Attendees Discuss Key Concerns at the Chancellor Advisory’s Town Hall

The Chancellor Advisory Committee held its final town hall meeting earlier today.

Besides a quick explanation of the plan of action for finding viable candidates and eventually a chancellor, the committee did not comment much on their progress. Rather, its members were there to take advice and make note of certain criteria and questions faculty, staff and students would have for any potential candidates.

As committee co-chair Robert Barnett put it: “What are you looking for in the next chancellor and what kind of questions would you ask them?”

While numerous topics regarding everything from a candidate’s experience with community outreach to the committee’s ability to fairly represent UM-Flint’s diverse student population were brought up, there were a few key concerns that seemed to get the whole room talking.

The first of these concerns to be brought up, and one that continued to be mentioned throughout the entirety of the meeting, was that of a future chancellor’s management style. Quickly seconded by other members of the audience, the consensus seemed to be that a chancellor who has tendencies to micromanage would be of detriment to the school’s operations.

This particular topic sparked a conversation about the university’s climate survey, which The Michigan Times reported on earlier. While not entirely negative, the 2017 survey painted an overall picture of there being animosity by faculty and staff toward administration. This was something many were quick to point out they did not want to go through again.

Following this concern came the question of a candidate’s ability to properly manage and prioritize UM-Flint’s declining monetary resources. With enrollment dropping steadily in a trend that doesn’t seem to be changing, many agreed any potential candidate would need to have the skills necessary to properly re-evaluate how the university would use its funds.

Other members in the audience, however, addressed what they saw as much more of a fundamental responsibility for any potential candidate; being able to enhance the university’s educational reputation. These audience members noted that while UM-Flint offers a great education and has many high-achieving students, its reputation throughout the state is that of a bottom-tier institution.

The suggestion of a public relations savvy chancellor didn’t stop there. Many audience members resonated with the idea that any future chancellor should be able to properly understand the city of Flint and the university’s unique position within it.

Many echoed the sentiment that UM-Flint should be more connected with the city it calls home, and that as the face of the university, a chancellor should be involved with, as well as spearhead community outreach programs throughout the city.

What received the most attention, however, was the wish on behalf of faculty, staff and students for the next UM-Flint chancellor to be more student-centered. Audience members, regardless of position or status, unanimously agreed that whoever is hired as chancellor must have a deep understanding of the current student quality of life–both for students who live in-dorm and commute.

Students in the audience were not shy about shedding light on their personal experiences. Many mentioned feeling unwelcome on their campus and that not enough was being done to appeal to a diverse student body. One student suggested the committee search for a candidate with student life experience. Someone who would seek to involve and engage the student body in more compelling social and educational programs.

The committee will be taking comments made during the meeting into consideration while it continues its search. Individuals who missed the town hall meetings and wish to reach the committee with suggestions, feedback, questions or nominations for chancellor can do so at:

[email protected]

To learn more about the committee, check out our recent article.