Closed provost search bothers faculty, students
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Martha Buell, human development and family studies professor and a faculty senator, said she is upset by the university’s process for hiring the new provost. She said the process differs from past administrative employee searches because the university will not tell students and faculty who the candidates for the position are.
She said the open search for former provost Tom Apple did not hinder his ability to perform professionally. Buell said she thinks the university should continue using an open search process as opposed to a closed one because faculty and students should get the chance to meet the candidates the committee has chosen.
“If you don’t know what kind of people you’re getting involved with, you don’t know what kind of trouble you’re getting yourself into,” Buell said.
Nancy Brickhouse has served as the interim provost since Tom Apple left the office to take a job as chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in June.
The university has not reported any new developments to the faculty, and the Provost Search Committee is maintaining a closed, confidential search.
University President Patrick Harker said at the general faculty meeting on Oct. 1 that hiring committees at Temple University and the University of Minnesota have used similar search methods and found one candidate.
Harker also said the university has hired the Spencer Stuart firm to help conduct the search. He said the University of California-Berkeley hired Spencer Stuart to find their chancellor as well. According to the Cal-Berkeley Position and Candidate Specification packet, Jennifer Bol and Kristine Johnson are the consultants handling the search for the chancellor, who have experience in hiring administrative positions for universities but have not held any administrative positions at a university.
Despite taking part in open interviews during his hiring at the university in 2007, Harker said the trend for hiring administrators has shifted toward conducting a closed search.
“What’s happened is, over the last six years, because of the recession and other things, is sitting presidents, provosts and deans are reluctant to put themselves into an open search process,” Harker said.
Buell said if the candidate does not fulfill the provost position successfully, she is not sure of who will be to blame.
“If it is all super-secret, who is being held accountable?” Buell said. “How is Spencer Stuart being held accountable if nobody knows anything about who they’ve contacted and what they’ve done? Just because they’ve been hired by other people does not mean we need to use them.”
Chair of the Provost Search Committee George Watson said Spencer Stuart augments the search.
“As the search committee, we screen the candidates, we identify the candidates and we interview the candidates,” Watson said. “The search firm does not decide who is recommended to Harker. It is to help us manage the process.”
Senior and Student Government Association President Michelle Barineau, President of the faculty senate Sheldon Pollack and Vice President of Student Life Michael Gilbert are three of the 17 representatives who compose the committee from different fields at the university.