Semester ends, no candidates announced

Madeleine Winer

In 2006, when anyone asked Timothy Chandler how the search for the next Kent State president was going, his response was the same: “Things have been going fine.”

“ ‘I’m told we will have an announcement as soon as possible,’ ” Chandler, then the dean of the College of Fine and Professional Arts, would say. Chandler said he was instructed to say nothing about the search process as to not jeopardize any candidates or the search firm in the process.

In May of that year, after combing through applications for eight months, the 17-member selection committee named Lester Lefton as the only candidate it would recommend for president. The news led to disappointment among some faculty and members of the university community with the lack of openness and their involvement in the search.

As Kent State’s presidential search committee now seeks Lefton’s replacement, some fear the committee will announce a sole finalist. When Faculty Senate met with search committee chair Richard Marsh in September, Marsh hinted the committee might only name one candidate, said philosophy associate professor Deborah Smith.

The following month, the senate presented a resolution that called for multiple finalists to meet with the senate.

“When you get the three finalists, that’s when they’ve already been here a couple of times and its probably no secret to their institution that they’re looking,” Smith, member of the senate, said. “It’s probably time for the faculty and the rest of the university community to have some sort of input before the trustees make their decision. That’s what the majority of faculty senate is saying.”

Marsh has declined all media interviews until there is something to report.

Announcing Lefton

In announcing Lefton as the sole finalist in 2006, some believe the committee disobeyed university policy. According to the university’s policy register, which governs the procedures for selection administration positions, the search committee should have produced “no fewer than three and no more than five acceptable candidates for the position.”

However, Chandler said three candidates, including Lefton, were brought to campus. Chandler thinks the private search consultant, Jerry Baker of Baker Parker Global Executive Search, told the other two finalists they were not “the best fit” for Kent State.

“Rather than telling people ‘you came second, and you came third,’ it makes more sense to them to say that, if you wish to withdraw, it looks less damaging,” Chandler said. “It looks like you are more in control of your destiny than we are.”

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].