Faculty Weigh In On UW Presidential Search

May 5, 2015

Credit University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees is gathering public input this week into its process to find a successor to President Dick McGinity.

McGinity announced he’ll step down when his contract expires next year—but only if the presidential search is successful.

The search is to be an open process—unlike the controversial closed search that produced President Robert Sternberg in a few years ago. Trustee Mel Baldwin of Afton is optimistic that this approach will be more successful.   

“The last search missed the mark, and I felt badly about that,” says Baldwin. “Certainly I’m just one of 12 votes on the Board, but at any time it comes up, I will always say and tell anyone that—because of the mistake that was made—more than anything else, we need to be transparent.”

At a forum on Monday, university employees told trustees they want students, faculty and staff on the search committee.

They also urged the Board to be cautious if they use a search firm—and said that UW’s next president should be committed to all academic areas.

Chuck Mason is a professor of oil and gas economics and says he certainly has a vested interest in UW’s energy-related initiatives.  

“But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also be open to music and theater, political science, or history—or a variety of other things,” says Mason. “And conversations amongst those different lines of inquiry is critical to have a well-functioning, exciting and vibrant university.”

Faculty also urged the trustees to consider a diverse pool of candidates for the University’s top leadership role. That’s something political science professor Maggi Murdoch says she didn’t see in recent UW dean searches.

“None of the finalists for four dean searches were women,” says Murdoch. “I not only find that disappointing, I find that offensive. We have to be able to open our eyes and open our ears and consider candidates that we might not if we’re just considering the same old suits.”

Five of the 12 trustees met with UW faculty and staff this week—and will present a written report to the full Board next week, who will decide what direction to go.