The Vanguard previously reported that the Graduate Student Association had passed a resolution that condemned the chancellor search process and imposed five conditions to UC President Janet Napolitano as conditions of participation. ASUCD on October 23 submitted a similar letter.
Both GSA and ASUCD have authorized their student reps to resign from their positions on the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee if 5 conditions are not met. (Correction: while this comment is now true, it had not been approved at the time of the initial publication).
At their November 2 meeting, the GSA General Assembly voted unanimously to authorize Brian Riley to submit his two-week notice of resignation from the search advisory committee for the next UC Davis chancellor to the chair of the committee, Janet Napolitano.
If submitted, the notice will remain in effect until the following concessions are agreed to (Correction: this point was written by GSA):
- Chair Napolitano agrees to run the committee meetings according to Robert’s Rules, including submitting a proposed agenda for each meeting in advance.
- Chair Napolitano agrees that non-committee members (including employees of the private search firm) shall not speak during committee meetings unless asked for points of clarification.
- Chair Napolitano agrees to immediately release a list of demographics of the current candidate pool (including ethnicity, gender, and current position title) and will release updated information after every meeting.
- Chair Napolitano agrees to immediately release a statement on the role of the faculty subcommittee, the full committee, and the search firm.
- Chair Napolitano agrees that no candidates will be invited to be interviewed or considered to be finalists unless they have been first approved by the committee.
Resolution from ASUCD (Correction: This was resolution but the executive statement of the resolution)
Last night the ASUCD Senate passed Senate Resolution 1, a resolution calling for a halt in the search for the next UC Davis Chancellor until a more transparent and student-friendly search process is enacted. The ASUCD Executive Office is in support of this resolution and joins the Senate in imploring UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents to create a more student-friendly search process.
As the resolution notes, the search committee assembled by Janet Napolitano has many flaws, the most unfavorable being the blatant lack of student representation on the committee. Only one undergraduate student and one graduate student have been placed on a search committee of 17 members. The resolution states:
WHEREAS, the asymmetrical balance of power inherent to the selection and appointment of chancellors under Regents Policy 7102 is further exacerbated by the composition of the advisory committee itself, with UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents holding seven (or 41%) of the seventeen seats on the committee. The overrepresentation of top UC officials on the advisory search committee ensures that the interests of those holding the most power in the UC system are prioritized throughout the selection process; and,
WHEREAS, graduate and undergraduate students comprise over half of the UC Davis campus community, there are only two seats for student representation on the advisory committee. These two student representatives, who were selected by ASUCD and UC Davis Graduate Student Association leadership rather than the wider student population, are expected to speak to and represent the diverse concerns of over 35,000 UC Davis students
Student representation in this search process is incredibly important as this Chancellor should first and foremost serve the student population. If President Napolitano and the UC Regents do not allow for a more transparent selection process of the new Chancellor, then how can they expect to select a transparent Chancellor who understands the needs of students at this university?
We may tout that we are One UC Davis but students do not have only one voice. The students of UC Davis represent a bright and diverse community, deserving of a process that reflects our unique needs.
October 17 Response Letter from President Napolitano
Members of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association:
I am writing in response to your resolution regarding the current Chancellor search, which was shared with me by your Chair, Katrina Block. Having just heard from members of the committee about the town halls that were held on campus earlier this week, I felt this was a good moment to provide some of my reflections on the process and address some of the concerns you listed.
Let me start by saying how much I value broad engagement by the Davis community in a process as consequential as this one to the campus. In particular, I am eager for high levels of student engagement. While I know many of your members have been actively involved in various aspects of the process, I did want to take the opportunity to underscore the many opportunities for engagement that have been offered thus far, as well as the ongoing role that all students can play in the months to come.
- Consistent with Regents Policy 7102, I sought nominations for the undergraduate and graduate representatives from your respective student associations to serve as members of the search advisory committee. I am grateful to have Elly Oltersdorf and Brian Riley as members of the committee. Their insight and perspective have already had a positive impact on the committee’s work.
- I believe that the practice of starting the search process with Campus Day is vitally important. Unfortunately, it is impossible to hear from every member of the Davis community during a visit of this kind, but we did seek to provide a venue where a group of students could speak directly to members of the committee. Campus Student Affairs led that selection process, but I understand that it involved consultation with ASUC, GSA, professional degree students, campus Multicultural Centers, Disability Services, and first generation student representatives, among others.
- In addition to Campus Day, a day of forums was held on campus earlier this week. Thank you for hosting the graduate and professional students forum. I was also glad to hear of the undergraduate session hosted by ASUC. Members of the committee were in attendance, and I will ask those members to update the entire committee on what they heard during those sessions. Relatedly, I am grateful that Katrina has shared the video of the ASUC town hail from September 26 with the entire committee.
- I understand the Davis Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Milton Lang, worked with ASUC President, Alex Lee, to develop a survey that could be sent to all students regarding what they hope to see in a new Chancellor. I fully support these kinds of efforts to reach as many students as possible and understand the survey is already generating a strong response. Once it is complete, I look forward to reviewing the resulting information with the committee.
- In addition to the important work of Elly and Brian on the committee itself and the opportunities outlined above, there are two additional opportunities for student input throughout the entirety of the process. First, any student can send a message to the search advisory committee via firstname.lastname@example.org, whether to provide additional information about the student experience at Davis or to provide input on the characteristics and qualifications we should seek in Chancellor candidates. The message received will be shared with the committee. The second opportunity relates to candidates themselves. I strongly encourage students to nominate candidates, which they can do via that same email address. There may be individuals that students can identify from their own experiences on campus and outside, but I would also encourage students to contact friends and peers at other colleges and universities to learn of individuals who might be an excellent fit with UC Davis.
As you can see, this process is designed to engage students early and often, which I personally feel is vital to a successful search process.
I did want to briefly comment on the confidential nature of the search process. Beyond the fact that this process is consistent with Regents Policy, it is designed to produce the very best outcome for the campus. It is a common national practice to preserve the confidentiality of candidates during Chancellor or President searches for colleges and universities. For many prospective candidates, particularly sitting Chancellors and Presidents at other institutions, participating in a process that is not confidential would put their professional standing at risk. As a result, many such candidates will simply not participate in a process that does not preserve the confidentiality of their candidacy. By maintaining a confidential search process, UC ensures it can successfully engage the largest and most diverse set of candidates and maximizes its competitive position among other similar searches that may be occurring nationally.
Again, thank you for your continued input into the search process. I am confident that we will identify a superb Chancellor for this campus and one who will be a champion for its students.
Signed: Janet Napolitano, President