December 14, 2017

Trustees will allow campus representatives to meet with presidential search finalists

By Joseph Lyell —

At the Dec. 14 board of trustees meeting, trustee Bonita Black asked the board to consider allowing eight constituency group representatives to meet with finalists in the presidential search and provide feedback to the board and their constituents about the candidates.

Black said these representatives will speak for their respective constituency groups, which will consist of students, staff, faculty and deans.

After signing confidentiality agreements, these eight individuals will be invited to meet with finalists separately for 45 minutes to an hour before voicing their opinions on the candidates to the board.

“This will give the community a chance to interact with and again, give input on the finalists, to help inform the board of trustees how the community views the finalists,” Black said.

Board chair David Grissom said these meetings will occur when the field narrows 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, concerning the representatives’ involvement.

Grissom said the finalists will be given the option to meet in public forums with faculty, staff and students before a decision is made.

“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.

Black said candidates may be wary of public meetings, in the event that their current employers find out about their interest in another position.

“We shouldn’t require candidates to come to campus and meet the community, because I don’t want to, in any way, taint the applicant pool and discourage people from participating in the process,” Black said.

Taking this into consideration, she said the board should “strongly encourage” finalists to come to campus to meet their potential constituents.

Black said the search firm R. William Funk & Associates expects to receive between 50 and 100 applications for the position.

Funk’s plan is to allow each trustee to look at the resumes, and select their top 10 picks for president. The choices will then be compiled into a matrix that will inform the board who the strongest candidates are.

Grissom said it is possible that the board will hire a candidate who chooses not to participate in the public 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.

Grissom said the search process aims to attract the best man or woman for the university, rather than someone looking for employment.

“We don’t want the next president to be looking for a job. We want somebody who we have to attract to this place, and feel challenged by the opportunities here,” Grissom said.

Grissom hopes for a June or earlier decision date for the selection of the next president.

Photo by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal

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