The committee charged with finding a replacement for President Steven B. Sample, who announced his retirement last month, has begun the process of searching for applicants and seeking input from the USC community, but some are concerned about the level of student involvement.
“We’re going to come up with the best president we can get for USC,” said Ed Roski, Jr., the chairman of both the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. “We’ve had a tremendous success with President Sample and we want to continue that success going forward.”
Six other trustees and six faculty members from both of USC’s campuses sit on the advisory committee, which Roski formed based on the advice of chairmen from the Board of Trustees at other major universities that have recently selected a new president. The faculty members come from a variety of different fields.
“We wanted to have a representative group of the faculty on the selection committee,” Roski said. “The faculty on the committee have been at USC, they understand USC … and they have the respect of the students and the respect of other faculty members.”
Conspicuously missing from the search committee, however, are students.
Though the committee met with the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Committee and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate on Nov. 17 and 18, USG President Holden Slusher said he does not feel students are involved or represented enough in the search.
“[The meetings are] the full extent of student interaction in this process and we just think that’s unacceptable,” Slusher said. “It’s rude that the head trustee of our university would say that we can’t trust students in the same way that we can trust faculty and other trustees.”
At one of the meetings, students from the USG executive board discussed what they want in the next president, telling the trustees they want Sample’s successor to continue his engagement with teaching and establish a strong personal vision, community service interests and well-rounded endeavors, Slusher said.
Slusher is now working with the USC Graduate Senate to encourage the committee to accept at least one undergraduate and one graduate student to serve as representatives or guest members on the committee, to ensure that student interests are not “undermined.”
“It’s my job as the president of the undergraduate student body to make sure that the needs of the undergraduate students are at all times met,” Slusher said. “This is one point in our history when we can affect not just the lives of the current students, but all future students.”
Slusher said he would recommend the top candidates speak to campus organizations and take questions from students.
“Although I trust the process and know that we’ll get a great president, I do think that we need more student input and that’s why we’re fighting for this,” he said.
USG passed a resolution Tuesday requesting more student involvement in the search process and representation on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
“It’s not exactly prudent for students to be involved in the process as they search through over 600 potential candidates, but when we get down to a couple choices I think students need to be involved in that process,” Slusher said.
But Roski said the committee is making every effort to include student viewpoints.
The committee has not yet determined the criteria by which to judge candidates, Roski said, but it has held “student to student” discussions to gain an understanding of the qualities students would like to see in their next president.
“We are involving the students,” Roski said. “It’s important for us to listen to the students, see their views at the university.”
To lead the search process, the committee has hired William Funk, head of a higher education search consultant firm, Roski said.
Under Funk’s guidance, the advisory committee has published advertisements in publications like the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The committee has already received a number of letters of interest, Roski added.
The members plan to start reviewing prospects in mid-January, before narrowing down the contenders and conducting interviews. Though Sample gave the trustees nine months until he steps down in August, the trustees plan to name his successor by June 1, 2010.