Deadline for new BOR leader – April 7

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

After 15 years of service as executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, Robert “Tad” Perry announced he would retire July 1. The BOR plans to find his replacement by April 7, which raised concerns for at least one SDSU faculty member on the quick turnaround of that search.

Although the discussion of Perry’s retirement began amongst the Regents in August and search consultant Elaine H. Hairston was hired three to four months ago, advertising for the position did not begin until March 18 when Perry announced his retirement to the general public.

“The search consultant will gather some of the best finalists, and we will then hold a meeting to decide which person is the most qualified for the job,” said Regents’ President Harvey Jewett.

A search consultant firm is often used to search for higher-level faculty or administrative positions in higher education, said Dave Hanson, the director of human resources for SDSU. The BOR and SDSU generally do nationwide searches.

“The Board started advertising by sending out 700 letters nationwide and 2,000-plus e-mails,” said Hanson. “They also advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is similar to a newspaper for people in upper-level positions.”

The Regents waited to begin advertising the position until after Perry’s official announcement.

“We wanted to wait until the legislative session was over before we would announce it to the public,” said Perry.

“We wanted to wait because we didn’t want [Perry] to be a lame duck during the Legislature,” said Jewett. “Not announcing it right away, it allowed people to pay more attention to [Perry], rather than not listening because they knew he won’t be here in a year.”

Filling former SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller’s position (now held by David Chicoine) was a slightly longer process and involved more people on the hiring committee.

The committee included the Regents, a member of the Brookings community, an alumni representative, students, a member of the SDSU administration, an SDSU Foundation representative, faculty members, a non-faculty member, a member of career services, a representative from another state university and a higher education consultant, according to the Aug. 26, 2006, issue of The Collegian.

When SDSU fills new positions, they have an online system for applicants, they post their open positions online and for some higher positions they hire a search firm, said Becky Barkmeier, assistant director and equal opportunity officer for SDSU.

“Normally it is a much longer deadline,” said Gary Aguiar, assistant professor of political science at SDSU and the president of the local SDSU Council for Higher Education. “It does not give the appropriate time for someone to look at South Dakota and SDSU and decide if they would like to apply.”

Jewett argued that the time frame involved in finding Perry’s replacement did not allow for a committee similar in size to the one used during the search for Chicoine.

“We simply don’t have the time to put together a committee that large,” said Jewett.

Whether it is fair or not to not have any faculty, administration or alumni on the committee is undecided, but Aguiar said he does not think it is.

For Aguiar, the number of people on the hiring committee and the amount of time being taken are his main concerns.

“With a deadline on finding a new executive director this quick, how are we supposed to cast a net as broadly as we can for finding a variety of people?” said Aguiar. “Can we really find the best quality person this fast?”

At the beginning of April, the hiring committee will come together in Aberdeen to review five to six finalists that Hairston has helped find. The applicants will be considered thoroughly by the hiring committee of 16 people before a decision is made, Jewett said. The committee includes the members of the BOR, but the other individuals are still unknown.

Jewett said if the Board does not find a candidate they would like to hire, they plan on finding an interim to temporarily fill the position. Northern State University used an interim before selecting the permanent replacement for its president.

“We would prefer to find someone for a permanent position,” Jewett said. “Interims have no real authority; they simply keep things running.”