The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees has held 11 public forums on campus and in the community to gather input about the search for the school's 12th president.
“We’ve had a good turnout everywhere we’ve had a meeting. People are very engaged and they’re very interested in what we’re doing,” said BoT Chairperson Polly Radosh.
“They all have very open, honest statements to make about the process.”
The most recent forum took place at Macomb City Hall, where those in attendance emphasized the need to hire someone who has a vision for Western and who is actively engaged in the community.
Radosh said the board has also conducted a campus-wide survey about the presidential search and received “a very high return rate.” She is in the process of reviewing the roughly 70 pages of comments.
Western is seeking a successor to President Jack Thomas, who stepped down at the end of June. Dr. Martin Abraham is serving as interim president. Abraham was hired to be the university’s provost starting July 1, 2019 but he has yet to serve in that role – the board named him acting president when Dr. Thomas stepped down and the board then agreed to appoint Abraham interim president in early October.
Trustees will decide whether to conduct a search for WIU’s next president or whether Abraham has earned the opportunity to have “interim” removed from his title.
Radosh said some people want the board to make a speedy decision but she said that might not be possible.
“We do have to be very deliberative and very careful in our decision-making,” Radosh said.
“We have a lot at stake. The university needs new direction and that direction affects the community. It affects everything – housing prices, businesses, Amtrak ridership. Everything is affected by the university. So we really have to get this right.”
The board is scheduled to meet in Macomb on December 12 in closed session and December 13 in open session. It’s not known whether trustees will be ready to make a decision at that time.