Dietle wins faculty regent election

Joe Lord

Robert Dietle was feeding his 13-month-old son Samuel Friday evening when the telephone rang.

It was President Gary Ransdell calling to tell him he’d been chosen by his peers to replace English professor Mary Ellen Miller as faculty regent.

Dietle was elected Friday to the Board of Regents, defeating psychology professor Betsy Shoenfelt. He can begin his three-year term at the Oct. 25 regents’ meeting or in January.

History professor Dietle received 144 of the 221 votes cast by faculty members. There were 504 faculty members eligible to cast ballots.

“I’m glad to see the support I got,” Dietle said.

Despite losing Friday’s election, Shoenfelt expressed support for Dietle.

“I think he’s very involved in the campus, and I think he’s very concerned,” she said. “I think he’s likely to do a good job.”

President Gary Ransdell agreed.

“We had two good candidates,” he said. “I’m pleased with both the process and their decision.”

Dietle has wasted no time getting started on his to-do list since he received the phone call Friday.

In preparation for membership on Western’s governing board, he planned to meet yesterday with Miller to discuss faculty issues.

“He’s done an excellent job with the (University Senate), so I see no reason why he wouldn’t continue to do a good job,” Miller said. “The turnout was a little disappointing.”

Miller said the dreary weather Friday might have contributed to the 43 percent voter turnout because many faculty members are in different buildings than their dean. Ballots could only be cast in deans’ offices.

The turnout might have also been affected by the lack of divisive issues facing faculty at this time, Dietle said.

English professor Ron Eckard cast his ballot at noon Friday.

“I just hope all the faculty realize how important this is and how lucky we are to have a democratic process where our voice can be heard,” he said.

Eckard said he voted so the new regent, no matter who won, would know they had faculty support.

Ransdell said he thinks Dietle will work hard as regent, doing his homework and keeping a balanced perspective.

Dietle said the senate meeting Thursday will be his last as president. He will also resign from the university budget council, but will wait until after he becomes regent to leave the post.

Senate vice-chairman Doug Smith presided over the ballot counting, which was done by 11 members of the senate’s executive council.

Smith can succeed Dietle as senate president, but said he won’t make a final decision until Thursday’s senate meeting.

“I’m thinking about it very hard,” he said.

Reach Joe Lord at [email protected]