Since President Leo Lambert announced his plan to step down from his role as president of Elon University, the Elon community has been wondering who will fill his role.
While some students are campaigning for former president Barack Obama to become our next president, many have already begun thinking of people they would like and qualities or characteristics they hope for.
The next year is going to be a challenging and transformative time for Elon as we prepare to recruit and choose a new university president. Throughout this process, the Elon community must be involved. We all must enthusiastically play a role in the recruitment, vetting and selection of the new person for this coveted position.
According to Wes Elingburg, chair of the newly launched presidential search committee, community involvement will be made a priority in the beginning stages of the search.
The committee is currently planning community forums that will be held in March to encourage members of the community to voice their concerns, express what they want in a candidate and ask any questions about the search process they may have. For members of the community who cannot attend these forums, there will be an online survey launching soon that will also allow input.
The search committee will also include two current Elon students based on nominations that can be made on the presidential search website.
But once finalists have been selected Elingburg said he does not believe the search committee will make the names of the candidates public.
The names of the finalists for this position should be made public to the Elon community. The input the search committee is prioritizing in the beginning stages should not end before the search does, but continue throughout the entire search process. This is the only way we can ensure that our next president reflects the wants and needs of our community.
Elon students should be able to dig deep and learn more about their potential presidents. We should be able to hold public community forums with these finalists and ask them questions about their experiences, qualifications and vision for Elon.
The students paying to attend this institution should be granted the ability to publicly vet the candidates who could potentially make changes to this university.
While the search committee is highly capable of selecting a president, the voices of two students on the committee cannot speak for the entire student body. Considering Elon’s commitment to amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups on campus, input is also necessary in pursuit of our diversity initiatives.
It is understandable that some candidates may request confidentiality. Many of them may already be standing presidents at other universities or in positions where they would not want their employers to know that they are seeking other options.
But, our potential candidates should respect our community's desire and need to be a part of this selection. Elon students, faculty and staff are the people who are going to be most impacted by this new presidential choice — they deserve a choice in who it’s going to be.
The search committee is doing a great justice to our community by inviting our input in the beginning stages of this search process, but it must not stop there.