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Panel picks Houston’s president to lead AU

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

AUBURN — The president of the University of Houston, Jay Gogue, has been recommended by a search committee to be the next president of Auburn University, school officials announced Monday.

Gogue, 59, has two degrees in horticulture from Auburn and has been president at Houston since 2003. He is also chancellor of the University of Houston system. A native of Waycross, Ga., he is past president of New Mexico State University and provost of Utah State.

Search committee chairman Charles McCrary said Gogue would be invited to visit Auburn’s campuses in Auburn and Montgomery later this week. The full Auburn University Board of Trustees is expected to vote to name Gogue president Thursday afternoon.

“This gentleman in my opinion was just heads and shoulders above the rest and a perfect match for Auburn,” said McCrary.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend Gogue (pronounced “Goozh”) after hearing a report from John Kuhnle, a consultant with Korn/Ferry International. He said Gogue emerged as the top candidate after a more than year-long search that included several hundred potential candidates.

Gogue would replace Auburn president Ed Richardson, who took the job on an interim basis after William Walker resigned in 2003 at about the same time the school’s accrediting organization, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, placed Auburn on probation, partly because of charges that the trustees had too much control over day-to-day operations at Auburn.

Richardson later was given the title of president, with “interim” dropped.

Gogue did not immediately return a message left for him at his office at the University of Houston Monday.

McCrary, the president of Alabama Power Co., said finding someone with past ties to Auburn was not a priority for the committee, but he said it might be a positive that Gogue attended Auburn and was briefly a member of the basketball team.

“I think maybe it works for Auburn in that he’s been here and he’s seen the magic of Auburn and maybe he yearns for that magic again,” McCrary said.

Kuhnle told committee members Monday that he had hoped to be able to recommend several candidates to come to Auburn for interviews with the full board. But he said Gogue was the only candidate who met all of the criteria Auburn was looking for and who also was willing to come to Auburn for a public interview.

During the search process, he said interviews with candidates were done by individual members of the search committee in secret to protect the identity of candidates.

“In my estimation, he meets all the criteria that anyone here has suggested,” Kuhnle said.

McCrary said he is not disappointed that there were not more viable candidates willing to come to campus for interviews.

“There was no one I know of being considered that I would have put above this gentleman,” McCrary said.

Since he became president, Richardson’s annual salary has been raised three times, going from $265,000 to the current $500,000. McCrary said it would be up to the full board to decide the new president’s salary.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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