With University of Nevada, Reno, President Marc Johnson deciding to return to the classroom at the end of this school year, a search for his replacement has begun. On Wednesday, Nov. 13, UNR held official presidential forums to gain input from students and faculty on how the search for a new university president should be conducted.
Board of Regents Chair Jason Geddes and Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly led a series of forums throughout the day with classified staff and academic and administrative faculty in full attendance. The discussions revealed most employees think the ideal way of selecting a candidate would be to conduct a national search in order to come up with a list of finalists to be decided upon in May of 2020.
“The theme throughout the day was that a national search was preferred, especially with the faculty,” Geddes said. “It should be a very easy recommendation to make to the search committee.”
What started as a productive day with packed rooms of faculty and staff ended in disappointment as the student forum garnered the attendance of exactly four people—two of whom were professors of the school and another currently enrolled in high school attempting to receive extra credit in his government class. With students being vocal about problematic events occurring within UNR on social platforms such as Twitter, it was surprising to see such a minuscule turnout, especially with a 7 p.m. start time that should have pushed the forum past most classes’ end times. The board seemed surprised at the lack of attendance, expecting to hear opinions that could help form a recommendation to deliver to the search committee.
“Obviously we want to give each candidate an idea of what life is like on campus, so student voices are ideal to give us that impression,”Reilly said. “Topics such as the recent climate survey will be discussed, but student input is ideal.”
The board was clear that students will have a voice at all future meetings and the search will remain as public as possible. The forum was actually web-streamed on the university website. Also, any list of candidates will be made public. The main goal, university officals said, is to bring in more diversity and broader viewpoints to ensure UNR remains and improves upon its status as one of the top higher education institutions in the country.
The hope remains that feedback will come from all areas of campus, especially from the students and not just in the form of social media posts. Recommendations and any sort of information can be submitted online. It was stressed at the meeting by all board members that the last two presidents did not apply for the position. They were discovered and offered the position through committees like the one that will oversee the search this winter and spring. Real changes could be coming to the UNR campus very soon, but whether they will stem from the voices of students on campus remains to be seen.