The University of Texas System regents on Thursday named Vistasp M. Karbhari, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Texas at Arlington.
Karbhari must wait a state-mandated 21 days before being officially named president. He has previously served as professor and vice chairman of the structural engineering department at the University of California, San Diego.
"Extraordinary leadership is crucial for our institutions, and the unique and innovative environment at UT-Arlington calls for an effective and visionary leader," UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said in a statement. "Dr. Karbhari is extremely well suited to lead UT Arlington and I am thrilled to welcome him to the UT System."
Gene Powell, the chairman of the system's board of regents, echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement, "We know his experience and perspective will help keep UT-Arlington on a path of excellence, accessibility and affordability.
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Almost precisely as Karbhari was being named the finalist for UT-Arlington position, The New Yorker published a blog post about an episode that occurred during Karbhari's time in Alabama. In 2010, Amy Bishop, a biology professor, fatally shot three faculty members and wounded three other individuals during a meeting on the Huntsville campus.
Family members of two of Bishop's victims have sued Karbhari, accusing him of failing to take note of early warning signs and prevent the incident. Bishop's story is the subject of a lengthy piece by Patrick Radden Keefe in the magazine's recent issue, though Karbhari is featured more prominently featured in the supplemental blog post published on Thursday.
Karbhari was not available for comment. But the incident was discussed during the UT system's search committee process, a system official said.
Jim Spaniolo, Karbhari's predecessor, served as president of UT-Arlington for nine years. In June 2012, he announced his intention to retire. He committed to remaining in place until a successor could be named.
When his retirement was announced, Spaniolo told the Tribune, "It's important not to stay too long, to give others an opportunity for fresh leadership."
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