In presidential search, don’t discount the value of a Ph.D

Submitted by Nick Taylor
Posted 1/28/21

Dear Editor:

The Jan. 21 story titled, “Northwest College ponders what it wants in a new president” caught my attention.

I really like that the search committee for a new president …

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In presidential search, don’t discount the value of a Ph.D

Posted

Dear Editor:

The Jan. 21 story titled, “Northwest College ponders what it wants in a new president” caught my attention.

I really like that the search committee for a new president is composed not just with members from the Board of Trustees but also includes staff, student senators, faculty and alumni. Hopefully, this committee will also include community members who are independent from the college, perhaps an industry leader or small business owner who has a vested interest in the community. Committee members meeting with constituency groups for input is another great idea.

Obviously, this is an important position, not just for Northwest College but also for the community and its future. Nevertheless, the portion of the article that really caught my attention was the debate over a candidate having a business background along with the discussion over a master’s versus doctoral degree.

While I agree it’s important to have a grasp on business as a community college president, I do not think it should be their primary role. Just like in other businesses, the college should develop a business team to address these concerns and a good leader will be able to ensure this takes place. However, the president’s primary role should be that of providing strategic innovation to further the mission of the college and work to motivate and inspire not just the students, but the faculty as well.

Just like a good chief executive officer (CEO), the president should focus on culture, diversity and strategy along with the mission, vision and values of the organization. A CEO does not run a corporation the size of Northwest College alone, instead they rely on having a chief financial officer, chief operating officer and perhaps even other C-Suite officers. Each officer has a clear and defined role in the organization, but also collaborates with each other to achieve the strategic goals of the organization.

A candidate’s qualifications are no doubt an important consideration for this search committee to consider. Even though I do believe that a candidate with a master’s degree is capable of doing the job, I also think the committee would be better served to take into consideration the concerns of some faculty members regarding the perception and respect that comes with a Ph.D. Although this may not be of major concern in some industries, the same cannot be said for that of academia.

My background in higher education is fairly new, but I can tell you there is a definite hierarchy in place at the college level. Consequently, I understand the wishes of some faculty members wanting to have a president with an equal or higher-level of education than those who would work under them. This would help to garner more support from the staff and faculty so long as they feel confident in their leaders’ background and abilities. Furthermore, hiring a doctoral candidate is less likely to create resentment or thoughts some might have over being more qualified than your boss. Just my 2 cents.

Nevertheless, I wish the committee the best of luck in their search for a qualified candidate who will help propel Northwest College forward during these challenging times.

Nick Taylor

Pocatello, Idaho

Former Powell resident

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