Many of you probably heard Clyde Allen, Chair of the Board of Regents, on MPR this week. He said that the search could play out two ways. The first is that there will be several great finalists brought to campus for public interviews. The second is that just one finalist "who is head and shoulders above everyone else" will be named. Uh-oh. Is history repeating itself?
It's probable that naming just one finalist is a way to get around the 2004 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that required the U to divulge the names of all *finalists* in presidential searches. "It is in no way an attempt to get away from naming the finalists. It is simply a function of how strong the candidates are," said Allen. Methinks Regent Allen doth protest too much.
In response, FRPE member Eva von Dassow commented, "In order for everyone else to be confident that that one person truly is superior, it's necessary to hear from a range of candidates who differ from each other."
Of course, there are legitimate concerns about the need to maintain confidentiality, since many qualified people might not apply unless they can keep their current employers in the dark about their interest in the position at the U. However, given past experience, the Regents are asking us to trust them when they have not demonstrated to us that they are worthy of our trust. Having effectively gagged the search committee with threats of legal action if they divulge information about applicants, it seems likely that the fix is in. Publicly releasing the names of three to five top candidates, as MNSCU plans to do, is a reasonable compromise. However, given that the Regents ignored search committee recommendations last time, the U must disclose which finalists were nominated by the search committee.