Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Comparative Search Processes 101: an example of transparency for CSU?

A friend of mine connected to that lofty institution on the north side known as DePaul University forwarded a letter to me that she received from their president. It was an invitation to faculty "to share the deliberations" with their board of trustees and "to invite you to participate in the decision they will make to select a new university provost."

This letter could be a primer for our own Trustees and upper Administration as well as the Human Resources Department (btw now acting as a career center for hapless CSU students since the student career & placement office was eliminated this term). Our Admin has seemed skittish at best, hostile and secretive at worst, about including faculty in its alleged "searches" for Vice Presidents (btw the Shared Governance Committee of the Senate is still waiting for a response from Ms. H's office over who was on the last VP search, guess it will have to be gotten through the Freedom of Info Act tsk, tsk). And my goodness, the the DePaul Univ. President referred to faculty as "colleagues" in his letter. Since our Admin wants to make CSU over into a version of the City Colleges (note its most recent appointees and those on campus who seem have the ear of the CEO) perhaps it would be worthwhile looking outside the community college and corporate boxes to see how other universities do it. I know, I know, we are not DePaul University (they are not a political patronage pit), but if you want to improve your tennis game you play with someone who is better than you.

So here are some highlights. Wish I could say this is the type of letter I would ever receive here at CSU.

..."As you know, search processes in higher education follow a predicatable timetable. They generally begin in late summer or September with the formation of a representative search committee, seek a search firm to assist the committee, and then collaboratively create a job description for the position. That position is advertised to surface candidates. Simultaneously, through other connections of the faculty or the search firm, additional candidates are recommended and/or encouraged to apply. Offers are generally make to succesful candidates in the late winter or early spring, with the hope that the successful candidate will conclude affairs at her or his present institution and come to DePaul midsummer.

[Timing of the Search since it is the end of the fall term]
"It's simply impractical to ask the Faculty Council, Staff Council and the Student Government Association to propose candidates for the search committee before the winter quarter. The Trustees and I have little desire to conduct a compressed search for a position that is so important to the life of the university. For these reasons, the board thinks it best that we appoint an interim provost for the 2012-2013 academic year and begin the process of search for a new provost this February, getting a head start on the following year's cycle. This will give DePaul ample time to think through what we are seeking in a new provost and to search for a strong pool of candidates.
I am writing today, therefore, to seek your consultation on who you might propose to serve as interim provost. The board is seeking someone who is already a member of the DePaul community, so that the learning curve required for one year's leadership is minimized. That individual must also agree not to apply for the full position. This is for two reasons. That individual's attention should not be divided during the year by both the duties of the job and the search process itself, and the university community should not have to wonder whether decisions are being made to influence the selection process. Both the search process and the day-to-day administration of the university are "cleaner" if the interim provost is not applying for the position.
Obviously, an interim provost must have come from the faculty ranks earlier in his or her career and have shown a significant record of progressively responsible administrative acumen and skill, able to handle the many responsibilities of the provost's office... we also will be seeking someone with good knowledge of standard practices in faculty governance and who has a natural tendency to work collaboratively.
...I invite you to recommend candidates and share your reasons for proposing them. I also invite you to send me any thoughts you might have as to what the interim provost should accomplish during the year of the appointment. I will ask the office of the Secretary to send you a website shortly to which you can submit those thoughts, with the option of doing so confidentially...

Search for a Provost
At the same time I invite the Faculty Council, Staff Council and the Student Government Association to begin immediately the process of nominating members to serve on the search committee for the new provost. I expect the committee's work to begin in early February, and to pick up steam beginning in the Fall of 2012.
I specifically ask Faculty Council, Staff Council the Student Government Association, the deans and the Office of Academic Affairs to propose a slate of candidates and alternates so that the trustee chair can assemble and propose to the board a search committee that is appropriately representative of the larger university. This will also provide additional names if for any reason an individual finds that she or he can no longer serve.
The search process for provost will be conducted in the same manner as in past years. The search committee will consist of trustees and representatives of the faculty, staff, student body and administration. The chair of the board will appoint a chair from among the trustees and that chair will assemble the search committee. Internally, there will be three faculty, two staff, one student, one dean and one representative each from the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of the President. As always, the Office of the University Secretary will staff the search process, a major task for which I am grateful. And, as always, the entire university community will be invited to meet finalists and submit their recommendations.
I can assure you that the trustees intend to listen carefully to the thoughts of the university community as the process unfurls. I ask you, therefore, to participate in this search process as you are invited along the way. The role of provost is the single most challenging job at any university, and it is important that we find and select an outstanding individual for this task...

We know that CSU's provost will retire in June. When does our university leadership intend to lead Faculty, Staff, and Students in this search? Can we hope for even half the transparency and shared participation that the DePaul University community is promised? Or, are the rumors here true and another City Colleges colleague of the CEO is already in place to take over as provost?

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