Letter to the editor: Presidential search committee

Barry S. Winkler, Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences at Oakland University

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Dear Editor:

It was just about one year ago when I expressed in The Oakland Post and at a Board of Trustees meeting my strong disappointment about the appointment of a chief operating officer (COO) by the Board of Trustees. This position was created on the spot to perform duties which were previously those of the president and offered to a Board member at an enormous cost to the university. It is significant to note that COOs are not found at other institutions of Oakland’s size, and it was never clear why this position was needed.

It was especially egregious that the Board did not follow this public university’s rules regarding openness, transparency and equal opportunity because they did not conduct an open and fair search for this newly created position. Instead, the Board members themselves appointed an individual who himself was three days before a member of the Board of Trustees and who had not earned the COO position in a competitive search process. Clearly, the Board of Trustees wanted no input from the various employee groups on campus regarding the COO appointment.

And here we are today with the appointment of an Ad Hoc Presidential Search Committee whose composition can only suggest that the Board again wants no input from faculty and other employee groups on campus in this selection process for the next president. The announced committee consists of four trustees, three administrators, and one faculty member (eight voting members in all) and two non-voting students.

To me, this is hardly a representative committee of the various vested and interested groups on campus. Moreover, the Ad Hoc committee is charged with forwarding the names of three (unranked) candidates to the “full” Board of Trustees who will alone make the final decision.

I find it odd that half of the members of the ad hoc committee are trustees, who together represent 50% of the voters, and that the committee, in turn, will recommend three candidates to the full Board, where the four trustees on the Ad Hoc committee also make up 50% of the Board of Trustees (OU has eight Board members).

As stated in the Presidential Board Announcement (Oct. 27, 2016), “the Board alone will select and appoint the next president.” The announcement should have also included, “Input from individuals other than Board members is not welcome.”

Barry S. Winkler, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences