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Indiana University President Answers Critics, Says Chancellor Search Was Correct


Indiana University President Adam Herbert, a target of growing criticism by faculty members, defended his decision to reopen the search for the campus’ next chancellor, although he now wishes he had started the search sooner.

“In retrospect, I would probably have started this search earlier,” he said in an interview last week with The Herald-Times.

Many faculty members were angered earlier this month when Herbert reopened the chancellor search rather than appoint one of the candidates recommended by a search committee.

In response to those concerns, the Bloomington Faculty Council will hold a special meeting Nov. 15 on the matter. Many faculty members wanted Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to be named chancellor and university vice president for academic affairs.

Herbert, who has never confirmed that Subbaswamy was a candidate, says criticism goes with being a university president.

“These are lonely jobs,” he says. “They’re jobs that require these tough decisions.”

A few months after Herbert became IU president in August 2003, Bloomington Chancellor Sharon Brehm stepped down. With longtime campus leader Ken Gros Louis taking over as interim chancellor and vice president, Herbert waited more than a year to appoint a search committee, and then took time to get it started.

As a new president, he says he wanted to rely on Gros Louis for perhaps two years before appointing a new chancellor. He now believes the campus was more eager than he knew for a permanent leader.

“I still did not know enough about the institution to really appreciate the importance of moving more aggressively or quickly on this,” he says.

Herbert didn’t second-guess his decision to reopen the chancellor search, however. He said the candidates were respected administrators with strong track records, but they weren’t right for the job.

While faculty initially reacted to the chancellor discussion specifically, the response moved to broader criticism of Herbert’s performance. Some contend he has been indecisive, inaccessible and lacking in vision; that his priorities have been wrong; that he hasn’t brought sufficient energy to the job.

Herbert responds by pointing to his accomplishments.

He has shifted the responsibilities of vice presidents, created a new position of vice president for government relations and a new office of institutional research and accountability and got campuses to develop mission statements and focus on strategic goals.

Associated Press

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