Faculty give final thoughts for presidential search

Katie Smith

Braden Harp, Staff Reporter

Faculty had the chance to voice their preferences to the Presidential Search Committee at a final search forum Wednesday.

They brought attention to several concerns about the selection of a new president including where the candidate was from, bringing a sense of camaraderie to the faculty, and helping the university improve their online academics.

Roughly 20 faculty members poured into the Charleston-Mattoon room to speak up about issues facing the campus as well as what type of person the potential president should be.

Most of the members in attendance agreed the president filling Bill Perry’s shoes should help university employees develop a strong sense of fellowship.

History professor Bailey Young said his fellow faculty members will be more likely to continue going beyond their job duties if the new president brings a sense of companionship.

“The most important thing is that the faculty feels deeply engaged and people are willing to go the extra mile and more because they feel this sense of engagement,” Young said.

Mathematics professor Charles Delman said he agreed.

“The next president has to lead the university in really creating conditions in which those faculty feel supported,” Delman said.

Many faculty members said the next president should feel comfortable in Charleston and have a Midwestern background. They said they believe someone from this area of the country will be able to connect better with employees who work in Charleston.

History Professor Sace Elder said she wants the university to look for Perry’s replacement outside of Illinois as well.

“I wouldn’t want to limit ourselves to people from just this area because we don’t necessarily need another president who looks just like us,” Elder said.

She said although Eastern’s students and staff are more diverse than when she started working, she still wants diversity to be a main goal of the University.

Online academics were an issue as well. Many attendees of the forum voiced their concern for a clearer online component to the University, and they said the new president should do their best to push forward a university wide coordination of online classes.

David Mead-Fox, the presidential search consultant, said he will use the information from these meetings to put together a document he says will act as an “expanded job description.” He explained when the document is finished the search committee will use it as a “blueprint” for the search.

He added he is still looking for input from faculty and staff even after these meetings, and that these forums were not the only chance for the campus to voice their inputs in the search.

Bill Perry announced his retirement at the end of last semester. He will retire in June 2015.

Braden Harp can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].