Below is the transcript of Howard’s Speech to the Board:
I am speaking today about the Board’s misguided, shortsighted, and unfortunate decision to make the presidential search a closed and secret search, ensuring that the campus community will not have any significant input into the selection of the next president of Eastern Michigan University.
This decision makes clear that the Board does not believe in shared governance. This is not a surprise; most of you come from the private sector, which is very different from a university. Colleges and universities are different, and public universities especially so – faculty and other voices need to be heard, for the simple reason that we teach the students, and we are the ones who are closest to the core mission of EMU.
AAUP statement on presidential searches and campus visits:
“There should be Campus visits where the candidate will meet with different constituencies, particularly faculty and students. These open visits are crucial in the success of the search process because they permit members of the campus community to participate in providing impressions, as well as to contribute to the candidate’s understanding of the culture of the institution. In this final phase of the selection process, open visits present vitally important opportunities for both the campus community and the candidate to determine each other’s suitability. This final step is extraordinarily useful to the search committee in making its final recommendation to the board.”
Shared governance does not mean that we decide – you are still the bosses. You are still the deciders. But you have to listen to us first. By not allowing the candidates to meet with faculty and others before a selection is made, you eviscerate shared governance here at EMU.
Transparency and honesty should be core values that you, the Board adhere to. Instead, you have chosen secrecy and duplicity. You are just going to announce, without any input from the campus community, that our president is ______. And if you bring the one final candidate to campus before formally being named, that is the furthest thing from shared governance you could find.
So why are you doing this? Because the search firm you hired got burned at the University of Iowa. What happened at Iowa? The final candidates were brought to campus, and the campus community was able to see how wrong the preferred candidate was. So in reaction, this search firm now advises: “no more candidates to campus.” This is the same search firm that got paid $200k at Iowa, and could not even discover their preferred candidate lied on his resume.
And this is NOT about hiring a non-academic for the position. We do not demand that an academic be hired. Not even close. This is not what this is about. This is about a process where you violate the basic principle of shared governance for faculty and other employees.
In addition, your process is not to designed to get the best candidates. Once candidates see that this is a secret process, they will know they are considering a campus where shared governance does not matter.
Lastly, despite your claims that everything U of M does is the gold standard and therefore automatically perfect, we believe that this secretive process violates the Michigan Open Meetings Act. Newsflash: U of M is not perfect. Newsflash: EMU is not U of M.
For these reasons, the All Union Council voted unanimously to pull our representative, Mike Shumaker, the president of the All Union Council, from the search committee. We refuse to be involved in such a flawed and secretive process. Go ahead and pick a president in secret – but you will not do it with our consent or support.