Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Tale of Two Presidential Searches

Purdue: Here is how my university did its presidential search. The BoT hired a search firm and a well known presidential searcher on that firm, Bill Funk. The search was secret until the last minute. Nobody knew for sure who the choice would be or even who the candidates were. What appears to be a wonderful new president is what we got, Chancellor France Córdova of UC Riverside, set to start in August.

Iowa: Here is how the University of Iowa is doing its search. All four finalists' vitae are on the web, candidate forums were public, then broadcast on UI TV, and finally archived on the web (I watched the one for our provost on my laptop at home).

Which is better? I would opt for openness. The arguments trotted out for why Purdue was secret, that public knowledge of the finalists would cause some to withdraw from the search, does not seem to be the effect at Iowa, though I understand one candidate did withdraw.

I do support confidentiality of a presidential search, but ONLY up to the point of campus interviews and visits by finalists. Then what Iowa did should be the norm.

As a faculty member, I don't feel like I was part of the process, and indeed, I wasn't, but that is the point. Our BoT telegraphed that idea by deciding in private, and unless I am mistaken, the search advisory committee, on which faculty sat, did not know who would be chosen either.

I am glad that the BoT did what appears to be a fine job. We shall have to see, of course!