After months of uncertainty and feeling pressure to establish stability, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees plan to discuss UW’s presidential situation next week.
The first item on Thursday’s agenda is an executive session devoted to Interim President Dick McGinity’s future and how to conduct a presidential search, board President David Bostrom said, adding he expects the board to come to a decision.
“Something I don’t have an objection to, and quite frankly I support, is to remove title of ‘interim’ from Dick McGinity’s title,” Bostrom said. “He’s performed in an admirable fashion on campus, off campus, at community colleges, with the media, with the Legislature. His performance has been very valuable.”
While his personal view also includes keeping McGinity in the role for at least a year without interim in the title, Bostrom said nothing is off the table in terms of finding a long-term solution. Removing the word might ease perceptions of the university, seen as possibly unstable because of several leadership changes in 2013.
McGinity was named interim president after Bob Sternberg announced his resignation Nov. 14. Sternberg’s controversial tenure was less than five months, during which he implemented major leadership changes. Sternberg was hired after eight-year president Tom Buchanan retired.
Sternberg promoted McGinity from chair of business ethics to interim vice president of academic affairs. Prior, McGinity was a professor for six years.
Bostrom’s opinion is a potential fix would give the board time to proceed with the search for a more permanent president, he said.
Bostrom’s mantra since McGinity took over has been that the university established credibility but needs to prove stability. Bostrom also said from the outside, it might look like the university came to a halt after Sternberg’s resignation, when in reality, teaching continued, administrators still led the university and students were educated.
“Stability is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “People have to get past the facts of what happened. It feels like to me, when we establish stability, we’ll be doing what we’re doing and be recognized for it, internally and externally. UW is going forward.”
Long-time UW employee and historian Phil Roberts said it’s normal to have an interim president serve even a year before a new, full-time president takes over.
He also sees the potential removing of “interim” as a move toward stability, especially right before the legislative session starts.
“It’s important to at least indicate some stability for at least the time being,” he said. “In that respect, it would be a premature start on a permanent search until the end of the legislative session. As long as McGinity is willing to serve in some capacity, it provides the necessary demonstration to faculty and students, as well as the Legislature.”