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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee trustees Wednesday approved a proposal by Gov. Phil Bredesen to make the UT presidential search more open and inclusive.

The board adopted the more open search process and a one-track recruitment effort, established a search committee, and agreed to appoint a search advisory council.

The board also approved formation of subcommittees for advertising, communications, background checks of candidates, a timetable, and other search criteria.

“I think this was a great board meeting and in particular the board really adopted this principle of openness with open arms,” Bredesen said. “I think the board is very committed to conducting a search for president with complete openness, all candidates going through the same process, and no sidebar process.

“I think it is a healthy change in the way that recruiting is being done.”

As governor, Bredesen also serves as chairman of the board of trustees.

UT Interim President Joe Johnson, who served as UT president from 1990-1999, said the new president must bring long-term stability to UT.

“The board needs to find a president that has leadership, talent, commitment, honesty and decency, and will come and be here for a good long while,” Johnson said. “If you count me twice, we’ve had five presidents in four years. We need stability.

“I urge the board to move expeditiously, get the very best person they can find, and hope to hold on to them for eight or nine or ten years.”

Search committee members include trustees Rhynette Hurd, Jerry Jackson, Andrea Loughry, Don Stansberry, and William Stokely; student trustee Carol White; and two faculty members to be named later.

The plan approved Wednesday seeks completion of the search by April 30, 2004, with July 1, 2004 the target start date for a new president.

After the full board meeting, a Governance Task Force appointed by Bredesen met to discuss governance issues, areas of ineffective oversight by the board and those in charge of UT operations, and corrective actions to enhance accountability.

Members of the task force include trustees Hurd, Steve Ennis, John Pontius, James Murphy, and Larry Martin, First Tennessee Bank, Knoxville, and Linda Rebrovick, BearingPoint, Nashville.