Student members of dean and associate dean search and screening committees could soon get the right to vote for candidates.
Under current policies, student members of search committees for deans and associate deans are non-voting, but students are allowed to vote on search committees for vice presidents in administrative positions and other administrative employees.
The Personnel and Planning and Review Committee will be sending a recommendation to the Faculty Senate for consideration that this policy be changed, said Penelope Jennings, associate vice president for faculty affairs.
Edward Alfano, chair of the Personnel Planning and Review Committee, said that from personal experience students are valuable members of search committees.
“It’s always interesting to see how candidates respond to the students,” Alfano said. “It’s a good experience for students who proactively engage in the activities of the search committee, and it’s good for the candidates to interact with members of the student body.”
Heidi Wolfbauer, an administrative analyst and specialist for the Faculty Senate, said that the recommendation will go through an executive committee. If the recommendation is passed in the committee, it will be discussed at the Faculty Senate meeting May 18.
Jennifer Zvi, vice president of the Faculty Senate, said while student members are not allowed to vote in some executive search committees, it does not mean that their opinions are not valued.
“While students may not get to vote in matters of faculty promotions or salary increases, they do get to participate and vote in search committees for other administrative employees,” Zvi said.
Chad Charton, Associated Students president, said he received a positive response after he gave a presentation at a recent Faculty Senate meeting in favor of allowing students to vote.
Charton said that students should be able to not only participate in the committee, but also be able to validate their opinions through voting.
“If you ask students to serve on these committees, then they should be allowed to vote,” Charton said. “It gives very little credibility to the students and the college without shared governance and a collaborative effort from all the committee members.”
Michael Neubauer, former Faculty Senate president and current member of the search committee for the position of the director of Athletics, said that he strongly supports student participation in the search committees and supports giving them the right to vote.
“While voting is not (a) crucial part of the experience of being on the committee, at the same time, we don’t want (students) to feel like second-class members,” Neubauer said.
Neubauer encouraged more student participation, as he said he believes that student participation and input is crucial to the success of the search process.
“If students chose to take the time to participate in the committee, then they should have the same rights as all members, and the same responsibilities,” he said.
Neubauer said that means students are responsible for attending meetings and participating in activities of the committees. He said he realizes work and class schedules can be a conflict for students, which could be a reason it is sometimes difficult to find student members.
Therefore, the biggest issue may not be getting students the right to vote, but getting them to be part of the search committees, Alfano said.
He said he has concern about finding qualified students to participate in a timely matter.
Ideally, at the beginning of the year, A.S. should be able to identify senators or other students who are qualified and willing to be on the search committees, he said.
Alfano said that searches for student members are always on an ongoing basis and he thinks that there should always be a “pool (of students) ready to go.”
In the past, some search committees have been held up because of difficulty in getting student participation, he said.
Charton said his philosophy is to start searches within someone’s college first. He thinks that student participation is low because he and the rest of the A.S. Board are not always given the opportunity to find and recommend students.
“It’s about finding qualified students,” Charton said.
He said, for example, that if there is a search committee for a position at the College of Business and Economics, then it would make “more sense” to try to find students from that college.
Neubauer said that not finding qualified students quickly for the search process has not been much of a hindrance for a successful search because the committee will proceed without students.
“It’s an excellent opportunity out of the classroom ? one where you learn tremendously about the under workings of the institution,” Neubauer said. “It’s not something that is reflected in your G.P.A., but it is an experience that, overall as a person, will help you learn and grow.”