University Senate discusses presidential search, passes policies

Monica Kast

The search for WKU’s next president may be held in secret after candidates are selected, a reality the University Senate chair calls “troublesome.”

Kate Hudepohl, University Senate chair, informed the senate that at a recent meeting with Isaacson Miller, the executive search firm being used by WKU to search for the next university president, she learned that it may be a closed search. A closed search would mean the names of the candidates would not be revealed, and that there would not be open forums on campus with the candidates.

“I don’t know that it’s set in stone,” Hudepohl said. “It may change.”

Hudepohl said representatives from Isaacson, Miller said a closed search was a growing trend, and many candidates like to retain confidentiality during a search.

“This person will be part of the campus community and the idea that constituencies that this person will be working with will not get the chance to meet him or her is troublesome,” Hudepohl said.

Barbara Burch, faculty regent and presidential search committee member, was present at the meeting. She said the decision of an open or closed search was not the decision of the search committee.

“The search committee is charged by the Board [of Regents] to search and screen, and come up with finalists for this position,” Burch said.

Burch said that after the finalists have been presented to the Board of Regents, it would be up to the Board of Regents to decide if it would be an open or closed search.

“The Board is the final selection committee,” Burch said.

Several university senate members expressed concern about not knowing who the candidates are and being unable to interact with them before a final decision is made.

Lauren McClain, assistant professor of sociology and university senator, pointed out that although the decision would not be made by the search committee, several members of the search committee are also members of the Board of Regents.

Hudepohl, gave her report, which included updating senate members on the university senate website. Hudepohl said that there are now links to salary information and the Budget and Finance website, and more will be added soon.

Patti Minter, associate professor of history and university senate member, discussed the results of the faculty work life survey and said that comments from the survey had been shared with President Ransdell, and were being addressed.

Minter also said that Andrea Anderson, WKU’s Title IX coordinator, will be attending the October University Senate meeting.

There were several new policies approved, including Policy 1.1012, Consensual Relations Between Faculty and Students, Policy 1.1112, Faculty Credentials, Policy 1.2190, Tuition Waver Program for Part-time Faculty, and Policy 1.2250, 4.2250, Guidelines for J-1 Visiting Scholars.

Discussion began about a motion to add language to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the WKU nondiscrimination policy, but the senate no longer was at quorum and would not be able to vote on the motion.

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