Posted by The Editorial Board
Beau Breslin, former director of the First-Year Experience and previous chair of the Government department, was recently hired as Dean of Faculty/Vice President of Academic Affairs after a tireless, semester-long search. The Skidmore News commends the administration for both this decision and the process in which it was handled. By having students Kayleigh Kahn '13 and Hale Hall '14 serve on the six-member hiring council, inviting students to attend open forums in which the candidates for the position were interviewed and encouraging students to submit feedback on the candidates, the administration did all that it could to foster student involvement.
Unfortunately, despite the invitation, Dean of Faculty Rochelle Calhoun noted that there was little student participation outside of the students on the panel; few students attended the forums and not much feedback was received from the student body.
The administration sent out multiple emails to keep students informed on the process and to remind them of the open forums. A webpage listed all of the candidates' credentials and another outlined the responsibilities of the position. All of the candidates were brought to campus, had lunch with the students involved and were each given a tour of the campus by a student.
President Philip A. Glotzbach noted the position as one that involves little direct student contact, which could explain why not as many students became involved in the process. While this may be true, the DOF/VPAA does have a significant role in the hiring process of new faculty members, as the webpage notes, so one could argue that the position still holds influence over the student body, though not necessarily in a direct way.
Glotzbach also stated that the administration could have done more to help students understand the position, which may have led to more involvement. However, considering the multiple invitations and reminders as well as the webpage coherently outlining the duties involved in the position, it seems like the administration did enough to extend the opportunities for students.
Some students may have seen Breslin as a shoe-in given his advantage in being the only candidate with previous experience at the College as well as the fact that he had been filling the position on an interim basis since June, therefore making the hiring process extraneous and more of a good-will gesture. This would, however, seem unlikely given the fact that the process took almost an entire semester to reach a conclusion.
While Breslin did have somewhat of a leg up on the competition given his familiarity with the College, his experience at Skidmore should not be viewed as an advantage in the hiring process but rather as an aspect that made him the candidate best fit for the College. The ability to successfully preside over the faculty and curriculum should require an extensive understanding of the College.
Whether or not there was a disconnect between the students and the administration in this case is unclear, but if the kinks in communication can be worked out, this inclusive, active method could maximize student involvement in future key College processes. Students should take full advantage of any future opportunities of this nature, especially in hiring new professors.