The University of Nebraska Board of Regents, lead by Regent Howard Hawks, announced on Monday their four finalists for the open position for President of the University of Nebraska. That list of four finalists did NOT include outgoing Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, who had applied for the job.
Nebraska Regents signed non-disclosure agreements and cannot comment on the search process.
However, Leavenworth Street has learned that the search committee did not even interview Heineman for the position.
The longest serving Governor of the state is interested and they won’t even give him the courtesy of an interview?
Well, start it with the guy leading the search committee, Howard Hawks.
Hawks, a past supporter of Heineman, has butted heads with the Governor on expansion of various social services — an issue important to Hawks. That Heineman hasn’t said “Sir, Yes Sir!” to Hawks never sat well with the founder of the Tenaska energy company. As one insider put it,
“The Governor has never been one to do something just for the sake of doing it — he wants to make sure it makes sense in the big picture. Howard didn’t like that — he’s a gazillionaire who’s used to people just doing what he says.”
So when Heineman expressed interest in the gig, Hawks, we are told, made it no secret to Omaha elites that he did not think Heineman was right for the job. And boosting the search committee with the likes of Susie Buffett only helped Hawks to give Heineman the stiff arm.
Hawks and Buffett knew that if Heineman made it to the final round he would be hard to stop. So they did everything in their power to keep him from moving forward. So for Heineman that meant not even getting to the interview.
Now Hawks, Susie Buffett and the committee will likely lean on what Hawks said were the main qualifications (apparently) for the job:
“…a strong preference will be given to candidates with credentials sufficient for appointment as a tenured university professor, including an earned Ph.D. or other relevant terminal degree, teaching experience and a personal record of research and scholarship.”
Interestingly enough, this “strong preference” was issued two weeks after Heineman announced he was interested in the job.
Oh sure, because if you’re looking for a new CEO for a biscuit company, your strong preference is going to be for a four star chef. Right?
Maybe not so much.
But wait Sweeper! It’s a school! Shouldn’t we want teachers?!
Well, if you are hiring a teacher, yes.
And if your job is to be in charge of teachers – such as the University Chancellor — that’s not a bad call.
But when you are in charge of the entire system, maybe your focus should be on someone who has been in charge of a giant system. Which involves lots of fundraising. And has to work with the state government.
Maybe, just maybe, those qualities are more important than them having teaching experience.
Heck, a giant part of the gig is keeping up with all the new facilities and campuses.
Why not demand building and real estate experience?
And by the way, it is not as if Heineman got an online degree from DeVry.
He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. And we will throw in that he is graduate of the Army Ranger training program.
Does that mean he qualified to run a University? No, not in and of itself. But we don’t see how having a PhD in Political Science would make you more qualified to run the giant administrative conglomerate that is the the University of Nebraska.
Now maybe your argument is you don’t like how Heineman has served as Governor. We suppose that’s an argument — and with the whole prison controversy, again Heineman’s opponents will lean on that.
But should all of that mean Heineman doesn’t even get an interview?
Well, Hawks inferred he didn’t like politics involved in the process.
What he clearly meant was that he doesn’t like politics OUTSIDE of HIS process.