Presidential search forum yields high expectations

JONATHAN CARRIGAN | Evergreen reporter

The WSU presidential search advisory committee gave students and other community members a chance to ask questions and give their feedback about the search for Washington State University’s next president during a community forum Wednesday evening.

The forum was led by Mike Worthy, chair of the committee and member of the WSU Board of Regents.

A panel made up of six members of the 25-person committee sat and took notes as students asked questions and shared the qualities they feel the next president of WSU should have.

Most students said the next president should put the needs of the students above all else, while still fostering the profound sense of diversity found across all WSU campuses during the late Elson S. Floyd’s time as president.

 “A university is a multifaceted organization, but there would be no university if there were no students here,” said Emily Strode, the ASWSU Senate pro-tempore.

Kyle Schilling, a junior history major, said the next president needs to not only be able to work with other Washington university presidents – like the University of Washington’s new president, Ana Mari Cauce – but be passionate about all levels of education in the state.

“Our connection to the state is vital,” he said. “I think they need to foster opportunities for students to not just make positive changes in Pullman, but make positive changes in the state as a whole.”

Schilling was one of few students to attend who was not, in some way, affiliated with ASWSU.

 “I am heavily invested in this process,” he said. “We need to do something to improve engagement – not just in with clubs, but with decision making. Students think they can’t make a difference, especially not in major decisions like this. But we just did.”

ASWSU President Kyle Geiger asked if the committee is actively looking for another “students’ president” – someone who will be in the stands during sporting events and someone who will actively speak with students, like Floyd.

“We aren’t looking for another Elson Floyd because there isn’t one,” Worthy said. “Accessibility is a key factor that we are seeking. We will need to learn how the candidates behave from those who have been working closely with them, and we will be listening for them.”

Worthy said the committee is simply an advisor committee, as the name states, and that the Board of Regents ultimately holds responsibility for hiring the next president.

The committee and Board of Regents hope to have found and hired a new president by the end of the spring 2016 semester.

The committee encourages that any and all members of the WSU community send additional feedback to pres.search@wsu.edu, or on their website, presidentsearch.wsu.edu.

“We are truly committed to any and all feedback, so that we can better this process together,” Worthy said.