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Provost Hanlon says dean searches nearing end

McKenzie Berezin/Daily
University President Mary Sue Coleman speaks at the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting on Monday. Buy this photo

By Austen Hufford, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 26, 2012

The searches for the next deans of LSA, the Law School and the University Library are all nearing an end, University Provost Philip Hanlon told members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs Monday.

Hanlon said during the lead faculty body’s weekly meeting that the search for the next Law School dean has been narrowed down to three finalists, and it will now be up to himself and University President Mary Sue Coleman to make a suggestion to the University’s Board of Regents for the final selection. Candidates for the next deans of LSA and the Library have been narrowed down to about five or six candidates each he said, and will now undergo interviews before advancing to the next step. Hanlon noted that all three searches include University faculty members as potential candidates.

Hanlon announced in a March meeting that Dean of Libraries Paul Courant, Law School Dean Evan Caminker and LSA Dean Terrence McDonald would resign in the next two years.

Hanlon explained the process of selecting deans and their search committees, noting that the first step involves asking the faculty of the school for possible committee members. After a list of committee candidates is formed, Hanlon then chooses a search committee chair and members of the selection group.

According to Hanlon, the University seeks to establish search committees representative of the campus community and are generally composed of a particular school’s faculty members, along with a dean from another school, a student, University administration staff and alumni.

The first job of the committee is to narrow possible dean candidates to a group of about 12, Hanlon said. The committee then conducts phone interviews and narrows the list to about six, who are brought to campus for more interviews and tours before the final three are selected and presented to Hanlon and Coleman.

University Affirmative Action policy unlikely to change

Coleman and Hanlon also discussed the recent ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned Michigan’s Proposal 2 — the 2006 amendment to the state constitution that banned affirmative action.

Early this month — with an 8-7 decision — the court struck down Proposal 2, allowing university admissions and employers to utilize “preferential treatment” on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Coleman said the University will not immediately change any of its policies because Michigan’s attorney general has appealed the ruling, and since Fisher v. University of Texas, another affirmative action case, is before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In this case, the Supreme Court is reviewing the current rule at the University of Texas that automatically admits high school students in the top 10 percent of their class to the university.

The case will draw upon several University cases, one in which the Supreme Court ruled LSA’s use of additional points to minority applicants — a “mechanical review process” — unconstitutional, and another where the court ruled the Law school’s use of race as a “holistic consideration” when reviewing applicants, therefore constitutional.

“Right now we are taking a wait-and-see attitude and trying to carefully analyze everything at this time,” Coleman said.

Coleman questioned about Big Ten additions

SACUA member Charles Koopmann, a Medical School professor, asked Coleman about the recent addition of Rutgers University and the University of Maryland to the Big Ten, inquiring if the transaction was for purely monetary reasons and if the new universities were a good cultural fit.

Coleman acknowledged that finances did play a role, but demographics were also part of the decision, noting that the University has a “huge number” of alumni on the East Coast. She said the agreement came to fruition rapidly, but it will help the Big Ten remain financially and athletically competitive in the long run.

“At the end of the day, the geography made sense, the demographics made sense, the quality of the institutions made sense,” Coleman said.

The addition of Rutgers and Maryland expanded the Big Ten conference to 14 schools. Maryland will join the Big Ten on July 1, 2014, and Rutgers is still deciding when it will join.