By Associated Press - Tuesday, November 22, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Open government advocates are speaking out against Western Michigan University’s decision to keep names of candidates being considered for the school’s president confidential.

University officials said the Presidential Search Advisory Committee chose a confidential process in hopes of attracting the best candidates and hiring the best person for the job.

The committee is made up of three members of the university’s board of trustees, who appointed 19 more members throughout the school’s community, MLive ( ) reported. The committee will choose finalists before the board selects the president.

“Being WMU Broncos, we don’t believe in closing, we believe in inclusiveness,” said Trustee Bill Johnston, president of the search committee. “But we also know, to attract the best candidates, it has to be confidential.”

Jane Briggs-Bunting of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government disagreed. She believes it’s better to let individuals within the university community, such as faculty, staff and alumni, ask questions and give input.

She said universities should be encouraged to be transparent, even if they’re not required to by law.

“Anyone planning on becoming a president of a public university should be very sensitive to transparency and accountability, and should insist in meeting people there before taking a job,” Briggs-Bunting said.

While anyone can submit their input online as the school searches for its ninth president, there will be no on-campus public forums or presentations with the finalists, the committee said.

Western Michigan University’s new president will replace John Dunn, who will retire in June 2017.


Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette,

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