Imagine if the Board of Regents selected the top leader for the University of Kansas using the same transparent and open process that is used to hire the university’s deans and provosts.
Unfortunately, imagination will have to do, because it’s unlikely the Regents will let such an open and public search happen.
KU is in the process of hiring deans for its schools of business and social welfare. As part of the process, finalists for the dean positions are identified publicly and even asked to give public presentations. For example, each of the three finalists for business dean will present on the topic “Advancing the Stature and Impact of the KU School of Business.”
Such a process is commendable. There is no doubt that engaging the university community in this way helps ensure the right leaders are hired to serve in these critical university leadership positions. Public presentations help ensure the new deans have the support and confidence of faculty, students and staff.
But contrast the openness used in hiring deans and provosts with the clandestine process used to select the university’s chancellor.
The search is well underway to find a successor for Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who is retiring June 30. R. William Funk & Associates, the search firm hired to identify candidates, has provided a list of names to a 24-person search committee, but no information has been released about the list. David Dillon, chairman of the committee, wouldn’t even say how many candidates are on the list.
Dillon’s committee will now narrow the list to three to five candidates to give to the Board of Regents, who will select the next chancellor. But if anyone was hoping the finalists might give a public presentation on, say, “Advancing the Stature and Impact of the University of Kansas,” don’t hold your breath. The only finalist who will be identified is the chancellor who gets hired.
Kansas Regents have praised the closed search process, saying it ensures the strongest pool of candidates. Apparently, the best chancellor candidates aren’t comfortable with public scrutiny and fear people finding out they are in the market for a new gig, especially if they don’t get the gig.
It’s laudable that the University of Kansas challenges finalists for its dean and provost positions to make a public case for the job to the university community. And it’s terribly disappointing that Regents don’t ask those wishing to serve as KU’s top executive to do the same.