Indian River State College’s nine-month search for a new president is now in the history books. After a vigorous discussion during a special meeting of the District Board of Trustees on Wednesday, July 22, Dr. Timothy Moore was selected to succeed Dr. Ed Massey as IRSC’s next president.
As presidential searches go, this one is noteworthy in several respects. IRSC’s Board of Trustees, confronting the most difficult decision in its recent history, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the search in the face of an equally historic challenge. Even in the best of times finding a new college president is daunting, but to keep the search process on track during a pandemic, when public life had been all but shut down, is unprecedented. The Board proved to be both resolute and agile in managing the circumstances: In response to a relatively small applicant pool back in April, the members voted to extend the application deadline and as a result secured a robust pool of applicants. When one of the three finalists dropped out at the last minute, the Board moved two additional semi-finalists forward for consideration. And following four days of intense interviews, the Board deliberated thoughtfully and frankly before selecting Dr. Tim Moore for the position of IRSC’s fourth President. For such professionalism and determination, the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee are to be commended.
Other details of the search have already been relayed in the periodic updates provided by the Chapter, including the meeting between the Chapter Officers and members of the Board back in January, the increasing participation of faculty at Search Committee meetings, and the partnership the Chapter developed with the national AAUP to help increase involvement of IRSC faculty in the search process. These early investments were the foundation of a plan put in motion back in February (when consultants from the national organization visited IRSC) to invest the Chapter’s energy in the closing stages of the search, namely, in the public forums at which the finalists would interact with various stakeholders. It was this plan that inspired the Chapter’s survey of the faculty about questions to be posed to the finalists through selected representatives as well as the idea about scoring the finalists (the results of which were shared with the Board by Dr. Sarah Mallonee at the July 22 meeting).
But one aspect of this story that has not been mentioned and deserves emphasis is the emerging openness of the Board to input from stakeholders along the way. As has been noted at several points in this process, the District Board of Trustees legally has no obligation to consider input from any stakeholder in selecting a new president. State statute gives the Board absolute authority over this decision, the only constraint being that it must hold its deliberations in a public venue (pursuant to Florida’s Sunshine Law). Yet IRSC’s Board was not only open to input from the four faculty members it selected to serve on the Search Committee, but to the involvement of the faculty representatives and their ranking of the four finalists. This is not to suggest that the Board selected the next president based on the faculty’s rankings, only that the Board’s thoughtful deliberations were at points clearly informed by the work of the faculty. And for this we are grateful.
It is the Chapter’s hope that the outcome of IRSC’s presidential search marks the beginning of a new era of transparency and communication between the Board of Trustees, the President and the faculty. One indicator of such openness might be the willingness of the Board to support the creation of a faculty senate, which is both a guiding principle of the AAUP and a priority of IRSC faculty. Another might be the willingness of IRSC’s administration, with the Board’s approval, to assure that faculty members have greater control over course content vis a vis the Virtual Campus. To be clear, the Chapter is not looking to reinvent or encroach upon the unique relationship between the President and the District Board of Trustees; rather, the hope is that Dr. Moore and the Board will be open to suggestions and recommendations about policies and practices that impact the classroom, and, thereby, the students we serve.
It has been a privilege to be part of this search process, and the Chapter would like to thank all of those who participated -- students, faculty, staff, administration, community members, AGB Search and the District Board of Trustees. We believe the process was fair and open, and we are confident that the decision to appoint Dr. Timothy Moore as IRSC’s next president was the right one. Like other stakeholders, the faculty are committed to keeping IRSC great and exploring new frontiers with and for our students.