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Group representing university professors calls Purdue presidential hiring process “disturbing"

Ben Thorp

A national group representing university professors is calling Purdue University’s presidential hiring process “disturbing.”

Last week, the successor to current president Mitch Daniels was announced at the board of trustees meeting. That announcement came as a surprise to all three chapters of the Purdue American Association of University Professors, who released statements criticizing the process for being secretive and not allowing for faculty input.

Now, the national arm of the AAUP has weighed in - noting just how unusual it is not to include faculty in the decision.

Mark Criley is with the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance. He said a 2021 survey found 94 percent of doctoral institutionsinvolved faculty in a presidential search.

“It’s a very rare thing across all four-year colleges, but especially at doctoral institutions. It’s a widely shared norm, and that I think reflects the significance of having the faculty involved,” he said.

In criticizing the decision, local AAUP chapters noted that no hard rules around the presidential selection process were violated - but said that the board of trustees had deviated from longstanding norms.

Criley said faculty participation in a presidential selection should be guaranteed by more than just norms.

“The fact that it’s left to norms in many cases is part of the problem,” he said. “We’d like to see more institutions that incorporate this into their bylaws - the involvement of different components of the university.”

Across academic institutions, those norms do appear to be shifting somewhat. The AAUP last conducted a survey asking whether faculty were involved in the presidential hiring process in 2001. In response, 93 percent of academic institutions said that they were. In 2021, that number had fallen to 88 percent (the 2001 survey did not delineate between four-year institutions, so it’s not clear exactly how doctoral institutions like Purdue have changed).

“That’s very disconcerting to us under our principles,” said Criley. “It should be the case that governing components of the university work together to make these selections.”

A spokesperson for Purdue University did not respond to WBAA’s request for comment.

Copyright 2022 WBAA News

Benjamin Thorp