Faculty search committees on the hunt

Denny Patterson

Last semester, students and staff began to notice that numerous faculty and administration officials were either stepping down from their current positions or leaving the institution altogether at the end of this academic school year. President Harold Jeffcoat enlightened the Millikin community that change is the norm and that it’s business as usual. Once a new president is sworn in and has gotten the feel of the land, it is normal for numerous changes within faculty and staff to occur. Jeffcoat has only been president of the university since last year.

When it comes to finding individuals to fulfill the open positions, faculty and staff search committees are formed to scope out interested applicants who they think can fill the job requirements. For example, the search committee to find a new Vice President of Academic Affairs includes Dr. Deborah Slayton as the committee’s co-chair, Dr. Ray Boehmer, Dr. Cheryl Chamblin, Dr. Michael Luxner, Dr. Robert Money, Cynthia Fuller, Walt Wessel, Quantrell Willis, Jacque Wrigley and Rich Dunsworth. Now that the search committees are in full swing, what is the progression?

“Not a lot happens over break, but that is usually when the advertisements go out,” Jeffcoat said. “People in the market are beginning to respond so more of a flurry of activity is building. Some programs got their advertisements out the door early. It’s the time of year where things start to heat up in personnel in academic searches. Advertisements go out at the first of the year, applicants get their materials and a lot more visible activity is seen after spring break; everything kind of compresses at the end of the academic year. It’s a standard kind of schedule for these sorts of things. Many of the applicants are usually right out of school with the PhDs. We have to know that they passed their oral exams; defend their thesis, a lot happening around the country right now. We will have a lot of new people here next year.”

Besides Slayton’s search committee, Dean of Student Development Raphaella Prange is chairing the search for a Vice President of Student Life. Other searches are being conducted to find a new dean for the Tabor School of Business and many academic departments are searching for new faculty instructors. Jeffcoat would like to see all open positions filled by late May, early June.

“Psychology tried last year, but it was suspended so they started up again this past fall,” Jeffcoat said. I expect the positions to be filled pretty quickly. They didn’t get the people that they wanted. The process starts with a timeline and a pace of change starts to pick up in the middle of the semester and definitely be the end of the second semester. I believe they made an offer, but I could be wrong about that. Sociology is also looking for a person to fill the position Dr. Troy held. I believe they are at the point where they are making offers.”

Jeffcoat says when it comes to making the final decision on hiring an applicant, he isn’t directly involved.

“All I ask for is an update from very conscientious personnel. Our staff and faculty are very experienced in this. I have a lot of confidence in them. I tend not the weigh in on the final decision, more of a courtesy. If an issue comes out, I will report that back, but that’s a rare circumstance. By and large, the candidates are bided on, gone through the selection process and become suitable. The folks closest to the discipline know more than what I do for what they are looking for. I rely on the committee a great deal to make the final decision.”

From a student and faculty point of view, every open position needs to be filled as soon as possible. Academic departments are anxious to gain new members and are ready to get back to their work.

“Key leadership is a top priority,” Jeffcoat said. “That’s what they will see.”