RATIONALE: This resolution addresses proposed revisions to the Policy for the
Selection of Presidents. On August 25, 2011, the CSU announced that the Trustees’
Special Committee on Presidential Selection and Compensation recommended changes to the presidential selection process policy. A second revised policy (see Exhibit A) was
posted with the Board of Trustees agenda on September 9, 2011. The revised policy will
be considered by the Board at its September 20-21 meeting.
The ASCSU appreciate that the selection of the campus president is a significant
responsibility for the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor, and we further understand
that multiple presidential vacancies are expected in the coming months. The ASCSU
share the Board of Trustees' commitment to finding the best possible pool of candidates
in the presidential selection process.
Of serious concern, however, is the proposed change to make official campus visits by
presidential finalists optional. Although the proposed policy states a “deep commitment
throughout the process to the principles of consultation with campus and community
representatives,” the elimination of the campus visit removes the most visible and
public commitment to consultation and to transparency, which are essential elements in
the tradition of collegial governance.
Given that successful campus presidents routinely interact with a diverse set of local
constituents, including but not limited to students, staff, faculty, local campus
administrators, alumni, business and community leaders, and donors, it seems
inappropriate to deny prospective presidents an opportunity to meet with local groups
prior to accepting an appointment. Arriving on campus without having the support and
legitimacy provided by such a process would put the chosen candidate at a significant
disadvantage in building a successful transition.
Although maintaining confidentiality is critical in the early stages of a search, the
ASCSU maintain that the benefits of interactions between finalists and local
constituents far outweigh any perceived risk of breaching confidentiality. The campus
visit is an opportunity not only for candidates to present their best case for selection,
but also an opportunity for them to learn more about the position and the campus so
they can make an informed choice when or if an offer is made.
For every other leadership position on CSU campuses, the identities of both internal
and external finalists are announced during the final stage, a risk they assume for the
privilege of serving prominent leadership roles in public institutions. Eliminating the
opportunity of finalists from engaging with the campus community would come at great
expense to transparency in a time when public entities are under increased scrutiny
and censure for making decisions behind closed doors. Moreover, the State Legislature
and Governor Brown have recently emphasized the importance of transparency to public higher education institutions in California by enacting the Richard McKee
Transparency Act of 2011 (SB 8).
Transparency concerns also affect other parts of the proposed policy and selection
process, namely the lack of specificity regarding the announcement of the presidential
vacancy and the minimum number of candidates to be recommended to the Trustees.“Casting a wide net” by posting opportunities for advancement is a critical component
of the affirmative action plans required for each CSU campus, yet the proposed policy
for presidential selection fails to specify that this is accomplished prior to
consideration of internal candidates.
Although it is admirable for the CSU to seek to develop internal talent, failing to
specify if, how, when, and where vacancies will be advertised decreases transparency
and reduces the appearance—if not the actual implementation—of equal opportunity in
hiring. Furthermore, lack of advertising prevents interested parties from assessing the quality and diversity of applicant pools for leadership positions in public institutions
that highly value not only transparency, but also diversity, social justice, and shared governance. In addition, lack of specificity as to the number of candidates to be
recommended to the Trustees creates the potential for a further reduction in the
diversity, depth, and breadth of the final candidate pool.
Beyond our response to proposed policy changes, the ASCSU respectfully request the
Committee to consider two further points. First, care needs to be given to the timely
announcement of finalists to ensure that campus communities have enough lead time to
ensure the broadest participation to make the visit most valuable to the candidate and
the campus. Furthermore, the ASCSU respectfully request that the Committee consider
amending the final section, “Deviations from These Procedures,” to include meeting
with the Advisory Committee to the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (ACTCSP) prior to making its final decision in the rare and compelling
instance when the Board departs from the list of candidates that the TCSP and
ACTCSP had jointly recommended.
We note that Presidential Search Guidelines in the Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities demonstrates a clear commitment to the aforementioned concerns
regarding equal opportunity/affirmative action as well as the number of finalists to be
recommended. In the University of Wisconsin system, board policy specifies that the“search and screen” committee be composed of a majority of faculty. Also, the size of
the constituency is taken into account in the Minnesota policy; given the large
variations in campus size in the CSU, this seems pertinent. For example, the number of full-time faculty in fall 2009 ranged from 57 (Maritime) to 906 (San Diego) (CSU
Statistical Abstracts, p. 313), yet the policy provides for a constant number of faculty to
represent their constituency on the ACTCSP. Other constituencies, particularly
students, will also vary considerably in size across campuses.
As further testament to the importance of official campus visits in the presidential
selection process, please note that multiple campus Senates have passed resolutions
endorsing the retention of official campus visits for presidential candidates.
Resolutions passed at CSU Channel Islands, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Fullerton,
CSU Long Beach, Maritime Academy, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Sacramento, San Francisco State University, CSU San Marcos, San Diego State University, Sonoma
State University, and CSU Stanislaus are attached, as well as a letter from the =
Executive Committee of Humboldt State University. Other campuses have resolutions
Approved Unanimously – September 16, 2011