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Transparency and Its Discontents

Transparency and Its Discontents

A really interesting issue arose a couple of weeks ago associated with our search for a new president. Some members of the search group urged that we agree to keep the whole process confidential until a new president was actually chosen. Provisions in our faculty handbook for faculty involvement might be handled by simply emphasizing the participation of faculty members on the search committee.

The argument was that many candidates of the sort that we can now attract, including sitting presidents, would simply be unwilling to put their hats in the ring if they risked publicly failing to be selected. I can certainly understand the dilemma.

On the other hand, I and others, including our current president, believed that faculty and other participation, through opportunities to meet and hear top finalists, trumped this concern. A new president would bear unnecessary onus if the selection process seemed arbitrary and secretive. One has to hope for final candidates who have the gumption to face possible disappointment given the attractiveness of the position. It is reasonable to pledge a swift interview and decision process to limit exposure, but some process seems essential.

And I believe that was agreed upon, which means I think this aspect of our process is in good shape.  But the issue, as a symptom of current patterns in administrative academe, was nevertheless interesting.