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May 31, 2012 8:13 am

EDITORIAL: Balance needed when choosing NWC president

Written by Ilene Olson

Choosing a new president for Northwest College will be a challenging task for a variety of reasons.

The NWC Board of Trustees should be commended for starting that process early in an effort to come up with a workable plan for hiring a replacement for Paul Prestwich, who has resigned effective June 2013.



That will require a balancing act to provide the oversight and authority trustees desire — and were elected to provide — while also attempting to meet the faculty’s request for an open process through shared governance.

That’s not an easy balance to achieve. The shared governance issue is at the heart of ongoing turmoil on campus and repeated turnovers in the NWC president’s position. For that reason, NWC trustees would be wise, as was suggested during the board’s May 14 meeting, to look for a candidate with strengths and experience in shared governance and organizational dynamics.

In addition, Trustee John Housel of Cody noted that the college is looking for a president at a time when many experienced leaders are retiring.

“Some in the pool will not have the experience you’d like to see, but you’ve got to go with the experience,” he said.

NWC trustees hope to have finalists chosen by December to provide time for interviews on campus, then make a final selection early enough to avoid losing candidates, as happened during the search four years ago. Two of the finalists for president at that time dropped out of consideration because they had accepted jobs at other institutions.

We encourage the board and the college community to work together as this process moves forward. Trust and communication are necessary for that to happen. We ask the board to continue to provide opportunities for input and communication from the faculty and the college campus in general. And we urge the campus community to recognize and respect the board’s responsibility to govern and guide the college.

We hope that the leader chosen will be one who can heal the rifts and divides that have plagued the college community for decades. But no leader can do that without communication, respect and cooperation from all groups on campus. This is a good time to work toward achieving those goals.

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