The following resolution was approved unanimously by the Academic Senate, California State University (ASCSU) at its November 6 plenary meeting in Long Beach, California. On November 3, the AAUP issued its own Statement on Presidential Searches.
ACADEMIC SENATE OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY
November 4-5, 2015
PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH PROCESS IN THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: ANNOUNCEMENT OF FINALISTS AND VISITS TO CAMPUSES
RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) reaffirm its position on open and transparent presidential searches expressed in AS-3035- 11/FA, Response to Proposed Changes to the Board of Trustees Policy for the Selection of Presidents: Affirming the Importance of Campus Involvement and Transparency (September 2011); and be it further
RESOLVED: That the ASCSU stand in solidarity with the 21 CSU campus senates that have approved resolutions in favor of the public announcement of finalists and official public visits by finalists to campuses; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the ASCSU urge the California State University (CSU) Chancellor and each Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (TCSP) for CSU Channel Islands, CSU Chico, San Jose State University and Sonoma State University to conduct open and transparent processes for the selection of campus Presidents, that provides for the public announcement of finalists with accompanying official public visits by finalists to campuses; and be it further
RESOLVED: That, for future Presidential searches, the ASCSU urge the CSU Chancellor and the Board of Trustees (BOT) to revise the current BOT policy to provide for the public announcement of finalists with accompanying official public visits by finalists to campuses; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to the CSU Board of Trustees, CSU Chancellor, Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (TCSP) for Channel Islands, TCSP for CSU Chico, TCSP for San Jose State University, TCSP for Sonoma State University, Advisory Committee to the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (ACTCSP) for Channel Islands, ACTCSP for CSU Chico, ACTCSP for San Jose State University, ACTCSP for Sonoma State University, CSU campus Presidents, CSU campus Senate Chairs, California State Student Association (CSSA) and the Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA)
RATIONALE: In 2011 the CSU Board of Trustees amended the Trustees Policy for the Selection of Presidents to make the public announcement of finalists and official campus visits in presidential searches at the discretion of the Chancellor and Chair of the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (TCSP) (http://www.calstate.edu/datastore/PresidentialSearch.shtml). At the time, the ASCSU passed AS-3035-11/FA, which advocated for the public announcement of finalists and the preservation of public campus visits by presidential candidates. In 2011, 13 CSU campus senates or their executive committees had also passed resolutions or issued statements urging the Trustees to retain public campus visits for finalists in presidential searches, and other campuses had similar resolutions in process. This November 2015 resolution reaffirms the position the ASCSU took in 2011, calls for the public announcement of finalists and public official visits for the four presidential searches being conducted in 2015-16, and urges the Chancellor and Board of Trustees to revise the current policy for the selection of presidents to include the public announcement of finalists and accompanying official public visits to campuses for future Presidential searches.
The ASCSU wishes to re-iterate several of the points made in the 2011 resolution. Provisions of the Trustees policy have significant implications for the nature and selection of a presidential search. The policy expresses a commitment to consultation with campus and community representatives, but rather than mandating an open and transparent search process, which includes the public announcement of finalists and their official public visit to campus, the policy provides that the Chancellor and the Chair of the TCSP together decide whether to schedule campus visits for presidential finalists making the process closed and secretive. (http://www.calstate.edu/datastore/PresidentialSearch.shtml). It is worth noting that since the change in the Trustees Policy for the Selection of Presidents, several searches for Presidents have been conducted, but in none of those searches have there been public announcement of finalists and their official visits to campus.
The argument that a closed and secretive search is necessary otherwise good strong candidates are likely to withdraw if their names are made public, runs counter to the manner in which people move up in the administrative ranks in organizations, especially universities, through open searches and public visits to campuses. Also, a vast majority of organizations and universities realize and are quite comfortable with the natural aspirations of their human resources, indeed encouraging and assisting in their movement to higher ranks.
Closed and secretive searches seem to suffer from other downsides as well. First is the inability of the campus community at-large to appraise the finalists and to find out relevant information about them through both public and private information sources, prior to the final selection and appointment of the President. Negative information about an appointee may not be revealed in a closed search. In one of the presidential searches, the BOT was unwilling to share the information that their preferred candidate was facing a faculty vote of no- confidence at his campus at the very time that the Advisory Committee was making its recommendations to the TCSP/BOT. This breach of transparency poisoned the campus reception of the new President and thus made his job of assuming authority over the campus more difficult. A second downside could be the appointment by the TCSP/BOT of an acceptable candidate as President who was not the preferred/best choice based upon the votes of the Advisory Committee to the TCSP. In such a situation, the best President for the campus could have been disregarded and bypassed, thereby shortchanging the campus of a great leader.
Currently 21 of the 23 CSU campus senates (spreadsheet including link to resolutions is attached) have approved resolutions urging open and transparent presidential searches, which include the public announcement of finalists and their official public visit to campuses. The resolutions have been sent to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees. One more CSU campus senate is considering a resolution with similar sentiments. The ASCSU supports and stands in solidarity with the campus senates and urges the Chancellor and each TCSP for Channel Islands, CSU Chico, San Jose State University and Sonoma State University to conduct open and transparent search processes requiring finalists for the campus Presidents position to officially visit campuses and meet with campus community members.
Confidence and satisfaction in the outcome are intricately linked to the type of process followed. Forgoing publicly announcing finalists’ names and scheduling official campus visits for them is behavior characteristic of a private corporation rather than a public university. There is a lack of opportunity for full campus community input into the choice of the president. Such a process also means the CSU does not meet the higher standards of transparency and accountability expected of public institutions. As a result, there is likely to be less confidence and satisfaction in the outcome on the part of the university community and the public.
Meaningful consultation means open campus visits where all members of the university community have the opportunity to meet finalists and ask them questions in a public forum. Such visits give the university and public insight into finalists’ knowledge of the campus and their ability to unify and lead the students, faculty, staff and administration. They also give finalists insight into the university community they aspire to lead. Such a process builds confidence in the community and satisfaction with the appointment of Presidents who match the culture of the campus, can work to unify the campus and lead it into new directions and greater successes.
Finally, the AAUP website provides a Presidential Search Committee Checklist to guide institutions in the application of presidential search policies. It emphasizes that:
open visits are crucial in the success of the search process because they permit members of the campus community to participate in providing impressions, as well as to contribute to the candidate’s understanding of the culture of the institution. In this final phase of the selection process, open visits present vitally important opportunities for both the campus community and the candidate to determine each other’s suitability. This final step is extraordinarily useful to the search committee in making its final recommendation to the board.
Approved Unanimously – November 6, 2015