FA News (4/18): Update from search committee

[Apologies for horrid format on this post. WordPress is working poorly on my Mac these days, and I don’t have the time to polish. I don’t recommend WordPress.]

Dear colleagues,
Marc Morris, chair of the search committee, has asked that the message below be shared, and I am happy to do so on behalf of the FA. The documents he attaches and video he links to are the most important pieces of evidence for any hoping to get to the bottom of the controversy about Dr. Lane, together with the March 10 “point in time assessment” by the TSU auditor, which was released by the Houston Chronicle too late for the search committee to evaluate. I would particularly call to your attention Marc’s link to Dr. Lane’s press conference of February 6, which I had not yet seen.
 
Members of the search committee worked hard to provide us with the best candidates from the candidate pool, and we owe them thanks for their work on our behalf. I agree with Marc that is incumbent on all of us to show our institution at its best as we vet candidates. To my mind that includes respectful but also direct questioning about any controversies the candidates have faced.
 
Marc’s message appears first below, then links to upcoming faculty interviews with candidates. 

In solidarity,
Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

Dear CSAC, 
I have received a lot of feedback regarding Dr. Lane’s candidacy.  Much of what is being referenced, in my view, is secondhand information that is incomplete and subjected to misinterpretation.  However, the information on Dr. Lane was widely known at the time airport interviews were conducted and he shared it openly throughout this process.  As such, the CSAC needs its view of the search process correctly portrayed to the larger university community.  The constituents need to hear from us, their representatives on the CSAC, to understand what it was thinking when it proposed inviting Dr. Lane to interview. Included are some items providing first person accounts that I would like to share with the CSAC for all your constituents. Please disseminate this information, accompanied by my note or your own, to all of your constituents.   

  • Letter dated February 4, 2020 from the TSU Board of Regents (BOR) to Dr. Lane regarding the Notice of Termination Clause.
  • Letter dated February 6, 2020 from Dr. Lane to the TSU BOR in rebuttal of its letter.
  • Link to the complete video dated February 6, 2020 of Dr. Lane addressing the allegations of his leadership at TSU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKGaTMERWfk

Note that all predate and were publicly available at the time of the airport interviews. Distributing these items will allow people to understand the committee’s perspective, but more importantly, add what are currently missing pieces from an ongoing dialogue in hopes of better informing the campus community.    
Also, in the spirit of transparency and to give proper context to the quotes attributed to me by the Daily Egyptian, below is the unedited version of my response to a query for more information about the search..  On the evening of Tuesday, April 14, I received the following request originating from DE News Editor, Kallie Cox: 
“I recently found out that two of the candidates for chancellor, Dr. Austin Lane and Dr. Kenneth Evans, were both under investigation for the misappropriation of funds at their universities and that Dr. Lane was fired for this. Would the university or anyone from the search committee be willing to offer me a statement regarding this? My deadline is 5 p.m. tomorrow April 15th.” 
My unedited response on Wednesday, April 15 was:

Hi Kallie, Thank you for reaching out regarding the chancellor finalists. They were recommended by a search screening committee representing faculty, staff, students and others connected to SIU and the community. The finalists rose to the top of a strong pool of candidates based upon their backgrounds and strengths. I need to point out that the characterization that Dr. Evans and Dr. Lane were “both under investigation for the misappropriation of funds at their universities and that Dr. Lane was fired for this” is inaccurate. First, neither was accused of misappropriating funding. In Dr. Evans’ case, there was an internal disagreement about how funding should be spent following a hurricane that impacted the campus and its students. In Dr. Lane’s case, financial allegations concerned an employee who was terminated, not to Dr. Lane. Further, Dr. Lane was not ultimately fired; he reached a mutual separation agreement with the institution. I should add that the firm assisting the university with the search conducted thorough background checks and referencing on all of the finalists. 
In short, the screening committee was aware that both Dr. Evans and Dr. Lane faced controversies on their campuses. This is not unusual for university leaders given the number of constituencies they serve, the public nature of their work and the difficult decisions they must make. In the cases of both Dr. Evans and Dr. Lane, the committee considered the candidates’ application materials, preliminary interviews, leadership skills, professional experience and accomplishments in addition to information about the controversies they faced. The consensus was that both candidates should be invited for interviews and given the opportunity to address questions about their backgrounds.The goal throughout the search has been to identify outstanding candidates who can lead the university effectively, and I believe that all three finalists have that potential. We encourage everyone who participates in the interviews to provide feedback on the candidates using the form at chancellor.siu.edu/search
Best,
Marc E. Morris, JD, PhD 
Chair, Chancellor Search Advisory Committee  

Please encourage your constituents to remember the importance of balancing vetting the candidates with selling them on the institution.  We as a campus community need to be proud of the campus-driven chancellor search and treat each finalist as a guest of the university, one worthy of our respect and undivided, unprejudiced attention.  Let’s not adhere to the reputation for “tough love” during the interview process and risk losing potentially good leaders as a consequence. It is now time for the university community to let the finalists speak for themselves. Nobody can tell their story better than they can.  

Best,

Marc

Marc E. Morris, JD, PhD
DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF ACCOUNTANCY
REHN HALL, ROOM 232AMAIL CODE 4631
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
1025 LINCOLN DRIVE
CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS 62901
memorris@business.siu.edu
P: 618 /453-1405F: 618 /453-1411BUSINESS.SIU.EDU

April 21 1:00 pm faculty interview of Lane:
https://zoom.us/j/797825568?pwd=WFpnYVhYc21HV1RyenNKV0lqMFp2QT09

April 23 1:00 pm faculty interview with Evans:
https://zoom.us/j/630867276?pwd=YWJFWHYvVFlTN0N4QnlJUkdRY1VIZz09

Faculty Zoom meetings to discussion candidates (same Zoom meeting ID for both, to begin immediately after interviews).
https://zoom.us/j/398379201?pwd=OXplc00rMFRzSzRxaUF5aGNjcXVSZz09

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics and currently (fall 2016) President of the SIUC Faculty Association.

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