Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, December 16, 2006

WSU Presidential Search

This editorial appeared today in the Daily News. It was written by Doug Bauer for the editorial board.
The search for Washington State University’s new president couldn’t have been more secretive if the CIA had conducted it.

Elson S. Floyd was named successor to retiring WSU President V. Lane Rawlins on Wednesday, ending a hiring process that omitted any form of interaction from
anyone outside the search committee and the Board of Regents.

That's not exactly what we'd expect from a public institution that trumpets
its "face to face" qualities.

WSU has effectively removed any second-guessing in regard to Floyd's hiring,
if only because the public wasn't made aware of who the second and third - or any
other -choices were.

In effect, Floyd's appointment seemed more like a coronation.

That's not to say he wasn't the best candidate for the job. The point is, the majority of WSU's student population and the general public never had a chance
to determine who the best candidate was.

Instead, the decision was made behind closed doors by a group largely
composed of people who represent neither the general student population nor the
public - the ones will foot the bill for Floyd's $600,000-a-year salary in one
form or another.

The public must have an opportunity to interact with candidates for positions
with such responsibility, and the decision shouldn't be made by search committee
members and regents alone.

WSU seems to be following a dangerous pattern, considering Rawlins was
brought on board in much the same fashion.

In the future, we suggest the university include a public vetting process.
Give students, alumni, and faculty the dog-and-pony show they deserve, and WSU
will let everyone know their input actually matters.

Floyd has excellent qualifications and experience in Washington state. His
presence should help the university clear some of the diversity hurdles it has
faced in recent years.

That doesn't mean WSU or the Board of Regents has the right to treat the rest
of us like pawns in its kingdom.
I whole-heartedly agree. For the past few months since President Rawlins announced his retirement, the big talk on campus is how the search committee and regents wanted everyone to be involved. This was to be a transparent process. After watching Ken Alhadeff practically break his arm patting himself on the back when he introduced Floyd, I wonder if the search committee even knew what was going on in the process. I agree that Floyd has many excellent qualities, however, what was the hurry? It seems as if the regents don't believe the WSU community nor the people of Washington state are competent enough to participate in the process. This could make Floyd's transfer to power woefully - and needlessly - difficult.


Playin' Possum said...

"The search for Washington State University’s new president couldn’t have been more secretive if the CIA had conducted it."


If the CIA would have done it, 1) They would have locked all the candidates in a secret jail; 2) They would have tortured them; 3) The job would have gone to the first candidate to crack; 4) The "successful" candidate would have been the wrong man...

And The New York Times would have leaked the story before the nominee was announced...

Anonymous said...

I believe regents and trustees should be elected. If elected, the public would have accountability.

Not to be a pessimisstic Republican, but with one-party control of the Governor's mansion - gubernatorial appointments fail to reflect the views of the political spectrum.

Anonymous said...

One other thing on second thought: I'd recommend putting together all your research and sending it to the State Auditor's Office to the Pullman Audit Team where they audit for open meetings.