Monday, December 17, 2012

EKU Search Meeting Provides Little Clarity on Desired Candidate

Search Profile Reveals Little Direction
..or is it, Too Many Directions?

Today I had planned to write about the professional characteristics the EKU Presidential Search and Screening Committee was looking for in our next president. But that’s not really possible.  

We’ve got “a good sense of the kind of individual we're looking for," search firm honcho James Appleberry said, but unfortunately only committee members were allowed copies of the draft profile, so KSN&C cannot provide any semblance of the direction the committee is headed. It‘s not yet clear from this "open meeting" what we are looking for. 

At any rate, this afternoon at 1:05PM, Chairman Craig Turner called to order the Search and Selection Committee for EKU’s 12th president. Turner estimated the selection to be “about 4 months away.”  

After the obligatory underscoring of the “importance of confidentiality” for committee members, the meeting was turned over to Academic Search’s consultants, James Appleberry and Carrie Hauser.

The consultants reported that during their campus visit, “people were very nice” and helped the firm put together the draft profile along with an ad for the Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications. “Our search process is now ready to move forward,” Appleberry announced. 

Appleberry underscored that the process would be an open process, with updates posted to the Search Website regularly. But today’s process, while indeed open, shed little light. Faculty representatives Malcolm Frisbie and Sheila Pressley, and others, raised questions about something on Page 3; something on Page 2; something on Page 4; something on Page 7; something else on Page 3, but I’m not sure what. There was something about whether faculty and students were unique enough to brag about; whether any candidate would know what CPE is; something about Model Lab School; whether academic excellence should be stated positively or negatively; something about the 3rd bullet point; something about Law Enforcement; something about Nursing, and whether the Honors Program is unique. 

We will have to wait 24-48 hours to make sense of it, when the profile, which was tweaked by committee members, will be posted to the website.   

Committee members were admonished that they are not representing any group, but that they represent the future of the university. “Do not think you represent any particular interest group…please put on your university-wide hat,” Hauser said. “We have promised the candidates that we will make every attempt to keep names confidential”…members who breach confidentiality could be open to a personal lawsuit.

Hauser then reviewed the schedule for advertising.  A “one-page” ad (which I’m not at all sure is the same thing as a full-page ad) is planned for the 2nd edition of the Chronicle after the holidays. The ad is intended to drive people to the profile on the Academic Search website.  Online ads are expected to be up by Jan 11th

Candidates are being told to have their applications complete by Feb 14th to receive “full consideration.” 

“Our job is to go out and mine…applicants,” Hauser said.  

 “We are Looking for 6 to 8 really good candidates,” Appleberry said. 

The committee members were presented with a screening tool that could be used to help them screen candidates and they actually took a few minutes to practice using it on a fictitious candidate’s resume. It looked like it could be a useful thing for members to do….except that, you know...only members got to see it.

Members were admonished not to compare candidates by email or discuss rankings outside of the meeting but to only form opinions during meeting after listening to one another. 

The process members will follow is to sign on to Academic Search’s website to review applications online. To safeguard confidentiality, each application is given a number, and members will only refer to candidates by number in their notes. 

The committee’s next meeting will be on Feb 20that 11am and will consist of a closed screening session of 4-5 hours. Members are expected to arrive with their candidates grouped A, B, or C - keepers, maybes and rejects. 

Since visitors were left to divine what kind of candidate EKU is actually seeking, I spoke to Carrie Hauser afterward to get a sense of what we are looking for.  

KSN&C: Are we looking for a custodian of Eastern’s historical mission, or a cutting edge leader for the 21st Century?
Hauser: “Both.” 

KSN&C: “Really?”

Hauser: “Yes, all of that.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the parameters are about as descriptive and unique as most school mission statements. From what I gather the characteristics are seeking someone with multiple personalities:

A President who values tradition but possesses a 21st century vision

A President who is involved at all levels but allows departments to function autonomously

A President who maintains strong academic values but if responsive to public trends

A President who is willing to discard small, under enrolled programs but... not if it is my department.

We may be seeking a president but we are advertising and expecting a paradox.