The Eastern Michigan University Faculty Senate pulled all representation from the Presidential Search Advisory Committee for the first time in EMU’s history. The vote reflects on the Senates’ rejection of the Board of Regents’ decision to run a closed presidential search.
According to Judith Kullberg, a professor in the political science department and the vice president of the Faculty Senate, the Senate first voted to withdraw its representative from the PSAC in late October. The Faculty Senate followed the vote by offering a compromise to the Regents.
She said the Regents responded with a counter-proposal, which the senate voted to not accept 22-6 at the Nov. 18 meeting.
In a statement, the Senate said its efforts to modify the search began in September when Regent Michelle Crumm, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said the search would be conducted privately.
According to the official website on the presidential search, the confidential search process gives candidates in leadership positions “the freedom to pursue exciting opportunities while minimalizing negative repercussions in their current role.”
The website states that reports have shown between 75 and 80 percent of potential candidates won’t apply to positions that require public meetings and interviews.
After senators expressed opposition to the decision to Crumm at the Sept. 16 Senate meeting, the Faculty Senate submitted a letter to the entire Board of Regents on Oct. 7. The letter insisted on public, on-campus forums for finalists and offered suggestions for modifications in the search process that would allow for shared governance between the Senate and the Board.
On the website, the drawbacks of the search process are acknowledged.
“A confidential process does not allow broad based campus/community involvement. This puts the responsibility on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee to advocate for the constituency groups they represent. It also requires confidence in the Board of Regents to take into consideration general campus sentiment and feedback gathered from the listening sessions.”
The Board of Regents responded to the Senate’s requests in a letter on Oct. 16. The response offered the Senate two additional positions on the PSAC, bringing the total faculty positions to three. The Regents did not agree to change other components of the search.
The Senate did not accept the two additional seats on the committee and voted on Oct. 21 to pull all representation.
The Faculty Senate Executive Board drafted a new proposal, “A Shared Governance Model for Presidential Searches at Eastern Michigan University,” which passed in a vote of 22-6 on Nov. 4. The Senate created the proposal “[a]s a means of overcoming the current impasse regarding the plans of the Board of Regents conduct a closed presidential search […]”
The proposed model kept the two-tiered search committee structure, the Presidential Search Committee and the PSAC, but changed the composition of the PSAC. According to the proposal, it also “incorporates the standard search practices used by academic departments within EMU that guarantee fair evaluation of all applicants.”
In the proposal, the Senate offered to accept the closed search in exchange for an increase in the number of faculty members on the PSAC to seven. It requested the Regents adhere to “democratic decision rules” when selecting finalists and a commitment by the Regents to choose exclusively from the finalists selected by the PSAC.
The Faculty Senate also requested that after interviewing candidates, the PSAC interviews the finalists and second time.
In a counterproposal, dated Nov. 11, the Regents included one more faculty member on the PSAC, matching the number of faculty members and regents sitting on the committee.
In her response letter to the Faculty Senate, Crumm said the addition of another seat is to further encourage faculty participation.
“This offer is reflective of the positive discussions that have taken place and as a restatement of our sincere support to the role of faculty in the search process and to the principles of shared governance,” she said.
The Board of Regents did not agree to any other elements of the proposal that the Faculty Senate requested be changed. The counterproposal did not allow the Senate to offer another proposal, ending negotiations.
“[I]t is important that we move forward to continue the search process in order to have it concluded in a timely and successful manner,” Crumm said in the letter. “Therefore, the Board of Regents will not entertain any further proposals on this matter and the search process will proceed.”
In the debate of the Regents’ counterproposal at the Nov. 18 Senate meeting, “members expressed the view that the Board of Regents not only wanted a completely confidential search, but one that they controlled entirely,” according to the Senate statement.
In her letter, Crumm said she has had several “meaningful” discussions with members of EMU faculty and Faculty Senate members. She said she has also participated in two Faculty Senate meetings.
“I have actively listened during each of these opportunities and appreciate the candid discussions that have taken place,” Crumm wrote.
For information on EMU’s presidential search, go to emich.edu/presidential-search/regent-messages/introduction. According to the website, questions and concerns should be directed to Crumm at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Board of Regents office at 734-487-2410.
The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held Wednesday in Room 310A in the Student Center.
The next Board of Regents meeting will start at 8:30 a.m., Dec. 8 in various locations throughout Welch Hall.