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In the turnstile world of university presidents, it is not surprising that Bernie Machen is moving on after a little more than five years at the University of Utah.
He is, after all, a gifted leader and administrator. That Machen would emerge as the favored choice of University of Florida trustees is a credit to their astute judge of leadership talent.
Though his tenure has been brief, Machen has left an indelible mark on higher education in Utah. Besides being a genuine pleasure to work with, many in the community admire his capacity to pick his battles wisely, while mostly finding win-win solutions to divisive issues.
Now comes the challenge of finding a new president, something that occurs far too frequently these days. The average tenure of college and university presidents in the United States is about six years, hardly long enough it seems, to maintain leadership continuity.
In KSL’s view, such presidential musical chairs erodes the strength of our institutions of higher learning. It can be disruptive to a school’s stability, especially when it takes a year or two for new leaders to get up to speed on the political nuances of their position.
So, as the search for Machen’s replacement proceeds, KSL encourages Utah’s Board of Regents to look for someone willing to commit more than a handful of years to the vital and influential job.