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USU names new president

Regents forgo search, choose popular Albrecht

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LOGAN — Donors to Utah State University, faculty, staff and students cheered Tuesday after Stan L. Albrecht was named USU's 15th president.

After the State Board of Regents made the announcement, Albrecht, 61, said in an interview that he is no Superman or miracle worker and that there are high expectations for him as incoming president.

Albrecht also said he recommended to regents that they do a national search if it wasn't clear that there was "overwhelming" support for him.

Regents voted unanimously to sidestep the usual search process and to keep the "momentum" going at USU.

"It's the loveliest thing that could have happened," USU donor Kathryn Caine Wanlass said.

Last year at this time outgoing USU President Kermit Hall announced that Wanlass and her sister, Manon Caine Russell, were donating about $6.3 million to USU toward construction of a "world class" recital hall. It was the biggest-ever individual gift to USU.

"This is the best thing they could have done," Russell said.

Regents revealed Albrecht as their choice Tuesday after a brief open meeting by phone and on a stage in front of about 300 people gathered in USU's Taggart Student Center. Albrecht will begin with the same annual salary, $232,000, that Hall earns.

Hall will remain president until Feb. 1 and then will begin his new job as president of New York's state university at Albany. On that same day, Albrecht, USU provost, said his first meeting as president will be with the students.

The day's news sent tears of joy into the eyes of Joyce Kinkead, USU vice provost for undergraduate studies and research. There was plenty of "tension" and "speculation" around her office in the days prior to the announcement.

Hall announced last month he would be leaving USU, and faculty at the school began a phone, letter and e-mail campaign that called for Albrecht to be USU's next leader.

"Stan is so deserving," Kinkead said, noting that Albrecht is part of a leadership "team" that includes his wife, Joyce, who is associate vice president for university advancement. "This is such a natural for them."

Stan Albrecht was the USU Board of Trustees' choice for the job when in March 2004, it looked as if Hall would win the president's post at the University of Tennessee, according to USU Board of Trustees chairman and former Lt. Gov. Gayle McKeachnie.

"Nothing has changed," said McKeachnie, who is now Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s rural affairs coordinator. Trustees still want Albrecht as USU's president.

Hall was unsuccessful in his Tennessee bid and later called the national search process there "tainted" and "flawed."

By naming Albrecht as Hall's successor, the regents have bypassed their usual national search for a president. Currently, searches are under way at the Utah College of Applied Technology, Dixie State College and Salt Lake Community College, where the search is in its final stage.

Regents felt they deviated from the norm at USU with good cause.

Hall named Albrecht as USU's provost when the two competed four years ago for the school's top job. That meant Albrecht had already been through a national search, after which point he worked side by side with Hall on USU's biggest projects.

"I think it is a brilliant resolution of a unique set of circumstances that will redound to the benefit of not just Utah State but higher education general in Utah," Hall said Tuesday while in New York.

Then there were key people such as USU Faculty Senate President Janis Boettinger, who informed regents that there was immediate and "overwhelming" support from staff and faculty for Albrecht.

"He really has this great rapport with the faculty," she said. On Jan. 10 the senate passed a resolution asking for Albrecht to be the next president.

"You can quit calling me now," regents chairman Nolan Karras said, looking out into the crowd. Karras said regents took a "careful" and "thoughtful" approach to reach a decision on Albrecht.

Jed Pitcher and other regents met with more than 70 people for two days last week, also hearing from students, alumni, donors, legislators and community members. No one, Pitcher said Tuesday, was against the regents bypassing a national search in favor of Albrecht.

Utah Commissioner of Higher Education Rich Kendell echoed Pitcher's assessment, adding that USU is headed for a "memorable era" with a team that "loves this university."

E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com