Ball State chief search panel to include faculty, students

The Ball State University board of trustees, under fire over a lack of transparency in the departure of former university President Paul Ferguson, announced steps Monday to have faculty and students involved in the search for a new president.

The search committee chaired by trustee Matt Momper will include students and faculty, as well as administration, staff and alumni, the trustees said. Committee members will be chosen in the coming weeks.

The university also plans to engage a search consultant to assist in the identification and recruitment of the strongest possible candidates, board Chairman Rick Hall said.

The campus community, alumni and the public also are invited to a series of forums next month designed to solicit input on "areas of emphasis" for the new president, Hall said. The forums will be held the week of April 18.

"We look forward to receiving input from the campus and public through the open forums," Momper said in a news release.

The trustees announced the steps as Hall and board member Hollis Hughes were to meet behind closed doors with more than a dozen faculty, professional staff and students to talk about their concerns following Ferguson's departure.

Acting President Terry King recently persuaded the faculty council to speak with Hall before it voted on a resolution declaring a lack of confidence in the board due to a lack of transparency over Ferguson's abrupt resignation Jan. 25 after only 17 months in office. He also got the university senate to hold off on a draft resolution calling for the state Legislature to change how Ball State's trustees are appointed.

Under current law, the governor appoints the nine members of the board of trustees, two of whom are nominated by the alumni council, one of whom is a student nominated by the university and one of whom is designated by the Ball family.

"I think the governor has way too much influence for the amount of money they provide the university," said urban planning professor Bruce Frankel, who has likened the board to a communist politburo.

Frankel has proposed a board made up of three members appointed by the alumni association, one member appointed by the Student Government Association, one member appointed by the city of Muncie, one member appointed by the university senate and three members appointed by the government.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, whose district includes Muncie, said the proposal would make Ball State's process of selecting trustees "pretty different from the other universities out there," including Indiana University and Purdue University, which have six and seven trustees, respectively, who are appointed by the governor.

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