Presidential search committee to have no student representation

Board Chairman DeVore: “I know there were things done last time that were concerning to people, and I’m hopeful not to repeat that.”


Bohdanna Cherstylo

Board of Trustees Chairman Richard DeVore (center) will lead the search committee for President George Hynd’s (right) successor.

The Oakland University Board of Trustees has named four confirmed members of the presidential search committee.

Trustees Richard DeVore, Mark Schlussel, Melissa Stolicker and Ronald Robinson will participate in the search. DeVore, chairman of the board and the search committee, said the goal is for the committee to include a dean, faculty members and someone who represents the campus community.

While university representatives are great advocates for students, they aren’t students

— Cassie Hock

Though the board held a standing-room-only formal session on Monday, Oct. 24, the remaining four committee members will not be announced until the morning of Friday, Oct. 28.

Sean Foe, student liaison to the board, directly asked the board whether there will be any student representation on the search committee.

“We have somebody from the staff that we feel pretty convinced will represent the students,” DeVore said. “ . . . Three years ago, the selection was made after graduation, and so my guess is it will be again. We felt like that was awkward, so there will not be a student on the committee.”

Back in 2013-14, Student Body President Brandon Hanna was a voting member of the twelve-person search committee for current University President George Hynd.

“While university representatives are great advocates for students, they aren’t students,” said Cassie Hock, student liaison to the board. “They can have some perspective, but when it comes down to it, they don’t know.”

Student Body President Zack Thomas sent a five-page letter to DeVore following the meeting, which outlined his argumentation for student representation on the committee.

“There is everything to gain, nothing to lose by adding a student vote,” Thomas said. “OU students are the primary stakeholders of the university, comprising the lion share of OU’s revenue. We deserve a voice and vote on this committee.

“If there is anything that this year’s OUSC has shown, it’s that we can work with the administration and board to make real change happen. We would like that to continue, but it cannot if excluding students is the direction the board is taking.”

DeVore said that when the names of the other search committee members are released on Friday, students will see that they were highly considered and will be well-represented by staff.

“I am confident that my letter will change DeVore’s mind,” Thomas said. “If not, Anders [Engnell] and I will hold true to our campaign promises — we will amplify the student voice through other means, if necessary.”

DeVore also promised that both the pool of candidates and the committee will be diverse in race and gender.

Search procedure

DeVore said he hopes to negotiate a five-year contract for the next president, in contrast to Hynd’s three-year contract, which expires in August.

When asked why they’re considering a longer term this time around, DeVore said, “Lessons learned. I go back again to when we hired George. There was trauma here [after the resignation of former President Gary Russi]. So, I think that the natural inclination was go shorter rather than longer.”

DeVore added that the norm for university presidential contracts is about seven years, with a five-year initial contract and additional years added to that contract before its expiration.

“There have been some studies that have shown that after eight or nine years, people aren’t as effective,” DeVore said.

Hock said the five-year contract will provide more stability for OU.

“If we had done Hynd for five years, the stability of the university would have run for the next two years, and then we would have to deal with the instability,” she said.

DeVore also addressed the timing of the announcement that the university is seeking a new president.

“In talking with George, I did not want to be making announcements right after trustee meetings. I find that to be someone disingenuous. And [Hynd] wasn’t suggesting that . . . we wanted to get it out there.”

DeVore hopes to have a new president in place by June, so he or she could work with Hynd and make the official transition in the first or second week of August. Working backward, that gives the committee eight or nine months to make a selection.

The committee’s next goal is to select a search firm before the next board meeting on Dec. 5.

The search will remained closed until there are two or three final candidates, which DeVore estimates will be around April or May. Then, the search will be shifted to an open forum in which students and faculty are encouraged to participate.

DeVore said the committee will “err on the side of overcommunicating” with the campus community during the search.

“Even if we have nothing to say, we’re just going to remind you that we’re still working on it . . . I know there were things done last time that were concerning to people, and I’m hopeful not to repeat that.”