Vilsack a Cheney in waiting?

Remember when Texas Governor George W. Bush asked Dick Cheney to handle the process of selecting a vice presidential runningmate for Bush?  And how Cheney somehow wound up being the v.p.?  Some of us have been thinking of what would happen if Governor Tom Vilsack emerges from his five o’clock meeting this afternoon with the people intimately involved in the selection of a new University of Iowa president, and announces he’ll be the next U-of-I president.   

Vilsack’s staff sent out this release last week:


Meeting goal is to urge cooperation and rational approach regarding presidential search—Governor hopes to reach consensus with leaders on process moving forward

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA – Governor Tom Vilsack announced today that he will meet with University of Iowa and Board of Regents leaders on Monday, November 27 in Cedar Rapids.  The Governor organized the meeting with campus leaders in hopes to move forward as one community as the search for a new president continues.

“We all share the same goal and that is to find the best president to lead this great University,” Vilsack said.  “The University plays a critical role in our state and my hope is to convey that we keep the qualifications of the perspective leaders and strategic needs of the University as job one in this process.”

Attending the 5:00pm private meeting will be:

• Michael Gartner, Chairman, Board of Regents, State of Iowa
• Gary Fethke, Interim-President, University of Iowa
• Professor Sheldon Kurtz, President,  University of Iowa Faculty Senate
• Gary Seamans, Member, University of Iowa Foundation Board
• Pete McElligott, President of the Student Body
• Mary Greer, Staff Council Chair

Some have speculated that soon-to-be-former Congressman Jim Leach might be a nominee on a new list of candidates. (For those not keeping score at home, the Board of Regents on November 17 voted to reject the four finalists for the job and re-start the hiring process to find a replacement for David Skorton, who left in June.)  But while Leach has the vocabulary to be on campus, he has never been a prolific campaign fundraiser and raising money is a good share of what university presidents do these days.  In addition, I believe his sport of choice would be cricket — a passion he shares with buddy Bono — so I’m not sure whether he could rustle up the enthusiasm for football that is required at a Division I university.

Michael Gartner, chairman of the Board of Regents, is a Vilsack insider who could help engineer a Vilsack U-of-I presidency. But it would require Vilsack to drop his presidential campaign before it has really begun — so there’d be no pot luck in Mount Pleasant Wednesday night to kick of "Vilsack in ’08" if the shoe drops in Cedar Rapids tonight.  I’m betting the Jell-O will be out in Mount Pleasant on Wednesday night, but strange things do sometimes happen.


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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.