Wednesday, January 08, 2014

King DQd - Progressive Wisconsins Express Concern with King's past ALEC connections

There has been substantial anxiety expressed in Frankfort lately over the possible exit of Robert King as head of CPE. King was recently named a finalist for the top higher ed slot in Wisconsin. 

Expect an announcement soon, that King will stay put.

Interestingly, some of those most concerned with King's possible departure from Kentucky are political liberals. After a period of uncertainty, it seems that King won over his staff and many others with his ability to leave New York politics behind and focus on what was happening in Kentucky. In the end - if this had been the end - King has shown an openness to working across the aisle, as he embraced SB1s mandate for inter-agency cooperation with zeal. But the kind of questions that were asked in Wisconsin, where political wrangling reached a fever pitch in recent years, are the kind that apparently made the newly resurgent Democrats pause.

Once one gets ALEC on their record, it's hard to get it off.

Former ALEC tactician Robert King among finalists
for UW System presidency

This from the CapTimes:
Is a former politician and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) captain on education reform a good fit for president of the University of Wisconsin System?

The UW Board of Regents will decide this week as they vote whether to hire Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, one of three finalists to replace outgoing president Kevin Reilly.

King and the other finalists — Raymond Cross, chancellor, University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension; Peter H. Garland, executive vice chancellor/chief operating officer, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education — are participating in forums Monday to be teleconferenced statewide to UW facilities.

Cross and Garland hold more traditional educational administrative backgrounds, but the selection of King would put a politician at the helm of the UW-System, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

King was a member of ALEC's Task Force on Education Reform while an assemblyman in the New York State Legislature from 1987-1991, according to his curriculum vitae.

ALEC, a clearinghouse for conservative legislation crafted by its lawmaker members and corporate sponsors, has been the focus on intense criticism by liberals.

King also served as director of regulatory reform and the budget under Rep. Gov. George Pataki, before being appointed chancellor of the State University of New York in 1999.

King abruptly left the chancellor post in 2005, amid criticism over the over the politicization of the university under Pataki and the complaint that King was more concerned with meeting the governor's budget goals than with keeping tuition low, the New York Times reported. Under King, tuition for state residents at the four-year colleges rose 28 percent, to $4,350.

King last year lobbied for increased state funding to higher education in Kentucky, echoing in an op-ed piece in the Lexington Herald-Ledger a call by state business leaders to put education’s needs first in the budget.

Education funding is an investment that must go beyond the next budget cycle, King wrote.
The long-term future of the state “will be entirely dependent on the quality of our work force, measured by how innovative and adaptable we will be, our capacity to solve complex problems, and how competitive our people will be with workers across the globe.

"The edge we will need can only come from a robust, high quality education system, not one that gets attended to only after everything else is taken care of.”

In a request to state legislators for an eight percent increase in funding to colleges and universities in the biennial budget on which Kentucky legislators begin debate this month, King worked with universities to include a performance-based standard, something that lawmakers have frequently sought, the Herald-Leader reports.

Under a plan forwarded by King’s Council on Postsecondary Education, about $36 million of the $53 million in new funding sought would be used to reward institutions for increasing the number of high-level degrees in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math. Institutions also would be rewarded for degrees earned by underrepresented and low-income students.

The percentage of low-income and minority students graduating from Kentucky institutions fell in 2011-2012, according to a statewide report card on higher education released last month by King’s office.

Teleconferencing locations in Madison for the finalist forums will be the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St., room 4500 and the UW-Extension Building, 432 N. Lake St., Room 523.

The schedule is: King, 11:30 a.m.; Cross, 2:30 p.m.; and Garland, 3:45 p.m.

The finalists will be interviewed privately Monday by a six-member UW Board of Regents selection committee. Chancellors of UW campuses also will have an opportunity to meet in private with the finalists in Madison.

The regents selection committee will meet privately on Tuesday to select their preferred candidate and recommend their choice to the full Board of Regents for appointment during a 4 p.m. closed meeting on Thursday. An announcement of the new president will follow.
This from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Two issues shadow the process of choosing who will next lead the University of Wisconsin System — a process that reaches its crescendo this week. The first is how partisan politics increasingly seeps into statewide decisions that until now were fairly apolitical. The second is the degree of openness in the selection process, and whether it helps or hurts.

Two of the finalists for president of the UW System would be conventional picks with traditional academic backgrounds. The third would put Wisconsin on the same page as Purdue and the University of California System, which last year picked former politicians to lead them.

On Monday, the three will share their vision for how to best move one of the nation's largest public university systems into the future with shrinking state dollars, a wary Republican-led Legislature that's demanding more transparency and a changing educational landscape that's increasingly moving online to serve nontraditional students.

The past two UW System presidents have been internal candidates.

Kevin Reilly, who left the job Dec. 31 after more than nine years, previously was chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension. That post currently is held by Ray Cross, one of the three finalists to succeed Reilly.

Cross' background is in technical and industrial education, and he is among the architects of UW's new online Flexible Option program, which is designed for working adults to earn a UW degree by proving competencies rather than accumulating college credits on an academic calendar.

In his current job, Cross is well known across the state and a frequent and visible visitor to lawmakers' offices. GOP leader Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) sent a letter of recommendation to the regents selection committee last week endorsing Cross, saying he would "go a long way in restoring trust and communication that has been lost between the state Legislature and the UW System."

The other finalist with a conventional background is Peter H. Garland, who has spent his higher education career in Pennsylvania, first in the state Department of Education, then in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. He has been executive vice president/chief operating officer of the state system since 2006.

Garland was acting system chancellor for several months last year but was passed over for the permanent job.

The third finalist is Robert L. King — far and away the most intriguing option in the group. He's a lawyer who dabbled in communication technology before becoming a GOP lawmaker in New York. He served in the Assembly from 1987 to 1991, then was elected county executive in Monroe County, where Rochester, N.Y., is located.

In 1995, New York Gov. George Pataki, who had served in the Assembly with King, tapped King to be director of the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform and then in 1998 to be state budget director before recommending King for chancellor of the State University of New York, or SUNY, about a year later.

King currently is president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, which sets tuition for the state's public colleges and universities and approves new programs for state colleges and universities.

During his more than five years as SUNY's chancellor, King was accused of putting the governor's interests first and focusing more on meeting Pataki's budget goals than keeping tuition low. Under King, tuition for state residents at the four-year colleges rose 28%, according to a profile in the New York Times published after his departure.

In January 2005, King announced he would take a six-month paid leave from SUNY because of family pressures and a desire to enroll in the Harvard Business School's executive program. It was widely understood he would not return to head the 64-campus system. But Democratic legislators and others protested what they said was an unnecessarily generous plan to ease King out.

At a hastily called board meeting to approve the six-month sabbatical, during which he would have earned about $170,000, King stunned SUNY's trustees by announcing he was not stepping aside after all. By then, whatever support he had was gone.

An agreement was negotiated, and SUNY released a letter saying King would step down and recommending he become acting president of the SUNY College at Potsdam. King served at Potsdam a year, then became president of the Arizona Community Foundation.

In his curriculum vitae, King touts his involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which works with conservatives and corporations to write model legislation that can be introduced in state legislatures across the country. Gov. Scott Walker is a former member, and about a third of Wisconsin's legislators are believed to be members.

Whoever gets the UW System president's job will have to have the political finesse to mend fences with Republican lawmakers who complained they were blindsided when a state audit last spring revealed hundreds of millions of dollars in cash balances across the UW System, while tuition had been raised for several consecutive years.

Last year, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels became president at Purdue while former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano became system president for the 10-campus University of California System.

If the regents decide they want an outsider, and an unconventional pick like Daniels and Napolitano for a different perspective on the job, King will be their man.

How open is too open?

The second issue that has emerged in the search is how comfortable the regents are with having an open selection process. It's gospel among some officials that more high-powered candidates likely shied away from the UW post because state law requires an open search process, with public disclosure of finalist names and a public vetting.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that he had been approached by a regent about supporting a change in the law to make future searches private because of concerns some potential candidates didn't apply for the president's job to avoid employers hearing about their interest elsewhere.

There are additional questions:

Wisconsin's open records law requires the names of the five finalists be publicly disclosed. The UW System only disclosed the names of three finalists, and the Journal Sentinel has requested the names of two additional finalists.

Another question relates to state law requiring a chance for the broader UW community to vet finalists for the job. A forum by teleconference has been scheduled for Monday and will be streamed live to 28 locations across the state — mostly UW campuses. However, those campuses are on winter break.

Further, the forecast of bitter cold weather for Monday is closing schools across the state, shutting down non-essential government services in many communities and prompting health officials to advise people to stay home.

Asked Friday whether the UW System would cancel the forum, given all the hurdles to participation, UW System spokesman David Giroux said there were no plans to change anything.

The finalists will be in Madison on Monday to interview privately with a six-member UW regents selection committee. Chancellors of UW campuses also will have an opportunity to meet in private with the finalists in Madison.

Tuesday, the regents selection committee will collect feedback from the chancellors and each of the 28 teleconferenced forum locations through designated individuals, mostly provosts and deans.
Thursday, the committee will recommend its pick to the full Board of Regents for appointment during a 4 p.m. closed meeting. A public announcement of the new president will happen at the end of the work day.

Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
For more background on the finalists and a list of locations where the teleconferenced forums can be watched Monday, go to:


Moderated, public forums will be held by teleconference separately for each UW System president finalist. Faculty, staff, students and community members across the state can interact with them and provide feedback to the UW System Board of Regents.

Monday's forums will be broadcast live to 28 designated locations around the state, generally UW campuses.

In Milwaukee, the teleconference may be viewed in Room S250 of Lubar Hall on the UW-Milwaukee campus.

The following is the schedule of finalists:
■ Robert King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
■ Raymond Cross, chancellor of University of Wisconsin Colleges and UW-Extension, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
■ Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor/chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, 3:45 to 4:45 p.m.

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