Officials released a statement last week regarding the university presidential search, reassuring students that a candidate will be chosen by April.
A search committee is working with an executive search firm to replace President Robert Henry, who plans to retire in June.
Some tudents expressed feeling like there was a lack of communication after not receiving updates on the search since November.
The most recent search update, until last week, included a list of topics from a focus group in October meant to gauge opinions on important presidential values.
The committee is on track to recommend a candidate to the board by April, according to the Feb. 1 email to the campus community from Ron Norick, search committee chairman and president of the board of trustees.
“Shortly after the winter break, search committee members began reviewing a robust applicant pool of over 40 qualified applicants,” Norick wrote. “The committee met in mid-January to narrow the applicant pool by selecting semi-finalist candidates.”
The email was sent to students after the publication of last week’s issue of The Campus, wherein Norick refused to comment on the search, citing candidate confidentiality.
Norick made the same point in the email, saying updates must stay confidential for the protection of the candidate, stating job security as a reason to keep the information private.
“Confidentiality is very critical as most of the candidates are currently employed in key leadership positions at other higher education institutions and organizations,” Norick wrote. “It is typical for the names of applicants and candidates progressing through the search process to remain confidential at this stage in the search process.”
Frank LoMonte, director at the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, previously told Student Publications that this explanation, although legal, is not in the best interest of a university.
He said the “job security” argument doesn’t hold up because many candidates will have their current employers notified throughout the selection process.
“I cannot imagine, in the year 2018, that any college is hiring a president without talking to the people at their present workplace,” LoMonte said.
LoMonte said it’s in the university’s best interest to keep people informed and keep the process as open as possible.
“People on the campus will feel more ownership of the decision,” he said. “They will really feel like this is their president as opposed to a president that has been pushed upon them by the trustees.”
Norick wrote that more information will be revealed “at a time deemed appropriate by the search committee.”
Norick was unavailable for comment Feb. 5, as was Joey Croslin, vice president for human resources and secretary of the president search committee.
Suzy Newsom, early childhood education sophomore, said she understands the sensitivity in relation to job security and is glad precautions are being taken.
“I think it’s great they’re taking such care and consideration to find the new president, and that they’re not rushing to find one,” Newsom said.
Pierce Gordon, political science senior, said he hopes the next president helps the university achieve more funding, develop more programs, advertise those programs, and bring up paid enrollment.
He said he would like the new president to focus on alumni contributions, and federal and state grants.
“Ultimately, Henry did some great stuff, bringing the university out of the red on budget, reorganizing the parts of the school and raising morale,” Gordon said. “However, I think that those aren’t the areas that help the most.”
Gordon said he also would like more money to be invested into Petree College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are a liberal arts school, and recently we’ve allowed liberal arts to slip,” he said.
Students can track the progress of the presidential search on the website, okcu.edu/admin/hr/president-search or look for updates via email.
The most recent update on the website is the same statement Norick emailed to the campus community. It was posted Feb. 1.