Education

Jun 1, 2014 12:44 PM by LEIGH GUIDRY

Group seeks transparency in college's search

PINEVILLE, La. (AP) - A group affiliated with Louisiana College is finding that interested parties want to more transparency and greater outside involvement in the search for the next president of the private Baptist school in Pineville.

The group Louisiana College Alumni and Friends created and distributed an eight-question survey primarily through social media and email asking, seeking reaction to the activities of the search committee and possible candidates to replace Joe Aguillard, whose nine-year tenure as college president ends Saturday.

"We are just trying to show the executive committee, the Board of Trustees and the Louisiana Baptist Convention we'd like to see broader representation on that presidential search committee," said Fritha Dinwiddie, a member of Louisiana College Alumni and Friends.

A question on the survey asks specifically that - "Rank the following according to their importance as members of the Presidential Search Committee."

"Responses have been pretty consistent," she said.

The respondents include faculty, alumni and the entire Louisiana College Board of Trustees.

Dinwiddie said more than 60 percent of respondents so far are alumni.

The answers also show what respondents don't want.

"Our understanding is that the executive committee and presidential (search) committee are pretty close to the same, and they're coming up fifth," she added.

The survey has been circulated for about three weeks.

Dinwiddie said she'd like to see more participation from the board and expects to continue collecting responses. Upon completion, the group will send its results to members of the Board of Trustees.

Dinwiddie wants all sides to be involved in the search.

"I'd like to see representation from all groups on the search committee," she said. "I'd like to see them bring in an outside party, a third party (with search experience). I'd like to see them not rush into anything."

Alumni have expressed a desire to be involvement in the process.

"The point I'm trying to make is if alumni are not included in this process, LC stands to lose its alumni base, several generations of it," she said. "We're out here. We want to help. It's really important we be involved."

Involvement would not only provide alumni and others the opportunity to voice opinions on the matter, but it would keep them up to date on the search, which has not been the case so far.

This push for transparency has been difficult in the wake of a new and more strict confidentiality agreement was passed by the college's board of Trustees at its April 15 meeting, Dinwiddie said.

She said Louisiana Baptist church members can take the next step toward transparency by going to any Board of Trustee members who are members of their church and asking them how they voted on the new confidentiality agreement and Aguillard's departure package, also approved at the April 15 meeting. Aguillard becomes president emeritus on Aug. 1 and will take a yearlong paid sabbatical before returning as a tenured faculty member.

"Ask those two questions and ask them why," she said. "We'd really like them (trustees) to talk. If one or two open up, it's closer to transparency than we've been."

Other questions on the survey refer to academic, professional and personal characteristics respondents want to see in the college's next president. It also offers a write-in section for confidential suggestions or nominations for the position as well as additional comments or advice for the search committee.

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