Students will find it difficult to get information on the search for one of, if not, the most important positions on campus.
The new president will take office July 1, but the search committee has not provided the campus community with information about the presidential search since November.
See story on Page 1.
Students don’t need every detail about potential candidates, but they deserve reassurance that candidates exist.
Students were told about candidates during the 2017 search for dean of Petree College of Arts and Sciences. They were even encouraged to participate in on-campus interviews. The same was true in the 2015 search for vice president for student affairs. So why isn’t this the case with the role of the president?
University officials argue the search should be confidential to ensure that candidates’ current employers don’t become aware that they’re searching for a job, which is a threat to job security.
This idea of “job security” is not a sufficient excuse, said Frank LoMonte, director at the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.
LoMonte argued university officials should call current employers anyway to get a feel for the candidate’s level of responsibility and moral character.
The “president search” tab on OCU’s website gives the impression of transparency, but students know next to nothing about the progress. There is a tab labeled “search updates,” but the most recent update is a tally of priorities from the October focus groups where more than 200 attendees, including staff, faculty, alumni, and students participated.
For such an important position, the materials required to apply also seem minimal. Applications are confidential and must include a resume, a cover letter and a list of references, who will not be contacted without permission.
That list is almost identical to the application requirements for a crew member at Trader Joe’s, except the grocery store doesn’t promise to get permission before contacting references. Most students have completed more difficult applications for internships.
A more extensive application does not guarantee better candidates, but the simple application and secrecy don’t reassure students that the committee has the search handled.
The university president is the face of OCU and oversees the entire university’s operations. Because the president’s decisions affect all of us, the campus community deserves more information about the candidates and the rest of the search process.