Graduate students want transparency in leadership search
August 29, 2019
The graduate students of the Institute of Communications Research held an open meeting on Tuesday with Tracy Sulkin, dean of the College of Media, to discuss the process of selecting the next leadership team for the ICR.
Members of the new leadership team will be chosen from among the current ICR faculty. The meeting was prompted as a response to an open letter, sent last June, from graduate students to the College of Media administration.
“Our doctoral students reached out with questions about the process to select leadership and ways in which they can participate, and so the College of Media leadership team was pleased to meet with them today,” Sulkin said in an email.
Graduate students were invited to the meeting to share their thoughts and concerns about the University’s doctoral program.
“The graduate program is a given, and the doctoral program is a given,” Sulkin said at the beginning of the meeting. “There is no question about the doctoral program being a priority here.”
Sulkin explained the ICR has been a key component of the ollege’s past as well as a crucial part of its future.
At the meeting, several graduate students expressed their concern the administrative decision-making process had not been completely transparent. Students felt as if they were mostly on the “receiving end,” being informed about changes after the faculty had already made decisions.
The issue of representation, the students added, is important to take into consideration when choosing the next leadership team.
Sulkin said the college is trying to come up with processes most — if not all — people feel are fair. The executive committee is working to focus more on gathering information to elicit broader and more inclusive participation from the college as a whole.
“We will communicate very clearly to you every process,” Sulkin said.
Some students agreed the issue of broken trust between the college and ICR graduate students is organizational. The college is, therefore, working to change its ways to ensure everyone is informed and updated in an efficient manner. Suggestions include creating a flow chart of how the department makes decisions, establishing a more methodized email inbox and changing the college’s website to be more up to date.
Sulkin said the executive committee will consist of four members, one from each department and one at-large member. Because the bylaws for the ICR were written a long time ago, it does not include student representatives.
“One thing to work on is revisions to the bylaws,” Sulkin said during the meeting. “We do operate by bylaws, and we stick with those that are written, but bylaws can be changed.”
Some graduate students who were at the meeting were unable to individually comment at the time of publication.