So now it’s official. A mere seven days after the official ascension to university status and 12 days after he elected to “dodge the question” posed by UVU Review staffers, our illustrious president, Bill Sederburg, the man whose tenure at the UVSC helm steered our school to its complete self-realization, has announced that he is going to make like a tree and leave. Just like we called it in the June 30 edition of UVU Review, Sederburg was named “by unanimous vote,” according to a State Board of Regents press release, as the new commissioner of higher education. Although it may be a bit crass, a “we told you so” is in order here.
For months the writing has been on the wall in the form of rumors floating around campus and also a few ambiguous tips that managed to drift through our newsroom. So the announcement came as no surprise to anyone — except maybe to the major local newspapers.
Though naysayers may voice complaints about Sederburg using UVU to pad his resume, we at UVU Review offer no denigration of his decision to go out on a high note, and neither should anyone else. It seems patently absurd to wish for a stop to this man’s rather long track record of moving on to the next biggest thing. It just isn’t tenable for him to now languish into a state of complacent occupational slumming by sticking around. After all, nobody expects Jacob Alspector, the architect of the new Digital Learning Center, to become the chief custodian now that the building project is complete. No, the official stance of UVU Review is to offer our congratulations to Sederburg on his new appointment, more congratulations to UVU for our newly anointed university status, and to wish good luck and Godspeed to whoever is chosen to fill Sederburg’s very large shoes.
If there is anything that bears criticizing, it is the shroud of extreme secrecy surrounding the Utah State Board of Regent’s process of selection for the commissioner of higher education.
The search for a new commissioner began in Aug. 2007, when the incumbent, Richard Kendell, announced his resignation. According to the Board of Regents press release, a nationwide search, which entailed the consideration of nearly 100 candidates, ensued. According to the Board of Regents Web site utahsbr.edu the names of the finalists were to be posted online. According to the press release, there were seven. Their names were never posted. What was posted was an announcement on July 8, stating, “The State Board of Regents will go into open session to potentially appoint a new Commissioner of Higher Education this afternoon at approximately 3:15 p.m.” By 3:30, that announcement was made.
One rumor that came through the UVU Review newsroom was that Sederburg interviewed for the position months ago, and the Board of Regents was stalling until Sederburg would be available. However, none of this could ever be confirmed or denied because, according to the Board of Regents’ public affairs spokesperson, Spencer Jenkins, the process was so secretive that Jenkins did not even know who was on the selection committee.
Although politicians who confuse their service roles with those of “leadership” are nothing new, we at UVU Review find it disturbing nonetheless. Elected officials such as the State Board of Regents are servants of the public — not leaders. It therefore behooves them to conduct their dealings in an environment of openness and transparency.
This is not to assert that Sederburg’s dodging of our question two weeks ago was meant to further entrench these trends of secrecy. To the contrary, we found him to be surprisingly candid. And when framed in the context of that week, he was probably right to do so, in order to, as he said, “just celebrate the moment.” In fact his dodging was so admirably clumsy that it was almost an implied confession. No doubt he realized that.
In the press release, State Board of Regents Chair Jed Pitcher is quoted as saying, “We have asked President Sederburg to develop strategies for strengthening the leadership role played by the Board of Regents.” We at UVU Review only hope that these strategies Sederburg has been asked to develop will include steering the board toward conducting its business in the light of day. But just to prove what good sports we can be, we will do our hoping in secret.