Launching the Search for University of Arizona’s Next President: A Diverse Committee Takes Charge

The journey to uncover the next leader of the University of Arizona (U of A) has officially commenced, led by a robust assembly of 18 distinguished individuals. This eclectic group, formed by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), brings together a rich tapestry of backgrounds, from academia to community leadership, all task-bound to select a visionary capable of helming the university’s future.

The formation of this committee marks a pivotal step in the succession plan following the announcement by the current U of A President, who intends to conclude his tenure by June 2026. In light of this upcoming transition, the committee’s creation underscores a proactive approach in steering the university through forthcoming challenges and leveraging opportunities.

Comprising three regents, a vibrant mix of five faculty members, a singular student voice, and an assorted group of university and community stalwarts, the committee is a reflection of ABOR’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the selection process. Cecila Mata, ABOR Chair and a committee member herself, emphasized the eclectic composition as critical to ensuring a comprehensive and insightful search. “Their leadership, insights, and contributions will be instrumental to the success of this search process,” Mata remarked.

The urgency of the search resonates with the broader challenges faced by the U of A, including a notable financial deficit and the wrapping up of a separate high-level administrative search. Nonetheless, the search for a new president is seen as an opportunity to redefine the institution’s trajectory towards an innovative and sustainable future.

Setting gears into motion, the search committee is poised for its inaugural meeting, seeding the groundwork for what promises to be a meticulous and thoughtful pursuit. Representing the faculty are seasoned academic figures such as Mark Stegeman, Caleb Simmons, Lucina Rankin, Melanie Hingle, and Joellen Russell, the latter having recently spearheaded the provost search committee. Their collective presence ensures a strong academic cornerstone in the decision-making process.

Equally pivotal are the roles of U of A employees and external community members on the committee. Figures like Marla Franco, David Hahn, and Jenny Lee, among others, contribute diverse professional viewpoints. The community perspective is fortified by voices such as Erin Hart, Humberto Lopez, and Stephen Roe Lewis, expanding the committee’s reach beyond academic confines.

Despite the committee’s broad representation, some voices within the U of A community express concerns over the perceived limitations in representation, highlighting an ongoing dialogue about inclusivity in such critical selection processes.

As this comprehensive search unfolds, it is clear the committee bears a significant responsibility not just to the U of A, but to the broader community it serves. The mission ahead is not merely to find a new president but to usher in an era of leadership poised to invigorate one of the nation’s top-tier research universities amidst evolving challenges.

In this pivotal moment of transition, the U of A stands at the cusp of defining its future. The search for a president is more than an administrative necessity; it is a clarion call for visionary leadership capable of crafting a legacy of innovation, inclusion, and impact. As the committee embarks on this journey, the eyes of the university community—and indeed, the wider educational and research landscapes—watch with anticipated breath.

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