While the 23-member UA Presidential Search Committee includes regents, university administrators and ASUA President James Allen, it does not include a graduate or professional student.
The Arizona Board of Regents appointed committee members who represent core values such as research, education, economic development, community relations and statewide interests shared by multiple constituencies, according to Sarah Harper, the regents’ director of public affairs. Harper said the search committee did not intend to select a representative from each student, faculty, employment or other constituent interest.
Graduate and Professional Student Council President Roeland Hancock said the graduate and professional students at the UA take issue with the “lack of adequate representation” on the committee, and that this omission is “unjustified and detrimental” to the overall search process.
Hancock said this is because it violates their traditional shared governance and leaves critical components of the academic environment without a voice.
In the UA’s Shared Governance Memorandum of Understanding, both the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and GPSC are named as groups recommended for consultation in administrative decisions. The Faculty Senate and Shared Governance Review Committee have also recommended that graduate and undergraduate student representatives be included in “the selection and review of administrators.”
While the committee may not include graduate or professional student representation, these students can have a voice in the selection of the new UA president, according to Harper. Public input on the search process will be solicited via email as well as through events and an advisory council to “ensure that all voices are heard.” Additionally, the search committee will post public notices about public forums where members of interested groups can share their thoughts, concerns or suggestions about the search process.
“The regents looked for members that are deeply committed to the UA and its exceptional reputation of academic and research excellence,” Harper said. “As well, they looked for members that could represent many key constituency groups and bring forward their expertise in the search process for the next UA president.”
Allen said that ASUA lobbied heavily to ensure a seat next to the already-present student regents, and sympathizes with their graduate peers’ lack of inclusion. Allen said he sincerely hopes that GPSC will allow him the opportunity to garner input, ideas and information from GPSC. He intends to bring that information to the search committee and advocate for it.
“The Associated Students pledge to advocate for a candidate with high academic quality and an unwavering focus on research … an issue we are well aware is vitally important to our graduate constituents,” he said.
Hancock sent GPSC’s statement regarding their lack of representation on the committee to the regents. The regents responded with a letter saying they would not offer a graduate or professional student a seat.
The Graduate and Professional Student Council is going to continue urging the board for a seat on the committee, according to Hancock.
“Finding the next person is obviously an important process, and has a big effect on the university,” said Hancock. “We really need to be involved in that.”