When outgoing Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis declared on May 13 that he would step down as head of the university, the board of trustees said it would assemble a national search for its upcoming president and choose an interim in the next handful of times.
In its place, two weeks right after Nellis’ announcement, the board appointed Ohio University’s 22nd president following conference for hours in an government session. It selected Hugh Sherman, former dean of OU’s University of Enterprise, for a two-yr presidential term that will officially commence Monday.
The board’s choice to appoint a entire-time president and skip the interim posture arrived as a shock to several in the OU community. While the move certainly is not typical, national authorities say it is really not inconceivable, and may well have happened for excellent cause.
Ohio University’s reasoning to skip interim position
OU spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood mentioned in a composed statement that Sherman’s presidential appointment “was necessary to quickly implement a changeover prepare that would set Ohio University up for achievements.”
Leatherwood mentioned the board made the decision that appointing a president now — rather than deciding upon an interim president and promptly commencing a national search — was critical to “deliver secure leadership” as the university rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trustees felt it was essential for Dr. Sherman to have the comprehensive title and authority as president throughout these two years,” Leatherwood stated.
The board of trustees nonetheless intends to start the research for Ohio University’s 23rd president early this tumble with a aim of obtaining a new chief in area by no later on than July 1, 2023, Leatherwood claimed.
College customers, mayors not bundled in lookup for new OU president
Ohio University’s Board of Trustees did not create a search committee for Sherman’s appointment, and university school users had no say in the selection. Neither did the six mayors of the Appalachian metropolitan areas wherever Ohio College has regional campuses.
Days right before Sherman’s appointment, the mayors of Athens, Chillicothe, Ironton, Lancaster, Saint Clairsville and Zanesville signed a letter to the board requesting to be included in the search method for the university’s subsequent president.
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson reported Cary Cooper, chair of OU’s Board of Trustees, contacted him just after the letter was sent to say the board was searching for a quick-phrase substitution for Nellis and that the mayors would be bundled in their search for OU’s 23rd president this slide.
“We ended up Okay with that,” Patterson explained. “I know that OU will be on superior grounding in excess of the future two decades.”
Patterson also stated he and the other mayors are creating a standing assembly with Sherman to go over issues in the area. The hope is that the president selected after Sherman will keep this assembly heading into the long term, he said.
“At the conclusion of the day, we will have set precedent,” Patterson stated.
‘How you go about generating these decisions is definitely important’
Sherman’s brief-term choice as president, on the other hand, was far more of a shock to other folks in the OU local community.
Robin Muhammad, an Ohio College record professor and chair of the College Senate, mentioned she learned of his appointment at the very same time trustees made their announcement.
Muhammad mentioned she had been anticipating the board of trustees to announce when a national search for the future president may possibly start off. Rather, the board appointed Sherman.
The board of trustees, having said that, didn’t achieve out to her or the Faculty Senate, a shift she known as “a substantial omission” in the conclusion-generating procedure and “an aberration of previous methods.”
“This is not about the candidate or any of the candidates,” Muhammad said. “It can be about the ideal way to go about generating this choice that supports shared governance.”
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Muhammad explained the university should really have at the quite least attained out to elected agent bodies this sort of as the College Senate and the Pupil Senate for their enter.
“You have all of these bodies, you can easily get to out to people leaders and get their feelings,” she said. “I can recognize some of that force. But how you go about making these conclusions is definitely important the time you just take is important.”
Muhammad stated she’s arrived at out to the board of trustees considering the fact that it declared Sherman’s appointment. She’s self-confident that transferring forward that trustees will check with the university’s elected representatives as properly as neighborhood customers when it appears to be like for a extensive-phrase president.
Leatherwood explainedin her statement that the board is “deeply committed to participating the entire college and the broader neighborhood” in its countrywide research this tumble.
Hugh Sherman to lead Ohio College above two-12 months time period
Judith Wilde is a professor and researcher at George Mason College who has extensively researched university presidents’ contracts andnational search firms’ job in deciding upon a president. She said Ohio University’s final decision to forgo an interim president was potentially a strategic move on the university’s aspect.
“We see this come about mainly because normally occasions we see with the title ‘interim president’ that it does not have the identical gravitas,” Wilde stated.
By getting rid of the “interim” designation and appointing him to a termed presidency, Wilde explained Ohio University is offering Sherman the electric power and status to lead during the transition period.
Wilde said Sherman’s restricted time period is identical in length to that of an interim president. She likes the thought of a definite phrase and explained it provides the board of trustees time to talk to stakeholders and figure out what attributes the university wants in its next president.
“This is anyone they have faith in,someone they know who was really obviously provided the title of president,” Wilde said. “He has the comprehensive believe in of the board customers moving ahead. This really should give the Ohio University board adequate time to determine this out.”
Although his time period expires in two several years, Sherman can throw his hat into the ring through the university’s nationwide research “if invited to post an software by the board of trustees,” in accordance to his deal.