Monday, September 14, 2015

A Minor Thing

So it is usually rare that a university conducts a presidential search. They are labor intensive, often wrenching processes especially when the outcome is not welcomed by the campus community. One of the activities in this already stressful process is the campus visits by the finalists. Each constituency is given time to question the applicants and make determinations about qualifications and suitability. There is a reason that each constituency is divided. They usually have different issues, concerns, needs or observations. I am curious and then angry when I see administrators at the faculty or student sessions and would imagine that administrators would not appreciate faculty attending their sessions. The presence of other groups, especially in a contentious or profoundly dysfunctional environment, can inhibit candid exchanges between the constituency members and the applicant. It shouldn't matter to tenured faculty that administration lackeys are might be hanging about. However, un-tenured faculty might be reluctant to speak candidly if their words are reported back to an already compromised administration. What is worse however is when staff, faculty or administrators attend the student session. Given the clear power differential that exists I am sure that there is an impact on the interactions of students and applicants when university officials are present. Students should be given the space to speak candidly to the applicants without fear of some reaction by the administration. I would expect university professionals to have the self awareness to stay in their lane in this process and not, even inadvertently, compromise an already questionable process.

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