Danko speaks to provost search

Butler University President Jim Danko discussed the possible structure of the upcoming search for a new provost at the Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday.

The search would fill the position that will be left vacant by current Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jamie Comstock, who has asked to step down at the end of December.

Danko said the search committee will probably include about 14 or 15 members, nine of which would be faculty. The committee would decide its own chair.

Danko said he would hope to have a committee assembled in January. In the meantime, he is taking suggestions for interim provost, who he said would serve as provost for six to 18 months.

The wide time range allows for a search that Danko said should be extensive and focused on finding a good candidate.

“We have to do this right,” he said. “You can’t just mess this up.”

Danko also said he has not decided whether to bring in an outside firm to help guide the search, but there might be a middle ground where outside consultants could help the committee drawn in more candidates.

“They would argue that they do a much better job at being aggressive and going out there and shaking trees and identifying candidates that may not respond to a blind ad,” he said.

He said he also has not decided whether or not candidates would present to the campus. Faculty Senate Chair Margaret Brabant said the presidential search committee wrangled with the issue before eventually deciding to have a closed search.

While he saw a mixed approach at Villanova, Danko said he would like the search committee to make the decision on whether or not to close the search. He said that the presidential search committee argued well that top candidates may desire secrecy to protect them in their current jobs and that closed searches serve a purpose.

“The higher up [in] the food chain, the tougher it is for somebody to want to expose the fact that they’re running for another job,” he said.

Danko said he would also hold open sessions for all faculty to offer insights on what they want in a leader and the organization of the provost’s office.

He said he hopes these discussions will look forward.

“I’m interested in the future, not necessarily revisiting the past in terms of the type of provost we should have,” he said.

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