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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So Much For University Autonomy

  So Much For University Autonomy
       State law is very clear:  Every university in this state has autonomy which in plain English means, the legislature and governor can't order the schools to do anything.  It says so, right there in the Michigan Constitution.  It was inserted to cut down on the political interference of state officials.
       Tell that to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.  She has injected herself smack dab in the middle of the hunt for a new president at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
       The embattled school's self-concept has long suffered being the weak sister of that "other" school in nearby Ann Arbor.  And then there was the celebrated murder on the campus that the school botched and of course the flap over a multi-million residence for the EMU president who resigned.
       So the eight-member university board is looking for someone to paste stuff back together and State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan believes he's the man for the job and the governor agrees.
       Granholm has reportedly been working the phones and her media secretary claims Flanagan is the kind of leader who can be the "healer" EMU needs.
       Flanagan, despite his lack of hands on higher education experience and lack of a PhD, has a shot at it because the governor appointed seven of the eight members on the board.  This is not to imply that he is not qualified but one higher education source familiar with the process claims the selection process was compromised.
       The board is reportedly "all over the lot" with no clear consensus yet don't under estimate the governor's influence as the board huddles on Saturday to make a decision.
       There's an upside and downside to all this.  If Flanagan gets the post, the governor looks strong and in control.  If he does not, she looks weak with no control.
       But more importantly, how does EMU look if it appears it buckled to outside pressure...which is actually why the framers of the constitution inserted that little autonomy clause in the first place.


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