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The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) convened for a virtual meeting between Wednesday and Friday, which featured executive sessions and reviews of assignments. Among these discussions were presentations from the public universities’ three presidents: NAU’s Rita Cheng, ASU’s Michael Crow and UA’s Robert Robbins. Additionally, the board briefly reviewed and unanimously approved the search guidelines for President Cheng’s replacement. 

Nancy Tribbensee, senior counsel and special adviser to the board, explained that the “purpose of the guidelines is to outline that process from beginning to end.” Furthermore, she said “one of the goals of a good search is to develop a broad and diverse pool of qualified candidates.” 

Regents Fred DuVal and Lyndel Manson were selected as co-chairs of the advisory committee, and the group’s 14 members were recently named in an ABOR press release.

During the virtual meeting, Manson said the committee covers “numerous constituencies both inside and outside of the university.” She added that hopefully, the group will meet during the week of Oct. 12 to review and provide input on leadership characteristics it believes are important for the board to consider. 

The committee is also looking to hire a search consultant within the next few weeks, and responses regarding the request for proposal are due by Oct. 13. Manson said that after the consultant is hired, she would like to gather with the group once again by Oct. 30. 

“Northern Arizona University is a vital institution with roots that predate statehood,” Manson said in another press release. “We take seriously our responsibility — as advisory committee co-chairs and as regents — to conduct a thorough and thoughtful leadership search to ensure NAU and its future are in the best possible hands.”

Similarly, Duval said the search committee is reading all submissions and reviewing them seriously, and it welcomes community input. He also explained that three dozen “key individuals” and “stakeholders” were identified to help with this process, consisting of both on- and off-campus leaders.  

Tribbensee mentioned the importance of confidentiality in the early stages of the search, which is protected until a candidate accepts an invitation to interview with the board. Ultimately, ABOR itself makes the decision to select NAU’s next president, “but the advisory committee, the search consultant and the input that regents have described from the community are very important to help the board make that decision.” 

The guidelines for finding President Cheng’s replacement can be referenced here