VP search must be public

Students should have input in Provost Sullivan’s replacement.

Daily Editorial Board

Tom Sullivan, the current senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, will step down and return to the faculty at the end of 2011. As the University of Minnesota searches for a replacement, a few lessons learned from the recent search to replace former President Bob Bruininks should be kept in mind.
Perhaps most importantly, the University should actively seek and heavily weigh student input. The new provost will be closely involved with academics and students. Therefore, it is crucial that students play a significant role in the selection process. As a public university, it is also necessary that the search committee pay attention to the opinions of the general public.
This is in contrast to the last two presidential searches, where only one finalist âÄî or none at all âÄî was presented to students and the public.
The University said that they did not release finalistsâÄô names during the last presidential search because they were worried doing so would put those candidatesâÄô current jobs in jeopardy. That argument, however, does not trump the publicâÄôs right to know and have input in who will be the next president of the University, probably the second most important public sector job in the state of Minnesota, after the governor. A provost is not as important as president, but the University should still provide a much higher degree of transparency concerning those being considered for the position, especially to students.
While the provost reports directly to the president, the position is one of service to the students of the University. Therefore, the University owes it to students to provide them the opportunity to inform themselves about and evaluate the different candidates being considered.