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With presidential decision, the problem isn’t the person, the problem is the process

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Yesterday morning, David Budig, chair of Miami University's Board of Trustees, declared Gregory Crawford, the Vice President and Associate Provost at the University of Notre Dame, as the "finalist" in the more than six-month search for the university's 22nd president.

"On behalf of the Trustees, we wish to thank the faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members from all of Miami's campuses who contributed to this important process," Budig wrote in an email to the university community this morning.

The editorial board is struggling to figure out how Mr. Budig can preach transparency and shared governance when the entire search process was done behind closed doors by an authoritarian and unaccountable search committee - led by none other than Budig, himself.

With the chair of the board of trustees at the helm of the search committee, we're forced to ask whose decision this was? Who truly had the biggest say?

The community certainly had very little, if any.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has called for transparency, held meetings and even set a petition calling for an open search, signed by 143 faculty members, at Budig's feet - all to no avail.

Students had even less of a say. 16,000 of us - the largest constituent population within the university - and we had one representative, albeit a highly capable one.

The Miami Student was given the run around over and over again in its attempt to shed light on the search. Its public records requests were rebuffed at every turn. Which leads us to question how transparent the university really was.

This process has the threat of being harmful to the very person it was searching for. How do you win over and create a relationship with your students and faculty members when the way you were hired has left a rotten taste in their mouths? It's hard to be supportive and optimistic when everyone is coming in with a chip on their shoulder.

In other words, the problem isn't the person. The problem is the process.

It's true, Crawford could be just the thing that Miami University needs. His background in the sciences is reassuring - he could have come from a Fortune 500 company. And he's been described by his peers as high energy, thoughtful, innovative, creative and cognizant to undergraduate growth.

But none of that changes the fact that he is starting off lower than he would have if this had been an open search. The sketchiness of the entire process automatically leads us to distrust the administration's decision.

So many faculty members are disillusioned with the university right now. Instead of hitting the ground running, Crawford's first task as president is going to be earning the trust of the faculty who have to work under him.

We knew this would happen, but that doesn't make it any less infuriating.