Presidential search process gets underway

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.”

Wine to water · The men’s club crew team christened their new shell, the Steven B. Sample, in front of Bovard Auditorium on Wednesday. The team decided to dedicate the shell to the outgoing president in honor of his 19 years of leadership at USC. - Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

Wine to water · The men’s club crew team christened their new shell, the Steven B. Sample, in front of Bovard Auditorium on Wednesday. The team decided to dedicate the shell to the outgoing president in honor of his 19 years of leadership at USC. - Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

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.

9 replies
  1. AntiZooey2
    AntiZooey2 says:

    Zooey, I suggest researching what tremendous things Provost Nikias has done for the university during his tenure as Provost and looking into his incredible achievements as Dean of the Engineering School. After reading the facts, I recommend re-writing your post.

  2. Tom
    Tom says:

    Agree with “Alumni” above, I’m guessing the reason that students aren’t represented in this process is because students know next-to-nothing about running a successful university

    • oldschool
      oldschool says:

      I’d like to add my 2 cents. Back in the days, the early 1990’s and prior, USC was known as a party-school. The Trojans of today don’t know this, at least most of them.It was the days, that when we squashed UCLA at football, they’d retort back by labeling us the “dumb rich-kids’ school” whose only forte was football but not academics. The Bruins were right, USC dwelled on being a NFL expedient while foregoing its academic department. We were an organization that bought our privileges in life, not earn them. USC lost sight of the most important experience in higher education–academics!!!!!

      UCLA rightfully so, had every right to demean us that way. The past administrators and presidents didn’t care that we were academically inferior to them, or any academically prestigious university for that matter. They were smug.

      President Sample changed all that. And because today’s Trojans don’t know where we came from they shouldn’t be in the represented in the decision process.

      Now that our football program is at a low, let’s put a bigger portion of the budget into the academics rather football. It’s time to let go of football, and pass the torch to other schools.

      …Emerald Bowl, yay!!!!!

  3. Alumni perspective
    Alumni perspective says:

    I for one think Nikias would be a great hire. He has shown great vision at creating the widely popular Visions & Voices program and is quite friendly with students. Current students, however, should not have a vote in deciding who the next president is. They do not have the viewpoint necessary to see what is best for the university system as a whole, since their experiences are largely confined to their social niches and individual schools.

  4. antiZooey
    antiZooey says:

    I was reading my strategic management (BUAD 497) book today, yeah I’m crammed for a quiz, and it is proven time and time again, that hiring within an organization rather than outsiders, perpetuates the success of that organization.

  5. student
    student says:


    Can you elaborate on why that would be such a mistake? I don’t know anything about Provost Nikias, but I’d be interested to hear some background on this…

  6. Zooey
    Zooey says:

    Notwithstanding the gratuitous nature of Trustee Roski’s comments RE: inclusion of undergraduate students in the search process; the University can, at this point, command the attention of virtually any and all scholars and administrators in the US and around the world as candidates for the daunting task of being our next President. It is common knowledge among alumni that Provost Nikias has already begun his overtly strident and not-so-subtle campaign to assume that position. One can only hope that Mr. Roski and the other trustees understand that such a hiring would be a mistake of cataclysmic proportions.

Comments are closed.