Provost search committee starts work

A search committee comprised of faculty and staff has been assembled in order to find a new Butler University provost.

The committee includes representatives from each college, a member of the Board of Trustees and other faculty members, according to an email sent from President Jim Danko to university faculty.

Representatives were elected by faculty members of their respective colleges, and Danko appointed other faculty members to the committee, Professor Kenneth Creech, College of Communications representative, said.

Joseph Kirsch, a chemistry professor, was elected as the chair of the 17-member committee by the committee, according to the staff email.

Kirsch said he has had previous experience with these types of searches and his main responsibility as chair is to keep the process moving.

“I’m no more responsible than every other member of the committee,” Kirsch said. “This is a very collegial process.”

Kirsch said the first part of the process is to get an advertisement out to inform those looking for a provost position, and then they will apply for the job.

“It should be about a six-month process getting the ad out and receiving applicants,” Kirsch said. “This will allow us to begin interviews next academic year.”

With interviews beginning in the 2012-13 academic year, a new provost will probably not be hired until 2013-14, Kirsch said.

“It could arrive earlier, but it will probably be around this time frame,” Kirsch said.

The last search similar to this one was the presidential search, lasting from fall 2010 to spring 2011, which resulted in the hiring of Danko, but Kirsch said this search is different.

“This committee is composed of faculty and staff,” Kirsch said. “The other (presidential) committee was composed of the Board of Trustees.”

Creech said this seemingly long process is due to the academic calendar cycle.

“By the spring semester, most good applicants have already found jobs,” Creech said. “By waiting for next fall semester, we are hitting the cycle at the right time.”

The committee has yet to decide if the process will be open or closed, something that will be discussed soon, Kirsch said.

Professor Antonio Menendez-Alarcon, the committee’s Social Science representative, said the university’s senate (of which he is a member also) tends to support an open search.

“The senate supports open searches because there tends to be more faculty input involved in the decision,” Menendez-Alarcon said.

Creech said the main benefit of a closed search is that more applicants will apply.

“In a closed search, more applicants are likely to apply because they are ensured that their current position is safe,” Creech said.

On the other hand, an open search gives more people more input in the decision-making process, Creech said.

Currently, Kathryn Morris is serving as interim provost of the university and has agreed to serve throughout the 2012-13 academic year, according to Danko’s email.

Creech said that due to Morris’ agreement to serve throughout next year, the committee is not in a “desperate” situation to find a new provost.

Menendez-Alarcon said the main qualities he is looking for in the new provost are innovation, ability to do new things and willingness to work with faculty.

“It’s important for the provost to lead by consulting with faculty,” Menendez-Alarcon said. “It is important for him or her to be in agreement with the deans.”

Creech said the position of provost is important, particularly to students.

“As the chief academic officer, the provost has the ability to dictate what faculty can provide to students,” Creech said.

The committee held its first meeting Feb. 9 and plans to meet again next month.

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