Faculty, staff voice expectations for next UC Berkeley chancellor at listening sessions

Micah Carroll/Staff

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UC Berkeley staff and faculty voiced their expectations for and desired qualifications in the next chancellor of the campus to members of the chancellor search advisory committee in two listening sessions held Thursday.

Many staff and faculty members in attendance at the separate sessions who spoke before the committee expressed their desire for a chancellor who would be more engaged in and accessible to the campus community, as well as someone who would support policies that promote diversity.

“My role today was to convey the sentiment of the Latino community on campus around the underrepresentation of our community in the leadership structure,” said Javier Gonzalez, co-chair of the Alianza Staff Association. “This is an opportunity for the hiring committee to hear that and to hopefully bring in a chancellor who has a sense of urgency around the need to have a diverse leadership structure.”

Faculty members also indicated their desire for a chancellor who would be committed to the public mission of the campus rather than operating or treating the school as a private university. They suggested that the next chancellor be able to provide new, innovative approaches to solving issues on campus such as budgetary problems and addressing needs among the staff.

“The idea of a public university is sort of crumbling away,” said Nick Peterson, a project manager in the campus division of Construction and Design, when speaking before the committee. “I really think we need someone who can be a strong champion for looking for new sources of funds.”

Staff and faculty members in attendance also raised concerns with the selection process, some requesting that the finalists chosen for the position be presented to the campus for review by faculty, students and staff.

“We’re the ones who have to live with the chancellor. … We should participate in deciding among the finalists. We should have a say in who that person be,” said Michael Burawoy, co-chair of the UC Berkeley Faculty Association.

Committee member Tsu-Jae King Liu stated during the faculty listening session that revealing the finalists would take away confidentiality for the candidates, who may not want their candidacy known.

Several faculty members suggested looking for internal candidates who are already knowledgeable about the issues faced by the campus. The Berkeley Faculty Association has recommended public policy professor Robert Reich as a candidate for the chancellor position.

Chair of the UC Board of Regents Monica Lozano stated during the sessions that the input provided by faculty and staff members will be used to draft a document outlining qualifications and expectations for the next chancellor that will be made available to the public.

According to the Office of the Chancellor website, after the committee drafts this public document, a subcommittee of five faculty members will then begin putting together a list of potential candidates, as well as reviewing applicants and nominees. The committee will ultimately present UC President Janet Napolitano with a shortlist of candidates. Napolitano is expected to provide a final recommendation to the Board of Regents ahead of their Spring 2017 meeting.

“While we can have great trust in the integrity of the search committee, we don’t have any way of assessing whether she has chosen well,” said co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association Celeste Langan at the meeting.

Faculty and staff members can submit input on potential candidates to the committee until a new chancellor is appointed, according to Lozano. The committee will hold listening sessions for undergraduate and graduate students Nov. 2.

Contact Sydney Fix at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sydney_fix.