Provost search request denied

Amadeus Smith

Yesterday George Garrison, president of Kent State’s Pan African Faculty and Staff Association, requested President Lester Lefton abort the current search for vice president for academic affairs and provost and begin a new search.

Garrison said the request was a result of candidates Walter Harris Jr. and Elizabeth Langland withdrawing from the search.

“For most of us who have been in academia for at least several decades … it is generally well known that individuals do not go through the trouble, and run the risks, of applying for a job at this level unless they are serious about it,” he said in an e-mail to Lefton. “When the top 50 percent of the finalist pool withdraws, it calls the process to question.”

Charlene Reed, senior assistant to the president, said Garrison was wrong when he implied Harris and Langland were the top 50 percent of the provost pool.

“We didn’t rank the candidates,” Reed said. “The search committee had strong support for all the candidates they recommended.”

Garrison listed three other items of concern in addition to the diminishing confidence among a portion of faculty and staff when it comes to the search process.

He said it is not uncommon to reopen searches to ensure finding the most qualified person for major positions within a university.

He also said the narrowed pool should be more diverse, a pool that “extends beyond white males.”

But, Reed said diversity was one of the most important issues when choosing candidates.

“The search committee was mindful of diversity at every step of the process,” she said.

Garrison also said since Kent State is a major university, it deserves and needs a better result.

“We cannot choose the provost through a process of elimination,” he said. “We need to go out there and actively search for the best person we can find.”

Jim Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information, said the search committee, which made the initial recommendations, isn’t involved with the hiring process at this point.

“When we made our recommendations, our duties concluded,” Gaudino said.

Now, Lefton will decide which candidate will become provost.

Reed said the current provost search will continue despite Garrison’s protest. Beginning a new search because of two candidate withdrawals would be unfair to the other candidates, she said.

“People drop out of searches all the time,” Reed said. “It’s not unusual.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].