By SUSAN JONES
Provost Ann Cudd has thrown her hat in the ring for the presidency of Portland State University, and appeared at the Oregon school on Feb. 9 for a public forum. (See story in the school’s student newspaper, the Vanguard.)
The Portland State presidential search website said there were three finalists for the job, but one had dropped out of consideration without their name ever being released publicly. The other finalist is Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, who visited the campus on Feb. 14.
Last spring, Cudd was one of five finalists for the job of chancellor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The position ultimately went to Jennifer Mnookin, former dean of the UCLA law school.
Many have speculated that Cudd would be among those considered to replace Patrick Gallagher as chancellor at Pitt, but the Board of Trustees search committee has said it is keeping the names of all candidates confidential until a decision is made.
In the 1990 chancellor search that brought J. Dennis O'Connor to the job, the names of the five semi-finalists were made public as they were brought to campus to meet with various trustees, faculty, staff and student groups. The subsequent searches in 1995 and 2013 that resulted in Mark Nordenberg and Gallagher being named chancellor have been strictly confidential.
Some states require that all or parts of the search process for public university leaders be transparent, but Pennsylvania has no similar requirement for the state-related schools.
Geovette Washington, Pitt’s chief legal officer who is assisting the chancellor search committee, said all the candidates the committee has talked to have been concerned about confidentiality. In searches for leaders of large research universities like Pitt, Washington said all the top candidates are coming from good jobs. Making the search more public could impact their ability to keep those jobs, she said.
Having a large search committee — 26 people from all parts of the University community — helps balance out the lack of public input, Washington said.
Senate President Robin Kear said she believes finalists for academic administrator positions should be open at the final stage, and open for broader input. “An open talk would be nice to see how they interact with the Pitt community,” she said. “I do understand concerns about keeping the chancellor finalists private, that maybe it helps to attract candidates that would not consider the position otherwise, but generally I err on the side of openness and transparency for those that really want the position.”
Lindsay Rodzwicz Burns, president of Staff Council, said she now believes that making public the semifinalists for the chancellor position would limit the pool of applicants.
“If you had asked me the same question prior to being a member of Staff Council, or when I had not previously sat on a University search committee … my answer may have been different,” she said. “But with those insights into the shared governance processes, I do believe that some qualified candidates would not come forward if their applications were made public — hence the need for utmost confidentiality by the search committee.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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