Student representatives on the presidential search committee, Thilee Yost and Sam Borer, shared what it was like to be on the search committee, how they got the opportunity, and their hopes for incoming president Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
Yost and Borer found themselves on the committee after applying for the position and being chosen by student government. Although the two were selected for their positions, they shared the same responsibilities as other members of the board.
Yost explained the responsibilities, saying, “I think it’s interesting because I think sometimes when people hear student representative, they’re like, ‘oh yeah, you attended a couple of meetings.’ Sam and I actually attended every single meeting that was held with the presidential search committee.” She continued, “We had just as much input and say into the meetings, which was really powerful and interesting to experience.”
Some of the responsibilities given to committee members included reading CV’s, recent articles, researching any campus or organizations candidates have worked at, interviews and narrowing down their choices until they had to make their final recommendations.
Borer spoke on the benefits of having two student representatives in the committee, saying, “It’s great to have two students there because we were able to talk from our different perspectives, as far as our student experiences and the different things we are involved in on campus.” Yost mentioned other benefits, such as their different approaches to thinking and reading, as well as their differences in majors.
Borer went on to talk about what the committee was looking for in their replacement for President Susan Hunter. As Borer explained, the committee was seeking, “proven leadership experience at a somewhat executive level.” The committee was also looking for a candidate who was collaborative, someone who could put together a team that worked well together. Another trait the committee was looking for were candidates’ views on the future of the campus and how they plan to reach these goals.
Borer said that he did not see many different points of view brought forward by various members of the committee. He added, “there’s a lot of great, differing opinions that weren’t conflicting opinions, there might have been differences on emphasis, on priorities.”
After multiple meetings, interviews and discussions, the committee eventually chose the current chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ferrini-Mundy. Both student representatives spoke very highly of her.
Borer, who admitted Mundy was one of his favorite candidates from the beginning, said that he liked that she had a “distinctively different path” to her position. “In higher education, especially at the presidents level, there’s a very common trend of becoming a professor, a dean, then becoming provost, and then becoming president. One of the things I enjoyed so much about Dr. Ferrini-Mundy is that she reminds me so much of the demeanor, the poise and the grace, that Dr. Hunter has brought to the position.”
“She doesn’t follow that track,” Borer said. Noting that Mundy has held higher administrative positions, Border further explained, “she let her path diverge into her passions, which was both math education and science education.” Borer believes the committee thought this path would bring a unique perspective.
Borer continued, saying, “I think the role of a great leader is to come in and to not immediately and change everything. That was a perspective that Dr. Ferrini-Mundy really expressed when she came to campus and was talking about the constituents. She wanted to take a lot of time and really understand the university, where we’re are, what our struggles are, what our strengths are and then craft a vision with everyone, so that it is a common goal.”