By The Keystone Staff
Even though the presidential search is advancing, student interest and access to information is substantially low. The five recent on campus candidate interviews were the only opportunity for students to be involved with the selection process. Before these five interviews occurred, a Florida firm conducted a national search. The campus was unaware of the 25 interviews that occurred near the Philadelphia airport early this past December. The campus still does not know who those candidates were.
According to Board of Governors policy 1983-13-A, all members of the committee must keep information about the search confidential. The only information about the search that is not confidential are the campus interviews, open forums from the Florida firm in September, and emails from search committee chair Jack Wabby.
No information about the candidates came out until the last five interviews were announced.
Even now, the finalists’ curricula vitae are not available, although they were presented at the campus interviews. The university’s collective part in the process is over.
The closed executive search is a common practice.
At a journalism convention in the fall semester, the Keystone staff learned about secrecy in presidential searches through a Student Press Law Center presentation. According to a SPLC article, even open searches are closed until the finalists are narrowed down.
It is unclear if the search committee ever considered acting president Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, who told The Keystone last August that he intended to apply. He could have been one of the final 25 candidates, but none of the committee members or Vargas, are allowed to reveal this information.
Dr. Vargas, as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs for over 11 years, is the most familiar with the university. At the beginning of the year, he was working on important academic issues such as curriculum innovation and shortages of required classes. It would have been beneficial to consider someone who is familiar with KU or Pennsylvania state schools. None of the five finalists seem to have experience with KU and only one, Dr. James Conneely, is familiar with Pennsylvania state schools.
Diversity of candidates appeared to be a problem as well. The Keystone reporters that attended the candidates’ interviews found it hard to distinguish which candidate they liked best, as they often made the same points. This may be the case for other students too.
On the other hand, even the recent opportunities for the campus to find out about the process gained little interest. The Keystone reporters observed that only a few people attended the interviews. Dr. Lorrie Clemo, one of the candidates, said that it is normal for few students to show up at these interviews.
When the president is finally selected, maybe students will gain interest. The information about the selection process, however, will practically be irrelevant by that time.