The Hunt for Deans

Photo credit: Sydne Vigille

Florida A&M University has 14 schools, of which, seven are being run by interim deans, and the pressure to fill these interim slots with permanent deans continues to build.

At FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, the process to find and hire a major university executive to be the new dean of the college is on a tight time schedule. Though the committee members must conduct their search while maintaining their regular duties and responsibilities to the university, progress is being made.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, they met for the third time since the fall semester, 2017.  Victor Ibeanusi, Ph.D., who is the Dean of the School of the Environment at FAMU is the chair of the SJGC dean search committee.

“Our goal at the university is to ensure that we have the best candidate on board,” Ibeanusi said.

To assist the SJGC dean search committee in achieving their goal of finding the best candidate, the university has hired the executive search firm, Greenwood/Asher.

“When we finished our meeting in November, I was under the impression that we were going to start the advertising process because we had identified the sites where we wanted to advertise,” Douglas Blackburn, professor of journalism at FAMU said.

“Yes, we did, because then, we didn’t do that because the university wanted the search firm to do that advertising – period,” Ibeanusi said.

“Obviously, the university decided the search firm,” Blackburn said.

“Absolutely,” Ibeanusi said.

“Even though we recommended looking at others [search firms],” Kay Wilder, professor of graphic communication at FAMU said.

“Absolutely,” Ibeanusi said.

For a minute, the search committee wrangled over the university’s choice for an executive search firm and exactly what is that firm’s scope of authority.  Then it became clear that the search firm is only to help the search committee find qualified candidates.  

Out of the pool of qualified candidates that the search firm provides, it is up to the search committee to select and recommend those for hire.

It is the University Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs who makes the final decision.  

But, before the search committee even gets to make a recommendation, their job announcement for a new dean has to be posted publicly.

“I will call our representative at Greenwood/Asher today and notify them of our position to have our announcement posted by March 1,” Ibeanusi said.

“And so that will give us a month if we go by the current date on there, until April 9th for all applications,” Kenneth Jones, Associate Professor of Journalism at FAMU said.

Search committee member Heidi Otway questioned whether or not it is typical to give only 30 days for applicants to respond to a higher education job post.

“Well it’s not at this level, but we’re so far behind that we will start to get into the summer months where faculty and all are in and out of town and everything else,” Jones said.

The challenge for the SJGC search committee is to get all applicants screened and make their final recommendation by May 8.

“Dean’s contracts start July 1,” Jones said.

Ibeanusi informed the committee that the Greenwood/Asher firm is scheduled to visit the campus on Feb. 22.