When Herman de Jong stepped down as dean of the FEB in October, the faculty council requested a seat on the BAC that will select a new dean for appointment by the board of directors. ‘The faculty council thinks it is very important that its voice is heard in the selection process’, says faculty council chair Robbert Maseland, ‘since it represents the staff and students of the Faculty.’
Formally, the faculty council only has an advisory role when it comes to candidates – a role that Maseland says they take very seriously.
As an alternative to having one of their own on the BAC, the faculty council asked to be allowed to advise on a shortlist of potential candidates rather than on a final candidate at the end of the process.
Both requests were denied. In a recent council meeting, members asked why. The board indicated that it was against university policy to have a faculty council member on the BAC. But that isn’t true. ‘As far as we know, this is common procedure at the Faculty of Arts’, says Maseland. In fact, there is a faculty council member on the BAC for the new dean of the Faculty of Arts right now.
At the same meeting, faculty council members were told that they could not see a shortlist of candidates for ‘confidentiality reasons’.
While these responses were disappointing, Maseland says the board did promise to share some information throughout the process, confidentially, about the qualifications of the candidates.
Currently, the faculty members on the BAC for the new FEB dean are Dutch and senior staff. So faculty council members have raised concerns about representation of international staff, junior staff, and students.
To that end, the faculty council has communicated a number of criteria ‘by which we will evaluate the prospective candidate critically’, says Maseland. Those criteria will focus on ‘openness to different points of view, strategic vision, commitment to work-life balance, and commitment to increasing inclusiveness and diversity – especially gender and internationalisation.’ So far, he says, the search committee seems receptive to those criteria.
If the final candidate does not satisfy these criteria, Maseland says the council will respond with a negative advice. But of course at that point, the matter is out of their hands.
During the most recent meeting, when a faculty council member expressed doubt about their advice being taken seriously, the board urged the faculty council to ‘trust the process’.
But faculty council members point out that when interim dean and law professor Jan Berend Wezeman was appointed, they never got a real chance to fulfil their advisory role concerning the candidate. The faculty council was sent an email asking for advice on Wezeman’s candidacy at roughly the same time that the Faculty of Law received the announcement of his appointment.
‘So there is scepticism about the system and role we are actually allowed to play in it’, says faculty council member Jamie Snow. ‘It is hard to trust the process when we haven’t felt respected by the process from the beginning.’
‘In accordance with the WHW’
FEB interim dean Jan Berend Wezeman says the members of the hiring committee for the new dean were selected ‘entirely in accordance with the WHW, the Higher Education and Academic Research Act’.
Wezeman: ‘The WHW does not safeguard the faculty council’s position by allowing them to have a member on the committee, but rather by compelling us to listen to what the faculty council has to say on our decision to appoint a new dean.’
According to Wezeman, the hiring committee puts great stock in involving the faculty council in the decision-making process in a timely manner.
Dr. Wezeman contacted us with his response after the first version of this article was published.