If Governor Bredesen’s search process proposal is approved by the Board of Trustees, students and faculty will see an unprecedented level of openness to the presidential search, and include members of the university community previously left out of the formal search process.
“I am absolutely confident that an institution of UT’s caliber can attract a wide range of candidates. The key is to make sure we not only look far and wide, but that the search itself be open, fair and competitive,” Bredesen said. “This is an essential ingredient in restoring public confidence in the university and ensuring solid, trustworthy leadership for its future.”
The complete proposal released by Bredesen’s press secretary, Lydia Lenker is as follows:
(1) There will be one official search process. The Search Advisory Council will be charged with conducting a thorough, aggressive search for candidates, including screening potential candidates through a public interview process. Through the course of their evaluation, they will whittle the list down to four to six candidates and forward them to the Search Committee. The Search Committee will then interview the candidates and recommend no less than three for consideration by the Board of Trustees.
(2) The composition of both committees will be changed to include members of the university community traditionally left out of the formal search process. Under Bredesen’s plan, a 17-member Search Advisory Council will be named. It will include four students (one from each campus), four faculty members (one from each campus), four alumni and/or citizen members, and four trustees. The Chair of the Search Committee will also serve as an ex-officio member of this body. The Search Committee will have eight members – five at-large trustees, the student trustee, and two faculty representatives.
(3) All aspects of the search will be open. No candidate will be considered by the Search Committee of the Board unless his or her candidacy has been evaluated through the public evaluation process, led by the Search Advisory Council.
The campus reaction to this proposal seems to be very positive. Katie High, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, says this is a great thing.
“I think it’s great! Governor Bredesen has proven once again that he listens to people and heeds their counsel. In this case, faculty and students told the governor just how important it was that the search for a UT president be open and include the student and faculty voice…from all UT campuses,” High said.
Despite how the search process is conducted, students and faculty would like to see an appointment to the UT Presidency that does not end like the last two have.
“Governor Bredesen didn’t dilly dally around. Rather, he put together a process that should insure openness and inclusiveness. I hope the third time is a charm,” High said.
UT Martin’s Student Government Association recently sent a resolution to a student representative on the Board of Trustees. Among other things, this resolution asked that students and faculty be included in the search process.
The Pacer will continue to update readers on any more developments with this story.