The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents is poised to vote today on a proposed policy change that would reduce the faculty role in presidential searches. Current board policy says that an institutional search committee shall be composed of representatives from the board, the system chancellor or the chancellor’s designee, faculty, alumni, students, and the community, with “faculty composing the largest number of institutional members.” Regarding comprehensive universities, state universities and state colleges, in particular, the current policy also says that “the chancellor shall name a faculty member to serve as the chair of the institutional search committee.”
The proposed policy removes the reference to faculty composing the largest number of institutional members and eliminates the requirement that a faculty member be named search committee chair at nonresearch institutions (currently and under the proposed policy, a regent serves as search committee chair for presidential searches at research institutions).
The university system did not respond to a request for comment. The American Association of University Professors censured the university system this year over controversial changes to Georgia’s posttenure review system, which make it possible to fire tenured faculty members without a faculty review. The board also faced criticism this year for appointing former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as system chancellor over faculty and student objections.
Matthew Boedy, associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the University of North Georgia and president of the Georgia AAUP, said the proposed shift “is a tremendous slap in the face to shared governance and other principles the AAUP urges on all schools concerning presidential searches. For a system—and board—under censure from the AAUP for not only gutting tenure but doing in it in a fashion that disregarded faculty input, this is a brazenly autocratic way to act. The [board] is now going to repeat for all its schools the kind of closed-door, back-room search it conducted for Mr. Perdue. What a shameless act of silencing faculty.”
Mississippi’s Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning last month secretly approved policy changes that leave the campus presidential search and selection process almost entirely up to trustees.