Faculty Senate discusses Mason presidential search

Photo Courtesy of Vijay Iyer

Faculty Senate meeting continues talks regarding opening up presidential search


The recent faculty senate meeting served as an opportunity for faculty to continue the discussion regarding Mason’s search for its next president and ultimate goal of getting the Board of Visitors (BOV) to open up the search to the public. They attempted to do so through two motions, both of which were passed in the meeting. 

The monthly meeting on Nov. 6 in Robinson Hall B continued a discussion started at an open forum hosted by the Presidential Search Committee. At this forum, faculty and students brought up the lack of transparency in the presidential search process, as the BOV is currently able to select presidential candidates through a closed process.  

The first motion discussed called on the BOV to conduct a presidential search consistent with the faculty handbook by allowing faculty an opportunity to attend a public forum with each of the presidential finalists and then submit feedback on candidates. 

Some senators expressed the opinion that a completely open process would be difficult to adhere to, as it might prevent certain candidates from applying for fear of losing their current positions. 

Interim President Anne Holton was in attendance at the meeting and voiced her opinion on the search process.

“In the spirit of being careful not to assume what other people’s motives are, I think that you’ve got some real conflicting principles,” Holton said. “I think that by having a more open search gives you lots of opportunity to get feedback and useful information about candidates certainly, and yet I do think that there are lots of reasons why candidates might not be comfortable in that public forum that does not mean that they’re not ready and willing to work with faculty once hired.”

Faculty Senator Bethany Letiecq was the one to propose the change. In the meeting, she argued, “This really is about our power to uphold our handbook. Man, if we don’t uphold our handbook, the BOV certainly will not uphold our faculty handbook.” 

The second motion — introduced by Faculty Senator Keith Renshaw — proposed that a working group of faculty senators work with the Presidential Search Committee to come up with potential procedures to make the search process more transparent. The motion passed and, according to Renshaw, “nominations for the work group are under way”

Mackenzie Earl, a member of Transparent GMU, was in favor of the second motion. 

“We heard the comment several times, ‘Well what’s going to get the BOV to pay attention to us?’ It’s that second motion, it’s students, faculty and faculty senators continuing to work together to come up with creative solutions that make everybody happy and ensure that we have a president that represents Mason, not just Mason’s Board of Visitors,” said Earl. 

Cassidy Pollard, another member of Transparent GMU, said, “There are ways. I think maybe there might need to be some [changes] to the language of that second motion, but I think there are ways to make that compatible with a completely open search.” 

“Everyone recognizes that the whole search process can’t be open, so obviously I’m sure there are other ways, like that motion to make the beginning steps of the process before there’s finalists more open and transparent,” Pollard continued.