By: CHRISTINA CLARK
The large meeting room, room 220 in the SAC, was only about a third of the way full on Tuesday for an open meeting with the Chancellor Search Committee at IU South Bend. Filled mainly with faculty and staff, with a few students peppered in, the forum began just after its scheduled time. The room soon became filled with the concerns and needs felt throughout the campus community.
Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, IU East chancellor, opened the meeting. She introduced the representatives from Storbeck Pimental & Associates, the firm employed with the task of hiring IU South Bend’s new chancellor. Steve Leo, partner with the firm, and Cruz-Uribe started the conversation with the attendees.
“This is an opportunity for us to hear from you, about what you want us to know, about what you see as important for your new chancellor on your campus here,” Cruz-Uribe said.
Storbeck Pimental & Associates are a national firm focused on higher education, according to Leo. On his sixth search to fill Dean or higher position at IU South Bend, Leo has worked with the campus numerous times.
“I’m very happy to be back here and the point of this exercise in many ways is to absorb as much information as you’re willing to share with us,” he said.
A challenge facing higher education as a whole is the decline in interest for leadership roles within it.
“There’s been one very consistent trend that I’ve seen in higher education. The first is the number of people who are actively interested in a presidency or chancellor role has declined by almost 70%,” said Leo, on what he has seen since he began in the business.
After the forum began, multiple staff members voiced concerns about the budget for the campus.
“We’ve been a 1% raise campus for a long time,” said one participant in the forum.
Another concern was about morale being low among staff-level employees.
“I feel like South Bend needs to be more autonomous to make our own decisions, or deal better with Bloomington,” voiced another.
Other members in the audience spoke about the university’s budget, and how tied to enrollment it is, meaning some years it is higher and lower than others.
“There are some battles you cannot win,” one said.
Other common concerns included the university working to grow within the community and add graduate and doctoral levels of education. The importance skills in marketing, networking and fundraising would also be needed in a new chancellor.
“The staff are working harder, working smarter, for no more money. We are stretched thin,” voiced a concerned staff member.
Faculty were also concerned about staying competitive within the IU system, keeping up with online and in-classroom teaching methods, as well as updated facilities to properly prepare students for their chosen fields.
“The idea is to bring candidates to campus early in the spring semester, early February, and then ultimately what we’ll be doing is making a recommendation to John Applegate [executive vice president for university academic affairs]. The top three names with the idea that the person would be lined up and ready to be approved by the board of IU Trustees at their April meeting, and ideally be here starting July 1,” explained Cruz-Uribe.
The committee is hoping to bring interested candidates to campus throughout the fall, and continue to listen to the concerns of the campus community.