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NIC: Presidential search moving at ‘snail’s pace’

Staff Writer | February 24, 2022 1:07 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A North Idaho College trustee said he’s frustrated at what little progress has been made so far in finding the college a permanent president.

At the Wednesday board meeting at the college, Trustee Ken Howard said most of the slowing down is due to the different opinions between him and board chair Todd Banducci, the other co-chair of the search committee.

“Given our history on this board, it’s not surprising,” Howard said. “We really need to try to get this whole process underway so that our selections are done by close to the end of, at the very least close to the end of the academic year. Anyways, we’re struggling with that.”

Since the board voted to direct the administration to sign a contract with an academic search consulting firm to begin the search on Dec. 15, Howard said he and Banducci have spent an excess of eight hours so far discussing the proper structure for creating the search committee with the consultant from the Pauly Group.

“We have different approaches to representation,” Howard said.

The search committee would consist of a citizens’ group of representatives from different areas of the community, as well as representatives from constituent groups on campus. Howard said both creating the categories as well as identifying people to represent them has proceeded at a “snail’s pace.”

Part of the reason it’s been slow is because of one-one votes, which means no action is taken, Howard said. He said he thought Banducci wanted to have a say in every representation in every group, while Howard felt that constituent groups should select their own representative, and the community should also say who they would like to represent them.

Banducci said he thought they should find representatives from a list of people who volunteer, because if they were to pick names, they couldn’t be sure if the individual was interested or had the time to be on the committee.

Trustee Christie Wood said members of constituent groups are responsible for filling their own committee’s charge. She suggested all the trustees get together and make a list of names for people in the community they thought represented different areas of industry to serve on the citizens’ committee.

Howard said they don’t have a difficult time coming up with names, but rather names they agree on. He said discussing one representative for one category took two hourlong meetings.

Howard’s motion to authorize established constituent groups to appoint their own representatives to the search committee failed, with Banducci and Trustee Greg McKenzie voting against it.

McKenzie said because a report from a constituent group said they thought the mix of candidates who volunteered to serve on the committee was a good mix of representation of NIC, he thought the motion was unwise.

Wood said she would like to encourage the board, especially at this time, to pay attention to the accreditation standards that speak to their constituency groups on campus. She said NIC policy has clear procedures about the groups, that they choose their own representatives.

“I want us to stick to policy, even though they may be willing to make concessions for us,” Wood said. “I kind of feel that maybe there is a little bit of pressure.”

A second attempt by Howard to speed the process up through a motion to allow the search consultant to break any ties in votes regarding staffing the search committee was also failed by Banducci and McKenzie.

Howard said he’s frustrated they can’t get through the process faster with more agreements, but they do have a proposed search project calendar they are attempting to meet so they can get the job posted.

“We have to do it as quickly as possible,” Howard said.

He said it’s important to get the position posted at least before the end of the academic year as the “season” for applications starts after the first of the year, and many of those applicants are already at another institution and are making arrangements for the next academic year.

For those who wish to provide input and engagement regarding the opportunities and challenges facing the college and leadership qualities NIC should seek in its next president, the Pauly Group is hosting four open forums at NIC’s main campus for the community.

The forums will take place on Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the Edminster Student Union Building, Lake Coeur d’Alene Room, and on Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m., and 6 to 7 p.m. in Driftwood Bay.

Interim President Michael Sebaaly said on Friday the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities extended an invitation for himself and Steve Kurtz, the college accreditation liaison officer, to meet with its executive board virtually.

NIC’s accreditation is currently under review by the NWCCU, the college’s accrediting organization. A virtual site visit was paid to the college following a second letter of complaint over actions of the NIC board of trustees sent by four local human rights task forces.

Sebaaly said the meeting invitation was extended from the NWCCU rather than a response to the correction to errors of facts that he and Kurtz provided on the draft report compiled by the NWCCU after the site visit.

Sebaaly said they have been asked to provide the NWCCU with information on the complaint that led to the visit, their considerations on the peer evaluation panel’s draft report and any updates at the college since the site visit in January.

The meeting date has not yet been set, but Sebaaly said he anticipates it will be within the next few weeks.