SRU’s Council of Trustees unanimously voted today to send both William Behre and Rodney Handley forward to be interviewed by the PA Board of Governors to determine who will be the university’s 17 president.
The two will be interviewed on March 5, according to an SRU press release.
Behre is currently chief academic officer for Georgian Court University while Hanley is provost at Fisk University.
Jeff Smith, trustee and chair of the search committee, said the search was very successful. Senator and trustee Mary Jo White thanked the search committee and members of the SRU community.
During the public forum part of the meeting, SGA President Rachel Lawler thanked the search committee for allowing larger interview sessions for the campus community to take part in. Lawler also thanked Dallas Kline, SGA’s vice president of campus outreach and social justice chair Victoria Davis for leading the campaign, with the initial tweet reaching over 8,000 impressions. Lawler also commended the search committee.
“Based on the conversations I had with members of the campus community, I feel comfortable in saying that this pool of candidates possesses the qualities and attributes that our community is looking for in a president,” Lawler said.
During the public forum Lawler also highlighted the importance of student voice.
“Our voice is powerful and if students do not feel that decisions are being made in our best interest or for the benefits of our education, we have no fear of speaking out as the largest stakeholders of the university.”
English professor Itzi Meztli also spoke during the public forum portion of the meeting, questioning the expedited nature of the second search committee, having an issue with the fact that the five candidates were all interviewed in one week.
Meztli claimed that could be due to an internal investigation on the first search, with a focus on trustee Robert Taylor. Meztli said that he was interviewed by Christopher J. Moran, an attorney from Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, on Feb. 6 about possible national origin bigotry in the initial (Fall 2017) search.
“As trustees, you are ill-advised to finalize your second search until the investigation is concluded and its report issued,” Meztli said. “Don’t think by cramming candidates down our throats in a second rush effort is somehow going to vindicate you on your first disastrous search outcome or lack rather, lack of one.”
Meztli also called out Taylor for hurting the public image of SRU and claimed that the trustee member threw a wrench in the search process. Meztli also questioned the fact that Amir Mohammadi, current vice president for finance and administration, was not named as a finalist during the second portion of the search when he was one of the 2 finalists in the fall semester search. Meztli urged Mohammadi to file an equal opportunity complaint and to sue Taylor.
“In the second one [search] he [Mohammadi] was completely sidelined, proving that Taylor’s outrageous allegations did considerable damage to Amir’s academic reputation,” Meztli said.
The COT also welcomed Jairus J. Moore, who is serving as the student trustee member.
The next COT meeting will take place on March 22 and 23.