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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Board of Trustees establish committee to search for new university president

The upcoming school year will hold changes for both students and staff due to a new university budget, state-mandated tuition reductions and the search for a new university president.

The Board of Trustee voted Monday, July 20, to approve a five percent tuition reduction for the 2015-2016 school year for resident undergraduates. In the 2016-2017 academic year, an additional 15 percent tuition reduction for these students will be implemented.

For out-of-state and MBA students, the newly approved budget raises their annual tuition costs by 2.9 percent.

The state legislature will be providing increased funding for the university as these new tuition rates take effect.

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In addition to discussing the budget, the board also talked about the process to search for a new president after President Bruce Shepard retires at the end of the upcoming academic year.

The new potential president must certain general criteria, according to the board. This includes being committed to the best interests of the university and being respected by coworkers, as well as having a record of active engagement in university affairs, good judgment and the ability to maintain strict confidentiality.

Additionally, the presidential candidate must have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively with others and be willing and able to devote the time necessary to the entire process of becoming the president, according to the board’s criteria.

The meeting established the official presidential search advisory committee and the board appointed Vice Chair Susan Sharpe as the head of the committee.

“More than any other leader, a president helps guide a university and shape [it]. A good choice can benefit a college or university far into the future,” Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee said. “The presidential search and selection bears both enormous opportunity and considerable risk. It is crucial to get it right.”

Lee described the presidential search process to the board and audience.

“The board intends that the presidential search be conducted on a basis that is inclusive and transparent while maintaining appropriate candidate confidentiality,” Lee said.

Western Associated Students President Belina Seare said she felt not enough students are aware of Board of Trustees meetings and the types of decisions that the board makes.

“Historically, looking at student activism, we’re at a really interesting time in our lives,” Seare said. “This is when there are a lot of realizations and understandings of institutional structures and power dynamics, such as how we’re impacted by different decisions.”

Seare said this was the first Board of Trustees meeting she has attended as AS president.

“Sue Sharpe said she wants to ‘intentionally and authentically engage the campus community’ with regards to the presidential search. We’ll see how that plays out,” she said.

Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications, said in an email  that Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community  will be able to give input and to be involved in the developed search process

“As soon as the process is better developed, then input will be sought,” he said. “For example, a lot of thought is being given to the best ways to get input on campus and elsewhere.”

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place Thursday, August 20.


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