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Indiana University President Tries to Deflect Critics

Indiana University President Tries to Deflect Critics


Two years after becoming Indiana University president, Dr. Adam Herbert is hearing from critics who say he takes too long to make decisions, keeps a low profile and spends too much time on sports.

But IU trustees say Herbert has taken the right approach by focusing first on university operations and problems in the athletic department.

“This is a very complicated institution, and two years is not very long to get your hands around Indiana University,” Steve Ferguson, who will become president of the board of trustees this month, told The Herald-Times for a Sunday story.

The newspaper asked in July for Herbert’s 2005 appointment calendar under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. Herbert provided a copy.

It shows conferences with IU administrators, time spent preparing for and attending university trustee meetings and travel to alumni events in other cities. It shows no IU activity during spring break or the week after commencement ceremonies and indicates Herbert has been gone from Indiana since early July — another topic of criticism.

Herbert defended his record in a phone interview last week from Florida, where he has a home.

“I think there are a number of things I can be very proud of,” he said, citing increased research funding, realignment of administrative positions and procedures and changes in the athletic department.

Herbert came to Indiana from Florida, where he had been president of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and was chancellor of the state university system.

He followed Dr. Myles Brand, who spent seven years as IU president before leaving to head the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Herbert, an Oklahoma native and IU’s first Black president, styles himself as a deliberative, thorough leader who values input and faculty governance and likes one-on-one interaction.

“We’ve got the best communicator in this job that we’ve had in a long, long time,” said IU Trustee Patrick Shoulders.

But concerns about the university prompted members of IU’s Alliance of Distinguished and Titled Professors to meet with Herbert in late May.

They discussed lack of IU visibility, positions going unfilled and a perception the administration was focused more on athletics than academics among other topics.

David Daleke, president of the Bloomington Faculty Council from 2003 to 2005, said Herbert does listen to faculty, although members do not always agree with him.

Daleke said campus concerns about Herbert “seem to stem from the perception that we have a number of senior-level administrative positions in flux.”

Soon after he arrived, Herbert negotiated the resignation of Bloomington Chancellor Sharon Brehm. He persuaded retired chancellor Ken Gros Louis to return in the interim, and he is still in that position.

“When you bring somebody in who has completed their career, they are not in a position to begin any strategic initiatives,” said W. Harvey Hegarty, an IU business professor for 32 years.

Herbert said keeping Gros Louis added stability.

“Frankly, my view is that was one of the wisest decisions we’ve made as an institution,” Herbert said.

Trustees asked him to fix athletics that had budget deficits in the millions of dollars.

But Herbert clashed with faculty and student leaders over having students pay a $30 athletic fee, making academic units pay for advising of athletes and using tuition funds for athletic scholarships.

  • Associated Press

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