[The following letter was presented to the Senate Executive Committee on February 1, 1988.]

February 5, 1988

The Members of the Board of Trustees
University of Tennessee

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As President of the Faculty Senate at the Knoxville campus I have been commissioned (see attached resolution) to express faculty concerns regarding the Presidential Search Process.

This resolution, which was adopted by an overwhelming margin during an extraordinary session of the Senate on January 19, 1988, makes it clear that the faculty is seriously concerned about the abandonment of orderly procedure by the Search Committee, of the Board of Trustees. In sending forward this resolution it is appropriate to briefly review some aspects of the 1987-88 Presidential Search and then make a recommendation regarding future searches.

The 1987-88 Presidential Search began very well. There was adequate consultation with faculty, staff, students, and alumni regarding the characteristics of a new president and the current mission and future priorities of the university. The Search Advisory Committee provided an effective structure for gathering and transmitting information between the various constituents and the Search Committee. There was a great deal of effort to organize a national search and seek out qualified applicants from across the country. The Chairman of the Search Committee took the time and effort required to learn about university leadership and the process with which changes in leadership are made. He and the other members of the Search Committee worked diligently and seriously at the task. This effort produced a process better than that used in 1969, a sign of progress for our university. once these preliminaries were well in hand however, the process deteriorated. Unfortunately there was no consultation with the faculty, students, staff or alumni regarding plans for the screening and interviewing of candidates. The appearance of a candidate who some considered "head and shoulders above the others" led to a rapid conclusion of the search before that planning could take place. The search was ended without any consideration of alternatives with the Search Advisory Committee. The brief period allowed for campus visits by the candidate was undermined by the fact that the Search Committee had already voted to recommend him as the only candidate to the Board of Trustees. In short, the 1987 search process was unsatisfactory due to its premature conclusion.

The faculty on the Knoxville campus disapproves most strongly of the lack of a careful and reasoned search process with full faculty involvement in the evaluation of candidates for the presidency. It is in this context that the Faculty Senate registered their concern by formally endorsing the attached resolution.

It should be noted that the issue here is not rendered moot by the completion of this search process. It is of vital and immediate concern because of its applicability to future search process. It is not unusual in these times for presidents to remain in office only a few years. The next presidential search will begin much sooner than we may wish. Furthermore the principles at issue are vitally important for an institution which requires the respect of the academic community at large for its well being.

I respectfully recommend that the Bylaws Committee be asked to draft new bylaws, in consultation with faculty, staff, students and administration, regarding the appointment of the president of the university. I also recommend that the Board of Trustees act to make the revised policy applicable as soon as possible.

Thank you for your efforts to help our university grow into its potential as an outstanding land-grant undergraduate, graduate, and professional school.


Henry Frandsen, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics
Faculty Senate President

cc: President-elect Alexander
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