The evolution of the closed presidential search

By on January 29, 2018

By Joseph Lyell —

The University of Louisville has been without a permanent president for a year and a half. Here is a timeline of events that have occurred in the search for the next one.

July 27, 2016 – Ex-president James Ramsey resigns

Amid a sea of scandals and allegations, Governor Bevin’s freshly-appointed board of trustees accepted Ramsey’s resignation. In quick succession, Neville Pinto was named acting president until an interim was selected.

Nov. 2, 2016 – Faculty senate forms presidential search consultation committee

Seeing little progress from the board of trustees, the faculty senate passed a motion to create a presidential search committee to advise the board of trustees in selecting the next president.

“Having a committee in place puts us in a good position to advocate for greater involvement in this search,” Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes said.

Jan. 21, 2017 – Greg Postel named interim president

Pinto stepped down from the presidency Jan. 2017 and Dr. Greg Postel became interim president.

After 22 years at U of L, Postel said he looked forward to taking on the job. His primary concerns were retaining accreditation, ensuring finances are in order and promoting the university’s reputation.

Postel didn’t plan to pursue the permanent position then, but recently said he applied for it.

Sept. 15, 2017 – Search begins, and it’s confidential

Board of trustees Chair David Grissom said search firm R. William Funk & Associates would assist U of L in a closed search for the next president.

“This will enable us to develop the strongest possible pool from which to find our next leader,” Grissom said.

He said the decision was made to avoid scaring off potential candidates who may come under public scrutiny. The announcement also promised listening tours to get input from the university community.

Nov. 17, 2017 – Faculty protest closed search

In the first months of the search, 17 letters to the board from various departments at U of L asked trustees to open the search process.

“The board is very aware of your opinions,” AAUP President Susan Jarosi said at the Nov. 17 faculty assembly meeting.

She said the faculty search committee had not yet spoken with the board about their search role, and the listening tours would be postponed until January.

Dec. 14, 2017 – Trustees say they will encourage finalists to meet with community representatives

Trustee Bonita Black said eight representatives will meet with finalists to provide feedback to trustees. The representatives were chosen from students, staff, faculty and deans.

“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.

Grissom said finalists will be asked to come to the university to meet constituents in public forums during the search’s final stages.

“Frankly, if somebody would agree to do that, it would probably be a mark in their favor, but we’re not going to require it,” Grissom said.

Jan. 17-18, 2018 – Community gives search feedback in open forums

The board of trustees presidential listening tour committee fielded questions and comments from more than 100 speakers during the four scheduled listening tours.

Speakers listed integrity, transparency and inclusiveness as traits they want in the next president. Many spoke out against the closed search.

Professor Stephen Hanson said the perception of the presidential search was crucial for the university’s reputation.

“A closed search is not a legitimate option for U of L in 2018,” Hanson said.

At the forums, Funk said approximately 45 candidates had already applied, and they expect 20 more to apply before the Feb. 15 deadline.

Black said the university could have a seated president as soon as May.

Jan. 22, 2018 – Trustees add more community representation to search process

After gathering feedback during the listening tours, Black said the board altered the search process to allow for more community input.

While finalists are still encouraged to visit campus, if a candidate declines, they will instead meet with the Council of Academic Officers and the Presidential Search Faculty Consultation Committee in small-group sessions.

“These steps will ensure each college and school will have representation in meeting all candidates and making hiring recommendations to the board of trustees,” Black said.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

About Joseph Lyell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *