OSU Trustee Manning still won’t admit board screwed up with F. King Alexander, but promises more transparency with new search

From Eric Kelderman at the Chronicle, thanks to a regular reader for forwarding:

After being chosen in a closed search process, F. King Alexander didn’t last a whole year as president at Oregon State University. Now, the university’s Board of Trustees is taking a different approach to appoint his successor. …

The Oregon State board named Alexander president in December 2019, after considering four finalists who were not named publicly. Finalists met only confidentially with a “stakeholder group” of 25 members that included a handful of faculty members and students.

But incredibly, the OSU board still won’t admit they screwed up:

At Oregon State, the surprise and backlash about Alexander’s hiring was in part because board members seemed to not have considered his role in responding to charges of sexual misconduct at Louisiana State, despite the fact the controversy had been covered widely at the time.

In response, the board did a review of the entire search process, including a look at what the search firm and their own background check may have overlooked.

From that review, the board said, it was clear that a more open search was needed, including “announcing finalists, providing an opportunity for broad community engagement with finalists, and soliciting feedback on finalists before the Board makes its final decision” the board concluded in its review.

The board will also conduct its own background check, using a different company than the search firm, said Manning, the board member. The extra step is part of a “robust due-diligence process,” she said, but not necessarily a sign that there was anything wrong with the last search.

“I did not see any indication of a flawed process,” [Trustee] Manning said.

Despite the new process, some faculty members say the board has taken only token steps to involve the campus and community. Bringing finalists to campus is an improvement, Kathleen Stanley, a senior instructor in sociology and president of the faculty union, wrote in an email. But it’s not yet clear how the public can engage with the finalists or how their feedback will be used to evaluate the candidates, she added.

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5 Responses to OSU Trustee Manning still won’t admit board screwed up with F. King Alexander, but promises more transparency with new search

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Effin’ A!

  2. ODA says:

    It still seems like total BS that high level (or really any) hires are done in secret. Someone should run an open search, without a search firm and see what kind of people will willingly apply…

    Just a wild guess, but I think an institution will get a far better more reliable person. Heck if the search fails, so what, the interim will be there for an extra year, which has got to be better than an Effin’ A fiasco. Who knows perhaps you will have time to find some internal talent.

  3. Fishwrapper says:

    From the “I can’t believe you even suggested that” file, I do recall a high-level spinmeister about, oh, a year ago, trying to explain in a meeting that the King abdicated only due to stuff that was prior to his being at OSU — as if that would somehow negate the lack of due diligence that brought him to the valley in the first place. Well, I give the board credit for consistency. Still not budging an inch, because, after all, a good hire of a bad man is still a good hire – and with all this “transparency” I worry that’s the same notion driving things now. They’re going to announce in 2-3 weeks who the new boss is, and we still have no clue who is in the running. But the packets will (hopefully) be available the day before they show up on campus for meet-and-greets before the puff of orange smoke over Kerr.

  4. Johnny Earl says:

    From: Johnny Earl
    Sent: Monday, May 16, 2022 9:39 AM
    To: Lindsey D CAPPS

    Subject: UO Board of Trustee Seat

    May 15, 2022
    Lindsey Capps
    Good morning Lindsey,
    I am writing to express concerns over decisions made by the University of Oregon’s Administration. It came as a big surprise to all classified employees, here on campus, that the University had chosen an Officer of Administration to take the role of a non-faculty staff member on the universities Board of Trustees. Classified employees are one of the back bones of the institution. Presently, we are 1,600+ employees who works in all facets of the university to keep the university running. In that process most of us are supervised by mid-level management Officers of Administration. Our interest in the prosperity of the university are the same. How we go by getting to that can be very different. Every classified employee are all represented by SEIU (Service Employee International Union) Local 503 in a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Up until recently the representatives on the institutional board was a classified employee and now that has changed and now that Board’s seat will be represented by an Officer of Administration. We find it sad that we were not informed of the candidate that the university had chosen to support in moving to this board seat. Classified employees will not truly have a representative on the board. We have been told many times that we are valued employees and that all jobs matter. Here is a clear example between classified employees and the Officers of Administration: management is given 15 hours of vacation each month upon hiring where as it takes classified employees 20 years to get 16 hours of vacation time a month. Presently, the university offers two volunteer 401B retirement accounts after six months of employment other than the universities PERS contribution for each employee. Classified employees are only allowed to participate in one of those retirement accounts.
    Management is allowed after 6 months to volunteer to participate in both of those saving accounts. Management can also work only 4 hours a day and be paid for 8 hours since they are exempt employees. Management also are allowed to borrow future sick time from the 8 hours monthly accruals. Management can also go unsupervised on a daily basis compared to classified employees who are directed to do work daily. Most classified employees are required to work full-time 40 hours per week. Although, there are a few part-timers. Unlike faculty, our health insurance is prorated for those who work part-time meaning that they have to pay out of pocket to fully cover their health benefits.
    The Board of Trustees has never had a trustee that represented classified employees completely since its inception. The trustee seat has represented classified employees and Officer of Administration employees. This was wrong from the very start. The two employee groups has different interests from the very start. The classified employee who bargains as one unit in the seven university system has a union contract based on a collective bargaining contract that they are governed by. The Officer of Administration employees which are employees that have worked up until recently on a contractual basis with the university. Which means that they are more beholding to the university and not subjected to a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Classified employees and their representatives have lobbied state legislatures to increase funding for higher education to be earmarked of the largest contribution for the last 30 years. We agree that the state should pay more to the universities to help fund our wages and the universities mission. Although, the funding of high level administration and administrators through these funds can be a challenge to all parties involved. I believe classified employees should have had at least an introduction to the universities trustee candidate before asking the governor to vet the candidate. Maybe if there was some form of introduction before this process classified employees could feel somewhat comfortable with this appointment. Classified employees will never feel comfortable until a new seat is made on the board for classified employees representative that represents their interest only. We hope that one day classified employees would be able to vote on who we would like to represent us on the Board of Trustees. Up until that time the same struggles between the two employee groups will persist.
    Thank you,

    Johnny Earl
    Custodial Coordinator, CPFM

  5. Fishwrapper says:

    UPDATE! Oregon State University announced today that they have hired a new President. We just don’t know which of the two they have chosen in the most transparent presidential search at the Corvallis institution since the non-flawed hiring of since-abdicated King Alexander (who started at OSU after the pandemic was in full swing…)