Statement from the AUB Faculty United Executive Committee regarding Provost appointment – 31/1/2017

Dear President Khuri and Chairman Khoury,

We have received with some concern the President’s email announcing his intention to recommend the appointment of Interim Provost Harajli as Provost of the University. While we acknowledge the achievements made by the current Interim Provost during his mandate, and have no objections to his person or the role he might play as Provost, this decision has pointed out a big deficit in the way that appointments of higher administrators are made. While the university bylaws are silent on the process leading to such an appointment by the BoT, we the Executive Committee of Faculty United regard a direct appointment without a search as a deviation from best practices and the core values of our institution. We recognize that direct appointments were made in the past, but strongly believe that such appointment practices are outdated and do not serve the best interests of the University.

AUB prides itself as a model for the country and the region, a beacon of good governance and an example of meritocracy at work. These core values are embodied in systematic international searches for all full time faculty appointments at AUB. This same process has also been applied to the hiring of top administrators at the university to ensure excellence (e.g. President, Deans, COO).  For these reasons, we believe the university should be consistent in all faculty appointments, and not bypass a meritocratic process for a direct appointment of the most senior academic officer of this university. We also firmly believe that searches confirm the principles of shared governance in ways that significantly improve the faculty body’s involvement in university life. Ultimately this may have some positive spillovers for hiring and promotion procedures.
We conducted a search of procedures used in hiring chief academic officers across a number of US universities, and could barely find any institution of higher education that employs a direct appointment method for such a sensitive post. Most top tier universities (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Cornell, Columbia, and Emory) devise elaborate procedures and guidelines to ensure a fair and unbiased selection process. Moreover, there are currently 104 positions for Provost or academic vice-presidents advertised on HigherEd. As such, we kindly urge that the President and esteemed members of the BoT initiate an international search for all important faculty positions. Furthermore, we urge the President and the University Senate to initiate a revision of relevant university bylaws and policies and procedures to adopt hiring procedures that follow best practice models as currently applied at other US institutions of higher education. We thank you for your consideration.

The Executive Committee of Faculty United