Presidential search shouldn’t be mystery for students

Evan Watson/The News

The saga of former President Randy Dunn and his back-and-forth with the Board of Regents over his contract, frequent job searches and especially the legality of that agreement were big news this time last year.

For nearly a semester (that is, the Spring 2013 semester), The News brought you coverage of those events; we frequently editorialized on what we considered an illegal move by the Board of Regents concerning their non-renewal of Dunn’s contract.

President Dunn has, quite literally, left the building. Upon the Board of Regents’ decision not to renew Dunn’s contract (and the subsequent second vote on the matter following public outcry on the matter from students, faculty and staff), Dunn accepted a position as President of Youngstown State in Youngstown, Ohio – leaving Murray State with a vacancy at the highest level.

In the meantime, Tim Miller, former director of the Murray State Foundation, is serving as interim president while the search begins for a new president, a process that may last well into the spring semester of 2014.

A presidential search committee has been created to do just that, and an executive search firm devoted to health care, life sciences, non-profits and higher education, Witt/Kieffer, has been brought in to aid the committee in the selection process.

As is almost always the case with bureaucratic endeavors at Murray State, the presidential search process raises more questions than it answers.

For starters, why is the University paying an outside executive search firm upwards of $100,000 to select our next president?

We can think of a few ways to select a university president, none of which include spending an exorbiant amount of money on middlemen to select our next president.

Other questions raised by this whole process concern the secrecy of the process itself.

Why is it that the average Murray State student won’t be able to ask questions or express his or her concerns directly to our presidential candidates?

Why does this process require middlemen, be they a presidential search committee or an outside agency being paid a nice sum of money to do a job that should ultimately be the job of the University’s constituent body?

We understand the need for specialized knowledge in this search, and we get that we all can’t participate in the selection of our president.

But we do think that we should have a greater say in how our president is selected – the fact that there are representatives of certain student organizations on the presidential search committee does not make the presidential search committee representative of the student body as a whole.

We cannot possibly ask for greater transparency in this selection process without first having a greater grasp on the institutions that govern this University.

Students should have better representation on the search committee and ultimately, should have the final say in this process, but we cannot expect to be taken seriously in this demand unless we take it seriously ourselves.


Story by Devin Griggs, Opinion Editor