• Southwestern University
    ©JonesFoto, Inc. 2018

To the Members of the Southwestern University Community:

I am pleased to announce that the board of trustees has adopted a plan for forming a presidential search advisory committee, as well as a timeline leading up to the committee’s first meeting. The committee will consist of fifteen members, including eight trustees, at least three of whom will be Southwestern alums; four faculty members, including one each from Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences; one senior staffer; one non-senior staffer; and one student.

Members will be selected by the board from among those in the Southwestern community nominated by members of their respective constituencies—trustees, faculty, senior staff, non-senior staff, and students—through a process including both peer and self-nomination. I invite each of you to begin considering what persons among the peers in your respective constituencies would add value to the work of the search advisory committee as well as whether the committee would benefit from your own service as a member of the committee. Then go to the Presidential Search page on the university website and click on the Search Advisory Committee section. That will take you to a webpage where you can first select your particular constituency, then to a form that you can complete to nominate an unlimited number of your peers, yourself, or both.

In order to assure that peers nominate peers, you may only nominate persons who are members of your particular constituency. As all faculty members, though, are peers, even if their departments are in different areas, faculty members may nominate peers without regard to area.

This process will close at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24. I will review all of the nominations and, consulting with others in the community as appropriate, prepare and submit to the board a slate of fifteen recommended committee members. The board will make the final decision. I hope that we can announce the composition of the committee on or about October 1.

In considering peer and self-nominations, you should bear several things in mind regarding committee service. While the committee will have members from various of its constituencies, members will need to understand that in their work on the committee, they are representing the interests of Southwestern as a whole. The reason for having committee members from various constituencies is to benefit from varying perspectives, not to represent the interests of their respective constituencies. To add real value to the work of the committee, members will need to have an institutional view.

Committee service also will require a significant commitment of time and energy. Members will be expected to participate in person, if at all possible, in meetings; to review job applications with care; in some cases to check applicants’ references; and to participate collaboratively with one another. We anticipate that the committee will meet at least seven times between October and the time of a presidential appointment, which is anticipated to be in March 2020. The first meeting of the committee will take place on campus on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 16. Members also will be expected to attend a two-day off-site meeting in early 2020 to interview selected candidates.

Due to the sensitive nature of candidates’ applying for one job while holding another, members will be expected to keep both the names of applicants and the deliberations of the committee confidential, both during the search and thereafter, and will be asked to sign confidentiality agreements containing such provisions.

Finally, committee members will need to understand and appreciate that the role of the committee is “advisory” to the board of trustees. The committee will not select our next president; that responsibility will rest with the board.

The board believes that this process of peer and self-nomination, which involves most of our university constituencies, will be beneficial to the entire community. Moreover, the interests of diversity and breadth of perspectives, both of which the board highly values, will be furthered by this process as peer and self-nominations should provide a broad and rich mix of potential committee members.

We have established a Presidential Search page on the Southwestern website that will enable all members of the Southwestern community to share their thoughts with the committee and will enable the committee to keep the community informed of the search progress to the extent that confidentially allows.

I speak for the entire board when I say that we look forward to an inclusive and productive process.

Stephen G. Tipps
Chair, Southwestern Board of Trustees