Northern Michigan University has undertaken a presidential search, gathering applicants from around the nation through March 3. The search committee has no easy task at hand; candidates will come from a variety of backgrounds and skills sets, but these important characteristics rise to the top.
NMU must find a president who operates transparently and democratically. Transparency of expenses and policies must be a priority. Allowing administration to be the only check to presidential frivolity poses an unnerving limit to accountability. When only the administration knows the reasons behind influential decisions and campus issues, the students are marginalized.
Encouraging student participation in policy-making is a first step toward democratizing campus. NMU could be known for an active dialogue between administration and students, but it is the president’s onus to make that happen. Maintaining such a dialogue means students know exactly what is happening to and around their campus from the mouth of the president, not from biannual Board of Trustees press releases at the beginning of a new semester.
NMU’s new president should be open to a greener, more sustainable campus initiative. Students for Sustainability have actively requested space for a campus garden to provide seasonal and healthy food to students. This effort would be a minor adjustment to such a grassy campus. Openness to progressive, campus-based sustainability initiatives would not only make NMU more resilient, but would attract students.
Furthermore, the new president should respect his staff as much as they would respect his or her title as president. When a leader does not fully respect his or her employees, it spreads throughout campus.
Finally, an agenda-driven president is a suspect one. Funneling through changes without ample student input displays willingness to capitalize on the disconnect between Cohodas and campus.
This is the student-body’s college—running it as such would be a welcome change of pace.