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President search is top secret

Megan Sebestyen
Staff Writer

The Presidential Search Ad­visory Committee for months has been at work selecting the next president of the University of La Verne, though this year’s search unlike previous searches is being conducted under strict confidentiality confines.

All members of the committee, including faculty and administrators, have signed confidentiality agreements pledging not to reveal candidates names until the president-elect and the Board of Trustees give them the green light.

“This (search) is a little bit different. Early on we found that some of our candidates would not be candidates if they didn’t have our absolute confidentiality,” said Ken Calkins, co-chair of the search committee and a University trustee.

While past searches for presidents, provosts and deans included open forums, campus-wide tours and broad community participation, this one is different for a many reasons. The top candidates are sitting presidents, provosts or chancellors.

“Sitting presidents and chancellors don’t want their current community to know that they’re looking,” Calkins said. “People who are at colleges … are afraid that they might lose their job if they go looking someone else.”

Since the University has not searched for a president in 25 years, the Search Committee initially wanted to conduct this search in its usual open way. However, many candidates voiced concerns about being in the public eye during the process.

“I don’t know if it’s becoming a national trend. Because if in fact we want the highest caliber of individuals, there’s a greater need for confidentiality regarding their identity to safeguard their institutions,” Daniel Loera, multicultural affairs director, said.

Richard Simpson, associate professor of business, serves on the Faculty Senate committee that will meet the finalists.

“Given the current climate, in any one of their situations, I too would be concerned about keeping my credibility at my current institution,” Simpson said.

When current President Stephen Morgan announced his retirement, he named Calkins and Emmett Terrell as co-chairs of the committee.

“We knew it was going to be a lot of work and be very difficult, but because La Verne means so much to us, it may be the most important thing I’ve done in my relationship with La Verne,” Calkins said. “So we said yes.”

A select group of candidates has already been chosen to move on to the final interviews. In addition to search committee members, those who will be permitted to meet the finalists include members of the Board of Trustees and Faculty Senate, President Morgan, the deans, the athletic director, the vice presidents, the president and vice president of the Associated Students of ULV, a graduate student representative and chairs of classified, administrative and professional committees.

Because not everyone will meet the finalists, faculty and staff have been invited to submit questions for the candidates, which will be used to create a representative set of interview questions.

“We could have had the search the ways we’ve always done, but we would have lost some of our best candidates,” Calkins said. “So we made the decision to change the process.

Megan Sebestyen can be reached at megan.sebestyen@laverne.edu.

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