Search continues for new president

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Search continues for new president

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In the search for DePaul’s next president, the Board of Trustees has decided it will not reveal the names of the vetted candidates to protect them from scrutiny if they don’t get the job, according to an email to the DePaul community by Board of Trustees Chair William Bennett and Vice Chair James Ryan. They also said they do not want to conduct a closed search, an approach that would impair transparency.

Instead, the Board has concluded the best method is the “hybrid search model,” a mixture of both opened and closed searches. In this new process, the presidential search committee will select three finalists and invite them to a closed interview with the Board, the email outlined.

Next, the presidential finalists will be interviewed by a 20-member faculty committee, a 20-member staff committee, a 10-member senior leadership committee and a 10-member student government committee.

Seven of the 10 student members in the student government committee will be chosen by application, Student Government Association president Ric Popp told the DePaul community by email. The other three student members will be Student Government representatives.

After the interviews with the presidential candidates, each committee will submit a report to the presidential search committee, according to the email. They in turn will report to the Board for its members to choose DePaul’s 12th president.

So far, this new process has been approved by the Board, but still requires consent by all of the presidential candidates.

“Witt/Kieffer has assured us that they believe this hybrid model will deliver a strong and diverse pool of candidates,” the email wrote, referring to the firm that is assisting in the search.

The presidential search committee’s duty is to recommend names of the finalists, “along with an analysis of each finalist’s perceived strengths and potential vulnerabilities,” the email wrote.

On Sept. 23, Ryan, who has also been named chair of the search committee, emailed the DePaul community the names of the 14 members of the search committee. They include executive vice president Jeffery Bethke, provost Marten denBoer, Board trustee Mary Dempsey, and student and SGA president Popp.

The day before the email, the search committee had their first meeting to discuss previous work on the search, leads on candidates with Witt/Kieffer, review the final prospectus and approve a timeline for finding candidates.

In the email, Ryan also thanked more than 600 community members who submitted feedback on what qualities the next president should have.

The Board is expected to choose the next president by the end of February 2017.

When the Board chose past presidents, finalists were named publicly and participated in two days of interviews on campus with the community, according to the email. Members then gave feedback to the search committee about the finalists, which was in turn used by the Board to make the final decision.

But the Board and the search committee found that presidents of other universities who were interested in the job at DePaul were often unwilling to broadcast their names to the public because their reputation could be tarnished if they failed to get the job.

“As a result, the Board of Trustees has concluded it cannot conduct an open presidential search,” the email wrote.

Current President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. is to step down at the end of the 2016-17 school year, planning to resume teaching as a professor in the College of Education after a year off. He announced the decision in June, weeks after protests broke out on campus after controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ event was interrupted.

“It’s time in ’17, next year, to start saying what are the next set of ambitions for DePaul,” Holtschneider told The DePaulia in June. “What does DePaul want to do next? That is a perfect time for an organization to bring in new leadership, as opposed to being in the middle of that. If I waited a couple more years I would’ve slowed down all the activity.”

Holtschneider first spoke of his intention to step down to the Vincentian leadership in January, and by March had informed the Board. Soon after, the university created a team to search for possible replacements. His contract as president officially would have ended in 2019.

At the time, Holtschneider made it clear that his departure as president and the events surrounding the Yiannopoulos events were not connected.

“They’re completely unrelated,” he said to The DePaulia. “I actually felt bad when some students were talking about that, that I couldn’t tell them, but I hadn’t told the Board yet. I had to tell the Board first.”

Caroline Rau, a freshman and art history major, said she believes the university is doing a good job keeping the DePaul community informed about the presidential search.

“I don’t know if everyone is reading them, but I definitely did,” she said. “Talking with sophomores and juniors here, too, they also seem to be in the loop.”

Rau said that the next president must be able to communicate with student groups, especially following Yiannopoulos’ visit, and handle the situation “a little better.”

“I know this is a pretty liberal school, but I also know there is a conservative population here too,” she said. She’d like the next president to “see both sides and who can understand both sides, and be able to work well with both sides.”

DJ Singh, a senior and biology major, also said the university is doing a good job keeping students informed, as far as he is concerned.

“I think as a DePaul student I am interested, but it’s not my main interest. So as far as I am interested, I think they are doing a good job.”

But the university could always do a better job informing students in broader aspects of the search, he said.

“Maybe they could have it stem down to the professor level, where a professor talks about it during class,” he said. “Here’s what a president does, here’s why it’s important, here’s how it could impact you. So maybe make that clearer.”

But Singh was concerned how the new president would tread regarding guest speakers, especially after the protests during Yiannopoulos’ visits and the university denying conservative journalist Ben Shaprio from speaking on campus.

“I’m interested in how they are going to handle that stuff,” he said. “How are they going to allow students to express their opinions, while also keeping it a safe environment?”

The Board will be hosting a community forum on Oct. 5 from 4-6 p.m. in McGowan South Room 108, offering members of the community to ask any questions they have about the search for the next president. For students who cannot attend the forum because they are in the Loop campus, they can watch the proceedings via video at the DePaul Center Room 8005.