Letter to the Chancellor - Provost Search

September 20, 2010

Dear Chancellor Peacock,

Since the Provost position is of crucial importance to the work of the faculty, and given that Appalachian has a recent history of failed national searches for Provost, the Appalachian chapter of the American Association of University Professors offers below several suggestions that we believe will improve the likelihood of success for the current Provost search.

  1. Issue clear instructions to the search committee and make explicit your own criteria for the acceptability of candidates. Additionally, make those criteria known to any search firm that may be retained, and note any criteria that are decisive for a candidate’s success or failure in the public advertisement for the position.
  2. Provide an opportunity for the search committee from last year to offer advice to the members of this year’s search committee. It is inefficient to have the new search committee “ reinvent the wheel” (and potentially repeat any mistakes of the previous year), and it will benefit the new committee to understand what the previous committee learned during its search, about how to keep interview questions focused on matters of academic importance, for instance.
  3. Manage the feedback to the search committee from non-faculty constituencies to better reflect the fact that faculty input is paramount. The Provost, as the Chief Academic Officer of the University, is crucially important to the faculty work of teaching, research, and creative activity. Feedback from non-faculty groups, including administrators, should be thus be weighted to correspond to the principle that faculty input is the most important.
  4. Seriously consider appointing a senior faculty member, but not one who is a current Dean or other administrator, to chair the search committee. Service as chair of the search committee by a current Dean or other administrator raises potential conflicts of interest, since such administrators will serve at the will of any future Provost. While it is important to have a current Dean on the search committee, it is not necessary for a current Dean to chair the committee. And if staffing is a concern, an administrative assistant could easily be appointed from Academic Affairs to assist the search committee.

As always, in offering these suggestions the Appalachian AAUP strives to be a helpful resource, as we do on any matter of faculty concern on our campus. Thank you for considering our suggestions as you open a new national search for Provost at Appalachian.

Sincerely,

Dr. Colin Ramsey
President, Appalachian AAUP
Sanford Hall, ASU
Boone, North Carolina, 28608
Ramseyct@appstate.edu, x7390