The original provost search committee was formed in April 2011.
“The president puts the search committee together with input from the University Senate and issues the official charge,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences and head of the committee. “The committee develops the position description and selects a search firm to assist in the recruitment of applicants.”
The committee was charged with making recommendations to University President Jay Gogue, but the final decision was left to the president.
The committee advanced applicants through several rounds of interviews before making its final recommendations to Gogue, who ultimately rejected the proposed candidates in January.
“I don’t know what the president’s reasons were for not accepting them,” said William Trimble, professor of history and search committee member.
Trimble said he was added to the committee as an extra member to represent the American Association of University Professors. He said part of his responsibility was to make sure the search process included AAUP’s concerns with issues such as tenure, academic freedom and shared governance.
He said the AAUP was satisfied with all the candidates recommended to the president.
“They had preferences obviously, but as far as AAUP was concerned, they were all acceptable,” Trimble said.
Trimble said the first search was a lengthy process.
An advertisement for the position of provost was issued, and applicants were required to have their materials submitted by July 2011. There were 31 applicants in all.
“We then met as a committee to make a decision about who we wanted to interview at Atlanta airport,” Trimble said. “The idea there is that at this level of positions, people like to keep it as confidential as possible. If you’re an existing provost or dean, you’d rather not have your superiors know—the president or provost know—that you’re actively looking for a job.
“So what you could do is, everybody has to go through Atlanta airport at one time or another. You pass through Atlanta airport (and) meet with us for a couple of hours.”
Trimble said the committee then narrowed the candidates down to a smaller group to interview on campus.
“After all of that process was over, we all sat down as a committee again to make a decision about who we wanted to recommend to the president,” Trimble said.
Two applicants received the majority vote required for recommendation to President Gogue.
“We pretty easily decided that we could recommend them to the president,” Trimble said. “There was one person who dropped out, so that wasn’t a factor. And then there was another person where there was a split vote and did not get a majority vote to be able to put the person’s name forward.”
Trimble said Gogue would have preferred to have three candidates recommended.
“And then it was up to the president … to make a decision,” Trimble said. “He then brought them in for even more extensive interviews and finally made his decision that he didn’t feel that either of those people were acceptable. And again, ultimately that’s all that our committee could do.”
According to Henton, the new search committee will consist of the same members. Any original committee members who cannot serve on the new committee will be replaced.