CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As it has before now, state law will dictate how the next president of West Virginia University is selected.
Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor for the Higher Education Policy Commission, said there is no way around that at WVU or other higher education institutions in the Mountain State.
In 2008, he said the HEPC was directed to revise the presidential selection rules to make them more inclusive and did so. “That set of rules was then put out for public notice. It went through the entire legislative process and was approved by the Legislature. So, therefore, those rules now carry the effect of state law,” said Hill.
The guidelines read as follows: “Interviews with finalists, as determined by the governing board, shall be conducted on campus, and during the campus visits, students, classified employees, non-classified employees, faculty, campus administrators, community leaders, alumni, and other individuals shall be invited to meet with the candidates, and their comments shall be solicited and evaluated by the governing board.”
In short, Hill said the finalists for a presidential job have to be named publicly and fully vetted, by a number of different parties, during campus visits.
“If you’re serious about this job, you should be able to stand up in the open and be able to say so to that community and have them identify who you are and examine your record,” said Hill. “This process lead us to a good president, like (outgoing WVU president) Jim Clements, and we believe it will lead to additional solid presidents as well.”
Members of WVU’s Board of Governors worked, behind closed doors during a meeting Tuesday, to select an interim president for WVU. That person will serve through much of the New Year until a permanent replacement for Clements, who is the new president of Clemson University, is hired following the established state criteria.
BOG Chairman James Dailey II has argued for a closed process in which the names of the finalists would not released to the public. Such a closed process, he has said, would add to the field of candidates because so many potential hires are reluctant to inform their current employers of their job hunting unless they get the job.
“That is understandable but, at the same time, state code doesn’t allow it,” said Hill.