Presidential search committee holds forum in Kiva

Rachel Abbey

Fewer than 10 people gathered at the presidential search committee’s open forum last night, but chairwoman Sandra Harbrecht said the event was not a waste.

“The idea is to have as many different venues as you can so you can get the dialogue going, get the conversation started,” she said.

The forum was held in the Kiva. Community and committee members sat together to encourage more informal discussion.

After a slow start, Harbrecht sparked conversation by asking the audience what they think is compelling about Kent State.

“It’s a great university,” said Cheryl Casper, president of the faculty union and economics professor. “We all know the facts and figures that can be cited. We have great programs. We could go through each one and talk about their national, and sometimes international, reputations.”

Community members mentioned the regional campuses, an enthusiastic student body and hands-on programs as some of Kent State’s strengths.

Members also could ask questions. Alumnus Larry Shaffer wanted to know what the search committee was looking for in the next president.

“I’m sure the committee members have a lot of opinions, but today we want to listen,” Harbrecht said. “We’re trying to integrate our ideas with the ideas of many other constituent groups.”

Shaffer said he was upset with the idea of someone outside the university being hired to tell the school what it needs, and came to the forum to see what the search committee was doing.

Casper said she was a little worried because none of the current members of the Board of Trustees were around when President Carol Cartwright was hired. She thinks the faculty and other university community might have different ideas about the process than the committee does when it comes to issues such as meeting the candidates.

The committee had its first meeting yesterday, before the forum. A search consultant, Jerry Baker, has been hired and will move forward with the search process.

Baker is a member of Baker Parker, a consulting firm. He said he has been in the business for 30 years and has participated in about 800 searches, half of them in higher education. He has done about 35 to 40 presidential searches, including searches for the University of North Carolina, the University of Illinois and Indiana University. This is his first involvement with Kent State.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].