Search team now includes ‘every constituency’

By Oona Goodin-Smith

It is no secret that Gary Russi left some big shoes to fill when he retired from his 18-year reign as Oakland University President August 2013. However, at a meeting Dec. 9, the university’s Board of Trustees strengthened the national quest for our newest leader with the announcement of four new additions to the Ad Hoc Presidential Search Committee.

The newest members, including Student Body President Brandon Hanna, Professor of physics Andrei Slavin, Registrar Steven Shablin, and Associate Professor of marketing Janell Townsend, “represent every constituency now,” according to Trustee Richard DeVore.

“I’m very excited and look forward to representing the student body as the official student representative on the Presidential Search Committee,”Hanna said. “It gives me the opportunity to best voice student concerns and opinions during the selection process of the new president of Oakland University.”

Slavin, a published author and chair of the physics department; Shablin, OU’s Registrar since 1998 and senator for the AP Assembly; and Townsend, an associate professor of marketing and international business with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Michigan State University, help to further diversify the committee, originally established on October 7.

 “I think any good committee should be made up of a wide spectrum of voices to get the fairest representation possible,” Japanese major and OU junior Mitchell Johnson said. “Oakland has done a good job with this.”

During the meeting, the board also approved R. William Funk & Associates as the Presidential Search Firm, which will assist the Ad Hoc Presidential Search Committee in the search for the university’s next President.

With the formation of the search committee off to a promising start, the inevitable question remains: when will we have our new president?

While the future remains clouded, we can look to the past for clues.

At the University of Idaho, a public university similar in enrollment and make-up to OU, President Duane Nellis accepted an offer at Texas Tech in March of 2013, leaving an opening for U of I’s top administrative role. 

After a search committee was finalized in April 2013, the list of finalists for the position was compiled by mid-September and the new president, Dr. Chuck Staben, was announced on November 18.

If OU follows in the University of Idaho’s footsteps, Grizzlies could be looking at a new president in a matter of months.

Students continue to remain optimistic on the future of Oakland University and its leadership.

 “There are lots of good things on the horizon for Oakland with the various construction projects that Interim President Youngblood has done a great job overseeing,” Christian Jones, a senior and communication major said. “With these additions, I hope the new president can lead Oakland through the next chapter of our school’s story as we start competing with programs at larger universities.”