Opening up a campus search

Opening up a campus search

Listening to a variety of voices and viewpoints can be a big plus when making important hires.

Illinois State University is searching for a new president, and it's taking an admirably open approach in the process.

ISU recently identified the four finalists vying to replace outgoing President Al Bowman, announcing that they will be making visits to the campus between April 22-29 to meet with administrators, faculty and students.

They are ISU Vice President Larry Dietz, Murray State University President Randy Dunn, Framingham State University President Timothy Flanagan and Morehead State University Vice President Karla Hughes.

It's good to see more and more universities abandoning the excessive secrecy that goes with searches of this nature. Secrecy advocates claim that withholding finalists' names attracts top candidates who would not be interested if their names were made public. There is little evidence, other than anecdotal, that is true.

The search process is difficult and prone to failure; secrecy is no guarantee of a good hire. Seeing how candidates for important posts interact with campus constituents can be revealing and helpful.

Although top University of Illinois officials embrace secrecy in filling the highest positions, Chancellor Phyllis Wise has opened up the search process for other important posts. Wise has arranged meet-and-greet sessions for the candidates for provost and vice chancellor for research as well as important dean positions, to the point that it's now part of the search process landscape on campus.

Openness is not an easy transition to make for those wedded to the old way of doing things. But those who are trying it find they are liking it.

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bmwest wrote on April 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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An open search is important, especially to prevent political influence, as is a recognition that we do not need the best that money can buy.  We should take a Moneyball approach and find an undervalued "good enough" candidate.