At their meeting at Palmer Commons Monday, members of the Senate Assembly expressed concern that the University’s Board of Regents didn’t appoint any assembly members to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs — a nine-member faculty executive committee elected by the Senate Assembly — passed a resolution in February 2012 urging the regents to include representatives from the assembly on the committee. When members were announced in July 2013, no assembly members were among the names
Over the summer, SACUA responded with another resolution expressing their “disappointment” with the regents’ decision. Assembly members expressed a similar sentiment Monday.
“It doesn’t start off in very good light, given the fact that there’s no representation of central governance on the Search Advisory Committee,” said Prof. John Lehman, the SACUA secretary. “It sends a sort of message as to what the conversations are going to be about in the interviews.”
SACUA member Prof. Scott Masten said the regents gave no explanation as to why the assembly was not included in the committee.
Monday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald declined to comment about why no Senate Assembly members were included.
In lieu of representation on the committee, members proposed that the assembly establish a strong channel of communication with the new University president from the onset.
But the window of influence is apparently small. Lehman, the SACUA secretary, said the president’s thinking and agenda starts to solidify after the first six to eight months.
Another avenue discussed was attending the board’s Thursday public forum on the search.
Masten was less optimistic that attending the forum would allow the assembly to impact the search.
“We get to tell them what we think is important, but we don’t know if they will weigh those things — we won’t have anybody who will see the responses of the candidates,” he said.
Members also discussed what they saw as ideal characteristics of the University’s next president. Many members said that the new leader should have an academic and research background, with a focus on creativity. Other members favored a more corporate background, citing the unique problems of a public institution, such as solidifying state government funding, creating new revenue streams and competing with private institutions.
Still other members valued communication and technological skills, with an emphasis on leadership and gravitas.
Prof. George Garcia said the academic and corporate debate is closely linked, given the amount of funding necessary for research.
“The ultimate mission of the University is to educate the students. The second — and it’s a close second — is to do research,” Garcia said. “And the most important thing that we put out in the research arena, are the students that we train to go out to do research, not necessarily the research discoveries.”
Garcia added that while the members have differing visions of their ideal president, in the end, the entire University community has the biggest impact.
“We’re not getting a messiah. We’re getting a president,” he said. “The person needs to be a leader and have a vision, but it’s going to be all of us working with that person that’s going to solve these problems.”