Appalachian State has accumulated a fair amount of experience with search firms over the last few years. Perhaps there is no greater testament to the importance of the search firm on our campus than the fact that a search firm was used to help hire the most essential of all university employees: The athletic director.
Once again, the university will be using the services of a search firm to fill the positions of three deans in the colleges of education, business and fine and applied arts. The cost of the search would be about $200,000 at the high end and as low as $160,000 to $170,000 if the university uses one firm for all the searches, provost Darrell Kruger said.
The way this search happens is certainly an important moment for a relatively new administration.
Already, this planned use of search firms has received criticism from faculty. A letter to the editor from several faculty members framed the issue in terms of the shift in resources from faculty to administration.
In the past years that I have been talking to faculty members, I have heard a lot of the understandable resentment that many faculty members have about how things are going in higher education.
Along with the shift in resources, there is a definite sense that the role of faculty is becoming less important.
Given that context, it is easy to see why the use of firms would create anxiety. It is yet another manifestation of the sort of corporate approach to education that supports the rise of administration over faculty.
Still, in spite of the problems with the use of search firms in general, it may be possible for administrators to assuage faculty concerns at least to some extent by making this process as transparent and inclusive as possible.
Provost Darrell Kruger has stressed the importance of the search committee, which is composed of faculty members, in all steps of the process.
“The chancellor and I highly value the judgment of the search committees. We value the work, the judgement and the recommendations of the search committee,” Kruger said.
Those words are encouraging, and so far the chancellor and provost have shown a willingness to engage in what seems sincere cooperation with faculty.
This occasion can provide a good test of that commitment, a chance for us to see those words put into action by how they act on faculty input in this process.
In the past, faculty input has not been valued. As problematic as search firms can be, I hope this can be a change for the better.
Griffin, a senior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.