,” and more than 80 individuals were considered presidential “candidates,” with 36 percent of the candidates being minorities, including women, according to DeConcini. Once the regents narrowed down their decision to less than 12 candidates, he said, many of them did not want to be interviewed out of fear of losing their current jobs. Many individuals that were in the final candidate pool are sitting university presidents and would have been subject to public discourse if interviewed, DeConcini added.
Dan Fitzgibbon, the board chair of the Arizona Students’ Association and member of the presidential search advisory committee, said ASA wants to ensure that it has a relationship with whoever steps into the role as UA president, as it did with both Sander and former President Robert Shelton. Fitzgibbon said he went out to different constituencies throughout campus to learn what UA stakeholders were looking for in the next president.
“I want to share with her (Hart) the victories we’ve won, the ones we’re planning to win and show her we’re interested in working together to better the circumstances for students at the UA,” he said.
Hart will be in Tucson to meet with various campus groups on Feb. 13 and 14. This will be her first on-site campus visit. After that, the board will make its final decision on whether Hart will assume the UA presidency. The regents will vote on her candidacy and contract details during their meeting on Feb. 17, and if they vote in favor of her, she will officially become the UA president on July 1.