For Elaine Bush, it has always been difficult to contribute to decisions within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources - until now.
Bush, director of Manistee Countys MSU Extension office three hours from MSU, is one of hundreds who can now help with the colleges dean selection process through a new Web site.
Because her staff makes the trip to campus only once or twice a year, its convenient for MSU Extension staff to get involved without leaving their desks, Bush said.
I am really impressed that they are keeping us appraised of the situation, she said. As long as we are having more and more technology available to us, its a real excellent way to get people involved in a dean search or in other kinds of things.
Fred Cholick, Andrew Novakovic, Jeffrey Armstrong and Kriton Hatzios, along with interim dean William Taylor are the five candidates in the running.
Bob Banks, vice president for academic human resources, said the site, which was launched last week, is the first at MSU to be used in a dean selection process.
Most dean searches are for colleges for which the constituents are right on campus, he said.
I think (the site) really is going to be more useful and relevant for colleges who have a significant number of external interest groups who are not on campus.
Banks said the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has the highest number of off-campus employees. MSU Extension offices, which are part of the college, are found in all 83 Michigan counties.
Kirk Heinze, chairman of the Deans Search and Rating Committee, said in the past off-campus staff had to come to campus in order to learn about dean applicants
The main purpose (of the site) was to increase participation of our students, faculty, field staff and stakeholders in this important process, he said. This Web site creates an opportunity to increase that participation.
The site lists the names of five finalists who are being considered for the position. Users have access to the candidates letters of application, résumés, and live videocasts of their public presentations on campus.
Candidate presentations began Monday and will continue through March 15. A recommendation is expected to be submitted to the MSU Provost Lou Anna Simon by April 1.
Constituents can submit electronic evaluation forms with their commentary about the candidates after reviewing candidates background and presentations.
Melissa Siemen, an advertising and agriculture natural resources communication sophomore, said students in the college have been offered opportunities to meet the candidates, but many students are unable to attend.
I think its a great idea to have the opportunity (on the Internet) even if students arent available, she said.
Although many students may not be concerned about who becomes their new dean, the new dean will be directly responsible for changes that will affect students in the next few years, Siemen said.
Heinze said the site is still an experiment, but he is confident it will work well.
I think when we democratize information, that can only be good, he said. And since thats a growing trend in the world, anything we can do to continue that would be very desirable.
The site can be accessed at http://www.canr.msu.edu/dean