One week after the search committee for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences released its unanimous recommendation of Larry E. Rivers, interim dean, he was selected for employment as dean. Yet, faculty members are questioning the decision.
Bill Tucker, president of FAMU United Faculty of Florida and professor of physics, has concerns regarding the “short-circuited” process of the search committee.
“This was one of the shortest searches for a dean I have ever seen,” Tucker said. “It is disappointing that the administration chose to bypass the faculty entirely and selected Rivers.”
Tucker said he did not know a search committee had been formed, and had already held the first of only two meetings before announcing that its members had voted to recommend Rivers.
Chanta M. Haywood, interim dean of Graduate Studies and chair of the search committee, said she received a letter from President Fred Gainous on March 13 requesting her to chair the search committee. Another committee member, Maurice Edington, acting chair of chemistry, said he received a letter from Gladys Lang, interim provost and vice president, requesting him to serve on the committee.
Other committee members were Janet DeCosmo, Center for Caribbean Culture, Donald Hill, mathematics, Charles Magee, College of Engineering Sciences Technology and Agriculture, Donald Palm, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Vernell McCray, coordinator academic programs College of Arts and Sciences.
“Because of the uniqueness of the situation I felt the committee made the correct recommendation,” Haywood said. “I did my job. The committee made the recommendation to the president and once the recommendation was made it was out of my hands.”
Tucker said the issue is not about the recommendation but the process behind it. “Faculty and students should have had input,” Tucker said.
Stephanie Humose, assistant director of the Equal Opportunity Programs Office, said the position was advertised for a sufficient amount of time. “We advertised for at least one month,” Humose said. “We received and signed off on the position vacancy advertisement from the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs on Jan. 28. We put a diligent search in our efforts.”
However, Tucker rebutted. He said the position was briefly advertised – for only two weeks – as “open until filled” on FAMU’s Web site. The Chronicle of Higher Education web site did not have the position posted at all. The search closed with two applicants.
“If you have a search and you only get two applicants you would think that something is wrong,” Tucker said. “Why did the process speed up so fast?”
“I was surprised when I initially learned there were only two applicants,” Edington said. “However, Dr. Rivers’ extensive experience as a teacher and scholar, along with the outstanding administrative job he has done, alleviated concerns I had regarding the number of applicants.”
Humose said, “It didn’t puzzle me to the point of why are they [applicants] not applying, especially for a deanship.”
“We received Dr. Abraham Weaver’s application in the mail in the latter part of February and Dr. Rivers’ application was hand delivered on March 17.”
Regardless of the number of applicants, the search committee deemed they operated within the guidelines stated in the Search, Screen and Selection Procedure For Faculty Appointments.
“We had a person who was already here and who had a good rapport with the faculty and students,” Haywood said. “The committee made the recommendation to the president. We did our jobs”.
Tucker reiterates that the process was not done properly.
“He [Rivers] maybe the best candidate after the search, and we might be lucky for having him,” Tucker said. “However the issue is not about the person, the whole thing is about the process. Why short-circuit the process. It’s scary that Gainous did this.”