Community wants open search, board cracks the door

By on January 16, 2018

By Joseph Lyell —

U of L has been without a permanent president since former President James Ramsey resigned in July 2016.

Since the board of trustees announced the search for the next president will be closed to the public, students and faculty have expressed their distaste for the confidential nature of the search.

The board reassured the community their feedback would be heard via listening tours, during which trustees would tour campus seeking feedback from faculty and students.

The listening tours will be held Jan. 17 and 18, seven weeks after the original application deadline.

The board called the original Dec. 1 date a “soft” deadline, and said they will accept applications through Feb. 15. In response, faculty questioned how their opinions could be considered at such a late stage in the process.

The presidential search committee now has a webpage describing the process and its progress, and allows for feedback to be submitted.

At the Dec. 14 board of trustees meeting, board member Bonita Black asked trustees to consider allowing eight constituency group representatives to meet with finalists at the end of the search and provide feedback to the board about the candidates. The representatives will speak for respective groups of students, staff, faculty and deans.

Though no vote was taken on the action, board chair David Grissom said they were all in agreement on the issue.

Grissom said these meetings will occur when the field has been narrowed to two or three finalists.

“We will take their reactions and their observations into account, but the vote for the next president of the University of Louisville will be made by the search committee,” Grissom said.

In addition to the constituency representative meetings, Grissom also said the board will “strongly encourage” finalists to come to campus and meet the community.

At the end of the search process, the board will host public forums for the finalists. These will give students, staff and faculty the chance to meet presidential candidates before a decision is made.

Bonita Black argued attending the forums should be optional for the candidates. She said requiring the finalists to attend forums could taint the interview process and discourage some from applying in the first place.

Because of this, Grissom said it is possible the board will choose a president who decided not to participate in the forums.

“If we can find a sitting president who wants to have his identity protected during the search process, and we think he or she is the best candidate – it’s done all the time,” Grissom said.

Interim President Greg Postel said he has submitted his name for consideration, and he will attend the forums.

Grissom hopes to have a decision made by June 1 or earlier.

Photo by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal

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