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Reactions mixed to Mark Shurtleff as U. president

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 6:32 p.m. MST

Shurtleff confirmed his intention to seek the post on Monday through a spokesman. Since then, Shurtleff has declined to talk about his reasons for his decision, citing his respect for the university's selection process, which keeps its initial list of candidates confidential until it releases a list of finalists. That list is expected to be released by next spring.

There have been rumors about others being considered, including former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt, current Southern Utah University President Michael Benson and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon.

"Someone did submit my name as a candidate for the presidency," Corroon said Tuesday evening, adding that he does not know who recommended him. He said he found out about the invitation through a letter from the consultant working with the university on the process. "Obviously it would be a great honor."

Corroon said he has not decided whether to pursue the invitation. "I'm in the official 'I'll think about it' stage right now, recognizing there's probably a broad field of really great candidates."

Benson did not respond to a call seeking comment.

A representative for Leavitt told the Deseret News that Leavitt had been nominated by someone, but Leavitt did not apply for the position, nor intends to apply. "He is deeply involved in his company," said Natalie Gochnour, spokeswoman for Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm that advises on issues of healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid, and private/public equity.

Shurtleff's qualifications have been compared with Young's. The highest degree both hold are law degrees. Shurtleff's law degree is from the University of Utah, while Young's is from Harvard Law School. But that's where the similarities end.

Shurtleff served as a Naval judge advocate and practiced law in private practice. He has also worked as a deputy county attorney and was elected to the Salt Lake County Commission. He then became an assistant attorney general before being elected Utah attorney general in 2000 and is the author of a historical novel about Dred Scott, the subject of a landmark legal case.

Young has served as a tenured professor of law. Before being U. president, Young was dean and professor of comparative law at George Washington University Law School. He also served more than 20 years as a professor at Columbia University. Before that, he clerked for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist. Young also held several positions at federal agencies and commission.

Shurtleff, who made a brief bid for the Senate in 2010 before withdrawing for personal reasons, had earlier said he was considering another run for attorney general, or a possible bid for Congress. His decision to apply for the U. presidency appears to put any political plans on hold.

The Utah Board of Regents established a 20-member search committee, which consists of members from the Board of Regents, U. Board of Trustees, faculty leaders and community representatives. The majority of the committee consists of faculty and university officials.

Contributing: Steve Fidel

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com, lisa@desnews.com, Twitter: dnewspolitics

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