Following up on the last open forum regarding the elongated process of the presidential search, a second open forum was held on Wednesday, May 23 in N201 to acknowledge the concerns brought up by Bellevue College employees and faculty. The forum also aimed at helping them keep abreast of the latest news on the search for a president and explaining to the faculty the most recent hiring plan. The later part of the forum is dedicated to responding to comments and further questions raised by attendees.
The forum started at 3:40 p.m. with Vicki Orrico, Chairperson of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees, addressing the reason for this subsequent meeting. “It was apparent from the last forum that… as a result of our [the Board of Trustees’] inability to share what is transpired in the executive session that people were reading far more into the situation than what’s reality,” said Orrico.
Through sharing with employees and faculty what happened during the closed executive session, the Board hoped to relieve some of the anxiety around the perception that it has “messed up” the presidential search process. Orrico maintained that not having a candidate who possessed sufficiently strong skills both externally and internally was the primary reason why the board did not bring any candidate to campus after the first round of presidential search.
Another cause of delay according to Paul Chiles, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, was the board’s agreement early on to be in alignment until moving forward with the hiring process. To be aligned, the board members had to be substantially unanimous about the final choice of candidate and the fact that they could not come to consensus has led to the deferral of the search. However, he assured attendees that alignment was not going to be an issue next time around. “We are going to do whatever it takes to come to some understanding and to deliver a president who is right for this institution,” promised Chiles.
As stated by Laura Saunders, Interim President of BC, the current proposal is for the Board of Trustees to look at the entire pool of candidates and pick 12-16 people the Board has confidence in for review by the search committee when all committee members get back in September. The college is looking forward to bringing candidates to campus in October and hopefully has someone on board by Christmas.
A major question brought forward by members of the faculty revolved around the filter of applications. The idea of having the Board of Trustees sieve through the pool of candidates before the search committee seemed to worry most attendees. Robert Hobbs, physics instructor at BC, commented on such a plan, saying that the proposed arrangement was a reversal of order. As primary users of the president, the search committee that is consisted of an assortment of community members should indeed review the applications first.
Denise Johnson, who is a sociology instructor at BC, echoed Hobbs’ remark by expressing her feelings towards that very concern. Johnson also suggested that the Board and the committee put in labor in reviewing the candidates on “accelerated pace” during summer in order to stay within the time limit of the search.
Business instructor Judy Woo’s reaction, too, resonated with that of Hobbs and Johnson. “I think that there are faculty that have sincere interest and are willing to commit to go through all the applications, get a great hire and find the best person.”
Besides the order of review, attendees were skeptical about the ability of the Board of Trustees to reach unanimity. Eva Norling, a French teacher at BC, queried whether it was the search committee that needed to be renamed or was it the problem of the Board of Trustees that delayed the progress of the presidential search. As claimed by Norling, naming a new search committee may just be an act to “fix something that doesn’t need fixing.”
With respect to the sequence of filter, the French instructor shared a similar opinion with the above mentioned faculty members—“Please don’t rush into something because you want to cut corners and move this faster… Don’t sacrifice because of the time.”
For more information on the presidential search process, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.