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Candidates to replace David Pershing as president of the University of Utah will be screened by a 24-member search committee, Utah's Board of Regents announced Thursday. The panel includes four members of the Board of Regents, four members of the U. board of trustees, 12 U. employees, and four community and alumni representatives.

"The selection of this committee has been thoughtful and deliberate, with each member having a significant connection to the institution and a strong interest in the future success of the U.," Daniel Campbell, chairman of the Board of Regents, said in a prepared statement. "This committee will play a critical role in the search for the U.'s next president, and we appreciate the willingness of these committee members to lend their expertise and time to this important process."

In a recent interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Higher Education Commissioner Dave Buhler said the selection process could take up to a year. The search committee will hold a series of public meetings, create a position announcement, interview candidates and ultimately submit three to five finalists to the Utah Board of Regents.

Pershing announced in May that he would step down from the position of president after five years leading Utah's flagship university. He said he intended to announce his decision in August, but accelerated his plans in response to campus upheaval surrounding the firing and reinstatement of Huntsman Cancer Institute Director Mary Beckerle, and the resignation of Vivian Lee, vice president of Health Sciences at the U.

A. Lorris Betz, who previously served as Health Sciences vice president, was named as an interim replacement for Lee. A permanent vice president is expected to be chosen after a new university president is in place, Buhler said.

"I'm sure there will be questions raised," Buhler said of the controversy surrounding the university's healthcare and cancer research divisions. "[but] I'm not worried at all that it'll be hard to attract good candidates."

Harris Simmons, a member of the Board of Regents, and H. David Burton, chairman of the U.'s board of trustees, will head the search committee. They will be joined by regents Campbell, Patricia Jones and Robert Marquardt; and trustees Phil Clinger, Christian Gardner and Zach Berger, who is also the university's student body president.

Faculty and staff representatives include College of Social and Behavioral Science Dean Cynthia Berg, College of Engineering Dean Richard Brown, Academic Senate president Margaret Clayton, Department of Internal Medicine Chairwoman Kathleen Cooney, Natural History Museum of Utah executive director Sarah George, Chief Human Resource Officer Jeff Herring, Finance professor Uri Loewenstein, associate vice president Ana Maria Lopez, Utah Staff council president Jennifer McConnell, assistant vice president Nicole Robinson, Department of Biochemistry chairman Wes Sundquist and interim associate vice president Monica Vetter.

Community representatives include Julie Barrett, former president of the U.'s alumni association; Lisa Eccles, an outgoing U. trustee and president of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; Vivint SmartHome Arena president Jim Olson; and Janice Ugaki, CEO of Firmseek.

Twitter: @bjaminwood

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