We are likely within a day or two of finding out who the EKU Regents will select as the 12th president of this historic university. The general consensus of folks who were at Eastern during the administration of “Princess” Joanne Glasser seems to be that her administration was much about her, and less about the overall good of EKU. Much healing was apparently needed in the aftermath, and Doug Whitlock provided the salve. I never heard anyone question his love for EKU. He provided a steady hand on the wheel during a period of state fiscal neglect which undoubtedly limited possibilities. Now the university looks for a new direction. Who will provide the vision, strategy, and collaborative work ethic to shepherd the school into the 21st century?
I came to work today prepared to do a breakdown of the candidates. Then, I came across the Chairs Association letter to the Board of Regents which was sent to Chairman Craig Turner yesterday. In their letter the Chairs analyze the candidates and dig into some of the particulars. Their analysis is on point at every turn.
|Alan T. Shao|
|Michael T. Benson|
The discussion among faculty seems to have resolved into a discussion of “Who do you prefer - Benson or Shao?” And, as would be expected, opinions are split. But both are being greeted as acceptable candidates with relative strengths and weaknesses.
The same cannot be said for Lassen. But despite the questions raised by his inclusion as a finalist, perhaps there is some comfort in this for the Regents. The only way they could really screw up would be to choose Lassen, which the faculty would likely greet with derision, and perhaps a serious case of withdrawal.
The Chairs didn’t pull many punches, but must have been looking for something nice to say when they concluded that Lassen had a “strong financial background.” Perhaps, I’m just refusing to cut the guy any slack, but one wonders how the Chairs would react if Lassen came to EKU and swept departmental funds into a central account so that he could “help the Chairs prioritize” their spending goals. But perhaps I’m nit-picking, because the Chairs' analysis is really quite good.
The Chairs point out the marked contrast between Lassen, and the superior candidacies of Benson and Shao. While each man presents relative strengths and weaknesses, both are impressive and it is very likely the faculty would accept either warmly.
Benson is credited for his “inclusive and transparent leadership style,” his “impressive record of fundraising,” and “command of the challenges” universities face.
Shao is admired for his global vision and as the only true scholar among the finalists. And while he would have a more significant learning curve, the Chairs have little doubt that “his past performances indicate…his ability to grasp and respond readily to new situations and challenges.”