When an unidentified source said that University trustees will announce Interim Provost Michael McRobbie as IU’s next president today, Betsy Henke, president of the IU Student Association, described her reaction in one word: disappointed.
Reports that the trustees had made a decision regarding a new leader surfaced around noon on Wednesday when an anonymous source with close links to the search told The Indianapolis Star that McRobbie had been selected to replace outgoing IU President Adam Herbert.
The Indiana Daily Student also received independent confirmation that McRobbie is the University’s selection.
Herbert, whose tenure has wrought faculty criticism, will probably step down July 1 to make way for his soon-to-be-announced successor – IU’s 18th leader. The new president will provide a vision for IU academics, research and fundraising in the coming years.
Still, most officials directly involved with the search remained reluctant to give definite details regarding the trustees’ choice. However, IU Director of Media Relations Larry MacIntyre did not explicitly disagree with what many Indiana newspapers reported Wednesday afternoon.
“I believe what I read,” MacIntyre said.
Additionally, Dr. Ora Pescovitz, CEO of Riley Hospital for Children, another of the rumored finalists, said she will not be attending the trustees’ meeting today.
“I did not receive an invitation,” she said.
The announcement is scheduled to be made today at 4 p.m. in the IU-Purdue University at Indianapolis Conference Center.
When McRobbie receives the coveted vote of consensus, an uphill battle to win the confidence of many students still awaits him. Henke, likely the undergraduate body’s most powerful voice, said that despite repeated attempts to arrange a meeting with McRobbie throughout the year, he has failed to respond.
“It’s not just a view, it’s the truth. He is not involved enough,” Henke said, adding that it was frustrating that he never attended campus events.
Still, Henke conceded to why she thought the trustees might have chosen McRobbie, saying that his views were very much in line with what a portion of faculty wanted for the University.
“I think he is very popular among some constituents across the University,” she said “He is an internal candidate who translates well into (some faculty’s) visions and initiatives.”
Another student leader, however, took a much a more optimistic view on a McRobbie reign, citing a belief in increased research possibilities with IU’s former vice president for research at the helm.
“Research and teaching are bound to improve,” said Paul Rohwer, moderator of the IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization.
McRobbie left his native Australia 10 years ago to join the faculty at IU. In 2003, he became the vice president for research and for about the past year has served as the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. As provost, his priorities have included the humanities, life sciences, international activities and student recruitment and retention, according to a University Web site.
Closed-door trustee sessions took place Monday and Tuesday in order to determine which of the final candidates was best suited to lead the University. Both executive meetings planned for Wednesday and Thursday were canceled, according to an IU news release – indicating the trustees had already selected a candidate and negotiated new terms of a contract.
IU’s next president might be all but announced, but the real challenges, said several surveyed faculty, will come in his ability to lead IU. From questions of life science funding to dealing with the controversy whirling around the outsourcing debate, at least the beginning of McRobbie’s term could be faced with similar issues as his predecessor.
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