The Brownsville Herald: College president search done right

The Brownsville Herald
Originally published July 2, 2017

We applaud Texas Southmost College trustees for their recent announcement of four finalists for the job of college president, and that they have scheduled public forums so that local residents can meet, and hear from, each of them.

The TSC board is looking to fill the vacancy created last September when it dismissed Lily Tercero, who had served since 2011. Mike Shannon, the college’s vice president of student services, is serving as interim president.

Board members have taken the right approach since their search for a president formally began earlier this year. They hired an educational consultant to manage the process and the four finalists all appear to have strong resumes.

While two recently have held positions in California, all four have worked in Texas and should be familiar with the state’s laws, legislature and accreditation process. One of them worked for TSC when it was when it was affiliated with the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Familiarity with state processes is important at a college that is still working to establish stability after its separation from UTB. One of the primary needs is to re-establish TSC’s nursing program, which was a principal program but lost accreditation last year.

Especially noteworthy is the board’s announcement of four candidates for the public to review. While this is how the process is supposed to work, it doesn’t always happen.

Open government laws in Texas and many other states seek to have school officials provide a list of finalists before one person is offered a contract. This is designed to assure the public that a person is hired because he or she is the most qualified, rather than because of possible political or personal affiliations.

Unfortunately, many boards defy the requirement by naming a single finalist and not releasing information on any other candidates. While this might protect the privacy of applicants who don’t want their current employers to know they have applied elsewhere, it deprives local communities — the people whose taxes fund the institutions and whose children’s education are affected by the selection — from knowing if someone with a stronger resume might have applied.

The forums are scheduled July 12 and 13 at the TSC Arts Center, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. The public is invited, and we encourage people to attend. It will help local residents participate in the selection process, and show the candidates how much we care about the quality of our college and the opportunities it offers to our children and the community at large.