SALT LAKE CITY -- Robert Brems again has been chosen as president of Utah College of Applied Technology, but not without some controversy.
Brems, 54, was named president by UCAT trustees in October, but criticism of the selection process by trustee William Sederburg, Utah's commissioner of higher education, resulted in the do-over.
In Monday's meeting at Fort Douglas, trustees interviewed Brems and Michael Bouwhuis, the president of the Davis Applied Technology College. The trustees voted 7-5 for Brems. Three trustees were absent from the meeting, and a fourth left before the vote was taken.
Brems will succeed Dr. Richard L. White, who has served as president since January 2008 and is resigning to pursue other opportunities in higher education.
"It was an interesting process to go through two times," said Brems, who will head the state's eight-campus vocational training system. "This time, we dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. I am pleased to be working again as the UCAT president. It could have gone either way."
Brems served as UCAT president in 2007 but resigned after an unfavorable audit, which included improper expenditures for a parade float. He also got in trouble for an unreasonable early retirement package and not reporting income to the IRS. All of those errors have now been corrected, he said. Brems hopes the public can focus on his 30-plus years of education leadership instead of the unintentional mistakes he made.
Sederburg voiced concern because the candidates' names were not made available to trustees before the first vote and there was no opportunity to interview the two finalists.
Monday's vote also drew criticism from Richard Davis, chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party, who claimed Brems' reappointment is an inside job. Davis thinks an investigation by the governor's office is in order.
Bouwhuis, a four-time finalist for UCAT president, is a 34-year veteran of career and technical education and has served as president of the Davis Applied Technology College since 1994.
He went for the position to get a new challenge, but is done pursing the job.
"Four times is enough," he said. "I felt like I got my shot and I can feel comfortable with that."
Bouwhuis will continue at the DATC, where he has been for 15 years and enjoys the faculty and students.
Bouwhuis and Brems have been colleagues for almost 25 years.
Brems is glad his friend will continue at the Davis facility.
"He is a very good man. Unfortunately, you end up competing with colleagues," Brems said. "I have the utmost respect for him."
Brems said he plans to strengthen UCAT through his experience, contacts within public and higher education and to create partnerships that would benefit students who wish to further their education.
"This is the beginning of a great new era for UCAT," Brems said.