The UR presidential search is on.
What do we want in this new president? Someone completely different from Seligman — who can fix structural inadequacies he overlooked?
We don’t think so — it’s impossible for one person to identify every single inadequacy, inefficiency, and inequity in the rulebook.
Maybe Seligman should have been able to more efficiently tackle loopholes, like the ones that left Florian Jaeger as faculty at UR. But the president isn’t the only one with accountability.
And we don’t want someone who concerns themselves only with scrutinizing a rulebook. We want someone who can see the University’s problems from multiple perspectives.
Seligman undeniably increased the University’s academic prestige. The practices he put in place should see this rise continue. But pragmatism is a double-edged sword.
Perhaps Seligman’s real issue was lacking empathy. To develop the kind of empathy we’re looking for, you need to be around and among students.
So far, the Board has been enthusiastic about student input. In addition to a Student Search Committee and the open town hall meetings, the committee had also sent out an online survey to students, faculty, and staff for input on the search.
Its final question: “What professional characteristics would you most like to see in the next President?”
The multiple-choice responses to the question include “Ability to recruit and lead high-performance teams,” “Experience with academic health sciences,” and “High level of personal academic accomplishment.”
But the option we believe to be most important is an “Enthusiasm to engage with on-campus constituencies (faculty, staff, students).”
We hope the rest of the student body agrees.
The presidential search webpage reads, “There have been nearly 4,000 responses to date.” How many of those were students is unknown — the survey is accessible by anyone with the link.
Students, we’re stakeholders. Let’s act like it.