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Provost Michael Aiken was passed over Friday in his bid for the presidency of the University of Texas at Austin, losing out to a top administrator at the University of Illinois. The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously selected Robert Berdahl, vice chancellor at Illinois, from a list of five finalists that included Aiken, following a final round of interviews in Dallas last week. Louis Beecherl, chairman of the Board of Regents, said in a statement that Berdahl "has the administrative experience, the academic stature and the vision to provide dynamic leadership" for UT-Austin, adding that Berdahl was chosen from "an extremely strong field of candidates." Aiken, the University's provost since 1987 and a former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, would not comment yesterday on the decision or say whether he is interested in the presidency of any other college or university. Had he been offered the UT post, Aiken could have become the second top University administrator to leave the University in recent months. Former Executive Vice President Marna Whittington stepped down from her job as the University's chief financial officer in September to work for a private investment management firm. Statistics Professor David Hildebrand, chairperson of the Faculty Senate, said Friday that he has "truly mixed feelings" about Aiken not being offered the UT presidency. "If he wanted to [become UT president], he is a good man and I would like to see him attain his wishes and goals," he said. "At the same time, I would be glad to have him stay around for the continuity and leadership that he provides." Michael Goldstein, former chairperson of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, expressed similar sentiments. Goldstein said last night that although he is "sorry for [Aiken], it's probably good for Penn." And while he predicted that UT will eventually realize they "made a mistake" in not choosing Aiken, he said he is "sure there will be more offers" for Aiken to become president of another university sometime in the future.

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