The Search Still Continues

While Dr. Robert Mangione works on getting comfortable in his new role, the search committee continues to scour resumes seeking a permanent replacement.

Dr. Michael Simons, dean of the law school, along with an extensive list of University officials, will reconvene and restart the search that began last year.

An internal memo sent Aug. 28 to the University community announced the search was back underway and said the committee is open to suggestions.

In an interview with The Torch, Dr. Simons said that the position profile for the provost role on the University website, while important on paper, was not the only important aspect when evaluating potential candidates for the role.

He explained that after looking at the lengthy resumes and cover letters that applicants send in, it’s vital to see how they seem in person as well.

“It’s just as important to make sure the candidates you’re evaluating are a good fit in person,” he said.

“The chief academic officer…has to be able to relate to the entire University community.”

Along with the search committee, Dr. Simons explained that a professional search firm is assisting the search committee in helping to narrow down possible candidates.

Isaacson Miller is a professional search firm that specializes in academic searches, which Dr. Simons says does much of the leg work in looking for people qualified for the job.

Simons said that the search committee takes a list of the candidates given to them by the search firm, and the committee evaluates them on paper. The committee then starts to eliminate candidates until a group of semifinalists are chosen to be invited to be interviewed on campus by the committee.

Dr. Simons said that the committee had only one candidate that they invited back to campus last semester, but had chosen not to recommend the candidate to Father Harrington.

Simons said that while the search firm is helpful in narrowing the choices, the diversity of the members on the committee is also vital because of the different perspectives brought to the table at the meetings.

Dr. Simons specifically mentioned Ancy Skaria, who is a student on the search committee. Skaria, a senior in the St. John’s College of liberal arts and sciences, received an email from Dr. Simons asking her to be on the committee.

In an interview, Skaria said she was  taken aback at first by the amount of prestigious members on the committee, but was able to quickly become a vital part of the committee.

“At first I was really intimidated, but I’m not a shy person,” she said.

“After I got to know them they were all really nice and they really enjoyed the student perspective.”

Skaria said that being an active student gave her a point of view that she felt had been missing from the search committee.

“The student perspective is kind of lost,” she said.  “[They] don’t think about what it’s like to have foreign teachers, and how do you understand their accents?”

Skaria admitted though that being a senior, she did not know what the freshman class wanted in a provost. To fix this, she said that she visited several freshman classes and asked them what they would like in a provost.

She said that many of the freshmen had the same gripes or concerns with the University and brought those up at the committee meetings.

Skaria also said that in going around to several of the freshman classes, she got the feeling that students felt their opinions didn’t count in the search.

“They thought that [the deans] didn’t care what the students thought, when really the students come up first,” she said. “The provost search really is helping the students.”

While optimistic about the search, Simons said that the process of screening candidates, and hopefully finding one to recommend to Father Harrington, would take a few months. He added that he hoped to have someone in mind by sometime in the Spring semester.