By Mario Hernandez
CSU Bakersfield held a presidential search open forum on Oct. 30 in the Doré Theatre. The event had a poor turn-out with only a few attendees in a theater that seats 500.
Samantha Franco, a second year nursing student, could not attend the event, but she heard about the forum and was aware one was being held.
“I had lab, and I heard about it because I work with campus programming and 25live,” said Franco.
Roxana Hernandez, a third- year engineering major, was unaware of the open forum.
Hernandez said she “had no idea they started the search already.”
The forum was expected to last two hours, but ended in 36 minutes because few CSUB faculty and students who attended took the microphone to voice their opinions.
Oct. 30 was the first date of many in the presidential search timeline. The next dates for the presidential search include the following closed meetings: on Feb. 2 resumés will be rviewed, and from March 19-20 interviews will be held.
“I think everybody would agree that the goal here is to find the next great president for this campus,” said Dr. Timothy White, Chancellor of the CSU system.
“Because of the nature of college presidencies of today in the national market in which we’re competing for the next president, the trustees expect to conduct the search in a confidential manner,” said White.
White explained that interested candidates will always find a way to know the campus.
They will come disguised as a parent, walk around campus, and speak to a few students. He is aware that the new president needs to have a familiarity with the community of Bakersfield and its setting.
Many who spoke at the open forum took the chance to express their dislike of the closed search process for the presidential search.
“I challenge you to explain how we can possibly get someone through your so-called confidential process, who is committed to democracy, when the process itself compromises democracy,” said Bruce Hartsell, president of the CSUB California Faculty Association.
The California Faculty Association (CFA) is the faculty union.
Others followed with similar commentary.
“We teach these democratic principles as a university, and I understand, Chancellor White, your explanation for the reason for a closed search, but it’s the process that we teach, and I think that’s where a lot of us are finding it a bit disappointing,” said Dr. Aaron Hegde, assistant professor of economics.
White said it’s not closed, nor secret it is confidential, a method to expand the pool of candidates.
“It is the nature of the beast today that those who are most accomplished and fully qualified to be the next president next year, many of them, all of [them] are doing something else today. They’re fully employed. They may be the same president of another campus somewhere in the United States, or quite frankly, internationally. They may be provost, or a dean, or be interested [in] coming out of one of the business sectors in relevant higher education. We don’t want to close any doors prematurely of [who] we get in our pool,”said White.
White pointed out that the process isn’t closed, it’s confidential, and the faculty, staff, and students have elected who will represent them in the process to find a new president.
“It is through your elevated representative that everybody’s voice in that stakeholder group gets expressed,” said White.
White expressed the importance of student involvement and that students should contact Associated Students Inc. president, Mariela Gomez with suggestions on what they want to see in a new president.
“It is very fair game for a student to call Mariela and say I didn’t hear anybody say this and that really matters to me, and she will report that to us,” said White.
On Nov. 3 Gomez informed ASI that Nov. 10 is the last day she can submit suggestions to the search committee. Mariela Gomez planned three open forums in order to obtain the student’s voices and concerns. They are on Nov. 6 and Nov. 8 in the Stockdale room from 9 to 10 a.m. and Nov. 9 from 6 to 7 p.m.
David Estrada, a fourth-year engineering major, talked about some things he would like the next president to be aware of or make changes to.
“I would like the next president to make the campus livelier. The new dining is an improvement with Panda, Which Wich, and Starbucks soon to come, but dead hours occur from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” said Estrada.
The presidential search has officially begun, and the committee is taking any comments or opinions as to what qualities or characteristics the school wants in their next president. Students can email email@example.com to inform the committee of their concerns for the qualities they wish the next president had.