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?