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Embattled Indiana University President

Embattled Indiana University President
Plans to Leave in 2008


Indiana University President Adam Herbert, whose leadership has come under fire from faculty critics, has announced that he will leave the position with the end of his contract in July 2008.

Herbert, who became IU’s president in August 2003, says he is proud of his performance as head of the eight-campus, 98,000-student system, but that “extensive personal analysis” of recent months has convinced him to depart when his five-year contract expires (see Diverse, Dec. 29).
His announcement to the IU board of trustees came the day before the board was expected to discuss a resolution approved by Bloomington campus faculty members seeking a special review of Herbert’s performance. The board’s vice president says Herbert’s decision was voluntary.

Herbert said in a letter to the trustees that he would continue working to build a stronger university and assure a smooth transition to a new president.

“I am strongly committed to fulfilling my leadership responsibilities,” Herbert’s letter said.

Along with his letter, IU officials released recommendations for administrative changes that Herbert planned to present to the trustees.
One major change was the elimination of the position of Bloomington chancellor and university vice president for academic affairs and creating a Bloomington provost position with a focus mostly on that campus. Herbert’s handling of the two-year search for a new Bloomington chancellor was among the chief complaints of faculty members as the resolution calling for his leadership review was debated.

Patrick Shoulders, vice president of IU’s trustees, says the board did not force Herbert’s decision.

“I think Dr. Herbert is acting in the best interests of Indiana University,” Shoulders says.

Law professor Kevin Brown, co-president of the Bloomington campus’ Black Faculty and Staff Council, says Herbert’s impending departure creates a leadership void. The Black faculty group had opposed the resolution seeking the review of Herbert, IU’s first Black president, before it was approved in November by a 754-229 vote.

“At best we’ll have a president who openly declared he’ll be out in two and a half years, an interim chancellor or interim provost,” Brown says. “We’re in a situation where the leadership at the top will be thin, and as a faculty member, I’m clearly concerned about that.”

Dr. Ted Widlanski, a chemistry professor who has pushed the faculty resolution on Herbert, says many faculty members already considered Herbert a lame-duck leader who has not moved the university forward during his two and one-half years as president.

“This guy was never going to get renewed anyway,” Widlanski says of Herbert.

Herbert said in his letter that IU’s president needed to be more directly responsible for the Bloomington campus.

“This is a particularly significant priority because, unlike our Big Ten peers, each of the last four IU presidents has encountered a set of leadership challenges and for a variety of reasons, been subjected to faculty criticisms on the Bloomington campus,” his letter said.

Herbert had been chancellor of Florida’s state university system after 10 years as president of the University of North Florida before IU hired him in 2003 following Myles Brand’s resignation to become president of the NCAA.

— Associated Press

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