Search committee aims for convenience

Rachel Abbey

There have been eight chances for the university community to attend open forums sponsored by the presidential search committee as of yesterday.

Chairwoman Sandra Harbrecht said the committee decided to offer options to the public by holding a greater number of forums, even though the attendance would probably be higher for each meeting if they held less.

“I think the reason to do so many is to make it convenient for people who want to be involved in the process,” she said.

With so many held, more people overall have the opportunity to find a meeting that fits their schedules, Harbrecht said. So far, the committee has held forums on the Kent, Salem, Trumbull and Tuscarawas campuses.

“People just became aware of us,” said Dan Fuller, associate English professor. “Attendance was quite limited at the first two and has increased exponentially.”

Fuller has attended four of these open forums. Only 10 or 12 people attended the first couple meetings, he said, but at least 30 people attended each forum in Trumbull and Tuscarawas this week.

This committee has created a reputation of really listening to the public’s comments, Fuller said.

“I’m not patting ourselves on the back, but it’s been established since the beginning,” he said. “They will be listened to. I think some people don’t think they have something to say, but they’re finding they do.”

The first open forum’s attendance was fairly small, with the number of audience members rivaling the amount of committee members present. Since then, the committee has tried to increase advertising with flyers, e-mails, Web site updates, media coverage and word of mouth, Harbrecht said.

“We’ve asked people to talk it up,” she said.

The committee will use the information it gathers to help form a position summary of the overall qualities the next president should have, Harbrecht said.

“It’s a significant and major task, but these forums will make it easier,” Fuller said.

The committee is not planning additional forums after winter break.

“That doesn’t mean people will stop having input,” Harbrecht said. “We’ll be reading the e-mails and comments we get from the Web site.”

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].