Search committee members describe what qualities they want in new president

Published by adviser, Author: Daniel DiFabio - News Editor , Date: September 14, 2017

The SRU presidential search committee has recently announced that they have narrowed down the candidates for SRU’s new president to nine individuals.

“The pool of candidates was extremely impressive both in terms of their credentials as well as their diversity. I was surprised at how quickly the search committee coalesced around the final group of candidates. I am really excited about the next phase of the search where we have a chance to meet the candidates in person and learn more about them,” Smith said in a Slippery Rock University press release.

According to the press release, 75 applications were submitted for the position. The search committee will next meet with these candidates and narrow the applicant number down to four or five. The committee is made up of students, faculty, employees, alumni and trustees.

Malika Fields, communication and Spanish major, serves on the search committee as the SGA appointed student.

“I thought it was important for students to be represented,” Fields said.

Fields wants to be an advocate and show that students have a voice on the committee. She wants to see innovation in the way the president communicates with students, including more interaction and transparency. Fields also wants the president to help improve upon areas that would take SR to the next level.

“We’re trying our best to get the perfect fit for where SRU is now and where it’s going,” Fields said.

Christine Pease-Hernandez, communication professor, serves on the committee as the elected faculty member, and served in a previous presidential search. Pease-Hernandez said that it was a great way to represent the university and see the different working groups on campus. Pease-Hernandez also said as part of the faculty union and someone involved with student organizations, it would be good to help contribute to the search process as a member.

“The president is the leader of this university so having a voice and trying to recruit the person, to have the opportunity to contribute to choosing the leader of this university, is quite an honor,” Pease-Hernandez said.

Pease-Hernandez’s said she self-nominated because of her prior experience on a search committee, and was extremely honored when the faculty chose her.

“I thought, here is a group of people who have confidence in me to do what I can to choose the next leader of this institution and I’m very humbled by that,” Pease-Hernandez said. “Because of that I feel like I need to do my very best to represent the faculty.”

Pease-Hernandez said she doesn’t feel SRU needs to be fixed, but, like Fields, needs a president who can take the university to the next level.

“We’re one of the top state system schools and we need to continue that momentum,” Pease-Hernandez said.

Another topic Pease-Hernandez thought the new president should focus on was diversity and inclusion.

“We need someone who is going to open up spaces where we can have conversations that will move us forward,” Pease-Hernandez said. “Too often when people brush things under the carpet, when don’t address issues, the problems just become bigger.”

Colleen Cooke, SRU APSCUF vice president and recreational therapy professor, serves on the search committee as the appointed faculty member. Cooke voiced an interest in serving on the committee and was appointed by the university’s APSCUF chapter president.

“I want to make sure we get a good president for Slippery Rock University,” Cooke said. “I have been satisfied with our presidents and their work and I have been dissatisfied with our presidents and their work and I just wanted to have some input into the process.”

Cooke said she hopes to have a servant leader in the new president as well as shared governance.

“I like someone that’s going to listen to faculty and not dictate,” Cooke said. “I would like to see a president who has some familiarity with the faculty union and has been part of a faculty union, but I don’t know if I’m going to get that.”

As vice president of APSCUF, Cooke said her position on the committee means she is representative of what the union as a whole feels. Cooke said she also wants someone who is sensitive to diversity issues and brings innovative ideas to the university.

The search committee hopes to have a new president in place for the spring semester, with on-campus interviews expected to be conducted the week of Sept. 25.


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