Monica Szakacs, News Writer:
The search for the permanent president of Southern has been initiated by Richard Balducci, CSUS Board of Trustees vice chairman, and he has established the Trustees Search Committee, which is the first step in the process.
“I think all of Southern’s faculty and staff have a concern,” said Balducci, “and they would like to know who they are going to be working for and what their plans are for the university and what they expect from faculty and staff.”
Balducci said when Cheryl Norton, former president, announced her resignation, the BOT talked about a search that was scheduled to be completed at the end of the academic year 2011-2012. Balducci said a committee was not appointed to begin the process at the time because the system then faced a dilemma of David Carter, former chancellor, announcing his resignation. Balducci said the board was going to talk about doing something.
“Carter’s resignation was to be Sept. 1, which we thought would pose some kind of a problem for any candidate coming in to find out who they are actually working for,” said Balducci, “so we held up the process somewhat, because most presidents would like to know who their chancellor is going to be.”
When Carter moved his resignation to March 1, Balducci said the board still had concern for people applying, but he said he knew something needed to be done.
“I talked it over with some of the board members and executive committee and the board itself and we decided it was important to move ahead,” said Balducci, “because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to meet that time line of May 2012.”
Michael Shea, English department chair, said he understands that the board was faced with two searches, however he said he does not understand why the board didn’t initiate a searchDooleybetween the time after Norton’s announcement and before Carter’s announcement.
“Between November 2009 and September 2010 there was no discussion, no plan, no search started and that’s what seems confusing,” said Shea, “because in that same period of time in May 2010, the president of Uconn announced that he was leaving. They named an interim, put a search together and hired a person.”
According to Susan Cusato, chairman of the Science and Environmental Studies, the systems office didn’t do anyone any favors by delaying the process, especially since the university knows Battle applied for another position. She said she wonders what would have happened if Battle was offered the position and accepted.
“Where would we be now, trying to hire an interim for our interim and having no provost?,” said Cusato. “For whatever reasons, we are not in that position, but to even have been close to ending up in that position is the fact that the board really is not being responsive to the needs of the community, and that includes the students.”
Shea said he thinks it was a mistake to not start a search as soon as they knew they were getting rid of Dr. Norton. He also said the institution would be better off with the knowledge of who will be the permanent head during the “rough” financial crisis that’s “rocking” the state at the moment.
“I think that as things have turned out,” said Shea, “I think that having Dr. Battle as president has been good for us—it would be better for him and for us if the position was permanent.”
According to Balducci, to his knowledge Battle has done a good job as interim president and It will be up to Battle if he wants to apply or not. He said people during a BOT forum asked why not just appointing Battle as president, but Balducci said there is a process that needs to be followed.
“There certainly wasn’t any caveat as to whether president Battle could only serve as an interim and not be an applicant for president,” said Balducci, “so he certainly has the ability to apply for the job if he wishes.”
The overall process for the search of an University president is as followed: There is search committee that does the hiring for the board, then there is a university advisory committee that would be made up of students and staff from the specific university and they advise the search committee from the board, but the board search committee makes the ultimate decision.
It’s certainly possible for an interim to be permanent, according to Cusato. She said this is not usual because some interims are hired just as interim and they are not encouraged to apply either by choice or by recruitment.
“I don’t think that’s the case here,” said Cusato. “I think interim Battle is probably going to apply for permanent president and there is no rule that he couldn’t.”
According to Patrick Dilger, director of public affairs, Battle said he is very supportive of the trustees getting the search on the way because it is an important step. Dilger also said Battle wants to wait and see what the announcement is before he assesses what he wants to do.
“That’s his stance at the moment,” said Dilger. “He is very engaged at the present time working through the budget challenges that faces all of us, because this is one of the most challenging times that we face as a university and state.”