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Published: Saturday, 4/30/2005

Zoo board forms panel to evaluate top official

After a three-hour closed session with the Toledo Zoo's executive director, William Dennler, in attendance, the zoo's board of directors last night decided to establish another new committee.

Among other things, the committee would be responsible for formally evaluating Mr. Dennler's performance.

The new governance committee, which would be headed by board member Joan Browne, would be responsible for defining board responsibility, monitoring board bylaws, addressing board orientation, and overseeing board self-assessment as well as the evaluation of the zoo's executive director.

Previously, the zoo board had no formal process for evaluating the institution's top executive officer.

Stephen Staelin, president of the zoo board, said the governance committee reflected changes he has wanted to institute since his appointment as president last summer.

"The board wasn't as effective as it needed to be. Many other not-for-profit institutions are moving toward a more formalized process for self-assessment and evaluation of the executive director. The evaluation process needed to be more formalized, in my view," Mr. Staelin said.

Ms. Brown will be responsible for coming back to the board with a plan for the scope of the committee's responsibilities by the board's next meeting.

The new committee will be the fourth formed by the board since the controversial firing of zoo head veterinarian, Dr. Tim Reichard. Previously, the zoo board created a finance committee, a committee to examine the zoo's corporate culture, and a fact-finding committee to examine Dr. Reichard's firing.

Each of those three committees gave an update to the board yesterday, but has yet to have a final report approved by the board.

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