Chronicle of Higher Education, Frustrated Professors Shut Down a Chancellor Search, Leaving UMass’s President ‘Mortified’:
The search for a new chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Boston was shut down on Monday after the three finalists for the job dropped out. The candidates made their decision following faculty criticism of both the finalists and the search process.
That’s an unusual outcome to a very common controversy. The widespread use of search consultants, the decline in shared governance, and the politicization of higher education have all contributed to the marginalization of faculty input in searches.
As a result, you don’t have to look far these days to find a search for a college or university leader in which the faculty feels left out.
The University of Oklahoma, for example, appointed a new president in March, the former oil-company executive James L. Gallogly, without revealing the names of any finalists and over the objections of faculty members, who said the process had been too secretive. Other high-profile searches, at the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, and the University of North Carolina system, were also widely protested for their secrecy and the lack of input from instructors.
That was the complaint, too, at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, where just two faculty members were appointed to a 15-person committee charged with finding a new chancellor. And when the three finalists were named this month, faculty members openly criticized them as underqualified to run the university, which enrolls more than 16,000 students.
The finalists were Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement at the University of Pittsburgh; Peter Lyons, vice president and dean of Perimeter College at Georgia State University; and Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University. ...
The Boston faculty also voted no confidence this month in the system’s president, Martin T. Meehan. ... In announcing the closing of the chancellor search, Meehan released a letter saying he was “mortified” at the “sensationalized critiques of these candidates’ professional and academic qualifications and accomplishments.” He also blasted the faculty critics for “questioning the personal and professional qualifications of three accomplished higher-education leaders.” That showed, he said, that the critics “would not participate in the kind of partnership necessary for a new chancellor to succeed.”