Pickering Voted UH's
Members of the Board of Regents
voted unanimously in favor of
the appointment of UH President
Dr. James Pickering to an indefinite term.
In doing so, the regents rejected Cullen
Professor of History and Law Robert Palmer's
petition proposing a national search for president. Palmer garnered 90 signatures from
"I don't disagree on the desirability of
conducting a national search, an in normal
times, we of course do have them. The
decision that I was called upon to make was
to give the Board of Regents a recommendation in terms of what best served the University of Houston in what has proven to be a
very difficult time, said Chancellor Alexander
Schilt, referring to his recommendation that
Pickering be appointed to serve.
"Regarding general revenues, UH is
facing a $13.6 million hit in the Senate and a
$15 million hit in the House-the largest of
any university in Texas. Because of its enrollment (about 33,000), UH will get significant help from the tuition increase," said
Schilt, referring to the scheduled $2 tuition
"That, plus some new special items
funding, brings the drop in an all-funds budget to $10.6 million in the Senate and $11.4
million in the House—still alarming numbers."
Regent Kenneth Lay, whose term expires in August, nominating Pickering and
Regent Elizabeth Ghrist seconded the motion.
Only one regent, Zinetta Burney, expressed reservations, but she refused to elaborate.
Pickering assumed the post of acting
president after the death from cancer of Marguerite Ross Barnett, the eighth president of
UH. In April 1992, the regents appointed
Pickering to serve a 2-year term
Pickering declined to comment on
the assertion that he was being appointed
that we had
man for the
because he would not challenge the system
administration or the regents on certain issues.
"I think it's more difficult to walk in at
a high level and be thrust into solving problems of the institution-without knowing who
the players are, without knowing who to
trust. In talking to to her university presidents who come onto their campuses from
the outside, that is the key problem they face-
-who do you trust? Everybody is going to hit
you with unfinished agendas," said Pickering.
He disagrees with a statement made
before the meeting that he would come out
stronger as a presidential candidate had he
emerged from a pool of candidates.
Prior to the meeting, the Faculty Senate narrowly approved the measure to appoint Pickering instead of conducting a
The staff council conducted a survey
of about 10 percent of the staff. Of those
questioned, 81 percent supported the appointment of Pickering as permanent president, while 19 percent did not.
Pickering said he was aware of the
concerns expressed by some members of the
Faculty Senate, but said the search process
did not always result in a clean-cut mandate
for a university.
"While we were greatly concerned
about the academic tradition of having a
national search, we felt very strongly that we
had the right man for the job," said Board of
Regents Chairman John Cater after adjourning the meeting.
"He is very capable in the fields of
dealing with the legislature, dealing with the
business community, dealing with the campus constituencies. And when you couple
his concern for superb education with the
qualities he brought to the table, it seemed
like a slam dunk," said Cater. -Ericka Schiche
Photo by Mark Lacy and courtesy of Media Relations.