[The following statement was adopted by the UTK Faculty Senate on October 19, 1998. Please note that at the time the Senate adopted this statement a search process had already been established by the Board of Trustees which involved both a search committee comprising only Board members and a public advisory committee that included faculty members. The Senate statement acknowledged but was not intended to endorse that two-part process.]

The Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee has charged the Faculty Senate with the responsibility to recommend "criteria for the selection of the President and other statewide executive officers of the University."1 That instruction to the Senate reflects the belief that the process of selecting a system president should promote consensus among the institution's constituencies and that the faculty, as one constituency, have a primary role in the selection process.2

The Board of Trustees is legally responsible for the final choice of a president for the University of Tennessee. Faculty have an explicit role in the selection and evaluation of administrators3; have particular competence to judge the academic qualifications of candidates; have career commitments to their institutions that often exceed by decades the term of service of a president; and are the principal custodians of the institution's history, traditions, mission, and standards. Significant faculty involvement in the selection process promotes consensus regarding the institution's goals and challenges; selection of a president who does not enjoy strong faculty support would present a burden to the administrator and an obstacle to the progress of the University. It is on that ground that we recommend the following search procedures and selection criteria.

Search Procedures

There is a considerable professional literature concerning the selection of a college or university president.4 That literature presents useful advice concerning matters as diverse as the selection and duties of search consultants, the achievement of a balance between confidentiality and open records requirements, and the structuring of final interviews. The most common procedure is to have a search conducted by a single committee comprising board members and faculty, with the faculty having been chosen by their colleagues.5 That system is most likely to generate consensus concerning the needs of the institution and the strengths of the candidates. Given that our procedure will involve parallel structures--an advisory committee with faculty chosen by the administration and a decision-making committee consisting of board members--the Faculty Senate recommends the following steps to insure significant faculty participation in the search process and support for its outcome:

Selection Criteria

Any statement of the qualities of an ideal candidate for president should remain tentative until there is a full, public discussion among the constituencies of the UT campuses concerning the goals and challenges of the institution and until the conclusions from that discussion are presented in the advisory committee's formal statement. The list of qualities will include many that are not directly academic, such as political acuity and skill at fund-raising; we expect that the academic qualities on the eventual list will include these:

1UTK Faculty Handbook, 1996 edn., 1.6-14. (Back)

2The UTK Faculty Handbook identifies participation in the selection of University officers as a governance function specifically delegated to faculty: "A less direct but no less important role of the faculty is to advise University officers about certain administrative matters that are intrinsically related to the health and credibility of the University. These matters include ... 5. the selection of University officers.... The voice of the faculty in these areas is indispensable. Its advice cannot be lightly given or peripherally received" (UTK Faculty Handbook, 1996 edn., 1.7-22). (Back)

3UTK Faculty Handbook, 1996 edn., 1.7.3-24. (Back)

4A search in the ERIC database (1982-1998) identifies 121 publications on the subjects Administrator-Selection and College-Presidents. See the recent comment in "On the Use of Executive Recruiters in Presidential Searches," Academe Sept.-Oct. 1997: 83: "Hiring on the executive level has its own specialized lore, its own research studies, its own protocols, about which most faculty members and administrators do not have sufficient knowledge." (Back)

5The UTK Faculty Handbook (1996 edn.) anticipates an active role for the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate in selecting faculty representatives to the search committees: "When campus or system administrative appointments are to be filled, and where it is appropriate for faculty to be of assistance in recruitment and screening of candidates, the Executive Committee assists in the selection of faculty members of such screening committees and lends its counsel to the development of procedures for recruitment and screening of such candidates" (1.6-20). (Back)

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