Wednesday, February 28, 2024

'We should not be settling': MSU faculty respond to Trustee’s president search ideas

September 25, 2023
Faculty liaison Jack Lipton at the Board of Trustees Meeting at the Hannah Administration Meeting on Sep. 8, 2023.
Faculty liaison Jack Lipton at the Board of Trustees Meeting at the Hannah Administration Meeting on Sep. 8, 2023. —
Photo by Denille Reid | The State News

Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate passed a non-binding resolution at their September meeting pushing back on comments made by presidential search committee chair and trustee Dennis Denno.

Earlier this month, Denno told The State News that by Thanksgiving, the board intends to announce the university’s next president. He said the chosen person does not necessarily need to have an “academic background” or be recommended by the search committee.

That means the candidate chosen by MSU’s elected Board of Trustees could be different from those recommended by the separate search committee which includes representatives of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

In the resolution, the faculty senate demanded that the chosen candidate be “a preeminent scholar, an accomplished academic and an individual with substantial experience in leading a university administration.”

It also asks that the board not only limit their selection to only those endorsed by the search committee, but that the chosen candidate be someone approved by a majority of the faculty and academic staff representatives on the committee, essentially giving those members' votes increased weight.

"We are saying they should not seriously entertain any finalist without a majority of faculty and academic staff saying they're qualified," Faculty Senate Chairperson Jack Lipton said.

The resolution also asks that the entire search be allotted as much time as is needed, rather than being “limited by arbitrary deadlines” like Denno’s Thanksgiving goal. 

“There’s a time and place to make concessions, but given everything we as a community have experienced this last decade, we should not be settling on the qualities of the next president, particularly for an arbitrary deadline,” Justin St. Charles, one of the senators supporting the resolution, said at the meeting.

The faculty senate’s role is advisory. Resolutions like this one are non-binding, but are intended to democratically voice opinions of the faculty to those like the board and president who can enact the policies they propose.

Denno did not return a request for comment from The State News Monday asking whether he would adopt the faculty’s recommendations.

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