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Job Searching in the Sunshine

Job Searching in the Sunshine

This question is taken from AGB Search's monthly newsletter, "Securing Leadership," which features two questions—one frequently asked by search committee members and another often posed by candidates. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

I am interested in a highly attractive presidential position in an open meetings/open records state. What can I expect?

While reasonable minds might concur that the principle behind open government is laudable, the implications for the potential presidential candidate may be daunting, particularly in states that strictly apply their sunshine laws. 

For example, in terms of confidentiality—a vital expectation for most candidates—some states may allow media, through a Freedom of Information request, to publish candidate names/institutions upon application.  During the presidential search process, some sunshine laws may permit members of the media unfettered access to search committee deliberations, which later can be reported upon and transmitted electronically.   

Either the chair or search consultant should be equipped to advise presidential candidates in advance on the full implication of a state’s sunshine law.  Moreover, they can assist the candidate in navigating the process with as little harm as possible.

Although all of this may seem unnerving to the potential presidential candidate, a highly attractive presidential job may be well worth dealing with some impediments.  Maintaining close contact with the chair or consultant can help to avoid any surprises along the way.

Curious about sunshine laws and the Freedom of Information Act on campuses?  Learn more with a Trusteeship article article by Bob O'Neil and Rachel Levinson-Waldman on "Growing Demands for Public Records: How Should Boards Respond?"
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