What happens when a university candidate search becomes very public

In the rush to cover Troubled Waters, I wasn’t able to post this piece by MPR reporter Tim Post. He reports on the debate over whether the need for privacy in the search for a new president for the University of Minnesota outweighs the public’s right to know.

The U has said it may name only one finalist. That would meet legal requirements, but would, in effect, keep the public from ever knowing who else was being considered for the job.

So what’s the issue with making all finalists’ names public?

Post reports:

Sunshine laws force (colleges) to open their doors and let the public see who’s being interviewed as a finalist. But colleges also want to protect the names of those top candidates until the very end.

For anyone in the workplace, it’s easy to understand why. If you’re interested in a new opportunity, you don’t want everyone at your current job to know you’re looking around.

Former university regent Maureen Reed tells Post about the worry over what publicity does to the candidate pool:

“What we don’t know, and what we will never know, is who did not apply,” said Reed, “because she or he was concerned that their name was going to be made public.”

Yet Eva Von Dassow, a professor in the college of liberal arts, tells Post that faculty and others need to know who’s being considered:

“In order for everyone else to be confident that that one person truly is superior, it’s necessary to hear from a range of candidates who differ from each other.”