Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Secret Presidential Searches And Faculty Fury

Inside Higher Ed, Secret Searches and Faculty Fury:

In recent years one of the greatest points of contention between faculty members and their institutions’ governing boards has been over the board’s arguably most important function: the search for and the selection of a president to lead the institution.

Throughout higher education, campus stakeholders are increasingly disapproving of and speaking publicly about searches conducted by their institution. One of the more frequent complaints is the growing tendency of governing boards to conduct a “secret search.” In these cases, those involved in the process keep the names of any potential candidates under wraps until an appointee is announced, or in other, similar cases, boards announce a sole finalist who will meet with campus leaders and get to know the institution before being officially appointed.

However, as these instances and the faculty outrage that often comes with them become more frequent, some more recent searches where multiple candidates have been announced before the board votes have not been without significant controversy. ...

Oftentimes, representatives of executive search firms argue that the only way to recruit talented candidates for the presidency is by holding a secret search, due to the fact that many candidates wouldn’t allow themselves to face public scrutiny before a selection. Wilde said there has been no research supporting that claim.

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


What is it with these people? Anyone involved in the hiring business knows that the reason for keeping searches secret is so that the people applying don't face grief with their current job. Just think about it.

Posted by: Christopher R Pastel | Sep 6, 2019 12:45:17 PM

In their reply to Ruralcounsel, the rest of the Western professional world sees academia in full view. Memo to profs... the rest of the world -- many of whom are likewise of high IQ and in possession of high academic creds -- don't have a choice in their boss. Nor of their benefits package. We can, and do, get fired for whatever reasons, usually because someone wanted to make VP or maybe because the company failed. You might know lots of stuff about your subject, but you have no clue on how the rest of the world works.

Posted by: geek49203 | Sep 6, 2019 10:13:43 AM

"For the same reason anyone working anywhere cares about who their new CEO is."

Interesting. Name me anyone working anywhere outside of academia who actually has any say about who their new CEO is. Why should academics have this privilege when no one else does?

Posted by: RonF | Sep 6, 2019 7:50:06 AM

Let's say a college is drifting in the wrong direction, because it has been captured by, say, ideologically-driven employees who hire only similarly-minded coworkers. And let's say publicly reported campus events have made it clear to the broader community that this college has gone off the rails. Shared governance is not going to fix it. A new boss empowered to right the ship is needed.

Posted by: Jeremy Abrams | Sep 6, 2019 7:36:13 AM

Seems like the comments proved ruralcounsel's point re thoughts of entitlement.

Posted by: Nurkthatlurks | Sep 6, 2019 6:51:08 AM

Seems to me that the losing candidates would not want to be identified under any circumstances, nor would the winning candidate if he/she/whatever (gotta stay PC) was not the first choice.

Isn't that HR 101?

Posted by: cgage | Sep 6, 2019 6:20:04 AM

Quote: Why would employees (i.e., faculty) feel that they have any say in whom a BoD (Board of Regents?) hires as CEO (university president)?

For the same reason anyone working anywhere cares about who their new CEO is. The real problem doesn't like in the secrecy. It lies in the mindset that university presidents should be judged by their ability to raise money not—emphatically not—for any loyalty they might have to a particular university. They hop from school to school, each time raising their salaries. Their only loyalty is to themselves. That is why they want secrecy about their application.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Sep 6, 2019 6:13:32 AM

Apparently ruralcounsel believes that we've fully returned to serfdom. Although I'm not sure if his view on employment is quite that advanced, perhaps he prefers outright ownership of servants.

And while I agree that most of these furious faculties would love to impose that on the rest of the country, there is still good reason to protect institutions like higher ed from regressing to days of yore where they are simply members of Pharaoh's court. Highly intelligent and invested members of an academic community, who often pay taxes, with several who are fully qualified to take on the position of President, should have some influence in the final decision of the 'CEO'.

Posted by: DrTorch | Sep 6, 2019 5:47:26 AM

To ruralcounsal, it calls shared governance, and you should really not comment on things you clearly know nothing about.

Posted by: John | Sep 5, 2019 10:44:32 AM

Ruralcounsel, faculty have as a matter of contract the right to be involved in hiring of administrators.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 5, 2019 7:30:10 AM

Why would employees (i.e., faculty) feel that they have any say in whom a BoD (Board of Regents?) hires as CEO (university president)? Seems like the source of the sense of entitlement to be be outraged by things you don't like but that you have no right to mandate has been pinpointed.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Sep 5, 2019 4:15:16 AM