ERIC Identifier: ED301139
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Kaplowitz, Richard A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Higher Education Washington DC.
Selecting College and University Personnel. ERIC Digest.
The selection of the faculty and the administrative leadership on campus is
at the very heart of the future of the academic enterprise. Institutions seek to
recruit and hire the finest people possible, and the selection processes used
include many elements of the monomythical quest or journey. The use of the
search committee in the selection of campus leaders has evolved into an almost
hallowed approach. Additionally, consultants are now providing support and
assistance in recruitment of a number of campuses. Findings about the search
committee process include many positive elements. Procedural and societal
issues, however, need to be addressed so that the potential pitfalls can be
avoided while the best candidates are found
WHAT HELPS SEARCH COMMITTEES FUNCTION WELL?
The number of
ways to increase the likelihood of an effective search include:
* The process is highly politicized, particularly at the presidential level.
Be sure that search committee members are constituency-inclusive.
* Search committee dynamics can be superlative or bitter. Trust and open
communications among committee members are important contributors to a positive
environment and may need direct focus and attention.
* There is no perfect candidate or perfect position; further, a superb
candidate for one campus in one situation might be a disaster on another. It is
important to delineate the particular needs of the campus (for the next five
years at the very least) at the time of the search in order to determine the
kind of leadership needed.
* Actively seek candidates, including those who may be happily employed
elsewhere. Good networking skills combined with effective and affirmative
outreach are necessary in order to generate a good candidate pool.
* Consultants are used more than in the past. A range of providers of
consulting services is available. Consultants are most helpful in three ways:
structuring the search, locating good candidates, and checking references. If
consultants are to be used, make that decision early in the process.
* Good candidates are lost when confidentiality is breached or absent; take
steps throughout the process to assure that confidentiality is maintained.
* Faculty salary inequities arise from the non-academic marketplace. Salary
inequities raise issues of comparable worth and of fairness. These issues need
to be resolved internally on campus, so that differences generated by them do
not end up expressed as hostility focused on candidates for positions.
* Women are gaining in numbers of administrative appointments; minority group
members are not; further, the long-term pool of minority candidates has started
decreasing. Extra efforts are needed to maintain these initial successes of
women, and to increase the development of minority group members. Effective
affirmative action programs help.
* The Supreme Court strongly upholds affirmative action; the Executive
Branch, under its current leadership, does not.
* True sensitivity to and concern for people may be the prime attributes of
leadership; looking for these trait appears more important than particular
degrees or publications.
* Checking references requires maintaining confidentiality while securing
accurate information; proceed with caution. Reference checks are important to
determine whether a candidate has the necessary strength and courage to reach
out, to survive some failures, and to keep trying, without ever losing sight of
the individual people who are the most important part of any organization.
* Interviews assess sociability and verbal fluency but don't predict
administrative success. When a candidate is invited to a campus for an
interview, in-depth, two-way interviewing is important if the selection is to be
based on the qualities needed for that campus rather than on a slick or showy
style. In an interview, learning why a candidate took a particular course of
action is more revealing than what was done.
* Personnel offices provide helpful support services in academic searches;
make use of them.
* Remember that candidates are vulnerable to the process that focuses so much
energy and attention on them; be caring and thoughtful.
WHY IS CONFIDENTIALITY SO IMPORTANT?
important in order to secure the very strongest possible candidates in a search.
Search committees tend to look more for proven competence than for potential,
particularly when seeking to fill a high-level vacancy. Most people with proven
competence already are at work and most often that work involves sensitive
political relationships. Some of those people may be willing to consider a move.
But, while they are employed elsewhere, they are unwilling to take a chance on
eroding their effectiveness on their current campuses.
The folklore, and now even a good bit of the literature, is replete with
horror stories of candidates whose interest in a position became known on the
home campus with sometimes quite negative results; candidates know those
stories, and they are reluctant to risk having their careers jeopardized in like
manner. McLaughlin and Riesman have focused significant attention on this issue.
WHAT SOCIETAL ISSUES NEED ATTENTION?
Two larger societal
issues also need to be addressed. One relates to open meeting laws, and the
other to the result of apparent social inequities. Clear evidence reveals that
many good candidates are withdrawing from, or not even allowing their names to
be considered in, high level searches in states which search "in the sunshine." The old, secret ways of doing business too often were not in the best interests
of the public. Sunshine laws are clearly intended to be, and for the most part
very much are, in the public interest. However, good leadership from within
public higher education, working with other comparably concerned public
agencies, needs to seek legislative reexamination of that aspect of sunshine
laws that requires the public listing of candidates and public discussions about
the professional and personal reputations of those candidates.
Second, there is a need for multiphasic attention to actively develop the
talent and abilities that are not adequately coming to maturation in our
minority populations. If we are to have a broadly constituted faculty in twenty
years, now is the time to increase broadly based social efforts to reach and
nurture that future faculty.
Order ERIC documents by "ED" number
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Cleveland, Harlan. 1985. The Costs and Benefits of Openness. Washington: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
Kaplowitz, Richard A. 1973. Selecting Academic Administrators: The Search Committee. Washington: American Council on Education.
Kaplowitz, Richard A. 1978. "The Impact of Sunshine/Open Meeting Laws on the
Governing Boards of Public Colleges and Universities." Position paper, prepared for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. ED 272 059. 33pp. MF-$1.00; PC-$5.44.
McLaughlin, Judith B., and Riesman, David. Summer 1986. "The Shady Side of Sunshine." Teachers College Record. 87 (4).
Nason, John W. 1984. Presidential Search. Washington: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. ED 238 358. 94pp. MF-$1.00; PC not available EDRS.
Reisman, David, and McLaughlin, Judith B. 1984. "A Primer on the Use of Consultants in Presidential Recruitment." Change. 16 (6): 12-23.
VanderWaerdt, Lois. 1982. Affirmative Action in Higher Education--A A Sourcebook. New York: Garland.
NOTE: This ERIC Digest is a summary of Selecting College and University
Personnel: The Quest and the Questions by the same author (ERIC ED 282 488).