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The Board of Trustees Announces Presidential Search Committee and Selection Process

by Rosaria Lo Presti

The Board of Trustees met on Oct.19 to announce the committee involved in the first step of choosing President Susan A. Cole’s replacement.

The members responsible for the decision-making process include Dr. Francis Cuss, the committee chairman of the board of trustees, as well as 24 other committee members.

Dr. Cuss stated that they are currently in the presidential search process and that he expects to announce a formal selection by the end of October. President Cole will remain in office until the board fully concludes the search.

Rich Wolfson, a professor at Montclair State and the head of the faculty union, made a statement to the board about including a labor voice on the committee to assist in the decision-making process of choosing the university’s next president.

“I like our board of trustees and I do believe that they’re acting in our best interest, but they have a different perspective than certainly the community does,” Wolfson said. “A committee without a representative of those who work under negotiated labor agreements simply leaves a committee without a resource that would strengthen it, rather than weaken it.”

Wolfson further expressed his thoughts on what he believes would make a good future president.

“What I would want [in a new president] is an academic; somebody who identifies with the faculty, who’s demonstrated leadership, who has been in a situation that they could describe, and of course, it’s not an applicant’s fault if they haven’t been in a situation that required extraordinary leadership like a pandemic,” Wolfson said. “Someone who looks at the students and says, ‘I’m going to do the very best for you, for programs and facilities, so you can have the very best education.’”

Regardless of not including a labor representative on the committee, there are undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the provost and two deans that serve on the committee, who are aware of what it means to be labor worker at Montclair State.

Nikita Williams, a committee member and graduate student in the college of humanities and social sciences, is excited about her membership opportunity and is honored to be selected to take part in choosing a new president.

“As I’m pursuing a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology, job selection and leadership are topics [that] I’m happy to have learned about in classes. I can’t wait to put that knowledge to use,” Williams said. “While I’ll need more time to reflect on the exact knowledge and skills needed to serve as a president of Montclair State University, I know that the difficulties of [coronavirus] COVID-19 have illuminated the importance of strategic agility and flexibility. University presidents are the face of their institution’s response and have the challenge of uniting their community in the face of adversity.”

Ernst Lozin, the president of the student government association, is the only undergraduate student to be a part of the selection committee, and he expressed how proud he is to be on the committee.

“I’m happy to be on the committee because not only do I get a chance to give insight and represent the student body and their interests, but I have a chance to be part of history,” Lozin said. “I believe the university will need its new president to be able to continue the mission, commit to the students and help to surpass goals that Montclair State has set.”

Lozin explains that he believes the new president should be a team player and always work for the betterment of the students and faculty, first.

“While we are excited to begin the formal search, we will not forget the legacy of Dr. Susan Cole at Montclair State and will be looking for the ideal person to continue exceeding [our] campus’ expectations,” Lozin said.

There is currently no published job posting for President Cole’s position, but it is expected to be published soon. The board of trustees also sent out an email when the meeting concluded to update the Montclair State community about their selection process.

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