Should Kaler Have Been Labeled a ‘Finalist’?

After much fanfare and little public input, Eric Kaler was just named the 16th ever President of the University of Minnesota.

In an op-ed  today, Art Hughes from the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (and also the Society of Professional Journalists and Bring.mn) laments the lack of transparency and public input into the selection process.  Kaler was essentially selected behind the scenes by the U’s Board of Regents for the very public position and presented as “a” or “the” finalist to the media and general public.  In light of Hughes’s op-ed, and with STrib Higher Ed reporter Jenna Ross noting in her headline of Kaler’s confirmation that he was the “sole finalist”, should Kaler have ever been referred to as a finalist?


19 thoughts on “Should Kaler Have Been Labeled a ‘Finalist’?

  1. justpbob

    You have to admit, it’s a faster and more efficient process that the one we are using to slect our next Governor.
    Perhaps Big Tony can file another lawsuit with the Supremes on this one.

  2. noodleman

    This is kind of like posting a job opening for EEO purposes when a potential hire has already been vetted and offered the position. Happens in broadcasting all the time, so why not have it happen in academia, too?
     

  3. Dougie_D

    Is there really any public input that would be salient to this process?  The public isn’t really known for making good decisions.

  4. noodleman

    @Dougie_D: The moment we’ve decided “the public” isn’t qualified to participate in a decision-making process is the moment we’ve crossed the line into authoritarianism. “I/We know better than you” is the mantra of dictators everywhere.

  5. _taylor_ Post author

    There’s a huge difference in “the public” like the people who call into Public Radio and “the public” like professionals who can help keep an eye on what should be transparent deals. 

    Btw, the Socitey for Pro Journos just sent out their press release saying the selection process was too closed to watching eyes.

  6. mnblrmkr

    The blame lies with the other finalists that were unwilling to be publicly identified in the final round.

  7. Erica M

    “The blame lies with the other finalists that were unwilling to be publicly identified in the final round.” – Did not know about that. I was kinda hung up on the “how can he be a finalist if he’s the only one?” part. What if he’d been rejected? Do you start over? The opinion I’ve heard from folks in different parts of the U varies wildly, though I think they’re more focused on the result and the quality of the candidate than the process.

  8. mnblrmkr

    yes, there were 2 or 3 other “finalists” that declined to participate in the open to the public final interview stage. I believe one of the early strib articles after Kaler was named mentioned it as well.
     
    The process the U followed is pretty typical around the country at public universities: names of applicants are kept secret until the list has been whittled down to 3 or 4 finalists. At that point, the process is supposedto open up to the public. Obviously, candidates can withdraw at that point as well.
    As for what if he was rejected: I think if a finalist makes it that far, they’re not going to be rejected if they’re the last person standing for whatever reason. I’m definitely open to a requirement that at least a couple of people have to participate in the open to the public portion before someone can be given the job.

  9. noodleman

    One reason for secrecy may be the desire of some applicants to not be publicly named for fear of jeopardiizing their current position elsewhere, so you can’t really fault the U entirely for not making the process more transparent.

  10. mnblrmkr

    yeah. That’s a big factor. How many of us would want our current boss to know if we were actively looking for a new job?
     
    There could also be a fear of negative consequences of coming “in second” for a job like that.

  11. kwatt

    I wouldn’t want that, but at some point if you’re in the public sector you just have to accept that you’re going to be under a little more publicness than you might want. 

  12. Dougie_D

    Noodleman what do you know about managing a top University and what sort of person is best suited for that job?  What sort of input would your comments really do?  Americans are so fucking arrogant they think they know better than experts in every field now.

  13. noodleman

    @Dougie_D: So, are you the type of person who wants to leave all the important decisions up to “professionals,” without the benefit of any public input? Do you not question decisions made behind closed doors? The mere fact that the U of M is a publicly-funded institution, which my tax dollars help support, would appear to require a certain level of transparency when it comes to hiring decisions that will have a great impact on the direction of the school.

  14. noodleman

    @Dougie_D: I suppose I’m not qualified to question mass-transit policies, either, because I’m not a bus driver. Or how the DNR chooses to manage publicly-owned land because I’m neither a hunter or fisherman.
     
    Criminy.

  15. Rat

    This is chat and discussion board. That pretty much qualifies everyone to comment on anything that’s up for discussion. 

  16. Dougie_D

    I’m not saying you don’t have the right I’m just saying your opinion is basically worthless on topics that you know very little about.  Think about the heathcare bill.  Some astronomical number of people polled are against it but few of those people have any idea of any of the provisions included.  What good is their opinion on something they know zero about?

  17. Dougie_D

    and actually if you haven’t studied mass transit you really don’t have any pertinent input into policies.  Otherwise your input is most likely completely self serving and not likely to improve the system other than for you or someone in your particular situation.  This is where the arrogance comes in.  The worst part is the ignorance paired with arrogance.  We seem to have a corner on that market in America.

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