Faculty, students and labor leaders at the City Colleges of Chicago want more transparency in the process for picking the district’s next chancellor.
But so far there has been no way for the public – or members of the City Colleges community – to weigh in on who that person will be.
Wayne Watson, who has been the district’s chancellor since 1998, is stepping down this summer, having said that he has accomplished everything he set out to do.
While the district’s bylaws make clear that the Board of Trustees is supposed to appoint a new chancellor, board Chairman Jim Tyree says that’s the mayor’s call to make.
The board must formally vote on the new chancellor. All seven members are appointed by the mayor.
At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Richard M. Daley was coy about the selection process.
“We’ll have the public involved, sure,” Daley said. When pressed, he added, “We’ll be asking for resumes of specific people.”
Many community colleges will go through a months-long search process when selecting a new leader. Watson himself is one of two finalists to take over the helm of the Riverside Community College District in Southern California. That district is expected to make a decision later this month after about three months of interviews.
In Chicago, instructors and students alike have expressed concern that they aren’t being included in the search process.
At the board meeting last week, student Trustee Shamil Clay made a brief statement calling for student involvement in the selection process.
“Just as we were successful in the process of choosing the chancellor that we have today, we have to use the same ethics and principals to achieve the desired results,” Clay says.
At a meeting in February, faculty council President Keith McCoy lobbied for picking a successor from within the district.
“The new chancellor would be served well by having knowledge of institutional history, policies and procedures,” McCoy says. “A wrong selection can undo the good work that has been accomplished.”
But Tyree and other officials wouldn’t provide any details about the search process. While Barbara Eason-Watkins, the chief education officer at Chicago Public Schools, was floated as a possible chancellor, media reports indicate she was not interested in the post. No other names have surfaced so far.
Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18