Here’s the progress you missed over break

Kent State University Board of Trustees Chair Ralph Della Ratta holds the “committee of the whole” meeting on Dec. 5, 2018. At right is President Beverly Warren. The Board named an executive search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, to find Warren’s replacement when she retires July 1, 2019.

Laina Yost

As students prepared for finals and headed home for the holidays, the search for Kent State’s next president moved into high gear.

Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:

Kent State releases contract with Russell Reynolds Associates

The contract between the university and executive search firm Russell Reynolds details the costs of the search, including a $170,000 retainer cost for the firm’s services, plus a $9,000 administrative fee.

The total cost of the search will be more and will equal one-third of the new president’s first-year total cash compensation. This will include their salary and any other “monetary inducements” accepted as part of the hiring negotiations.

The Board of Trustees selected the search firm on Dec. 5 to aid committee members in finding and recruiting candidates. KentWired received a copy of the contract on Dec. 13.

Russell Reynolds considers all “processes, procedures, database, portal, candidate and search-related documentation and personal data, and all internal electronic and written correspondence to be confidential, proprietary information, and trade secrets,” according to the contract.

Read the story and see the full contract here.

Committee members sign codes of conduct

Every member on the presidential search committee signed a “code of conduct” that pledged confidentiality and that only the chair of the committee, trustee Shawn Riley, is authorized to speak to media.  

The members also agreed not to reveal the names of candidates or any information about them before or after the search. The codes of conduct said the effort was necessary in order to protect candidates’ current job positions.

The 16-member committee includes three trustee members, one undergraduate student, one graduate student and five professors.

Read the full codes of conduct and story here.

First public forums held on campus

The first forums, open to all students, staff, faculty and community members, took place on Dec. 14, the last day of finals week.

Some of the topics mentioned were diversity, relations between the city of Kent and Kent State, the anniversary of May 4, 1970, faculty union issues and enrollment.

Riley, who hosted the forums, met with some student groups and Faculty Senate on Dec. 10.

One forum was held on the Kent campus, while the other was hosted on Stark’s campus. It’s unclear if there will be any more public forums in the future.

Riley encouraged the community to make suggestions and comments at kent.edu/presidentialsearch. The website launched in December.

Read the full story on the forums here.

Journalism faculty urges transparency

Faculty from Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) signed a statement that called for a commitment to an open search.

It asked the trustees and search committee to bring candidates to campus for public vetting. The statement, released Dec. 17, also asked the university to follow Ohio’s open records law.

“While the search was in its early stages, we wanted to put ourselves on the record and actually ask that the search committee seriously consider changing the way the search would be conducted as compared to last time,” said Mark Goodman, the Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism and author of the statement.

Amy Reynolds, the dean of the College of Communication and Information (CCI) — which includes JMC — is on the committee. Eugene Shelton, the coordinator for diversity initiatives at the university and a journalism professor, also serves on the committee.

Read the full statement and story here.

AAUP-KSU releases statement

AAUP-KSU, the union representing faculty at Kent State, asked the trustees and search committee to be “respectful of the policies that govern searches for major academic administrative positions as well as the state laws of Ohio.”

The university policy for major administration positions requires that at least three candidates, and no more than five, are selected.

The policy also states that Faculty Senate’s committee on administrative officers must interview candidates for administrative positions.

AAUP-KSU’s statement, released Dec. 21, said the university followed this policy in searches for provosts and vice presidents, but hasn’t done so in a presidential search.

The union also said it supported JMC faculty’s statement, and it reiterated that the trustees and the search committee should commit to a transparent process, including a “pre-hiring public assessment.”

AAUP-KSU is currently in the middle of contract negotiations with Kent State and voted to authorize a strike if necessary over a lack of progress.

Read the full statement on the presidential search here.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks, the search committee and Russell Reynolds will likely create a position profile, which specifies what Kent State wants in its president, and release a job posting, according to the firm’s proposal.

KentWired requested to speak with search committee chair Riley, the only member authorized to talk with media, but no interview has been scheduled.

Laina Yost is a senior reporter. Contact her at [email protected]