EDITORIAL: Search for student media director fell short



For a group of journalists who have been trained to live deadline to deadline, the selection committee for the new director of student publications has come up short.

Since Director of Student Publications Neil Hopp announced his retirement in November, the committee has been dragging its feet in making any decision. An advertisement for the position wasn't posted until January, and we wouldn't have even known the search was underway had we not repeatedly asked.

A few weeks ago, the committee selected five finalists. One dropped out after being told she was a finalist because she didn't want her name publicized, and the other, former Associated Press Director of Career Development and News Robert Naylor, dropped out shortly after.

That left three finalists: Dave Clark, editor-in-chief of The Pioneer in Big Rapids; Keith Gave, adviser to The Washtenaw Voice, a community college bi-weekly newspaper; and James Knight, manager of human resources communications at the University of Michigan, who has excellent journalism experience, but a not-so-excellent conflict of interest.

And unfortunately, Knight's conflict of interest dominated his open forum in the Central Michigan Life conference room Tuesday afternoon, evident by the large turnout.

So, after sitting down with each of these candidates, it became clear the search for the director of student publications was poorly conducted.

And for such a crucial position as it relates to CM Life, it is disheartening the board has botched this search worse than any of us could have possibly imagined.

The search has taken far longer than anyone could have reasonably expected. The board has been disorganized at best, and the process has lacked any sort of transparency or accountability.

In fact, the board was supposed to recommend two of the three finalists to Provost Gary Shapiro by Wednesday evening (we think – it's not like they ever announced an official deadline), but, when we inquired about the results of their decision, both reporters and staff members were met with responses varying from "an official decision is yet to be made" to "no comment."

Here's the bottom line:

If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you say you're going to announce candidates, make it public. And, if you claim you can conduct a search in a timely, fair and professional manner, you'd better make sure your ducks are in a row before you string people along with indecisiveness and confusion.

The manner in which the search has been conducted has been unreasonable, not only considering issues of transparency and accountability, but also for the prospective candidates, the staff of CM Life and their readership.

While arguably qualified candidates are unclear about their potential employment opportunities, the end of the spring 2013 semester has been left without resolution or inclusion of any parties in the decision-making process.

And that leaves us with even less faith in the selection committee than before.

It almost seems as if the board isn't sure who to choose, which wouldn't be surprising. In fact, after the way this search has been conducted, it'd even be expected.


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