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SGA, faculty senate discuss lack of input in hiring new university president

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

In the past, Belmont has included faculty senate and SGA in hiring important figures. The former dean of students, for example, was hired after an exhaustive process which even included the larger student body.

None of that happened in the seemingly sudden appointment of Dr. L. Gregory Jones.

The Board of Trustees reached “a unanimous decision to appoint Dr. L. Gregory Jones as president of Belmont,” according to the press release signaling Jones’ appointment to the position. This release said the Presidential Succession Committee consisted of representatives from the board, faculty, staff and alumni.

But the faculty senate and the student government association had limited inclusion in the process.

Dr. Amy Crook, the president of faculty senate, said she found out about the appointment the same time the students did. Moreover, she said she would have preferred to have some input.

“I understand the nature of hiring and that there’s important confidentiality to maintain during a hiring process for such a public leader, but … I would have preferred for more of a voice,” she said.

While there was a faculty representative on the committee, Crook said there was a lack of communication through this representative.

SGA had no representative on this committee.

“In the direct vote, or selection process, we did not have any influence,” said Matthew Nicholson, director of committee development for SGA.

“Our impact on it was negligible.”

A survey was sent to faculty, students and alumni asking what qualities and experience were most needed by Belmont’s next president. Crook said that there was strong faculty participation in this survey.

SGA said this was their only voice in the appointment process.

President Zaid Hatem said they received a lot of negative feedback from students feeling that they were not represented in this new appointment of Jones. Pushback from LGBTQ+ students and allies on an Instagram post and in SGA’s direct messages expressed disappointment in the student leadership.

Hatem said he had been in contact with these students and was actively discussing their perspective. He is looking forward to meeting with Jones soon to express student concerns.

Crook said she had already had a meeting with Jones, and felt confident he was the right choice regardless of the circumstances of his hiring. She said he was personable, passionate, innovative and will serve the students and faculty well.

Hatem said he was excited to learn more about Jones, but said he understood frustrations with the selection process.

“We understand that there are people out there who may have felt ignored in a way. Our role as student government is contingent on having a working relationship with administration, and we want to be able to help as many students out there as we can.”

This article written by Margot Pierson.

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