Pitzer Student Senate Asks for More Student Voice in Presidential Search Committee

Following Pitzer
College’s announcement of President Laura Skandera Trombley’s resignation Dec. 2,
2014, the Board of Trustees acted to establish a Presidential Search
Committee headed by Trustee Donald
Gould PO ’79. The board’s initial plan to only include
one student on this committee of 11 members triggered a response from
the Pitzer Student Senate, which expressed its
concern through a resolution requesting the inclusion of at least two students on the committee.

Resolution 51-R-10 was introduced and approved March 1
during the Senate meeting. The resolution notes that the
committee currently consists of six trustees, three faculty, one staff member and one
student and relates concern about not having enough
student opinion on the committee. The Senate Executive Board attended the March 7 Board of Trustees meeting to ask for more student representation.

The presence of just one
student on the proposed committee is “a historic low,” as stated in the resolution. There were
four students on the committee in 1979 and two students in 2002. When Senate
Vice Chair Ryan Daly PZ ’16 was asked
whether he thinks this decline in number
of student participants on the committee indicates a trend, he disagreed.

“I don’t really buy into it as the possibility of it being a
trend,” Daly said. “I think they were trying
to make the best decision with the info they had at the time and I don’t really
hold anything like that against them. They are a great group of people.”

Gould declined to
comment, explaining that the board will make all public communications only
through the Pitzer Presidential Search page on the college’s website.

The Dec. 2 announcement stated that Thomas Poon would serve as Interim
President for 2015-16 school year. He is currently working with Trombley as a
special assistant to the president and served as the acting president last
semester during Trombley’s sabbatical.

“He’s been very
willing to talk to us and see what the students want,” Daly said. “He’s a great, wonderful person.”

Daly declined
to comment on whether he thinks Poon could be president because he said he does not know what the board is looking for in a president. However, he thinks Poon’s involvement with Pitzer
as a faculty member has been strong overall.

The Senate picked three students from the application pool based on the required application essays. The selection was
announced during the Senate meeting on Marh 8. The three students are Senator Kyle Dalrymple PZ ’17, a member of the Student Affairs Committee; Chris Cohen PZ ’16, a member of the Judicial
Council; and Sara Roschdi PZ ’17.

Dalrymple said that
the initial peer nomination form sent to the students by the board was through SurveyMonkey, an online survey website. He said that he believed it was concerning, as the link to the survey was not an individualized link. Therefore, there was no way of tallying who had already responded.

Dalrymple also said he was worried that the application process would turn into a popularity contest. The board did not
include criteria for the nominations.

“I was not happy with that process,” Dalrymple said. “I thought it was not a
good representation of how that process should happen … so we created our own

Dalrymple stressed the importance of student involvement in the presidential selection process.

“It’s a very exciting time for the students to be involved,
and that’s why I think the students really should be involved,” Dalrymple added. “We are making
history for ourselves, and this is a big job for the Board of Trustees, yes,
and the students are also the stakeholders.”

The names of
the three students nominated have been
sent to the Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees. The Senate will wait for a response on
whether the board will take the nominees into consideration and which—and how many—of the three students will be on the

Update: This article was updated March 14 to include information about the Senate’s presentation to the Board of Trustees.

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