In a conference room filled with student representatives from each class, the Student Senate and various organizations on campus gathered together for one purpose: the search for a permanent university president.
On Tuesday, August 26, Student Senate President Michelle Bradley, explained that all who were there had a voice in this matter, and turned it over to the chairman of the council of trustees, Michael Schaul.
Schaul explained that the purpose of the meeting was to give students a voice in choosing the next president of the campus. In doing so, the students will give a list of the five traits they want to see in the next president, as well as five issues that might need to be dealt with in the next 10 years.
Some of the possible issues discussed were potentially adding an engineering program, growing the programs we have, in general, and the problems with diversity and retention, as well as looking at sports and becoming a Division 1 school.
Some of the traits that students brainstormed included approachability, technically savvy, willingness to examine the university, as a whole, including finances and curriculum, as well as being immersed in the community and working with students.
Student Senate compiled and prioritized a list of the official five traits and five possible issues on Thursday, August 28.
The search for a permanent president is an extensive process, which involves getting a team from the university together that includes three trustees, an executive member, two faculty members, two non-faculty members, a student, an alumnus, three non-university members and a president from another school. After this happens, a search firm recruits the final candidates for the university, who subsequently visit the campus. The candidates are then narrowed to two and the university’s board of governors officially decides who will be our president.
But the meeting was not without questions from the students. It was explained that this process could cost up to $200,000.
The biggest question facing Schaul was why search for a president now? After all, the current interim president, George “Jody” Harpster, has been in the position for a year and a half.
Schaul explained that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has a presidential search policy that the council of trustees must follow.
However, Harpster is allowed to apply, at his discretion, for the position. During the meeting, several comments were made about Harpster being well-liked and attentive to his duties as interim president.