Presidential search forum hosted on campus

Dean May, the head of the Department of Social Work at WKU, stands before faculty during a panel on the Presidential Search Committee on Monday, August 29, 2016 in Downing Student Union. May, along with other members of the WKU faculty, addressed their concerns and hopes for the future president. May felt that the new president should be more focused on faculty. “I have enough buildings. I don’t need more football. What I need is a president who prioritizes faculty,” he said. Kelsea Hobbs/HERALD

Monica Kast

A forum was held on Monday, Aug. 29, to discuss the presidential search with faculty, students and staff.

Michael Baer and Daniel Rodas, from Isaacson, Miller, the executive search firm, hosted the forum in the Downing Student Union. Baer and Rodas are both Vice Presidents at Isaacson, Miller.

Although the meeting was open to all students, faculty and staff, it was mainly faculty and administration who attended the meeting. The forum was also broadcasted to the regional campuses, and those campuses were able to contribute online.

“The position profile is more than a position description,” Baer said at the start of the meeting. “It’s a description of the campus, where it’s been in its history, where it’s at now, and what people think the challenges are going to be moving into the future. As we try to recruit people, we share the profile with them.”

Baer opened the forum by asking for feedback regarding possible opportunities and challenges the president would face in the future.

Dean May, the department head of the department of social work, said he hopes the next president will place an emphasis on academics and faculty. This view was echoed by others throughout the forum.

“I’m kind of to the point where I’ve had enough buildings, and I don’t need more football,” May said. “But what I really, really need is to have a president in which we can have a greater emphasis on compensation and resources.”

May also said in regards to recent budget cuts, he would like to work on a campus where they can maintain staff and receive compensation and pay raises.

Peggy Crowe, director of the Counseling and Testing Center, said she would like the next president to have a retention plan as well as being able to unite Academic Affairs and Counseling and Student Affairs.

“Align us, so that we’re not Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, but we’re working together towards the goal of helping students get here, stay here, and then go move and shape the world,” Crowe said.

Sharon Hunter, director of Strategic Enrollment Management and Retention Support, said it was important to her that the next president understood the culture of WKU and had a plan for the future that incorporated that culture.

“There are a lot of things that we do here very, very well,” Hunter said. “There are things that we need a new outside vision for. Diversity is one, and it’s more than just color and race and those things. It’s diversity of thought; it’s acceptance. More than tolerance, it’s inclusion. Our student body is changing.”

Baer and Rodas also asked for characteristics faculty and students were looking for in the next president. Forum attendees mentioned that they would like someone who is “politically-savvy” and additionally, highly visible and accessible on campus.

Baer and Rodas concluded the forum by asking for names of people and organizations they could contact to identify candidates. Although no names were given at the forum, Baer and Rodas encouraged faculty, staff and students to contact them with options in the coming weeks.

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