Archive for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good decision

Even if it requires additional effort, Kansas University deserves the best possible dean for its School of Fine Arts.

March 25, 2008


Congratulations to members of the Kansas University search committee given the assignment to screen candidates for a new dean of the School of Fine Arts.

A sufficient number of those on the committee did not think any of the three finalists measured up to what KU needed and wanted.

In a recent Journal-World Saturday Column, it was suggested those in the search or screening process should perform more as recruiters and positive salespeople, rather than merely running advertisements in academic publications or getting the names of individuals who are not happy at their current positions.

KU should aim for the very best, which sends a strong message about the excellence, vision and leadership they are looking for in a fine arts dean. This, by the way, should apply to all open positions at the university, now and in the future, including administrative positions such as the chancellor and provost. There is no reason KU cannot have the very best.

The column also pointed out the dangers of making the names of the finalists public. First of all, who is going to tell their current employers they really are not too happy and are looking for a new job? Second, what happens when the three finalists, all of whom were identified, have been publicly embarrassed by being told they are not good enough for KU? What do they tell their associates and friends when they return to their various campuses?

Now it is up to the members of a new search committee to make a nationwide search and truly recruit outstanding individuals to consider the KU deanship. And there should be a few incentives offered with the job such as other deans, as well as all KU football and basketball coaches, have received.

While congratulating members of the search committee who told the provost they were unable to recommend any of the three finalists and congratulating the provost for accepting this action rather than disregarding the "thumbs down" and going ahead and naming one of the three candidates, the manner in which the provost handled the news aspect of this action was disappointing.

The provost informed a number of KU faculty members late Friday afternoon of the decision and said a temporary dean would be appointed at a later date. However, when the Journal-World called the provost's office Monday afternoon to verify that the search process would be renewed with none of the three finalists making the grade, the reporter was told the provost was out of the office and no one else in the office could address the situation. The reporter was referred to the chairman of the search committee who confirmed the information.

Faculty members were told of the action late last week and yet the provost didn't plan to make a public announcement until Wednesday of this week. Why the secrecy? Does such action cause some who might consider the KU post to wonder what goes on in KU search processes?


Kookamooka 10 years, 3 months ago

The last thing the Fine Arts Department needs is a band director. The previous deans were either Art or Music related. How about a Dancer? I agree with the author that active recruitment is needed. Find a gregarious person who can hob nob and find a solid up and comer.

LJD230 10 years, 2 months ago

Whatever one may think of the search process the important point is the apparent desire of the Provost to find someone who can challenge and lead KU to become far more competitive with other state university fine arts programs, i.e., Indiana University.

It would appear the Provost will be unrelenting in his ambition to transform KU into a world class university with an academic reputation similar to that of the university at which he previously served. And for that vision, the KU community should be very grateful.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 2 months ago

Why would the best come to Lawrence to serve under a schmuck like Bob Hemenway?

Luxor 10 years, 2 months ago

Who is on the search committee? People who want to fix the problems or people who ARE the problems?

KU_cynic 10 years, 2 months ago

"And there should be a few incentives offered with the job such as other deans, as well as all KU football and basketball coaches, have received."

The fine arts faculty are among the lowest paid and overburdened (in terms of teaching load and uncompensated mentoring of graduate students) at KU. I can just imagine how the faculty are likely to react to an outsider hired in (with tenure) at 3-5 times the average faculty member's salary, likely with a spousal accommodation, and the chutzpah to say the things that need to be said and to do the things that need to be done to move the programs forward, including hob-nobbing with the rich and famous to bring in more private dollars. In short, in order to get someone to do what needs to be done the faculty are likely to be envious and obstinate.

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