Senate weighs faculty input in search process

The Urbana-Champaign Senate met for its annual faculty meeting Monday, where it discussed the faculty influence on the Presidential Search Committee.

Senate Executive Chair Joyce Tolliver addressed the body with parting words regarding President B. Joseph White and former Chancellor Richard Herman.

“Today’s event represents in the history of our campus is one that is steeped ambivalence, it is a melancholy moment,” Tolliver said. “But, like autumn itself and indeed like all transitions, it is also a moment of change, of expectation or optimism.”

The Board of Trustees projected a July 1 deadline for deciding on a new, permanent University president, said Interim President Stanley O. Ikenberry.

The senate continued with discussion of faculty involvement in the presidential search process. The search committee will contain one student representative from each campus in the University of Illinois system along with three board members and eight faculty members. The committee will also include members from various other organizations and administrative offices, including the University of Illinois Foundation and the Alumni Association. Last week student government groups from each campus submitted student nominations for the board’s approval.

The U-C Senate’s Committee on Committees sent nine faculty nominees to the board, Tolliver said. The board will select three of the nine to represent the Urbana campus.

“The group is a good variety of people,” Tolliver said. “If any end up on the search committee I think they’d represent our campus very well.”

The board has received nominations from students, faculty and alumni, Ikenberry said. Board chairman Chris Kennedy will make recommendations to the board for specific appointments at its Nov. 12 meeting.

“I think it is a wise move, having a close relationship between faculty and board. It’s a healthy enterprise,” Ikenberry said.

Open meetings for student and faculty input will also be used to consider criteria for the presidential search, he added.

“We are going to have open meetings that will give the faculty and students a much broader voice as to what qualifications a president should have,” Ikenberry said. “It should be a very open and transparent process.”

Interim Provost Robert Easter also spoke at the meeting.

“One of the challenges in a time like this is not to look in the review mirror, but look to the future and be creative in bringing in new solutions to the floor,” Easter said. “It’s within the body of the faculty and others on this campus where the wisdom for the future will emerge.”

Tolliver said she has confidence in the University’s new governance.

“I have a great deal of faith in the expertise and goodwill of those who will lead our campus through this transition,” Tolliver said.

“But we will need the support of the University – the faculty, as represented by their elected senators.”