Keep your ears open

The filling of two administrative positions has a number of faculty talking, and NIU President John La Tourette should be listening.

The positions to be filled are vice president for provost and vice president for development and alumni relations. La Tourette has proposed an internal search for the positions but that proposal is being meet with strong opposition from the Faculty Senate.

Not only are FS members disgruntled over the proposal, but they are also put off over the way in which the president presented it to them. A number of organizations on campus, including the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and the Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities, also have sent or are preparing letters in protest of the proposal.

La Tourette issued FS members a letter during last week’s meeting stating his intent to conduct internal searches for both positions unless he is presented “compelling reasons” to the contrary.

If the president had any inkling that putting this proposal past the FS would be difficult, maybe he should have done it with some more tact. Through the tone used in his letter he only swayed any fence votes away from him and put the original opposition on a stronger defense. Consequently, the FS voted in favor of a national search.

One argument, put forth by La Tourette, says there is no time to squeeze in an extensive external search with all that is going on at this campus. Arguments against this could say that with such vital positions at stake NIU should do everything possible to get the best candidate. External searches continuously are conducted and funded for a number of positions of much less importance than the current two.

Another argument for the internal search is there are already “excellent candidates” here at NIU to fill the positions. This could be the case, but wouldn’t the participation of these candidates in an external search further prove their credibility and improve their reputation with other faculty members?

Some faculty have even said they will not cooperate with the new provost if an external search is not conducted. Something smells a little fishy here and La Tourette better start sniffing. With such ardent opposition to his proposed internal search, he had better keep his ears, his mind and his search decision open.