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.”

  • Anonymous

    Of course, I’ve posted on this: University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chair
    Threatens to Reveal Only One Finalist?

    link: http://bit.ly/9HlkDj

    I also provide an email that the Board Chair sent on October 11.

    A careful reading seems to send a different message than that Chair Allen gave on MPR. It would be unwise, yes arrogant, for Chair Allen to attempt to circumvent the open meeting law – yet again – by only naming one finalist. Sadly, this would just continue the kind of arrogant behavior for which the current Morrill Hall Gang is famous.


    Dear Members of the University Community:

    The search for the next president of the University of Minnesota is moving forward as planned. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee is continuing its work to identify candidates and conduct initial interviews so that in the near future the committee can forward a number of highly qualified semi-finalists to the Board of Regents for its consideration.

    The process continues on a path toward the election of a new president by the end of the calendar year. All finalists, defined by state law as candidates who will be interviewed by the appointing authority (the Board of Regents), will visit campus for a public interview with the Board and a series of meetings, including a public forum, with University constituencies.

    On behalf of the Board, I want to thank everyone who has provided comments on the search for our next president. Your views on this important decision have been extremely beneficial to the Board. We continue to welcome your thoughts as the search enters these critical stages.

    For more information on the search, please visit the Presidential Search Site.


    Clyde E. Allen, Jr.