In its 100-year history, UC Davis has had only five chancellors. That’s merely five opportunities to choose the person who sets the tone and direction for a campus of over 30,000 students.
The selection procedure for the sixth chancellor has been under way since October, but the lack of transparency in the process is leaving students in the dark – and consequently apathetic.
The Chancellor Search Committee consists of 16 members and two ex-officio members, all of whom are forbidden to discuss the process with non-members. The committee’s closed-door meetings and tight-lipped policies send the wrong message to students or faculty who might want to voice an opinion.
Outside of these 18 people, no one has any clue as to what the committee is looking for in possible candidates. The little information that has trickled out came in October from UC President Mark Yudof, an ex-officio member of the committee not involved in the broader selection process but only in making the final selection out of a pool of three or four candidates. Individual committee members‘ priorities will apparently not be known until after the fact, if ever.
In a ceremonial attempt at inclusiveness, the UC Office of the President set up an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to which people can send comments and concerns about the search. While their hearts are in the right place here, the service would be more frequently utilized and more effective were there an active dialogue between the committee and the population rather than the static exclusion currently in place.
This is not to say that the committee needs to name and discuss individual candidates. It’s perfectly acceptable (and even common courtesy) to keep the applicants confidential, but to ask its members not to discuss their own opinions is overkill and sends the wrong message.
This failure to encourage and facilitate community – and especially student – involvement by hosting an open discussion is wasting an opportunity to engage an otherwise indifferent population. It goes against what a public university should be: open and inclusive.