Ithaca College is currently looking for someone to fill the position of provost and senior vice president of educational affairs, and the search process has been underway since November of 2017.
The hiring of a new provost has an incredible impact on a student’s everyday life. As the provost oversees choices that influence academic programming, support services for students and the development of other activities related to the campus community, it seems important that students have ample chance to meet the final candidates for the position, as they did with the last time this position was searched.
Consultants from Witt/Kieffer, the firm hired to help find candidates for the position, have already held forums for students, faculty and staff to best determine qualities a good candidate should have. Not only that, but the search committee is composed of faculty, administration and students. While this is important, the campus community deserves to meet and engage with final candidates before they are selected. After all, the college community has had a whirlwind few years. There were major issues of transparency with Tom Rochon’s presidency. The campus community also should have been aware of the sexual abuse allegations against President Shirley M. Collado sooner. An open search would have made this information more likely to become public during the search process.
Admittedly, there are issues with an open search. An open search might deter high-profile candidates that currently have high-ranking positions at other institutions — they might fear that their interest in a new position will weaken their position with their current employers, and might want a closed search to avoid that.
But closed searches do not necessarily produce better candidates. Open searches allow for candidates to get a feel for the campus and see if their personal beliefs match those of the larger community. They also allow for feedback from the general community, not just the select few chosen for the search committee. Searches often remain closed simply for the sake of the firm hired to help select candidates, so that they may shop candidates at multiple universities without harming their reputations.
An open search for candidates to fill the position of provost and senior vice president of educational affairs is the best way forward.