A new PSU president the search commences… or board of trustees approves their own authority

The Portland State Board of Trustees convened Aug. 4 to approve a resolution to begin the search process for PSU President Wim Wiewel’s replacement.

“This is the most important thing a board of trustees has to deal with,” said Board Chair Pete Nickerson.

The resolution started with recitals of the statutes that the board has the authority and responsibility to select a new president. They then approved that resolution. Nothing in the resolution diminishes or delegates that ultimate authority.

The board will appoint a Presidential Search Committee which will not select the president, but advise Nickerson. The chair and vice chair of the committee will be trustees.

The resolution states that desired committee membership should be 17–20 members and include:
-Four trustees.
-A vice president.
-A dean.
-A Faculty Senate representative.
-Two additional faculty members.
-Representatives from the American Association of University Professors.
-A representative from the Service Employees International Union.
-A representative from Portland State Union of Faculty Adjuncts.
-An undergraduate and graduate student.
-Members of the foundation and alumni boards.
-A president of an Oregon public university.

The board chair also has authority to appoint additional committee members.

The resolution makes clear that the board intends the search to be conducted and completed during the 2016–17 academic year, and that the search will be conducted in a way that is consistent with the tradition of shared governance.

Resources and literature accessed to develop the resolution include the experiences of some board members on other boards, the Association of Governing Board’s 176 page book The Complete Guide to Presidential Search for Universities and Colleges, an Oregon University System template and an understanding of the University of Oregon’s process for their 2015 hiring of President Michael Schill.

The board stated that it wants a strong, diverse and inclusive pool of candidates. The equity lens that is part of the strategic planning process will be utilized as part of the presidential search process.

The day-to-day search process is to be monitored by a board committee of 15–20 persons.

The process is to be managed by the board search committee and chair, including the timeliness and progress of the search and opportunities for campus input. A PSU web page is to be provided to broadcast information and progress regarding the search. The search committee will also develop a profile and description of ideal candidates.

The board will then retain a search firm to find candidates.

Finalists for the position of PSU president will be publicized, but applicants’ confidentiality will be retained. According to a recent University Communications press release, “Once the finalist or finalists are made public, a public forum will be held to provide an opportunity for the campus community to meet the finalists and give feedback to the search committee and trustees.”

The board’s final vote and decision on the future president will be in public meeting accord.

“Board trustee and English professor Maude Hines added language to the resolution to enhance communication with the campus community in developing characteristics for a new president prior to when recruitment of candidates begins this fall,” the UComm press release stated. “She said the 50-member Faculty Senate has a crucial stake in the search process on behalf of PSU’s hundreds of professors.”

UComm further wrote that “board trustee and student Steff Shao said she appreciates that the search committee will include an undergraduate and a graduate student but wants to make sure that ‘students are kept in the know’ during the process.”