University Senate members weigh options as regent election looms

The University Senate may be in the market for a new president if current chief Robert Dietle is elected the new faculty regent tomorrow.

Dietle, nominated for faculty regent by history professor Charles Bussey, said last week if he is elected to the Board of Regents he will step down as senate president.

Dietle said senate members have been faced with the same dilemma before. Several years before Dietle came to Western, former faculty senate chair Gene Evans was elected faculty regent and stepped down.

If Dietle is elected tomorrow and steps down, Provost Barbara Burch said the senate would have to elect a new president. But, she said, senate vice-chair Doug Smith would take over the position temporarily and arrange for a new election, if necessary.

“No matter what they do, they’ve got an election issue,” she said.

Associate history professor Patricia Minter said the senate charter states that the vice chair could move up to become president, but if the vice chair refused there would be an election.

Dietle said if he steps down, it is likely Smith will take over.

“If he’s willing to serve, I don’t see why there’d have to be an election,” he said.

Smith said he is still evaluating his options, but would accept the position if Dietle wins. If he steps up to the position of senate president, Smith said a vice chair would be elected.

“I think it would be a rather smooth transition for the university,” Smith said.

English professor Mary Ellen Miller, who is stepping down as faculty regent, said Smith will do a good job if Dietle wins tomorrow and he is asked to step up.

“Doug’s a very capable person,” she said.

Reach Molly O’Connor at [email protected]