Finding a right fit takes time

The Editorial Board stands behind the university’s decision to wait until fall 2018 to begin the formal search for the next president.

Wheeler Coleman, NIU Board of Trustee’s chairperson, and Dennis Barsema, the Board’s vice chairperson, sent out a campus-wide email Monday that gave a brief overview of the university’s plans for the formal presidential search. The email stated the search for the university’s next president will begin fall 2018, which would be beneficial to everyone involved in the complex process.

Waiting a year to begin the search is said to allow operations to stabilize and provide the Board with enough time to develop and implement an effective process, according to Monday’s email.

In the email, Coleman and Barsema refer to the community’s plea for an unrushed search as the explanation for the year-long wait.

“Our community told us not to rush, saying that NIU needed some time to regain its balance after the recent state budget impasse and our leadership changes,” Coleman and Barsema said in the email Monday.

While a year may seem like a long time, prior NIU presidential searches have been less than favorable. The search process that led to the hiring of former President Doug Baker didn’t last nearly as long as the potential nine-month long search The Board of Trustees expects for this search.

After the resignation of former President John Peters on Oct. 11, 2012, the Board of Trustees was able to narrow the applicants down to four candidates in only four months with the help of professional search firm, Parker Executive Search, according to a March 24, 2013, Northern Star editorial.

Baker accepted the position April 2, 2013.

Because of this fast-paced search process, Baker received the position with scrutiny as many people felt the search process was too secretive and did not give the community a chance to form an opinion about the potential effectiveness of the candidates, according to an Aug. 31 Northern Star editorial.

This extensive time frame will give the university the opportunity to decide what criteria is most important in selecting a new president and will allow them to develop more ways to keep the community engaged during the search.

The university’s decision to prolong the search until next year shows how open and receptive they are to the community’s suggestions. NIU needs a president that will make the best decisions possible for the welfare of the students and staff, and a rushed search will not ensure the Board chooses the best candidate for the job.

Not only is a delayed search beneficial, but it’s imperative to guarantee the high quality of NIU’s next president.