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Editorial: UT may need women at helm

Published (Volume 76, No. 8)

We were pleased to read news reports that $250,000 of former UT President John Shumaker’s severance package has been frozen, even if it’s only temporary.

We were not surprised to learn that the results of a special audit show that Shumaker may have broken state law. Lying to auditors – my, my, isn’t that ridiculous.

We also know, like everyone else in Tennessee involved – however indirectly –  in this mess, that it is definitely time to move forward.

Having said that, we should also say that we were pleased to learn Thursday that Gov. Phil Bredesen rejected a list of names submitted by UT campuses for the search advisory council (a group that will advise the committee charged with searching for Shumaker’s replacement) because all the individuals on the list are white males.

In this day and age, it is absolutely ludicrous to select a group of people for such an important role and not have that group reflect the diversity we know exists within the UT system. We also believe that the inclusion of women and minorities on the advisory council, as well as on the search committee itself, is crucial to ensuring that a wider variety of candidates is considered in the search for a new UT president.

In fact, we will go so far as to suggest that stringent efforts should be made by the search committee to find strong female candidates, regardless of race. The UT system has had excellent past presidents, but the track records of the two most recent ones, J. Wade Gilley and John Shumaker, leave so much to be desired.

Women already have successfully led some UT system and Board of Regents schools. We believe it may be time to put a good woman at the helm in Knoxville.