FAU hosting open forum for presidential search

Austen Erblat

The first meeting of the FAU Presidential Search Committee at the FAU Stadium recruiting room on Sept. 25. Students will be able to attend an open forum Monday, October 21 to have their voices heard regarding what they want in FAU’s next president. Photo by Michelle Friswell.
The first meeting of the FAU Presidential Search Committee at the FAU Stadium recruiting room on Sept. 25. Students will be able to attend an open forum Monday, October 21 to have their voices heard regarding what they want in FAU’s next president. Photo by Michelle Friswell.

In the past year, FAU has been called the “worst university in the country.” It has been condemned for its “abysmal speech codes,” that “tries to silence the voices of students.” But “fiercely negative media coverage” last semester forced former President Mary Jane Saunders to resign and now FAU is searching for a new president — they want to hear what students want from this one.

On Oct. 21, there’s an open forum to meet with a representative from the Parker Executive Search Firm, the company finding candidates for the job. An email sent Oct. 15 to all students, faculty and staff informing them of the date, times, locations and purpose of the forums and states, “[t]hese forums will allow you to meet with our search consultants, learn more about the search process, and give your thoughts on what characteristics we should look for in our new president.”

Chris Robe, president of the United Faculty of Florida chapter on campus — Florida’s faculty union — wants more communication between faculty and the president.

“Of course we’re going to have our differences,” Robe said, “but what’s the faculty saying that’s really valuable here and what works?”

Saunders — according to anonymous UFF faculty surveys — had an extremely low approval rating. Faculty, staff and students wanted Saunders to listen and respond to them and make decisions based on their wishes, but few thought she did.

“The last two years, we were getting an extreme authoritarian hierarchical system,” Robe said, “and hopefully we’re moving towards a more democratic one.”

Marshall DeRosa, a professor of political science at FAU, was uncertain about his participation in the search process due to his hectic schedule. DeRosa has served on over a dozen search and advisory committees and has published and presented over 50 books, reviews, presentations and lectures outside of the classroom. He suggested that the search include “an online forum through which faculty could interact with search finalists, such as Blackboard’s discussion board.”

DeRosa would ask FAU’s presidential candidates about their views on universities being “forums for the marketplace of ideas.” He is concerned that conservative ideas are overshadowed at FAU, limiting opportunities for students to experience a wide range of perspectives.

“FAU regularly emphasizes its commitment to diversity in the hiring of faculty and administrators,” DeRosa said. “However, missing from that commitment is intellectual diversity. If not one of the most important type of diversity, it should rank at the top. The student and public perception that most faculty and administrators are left of center is hardly deniable and speaks volumes.”

Student body President Peter Amirato loves that student voices are being heard. “I think it’s great that we’re including students in the process,” Amirato said. “It can be easy at times to forget that the president is here for the students rather than just the day-to-day operations of the university and opening a forum such as this shows that the students are not forgotten.”

Renata Glebocki, a junior political science major, thinks it’s great that students are allowed to attend these forums. “The administration seems to be making an attempt at transparency,” Glebocki told the UP via Facebook. “I received an email about the conferences. All students should receive emails so more students can be in attendance.”

“The next president should listen to the concerns of students and respect them. Any student has a right to voice their opinion,” Glebocki wrote.

According to the Palm Beach Post, administration held an open forum during the search for FAU’s last presidential search, where candidates answered students’ questions directly. Though no candidates have been announced yet, attendees will still be able to ask questions and tell administration and the search firm what characteristics and traits they would like in FAU’s next president.

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If you want to attend:
When: Monday, Oct. 21 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. (faculty), 1:45 p.m. – 3 p.m. (students), and 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (staff)

Where: Engineering East, room 106

(Davie campus on Oct. 22 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. in LA 139 and on the Jupiter campus from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. in AD 206)

Can’t make it?

Video Conference Rooms

Monday Oct. 21, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.:
Boca EE 106
Jupiter AD 206
Ft. Lauderdale HE 608
Harbor Branch LE 103
Davie Room LA 139
Sea Tech ST 209

Monday Oct. 21, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.:
BR EE 106
Jupiter AD 206
Ft. Lauderdale HE 608
Harbor Branch LE 103
Davie Room LA 150
SeaTech ST 250