University Senate approves open search resolution

Monica Kast

The University Senate approved an open search resolution regarding the presidential search and the identities of candidates which may be recognized at the Friday, Oct. 28, Board of Regents meeting.

During the September University Senate meeting, senators expressed concern after learning the search for the next president may be a closed search. Since that meeting, two senators wrote an open search resolution based on a study done by the American Association of University Professors.

“WKU is not a privately held corporation, but a public institution with a responsibility to its campus members and the wider community to ensure that the best possible choice for our next president be made,” the resolution reads. “Such an outcome is only possible if the decision-making process is transparent and open to the greatest possible input from a diverse array of community members, not solely the product of a select group operating exclusively behind closed doors.”

Mac McKerral, professor in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting and university senator, raised concerns about information that was not included in the resolution.

“I support the resolution although I guess my concern with the resolution is that it focuses almost primarily on AAUP research … which is certainly one element of the closed search issue,” McKerral said. “But I think there are other issues that are equally important that are absent.”

Eric Kondratieff, associate professor in the history department and co-author of the resolution, said due to time constraints, they were not able to include more information. He also said he felt it was important the resolution included a request for the campus community to give input.

“I think we felt it would be good to have some sort of open meeting in a large space,” Kondratieff said.

Along with requesting a venue where feedback could be given on candidates, the resolution “respectfully proposes and strongly requests” the presidential search be an open search, where candidates are known.

“In light of these statements and the principles of shared governance they are meant to uphold, the University Senate respectfully proposes and strongly requests that the presidential search remain open with respect to the finalist candidates,” the resolution reads.

The resolution concludes by requesting the three final candidates would be made known, and “the campus community be given the appropriate opportunity to provide its input on the final choice for president.”

Jay Todd Richey, student regent and presidential search committee member, said the search committee has been consistently told by Issaacson, Miller a closed search is the best option, so applicants will not risk their current jobs by applying.

“It always comes back to ‘this is the highest position on campus,’” Richey said.

McKerral raised another concern, and said it was unknown where “this closure is coming from.”

“Who’s driving the closure bus?” McKerral asked.

Faculty Regent Barbara Burch was not in attendance at the senate meeting because she was ill, according to University Senate Chair Kate Hudepohl. However, the report Burch intended to give at the meeting was posted on the senate website, and addresses the progress of the presidential search.

“There are a number of applicants applying and it looks like there will be a good pool,” Burch wrote in her report. “Data was incomplete on many of the names, and the search committee provided feedback to the search firm, letting them know which on applicants they wished to have additional information.”

Later on in her report, Burch wrote she anticipated approximately 10 applicants “would be invited for an off-campus interview with the search committee.”

“Three or four names will ultimately be sent to the Board of Regents as finalists,” Burch wrote. “Then the Board of Regents takes over the process. It is not yet known for certain how the final process will be carried out.”

The resolution passed, and Hudepohl said she had intentions to send the resolution to the Board of Regents chair and the Search Committee chair that night.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.