Chances are good no one – outside of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees and the search committee – will ever know the names of the unsuccessful contenders for the presidency of the university.
And although some experts on presidential searches say this is the optimal strategy for attracting the best candidates – most of whom insist on confidentiality – there are those in the university community who don’t like it, especially after their experience last time around.
UConn Professor Thomas J. Peters said he can definitely understand the need to protect the privacy of candidates so present employment is not affected.
But Peters, who is president of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said it’s his opinion that when the process reaches the finalists’ stage, “We should be able to understand who the finalists are and be able to see some of these people.”
“If the institution is going to run well,” he said, “it can’t be the circumstance that the candidate is a surprise.”
Peters’ opinion is shared by state Sen. Mary Ann Handley, co-chairman of the higher education committee. “Once they get down to five or three, it makes sense to have the community at large involved in at least knowing who these people are so they can voice either great support or real concern even if they don’t get a vote.”
Last month, the search committee, led by board Chairman Lawrence McHugh, announced that it had narrowed a pool of more than 100 applicants to 10. The search committee’s smaller steering committee interviewed the 10 candidates.
Michael Kirk, a spokesman for UConn, said it is his understanding the steering committee is hoping to present the names of two or three finalists to the full 40-member search committee soon.
The last time the university searched for a president, the steering committee presented the full search committee with only a single candidate: former president Michael Hogan, who left in May for the presidency at the University of Illinois after two and a half years at UConn.
McHugh has said he will try to bring more than one candidate to the full search committee to ensure a choice.
Kirk said if candidates for the presidency are not ensured confidentiality, the fear is they will drop out of the competition.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Originally published in the Hartford Courant by Kathleen Megan and used under agreement with the Chronicle.