Presidential search currently not open for public forum


NIU President John G. Peters gave his annual State of the University Address in Altgeld Hall on October 11, 2012. In his speech he announced his resignation.

By Robert Baird

NIU has changed up its presidential hiring process.

The final four candidates to succeed NIU President John Peters will meet with the Board of Trustees for off-campus interviews on Friday, according to a university news release.

The candidates were selected from the 10 who were interviewed by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) on March 8 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont.

“This search is formatted a little differently than in the past,” said Paul Palian, director of media and public relations. “We’re using a closed, hybrid approach with stakeholders, including faculty, staff, alumni and foundation board members, who have a confidential agreement not to speak [on the matter].”

Those stakeholders will interview each candidate and provide feedback to the Board of Trustees, Palian said.

“It’s becoming quite common for universities to have a closed search,” Palian said. “I know that ISU’s president is retiring, and I don’t believe students are going to be involved in their process either.”

Alan Rosenbaum, PSAC co-chair and executive secretary of University Council, said the closed approach is becoming typical for presidential searches.

“The Board of Trustees decided on how the search would be conducted, with the advice from the Parker Executive search firm taken into consideration,” Rosenbaum said.

During the last presidential search in 2000, the candidates’ names were not confidential, according to a March 3, 2000, Northern Star article.

“The sole purpose of the search is to find the best candidate,” said Student Association Speaker James Zanayad. “The fact that it’s confidential attracts more candidates, rather than an open one where the candidate’s employers will know.”

Students were able to ask Peters and other presidential candidates questions in a forum when he was being hired, according to the March 3, 2000, Northern Star article. Students will not be able to do the same this year.

“That was 13 years ago,” Rosenbaum said. “The way we search for and choose a president has evolved. We don’t do a lot of things that we did in 2000.”

Other universities continue to incorporate forums with students into the presidential hiring process. Columbia College appointed Kwang-Wu Kim as its new president on Feb. 26. Students, faculty and staff were allowed to attend a forum to ask him questions prior to being appointed, according to a Feb. 12 Columbia Chronicle article.

“There’s still time for an open forum; it’s definitely a possibility,” Zanayad said. “It’s up to the board to decide.”

Al Bowman, Illinois State University president, announced in December that he will be stepping down. ISU’s presidential search committee is planning an open forum for late April. Students and staff will have the opportunity to ask the school’s final candidates questions, said Jay Groves, ISU chief of staff.

“We’ve got three students on our committee, as well,” Groves said. “When the candidates come into town, there will be two forums. One will be with the Student Government Association, and the other is an open forum, so anyone can ask questions.”

Peters’ final day will be June 30.