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Edison faculty member frustrated with president search

Edison faculty member frustrated with president search

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jan 11, 2012

FORT MYERS - As Edison State College's board of trustees begin looking for a presidential search firm it's not clear what they're looking for.

"I am looking for a sensitive person," said Edison Trustee Marjorie Starnes-Billoti, who is in charge of a committee tasked with picking a search firm.

"What would you like in a new president that would be different from the old one?," asked Fox 4 reporter Liza Fernandez.

"I think that would be involvement with the students," said Starnes-Billoti. "Involvement in all activities and affairs or as many as practical."

That response didn't go over well with Edison faculty member Dr. Russell Swanson.

"It It is a little disheartening to think that we don't have a very clear idea of exactly what we're looking for," said Swanson.

"Do you think the person in charge of running this committee should have a clearer idea of what they want?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Yeah," said Swanson. "Let's hope so." 

Swanson thinks the focus should be on finding someone who is operationally sound and fiscally responsible - not just someone who is social.

It's a stance also shared by Alan Redfield, the vice president of the College Republicans

"It's kind of disturbing for her to be the head of the committee to be caught off guard by a question as simple as what are you looking for, " said Redfield. "It's obviously something that hasn't been given a lot of thought."

In recent weeks board members Pamela Seay and Starnes-Billoti have disagreed over what should come first: picking a search firm or deciding what kind of president they're actually looking for.

"I honestly do not know," said Seay at the first committee meeting on Jan. 6, "what we are going to be looking for in a president."

"If the process is broken from the beginning" said Swanson, "we're not gonna get the best candidate in place; that is a concern."

Swanson called it "refreshing" to see differing opinions on the board but notes he is still skeptical about how this will play out. 

"I'm gonna have to play a little bit more of a wait-and-see with our new leadership on the board," said Swanson. "And hope that they can get their acts together and point us in the right direction."

Matt Grant