Saturday, November 27, 2010

Danny Mayer: Corporate creep in UK CEO search

Corporate creep in UK CEO search
By Danny Mayer
North of Center

“Organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.”
—Matt Taibbi

Meeting 1

On Monday October 25, Bill Shelton, whom the Lexington Herald-Leader described as a “former Michigan educator who is now at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges,” informed the University of Kentucky Board of Regents that they should be prepared to pay more for their next president. Less than two months earlier, as a retirement gift to outgoing UK CEO/President Lee Todd, the board had increased his presidential salary at the university nearly $200,000, to an annual salary of $511,000. The regents even backdated payments one year.
“You can look for seven plus at this level,” the paper reported Shelton saying. “We now have presidents hitting close to $1 million.” According to Britt Brockman, the Board hadn’t “even broached the subject of compensation” yet.

Meeting 2

Two weeks later, the Saturday November 13 Herald-Leader reported that Greenwood/Asher would be awarded the contract for conducting the search for UK’s next CEO/President. Greenwood/Asher had been hired by UK a decade earlier for the last presidential search, and they had recommended the business man Lee Todd. Greenwood/Asher are described in pitch perfect corporate speak by the Herald Leader thusly: “Greenwood/Asher has been involved in more than 1,000 successful executive searches, according to UK.” Who doesn’t love successful searches? They’re so vaguely satisfying.

At the Board Meeting, the Trustees created a rough draft list of desired qualities for the job advertisement. “[A] record of outstanding scholarly experience and achievement in education,” “superior leadership skills in management,” a “commitment to a diverse faculty and student body,” and “a commitment to the critical role of public, land-grant universities in advancement of Kentucky, the nation and the world” appeared on the list. Also mentioned: to “articulate the university’s mission and goals” and to “communicate effectively” with diverse groups. Todd insider Everette McCorvey called for leadership skills to be given preference. There was no mention of staff, of local labor forces or even of a place called Lexington, existing as it does somewhere beneath (but in) the state.

It’s at this meeting that the paper records the first public mention of confidentiality. The search committee had gone behind closed doors and chosen search firm Greenwood/Asher from among an unspecified number of search firms. We do know that it took the Board less than one hour to choose the search firm that would conduct the search for the next CEO/President of the University of Kentucky.

Also, the Leader reported, no decision had been made as of yet regarding the “possibility of holding forums around Kentucky to seek citizen input.”

To Read the Rest of the Essay

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