In its search for a new director, the Coretta Scott King Center (CSKC) for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom conducted its first interview on campus last Tuesday with candidate Dana Patterson. Two more candidates are expected.
The director’s job description is ambitious. He or she must serve as a special assistant to the president on institutional diversity. He or she must also sit on the presidential staff group in order to ensure that when the cabinet discusses campus issues, the importance of diversity is a part of the conversation. In addition to that, the director must raise funds for the CSKC.
The committee was originally formed when AdCil charged the Coretta Scott King Center advisory group with nominating a list of persons who would select a director for the fledgling center. This year’s committee, which has several overlapping members with last year’s, comprises two students, three faculty members, three staff member, and one community government official. History professor Julie Gallagher chairs the committee.
The college solicited applications and received resumes from over sixty candidates. Lisa Lowery in the human resources department divided the resumes into three tiers based on general qualifications. It looked, specifically, for candidates with teaching and research experience related to issues of social development and equity. The search committee inspected the resumes and chose its top eight candidates, with six of whom it scheduled phone interviews.
The interview is a demanding process designed to allow each campus constituency (students, staff, and faculty) to appraise the candidate, and to allow the candidate to do his own appraisal of the college. The latter is as important as the former, as was demonstrated when the committee’s original selection for director left after only two days when she arrived last year.
The first stage of the process involves interviewing approximately six candidates over the phone. “It’s hard,�? says fourth-year Lauren Hind, “because someone might interview really well on the phone and then you meet them, and it turns out they’re really incompetent in terms of social skills.�?
The college pays for three or four of those who interviewed well on the phone to campus. Interviewees typically arrive in the evening and go to dinner with the search committee. The next day, beginning in the early morning, the candidate endures back-to-back interviews with IG coordinators, community leaders, the president, the head of coop, and some faculty. At lunch, the candidate must make a presentation and field questions from students and faculty alike. Finally, the candidate must make an “exit interview�? with the committee.
Because of the complexity of the process, the search committee must ensure that the president is on campus, and that the various community offices have time to meet with the candidate.
When CSKC-candidate Dana Patterson arrived on campus last Tuesday, she subjected herself to a barrage of questions from every stratus of the various campus constituencies. Fifth-year Foster Neill says: “Dana was great at fielding student questions. We asked hard ones and we got solid answers.�? First year Sunny Franklin was equally impressed, “She was friendly and she was bubbly and she was smart.�?
Molly Thornton, another first year, expressed her concerns for the qualifications of the director. “I think she should be approachable and should fit into Antioch society.�?
Until the next two candidates arrive on campus, it remains to be seen who will best fit the qualifications. The arrival of those candidates will be publicized and their presentations made accessible for any community members who care to attend.