SRU’s Council of Trustees (COT) met this morning to address current makeup of the search committee, appointing new members and discussed the possibility of including more students in the process.
The trustees voted unanimously to appoint Amanda Yale, associate provost for enrollment services, to the position of COT appointed executive, which was previously held by Molly Mercer, associate vice president for finance, who resigned from the committee.
“Amanda is very well qualified to do this, she’s been here for I think 30 years or more,” William McCarrier, chair of the COT, said. “She’s served on a previous committee so she knows what it’s all about and I think Amanda will do a tremendous job.”
There are still vacancies in various positions of the committee, with Scott Albert, assistant vice president of facilities and planning, choosing not to continue. Albert served as one of three “at-large” members on the committee.
Amanda Nichols and Susan Elwell, who served as the appointed non-instructional union and alternate respectively, declined to continue in the search process. Two names were sent forward from the union, with Joan Allen and Tina Renaud being selected. These names were approved unanimously.
Lisa Holmes, who served in the alumni position of the committee, will also not continue, with Don Huddart, the former alternate, now serving in that position.
The COT spoke for some time on whether to include SRU Foundation board of director member Janet Sargert in the process to fulfill one of the at-large vacancies.
“I went to the foundation chairman and asked them to come up with a name for us,” McCarrier said. “Janet is very active in Slippery Rock affairs and she is an alumnus of Slippery Rock, received the distinguished alumni award several years ago, she’s a retired attorney residing in Mt. Lebanon, her resume is just outstanding. I think she could be an outstanding representative to the committee.”
Other members wished to include a student in the position instead of Sargert, but both motions failed, with the motion for a student to be included failing 3-5 and the motion to include Sargert resulting in a 4-4 tie. A vote to include more students also failed with a 4-4 tie.
McCarrier said the Board of Governors will also assign a former president and someone from the state system to serve on the committee, which they will do once the COT sends the list of committee members.
The council said they will continue to use AGB Search for the firm that helps with the process, despite AGB Search consultant JoAnn Gora stating that the SRU Presidency position is not attractive. Some members of the search committee also did not approve of Gora’s consultation. The contract with AGB Search is still in place until former SRU President Cheryl Norton’s successor is found.
Ben Shaevitz, SRU APSCUF professor and physics professor, spoke during the open forum portion of the meeting and expressed wanting to have three additional student members to the committee.
“Students are the largest stakeholder population at SRU and deserve proportional representation,” Shaevitz said. “SRU APSCUF believes that this discretionary action of the COT will send an extremely powerful and purposeful message to the university community about the importance and worth of the student voice in the presidential search process.”
Itzi Meztli, an SRU English professor, also spoke during the open forum, stating that he wanted Robert Taylor, a COT member, to not be included in the process, and said that Amir Mohammadi, vice president for finance and administration, did not deserve to be defamed by search-committee member Robert Taylor. Meztli urged the COT to not include Taylor in any future search committee because of his attempt to sabotage the search process and to condemn Taylor for his unprofessional behavior and ask for his resignation.
“Gleaned from the paper trail as posted on the online Rocket newspaper, it’s obvious that the search committee was forced to deal with such a ‘Bully Taylor’ because of his hurling, in the last moment, a baseless, ‘unethical’ attack against Mohammadi and two members of the search committee, resulting in embarrassing and negative publicity to our fine institution of higher learning,” Meztli said.
A member of the search committee, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Rocket after the meeting, “Bob Taylor can grandstand all he wants about ‘being for the students’, but he lost ALL credibility when he left the interview proceedings in order to purposefully be absent from Amir Mohammadi’s interview. He should not be allowed to serve on the search committee and the council of Trustees just did a grave disservice to the SRU student body.”
The COT did not address Robert Taylor’s continued involvement in the council and the search despite Meztli’s concerns.
Meztli also urged the COT to extend the search to fill vacancies and send letters of apologies to those who are affected by false accusations. Meztli also urged Mohammadi to reapply and said he was eminently qualified.
A moment of silence was also held at the start of the meeting for Brian Shaw, an officer for the New Kensington police department and SRU alumnus who was killed over the weekend.
The COT will meet again Dec. 7-8.