OPINION | Provost search should be closed

Butler University recently formed a committee to hire Butler’s next permanent provost.

The committee had not yet decided whether the search will be open or closed.

In the end, I believe a closed search would benefit the university more than if it were open.

Both types of searches have their benefits.

“The Senate supports open searches because there tends to be more faculty input involved in the decision,” said Antonio Menendez-Alarcon, sociology and international studies professor, in an interview for the Feb. 29 issue of The Collegian.

Open searches allow people in the university to meet the candidates as part of the process. Faculty and staff members have the chance to preserve Butler’s character.

This kind of search would offer the university, especially the student body, more participation in the search.

However, closed searches attract more candidates, said Kenneth Creech, media arts professor.

The higher up the position, the less likely the candidates will be able to advertise that they’ve applied,  said President Jim Danko in an interview  on Dec. 7.

Closed searches give the applicants more privacy. This may encourage a wider array of people to apply.

It also protects any position an applicant currently holds.

The closed search might also give the committee more leeway to direct the future of the university.

Two NCAA men’s basketball championship appearances have obviously increased national attention. More undergraduate students attend Butler now than in any past year. Danko is just finishing his first year in his position.

And the provost has the power to direct what faculty can provide to students, Creech said.

The next provost has a lot of different roles to play.

Whether the search is open or closed, the committee members have the university’s needs at heart. Whoever fills this position will need to consult with the deans and lead by consulting with the faculty, Menendez-Alarcon said.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Because the committee members openly discuss these crucial needs, a closed search is the way to go.

The faculty will still have chances to interact with the search committee. The members of the committee are not anonymous nor unreachable.

Faculty, staff and students can and should bring their concerns to the committee.

Closed searches cause the loss of some transparency. It will be difficult for the Butler community to keep up with the search, certainly.

However, in exchange for this, the search may be more competitive and bring new energy and positive growth to the university.

One of the main qualities the committee is looking for in its next provost is the willingness to work with faculty.

Strangers, then, will not make the final decision for our little community.

Nor will the committee make the decision frivolously.

The members take the opinions of faculty, staff and students seriously since a provost has a lot of effect on each of them.

In the end, a closed search will benefit the university more than harm it in the current provost search.