James Hooper, vice president of Oklahoma State University, said he withdrew as a candidate for president of Utah Valley Community College because he believed Utahns would approve the tax initiatives.
"Anytime a referendum is put in front of the voters when they feel the stress of the economy, it's likely to pass," Hooper said.Hooper was one of five finalists selected last spring by a presidential search committee, but withdrew after learning of the tax initiatives, and in April the regents selected Kerry Romesburg to head UVCC.
Hooper said in a telephone interview that even if voters do not approve the tax initiatives, the proposals show a sizable group of Utahns doesn't support education.
"The referendum shows there's a mind set in Utah that in fact is not progressive, that isn't ready to support higher education in every way," said Hooper. "This of course, includes financial and fiscal support.
"I'd hate to be in a position to have to figure out who your friends are," said Hooper. "We give a lot of lip service to how education makes an impact on economic development, but I'm not sure the guy on the street in Utah and many other states believes it."