Mr. Sandman's Sandbox

The musings of a Deaf Californian on life, politics, religion, sex, and other unmentionables. This blog is not guaranteed to lead to bon mots appropriate for dinner-table conversation; make of it what you will.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Monday, November 13, 2006

BoT Forges Ahead

Since November began, there hasn't been a lot of news coming from Kendall Green (although the post-mortem in the press is another matter!). But the past few days saw press releases from the Board of Trustees indicating it's full steam ahead.

On Saturday, November 11, BOT chair Pamela Holmes released a statement regarding the BoT's meeting and the fact that they heard from a number of representatives, "including students, faculty, university staff, representatives from the Clerc Center, and alumni. Also, prior to the meeting, the Board had an opportunity to meet with representatives from a parent group. We heard from the constituency groups their ideas about what characteristics an interim president should have and what the selection process should be."

I'm not sure who they met with exactly (they obviously heard from Alex Zernovoj and Noah Beckman, as per the Washington Post article yesterday), or for how long, but the fact that they are *listening* indicates a sea change from previously. This is a good sign; while the students cannot ever expect to wield real influence in choosing a president (and they shouldn't expect to)-- no student body anywhere has that much power-- it is imperative, especially given Gallaudet's unique constituency and alumni, that the Board listen as much as possible to the campus community and its affiliates.

This morning, the BoT sent out another memorandum, this one outlining the creation of the Interim President Selection Advisory Committee (IPSAC), and the Board's intentions. I was impressed by the intended makeup of the IPSAC:

1 student, SBG
1 student, GSA
1 student, International Students Association
1 student, Coalition of Students of Color
2 faculty
2 University staff
1 Clerc Center teacher
1 Clerc Center staff
2 alumni
2 administrators
1 member of the Board of Trustees

Past overrepresentation by BoT members has been corrected, alumni are included (which I think is very important), and the students cannot complain that they aren't being represented. Given the (very!) compressed schedule as presented, the IPSAC is going to have to be on their toes and present on-time and fully engaged in all the meetings that are necessary between now and the conclusion of their duties. I wish them luck.

I notice the BoT is being more careful this time-- no ranking of candidates is required, and they seem to have absorbed the lessons of the protest. They're being both proactive and protective at the same time-- smart move, IMHO. They know the eyes of the deaf community will be watching them, and they know the press is going to follow their next few moves carefully. I really don't envy the BoT their job right now.

It's also clear the BoT is not considering Dr. Jordan as an option, which I think is a very wise move-- his political capitol has been spent a thousand times over, and while a lot of people out there want him out now, most seem to have taken the tack (and one that I previously advocated) that it's best to just let him quietly serve out the remainder of his term-- a matter of weeks at this time.

The interim president has my sympathies, whoever that person is. I (and the rest of you!) will be very curious to see who submits an application. Given how last time turned out, the community should be grateful if more than two or three people apply. The job is tough to begin with, but to be on the hot seat in the wake of Fernandes? That may be asking for a bit too much. I wish the successful applicant a LOT of luck.

The 18-month time period seems sufficient time enough to prepare to develop satisfactory criteria regarding the attributes the next permanent president must have, to solicit campus and alumni input, and to allow some of the necessary reforms to begin, if not fully implemented.

I'm cautiously heartened by the Board's moves thus far. There's still far more that they need to do, or encourage the interim president/permanent president to do (for example, re-organizing DPS/DOSS-- I still find it appalling that many can barely communicate with students, staff, and faculty in ASL; and repealing the "Guidelines for Expressive Activities and Assemblies"-- Mishka Zena (Elizabeth) pointed this out as well). I just hope the rest of the community steps up to the plate with equally appropriate moves and dialogue. Those of us on the outside can do our part by minimizing the second-guessing (of which I've done my share), the speculation, and the gossip, and instead participate in the dialogue in our own way.