The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Belo chair candidates

Selection process kept secret from faculty, students

Universities, particularly private ones, seem to advocate the impact students can have on their education, be it through student organizations, student government or in choosing new faculty.

In the fall of 2001, the journalism department invited journalism students to evaluate candidates for the new Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism. The candidates taught classes, mingled with students during informal “meet and greets” and in general made themselves available to answer student and faculty questions.

Unfortunately, Chris Peck, the ultimate “victor” in the 2001 search, proved to be less than satisfactory in the newly endowed position when he unexpectedly resigned after less than a semester in office.

So it came as a surprise to the Editorial Board to learn that over the last two weeks, the three candidates to replace Peck had been on campus lecturing to students and conducting interviews with the search committee.

Why such a surprise?

Because very few students in the journalism department were even aware the candidates had been on campus. It seems this time around the search committee opted to forgo student evaluations in order to establish a new chair before the semester ends.

Unless they were lucky enough to be present in a class that received trial instruction from Andrew Leckey, Rusty Todd or Laurence B. Alexander, journalism students were not given any opportunity to meet, interview or simply talk with these three candidates as they were in 2001.

Even more offensive, some journalism faculty were not properly informed of the visits and, thus, missed out on reviewing the leadership capabilities and teaching styles of their prospective boss.

The search committee for the new chair this semester consists primarily of faculty and staff outside of the journalism department. The Editorial Board admits a certain impartiality is required in hiring a new faculty member, but surely the opinions of the faculty and students within the appropriate department should be held at least on a level field as those of the administration.

Editorial Board suggests that before making a final decision on any new chair at SMU, particularly an endowed chair, the assigned committee at least make a concerted effort to make candidates available for questions and to consider the opinions of both faculty and students within the department.

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