[This report was presented and discussed at the special meeting of the University Senate on January 9, 1970.]


January 9, 1970

On Friday, December 19, 1969, the Board of Trustees of The University of Tennessee announced that Dr. Edward J. Boling had been elected as President of The University of Tennessee, to succeed Dr. Andrew D. Holt, effective September 1, 1970.

In the years since Dr. Boling came to the University from a position in the state government, he has proven that he is a capable administrator, that he is able to work effectively with public and private agencies in obtaining much needed financial support for the capital development program of the University, and that he is dedicated to the further development of the University as an institution serving the people of Tennessee. In these activities and all other activities contributing to the future development of the University, Dr. Boling should understand that the faculty and students are ready to serve and cooperate to the extent of their abilities and trust that Dr. Boling will take advantage of our offer.

It has been asserted that the faculty and students were given a significant role in the election of the new President and that those who urged a continuation of the search for a president represent a very small and vocal group of disgruntled faculty and students. The remainder of this report gives the committee's view of the selection process. It is our view that there is dissatisfaction, significant and wide-spread dissatisfaction, and that much of this dissatisfaction comes from the failure of the Board of' Trustees effectively to utilize the faculty and students in the selection process.

If recent history may serve as a guide, there is a considerable body of evidence to indicate that the University of Tennessee administration at the highest levels and the Board of Trustees have insufficient concern for the effective utilization of the abilities, the good will, and the cooperation of the faculty and students in matters that are of vital importance to the University. It may be maintained that the faculty and students are the University and that in filling high administrative posts, advice and counsel from faculty and students should he imperative. Yet, in recent years, Dr. Andrew D. Holt, President, Dr. H. E. Spivey, former Academic Vice President, Dr. Jack Williams, Academic Vice President, Dr. Joe Johnson, Vice President, Dr. Ed Boling, Vice President, Dr. Archie Dykes, Chancellor, and Dr. Charles Weaver, Chancellor, have all been elected or appointed without any significant effort to solicit the counsel of the faculty and students.

After the appointment of Chancellor Weaver by President Holt without any consultation with faculty or students, and in view of wide-spread faculty and student dissatisfaction, the President promised that in the future no important administrative post would be filled without seeking the advice and counsel of the representatives of faculty and student groups on the various campuses. Thus, when President Holt announced his coming retirement, the Board of Trustees was apparently persuaded to consult faculty and student groups on the various campuses. The Board of Trustees formed a "Screening Committee," and on each campus a "Faculty-Student Committee" was designated to serve the Screening Committee by the Chancellor or appropriate official. However, the Board Screening Committee delayed recognition of these committees for about five weeks and then did not accede to our request to institute a system-wide committee. Thus, a small system-wide "Executive Faculty-Student Committee" to work intimately with the full Board Screening Committee was not formed; faculty-student involvement remained difficult and complex.

The Knoxville Faculty-Student Committee was ultimately charged with receiving suggestions for the position of president, preparing resumes, and eliminating candidates obviously unsuited for the position. When this work was completed, the Board Screening Committee requested each campus committee to reduce the list of candidates to a limited number and submit a written or verbal evaluation. In the meantime the Board Screening Committee divided itself into four sub-committees to receive these reports. When these reports were submitted, it appeared that the Board Screening Committee was prepared to conclude its discussions with the faculty and student committees without an opportunity for these committees to interview candidates outside of the University system. However, on the insistence of the faculty-student committees, limited interviews with external candidates were conducted.

Apparently the Board Screening Committee decided to interview eight possible external candidates and authorized the Board Secretary to invite these designated candidates to the Knoxville campus for interviews with the faculty-student committees and two members of the Board. In an effort to convince the external candidates that there was a genuine interest in their candidacy in spite of the very perfunctory invitation extended by the Screening Committee, the Knoxville faculty-student committee telephoned each individual and urged the candidate to give serious consideration to the invitation. In spite of these efforts, four individuals could not visit the campus with such an invitation, and the Board Screening Committee refused to visit these individuals to interview them. Thus, limited interviews with four external candidates were conducted in Knoxville, three of these interviews on the same day. The last interview was conducted about one week later. The four individuals were apparently limited to interviews with two members of the Board of Trustees and with the Faculty-Student Committees representing Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Martin. Arrangements made for the candidates were not appropriate; apparently, they were not even given an opportunity to meet with high level University officials.

As might be expected, the interviews with the external candidates were not successful. One candidate almost immediately requested the Secretary of the Board to withdraw his name from further consideration, and the only external candidate who excited real interest among the faculty and student groups advised the news media that he could not possibly consider the presidency in the absence of further and extensive interviews. The candidate made the statement after his name had been given by someone to the press.

At this point, the Knoxville faculty-student committee made its final report. The first page of that report is attached. Dr. Chalmers, Dykes, and WiIliams were recommended for further consideration; Dr. Boling was not. The Board of Trustees was advised that the possibility of developing additional external candidates for further consideration should be carefully explored, and specifically that it would be unwise for a final decision to be made during the vacation period. These recommendations were rejected. One member of the Board of Trustees was reported to have stated privately again and again during the selection process that the decision as to the presidency had been made and that these proceedings were just a formality. The University of Tennessee deserves to be led by a great educator as its President. When the Screening Committee of the Board began its deliberations, it was announced that the presidential search would be national in scope to find exactly the right man for the position and that the faculty and students would have an influential though not determining voice in this process. If this was the charge to the Screening Committee of the Board, it is clear that the Committee failed in its assigned duty. It was extremely difficult for the elected representatives of the faculty and students to work with the Board's Screening Committee in an effective fashion; the Screening Committee failed completely in its effort to stimulate interest among desirable external candidates, if indeed this was intended; and finally, the advice and counsel of the faculty and students groups involved was disregarded.

Those who have expressed dismay and concern in view of this inept procedure have been inaccurately described in the press as a very small but vocal minority. It is the opinion of this committee that the Board has acted irresponsibly in its failure to accord faculty and students the same consideration given to faculty and students at other universities. Such treatment of faculty and student participation is an invitation to the politics of confrontation rather than cooperation.

DECEMBER 16, 1969)

The Knoxville Campus Screening Committee has sought to cooperate fully in the Board's effort to find the best person to fill the vitally important position of President of The University of Tennessee. However, the uncertainty surrounding the role of this and other campus committees has seriously hampered the development of faculty and student confidence in the desire of the Board to avail itself of our assistance. The delay in publicly announcing the procedures for involving the students and faculty created an air of suspicion which has proved difficult to dispel.

In the latter stages of the search there has, moreover, developed a keen sense of dissatisfaction with the procedure followed in the canvassing of outside prospects. The approach to potential candidates has appeared perfunctory, discouraging some candidates who might otherwise have been interested; the interviews with those candidates who came to the campus were inadequately designed to "sell" them on the opportunities which the University affords; and the limited participation of the Trustees' Screening Board members left the impression that there was not serious interest in the outside candidates.

The Board should be aware that much of the campus unease arises from recurrent reports attributed to members of the Board of Trustees that a decision has already been made. Additional unease has been generated by rumors to the effect that a decision will be announced during the vacation period between quarters. Such a course of action would in our opinion have a very harmful effect on faculty and student reaction to any candidate so designated.

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