Monday, March 17, 2014

What Causes a Dean Search to Fail?

The University of Florida has announced that the search for the next dean of the Levin College of Law has failed.

While I have always felt that the only truly failed search is one in which the wrong person is hired, the Florida search is unique because so much information has been shared publicly. What causes a dean search like Florida's to fail, and how will a second search achieve better results, next year?

The reports surrounding the search clearly inidcate that the law school faculty found two of the candidates highly acceptable to lead them in the years ahead. They also voted another candidate acceptable, but had reservations about him. This raises the question of what the President found objectionable about these candidates. Was it merely the fact that he asked for four names, and only got three? Was the President's favorite candidate not among the three names sent forward as acceptable? Did the President tolerate the long and work-intensive process only to the extent it produced him the candidate he planned to appoint all along?

The answers to these questions will greatly impact the next search at Florida.  I would bet that Florida's next dean will come from its own faculty (as is often the case following a failed search).

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