January 18, 2018

Trustees hear from small crowd in second listening tour

By Joseph Lyell —

In the second of four listening tours, trustees fielded questions and comments from a crowd of roughly 25 people about the search for the next president Jan. 17. Bonita Black, Enid Trucios-Haynes, Vishnu Tirumala and James Rogers represented the trustees on the panel and William Funk represented the search firm.

Scheduled to last from 6 to 8 p.m., the session concluded just after 7 p.m. when the audience had no more comments to share. Similar to the first tour, the audience spoke about the closed search process.

A graduate student asked the board how it weighs academia versus financial savvy as strengths in the search for the next president. Tirumala said the two are not mutually exclusive, and many candidates could come from academic backgrounds while still being adept at handling institutional finances.

Black agreed, but affirmed academia should take precedence. Funk said the consensus from the tours up to that point was the next president should come from an academic background.

Associate Professor of Astronomy Gerard Williger mentioned U of L is ranked last in almost all academic categories in the ACC. He said the next president needs to address the gap between Louisville and the next worst performing school in the conference.

“If our sports teams had these kind of rankings, our coaches wouldn’t last very long,” Williger said.

A faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences said the next president should pay attention to faculty and students instead of giving raises to administrators. He said cutting bloated administrative salaries would help improve both the financial and educational situation of U of L.

Another faculty member said his children are starting to look at what university they will be attending. He said he has to weigh the free tuition they would receive at U of L, part of the tuition remission program for faculty, against the reputation of the university. He said they are considering other schools despite the option of free tuition at Louisville.

Funk said approximately 45 candidates are being looked at right now. This number includes nominees, applications and candidates brought in by the search firm.

Fifty percent of Funk & Associates’ presidential searches are considered open. Funk said this search is closed by direction of the board.

Rogers said one reason for this is the board wants to attract sitting presidents from other institutions. He said many of the best candidates are holding other positions, and opening the search could make them hesitant to apply for fear their current employers would find out.

Black said a president could “theoretically” be hired by as early as May.

Board of Trustees Chair David Grissom, who was not in attendance, previously said the board is planning for a decision by June.

The final two listening tour sessions will be Jan. 18 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. in the University Club ballroom.


Photo by Arry Schofield/ The Louisville Cardinal


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