After the Chancellor Search Town Halls concluded on Feb. 8 and the executive search committee accepted campus-wide feedback until Feb. 10, students, staff and faculty felt one step closer to finding Chancellor Nasser Paydar’s successor, or so they thought.
It was announced on Feb. 16 that an interim chancellor had been appointed to take over effective March 1 after Chancellor Paydar’s last day, Feb. 28. Andrew R. Klein, a professor of law at the McKinney School of Law at IUPUI and former dean of the same school, has been given the role, shocking a majority of campus.
The appointment of an interim chancellor itself was not surprising to most since Chancellor Paydar’s departure was scheduled before the end of the spring 2022 semester. The probable reason for his early departure was revealed in a press release on March 18 from the U.S. Department of Education, it was revealed that President Biden intends to nominate Chancellor Paydar as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
Scheduling conflicts are plausible, as the top four candidates who were presented to campus were actively employed or on sabbatical during the Town Halls and may not have been able to assume the position immediately mid-semester.
What surprised many people on campus was that it felt as though the search for a new chancellor was supposed to be concluded before Chancellor Paydar’s retirement due to the timing of the four candidate Town Halls since they took place only a month prior to his departure.
Further concern was raised when the application for the chancellor position was reopened on the executive search website without any announcement, allowing students, faculty and staff to wonder, was the original search unsuccessful? If so, what happened to those four candidates that were presented to campus?
Another thing that surprised campus was that a faculty member was selected to be the interim chancellor. From 2010 to 2013, Interim Chancellor Klein served as chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at IUPUI. He became the dean of the McKinney School of Law at IUPUI in 2013. He stepped down from his role as dean and reverted back to being solely a faculty member in 2020.
While Interim Chancellor Klein has ample leadership experience, the jump from faculty to chancellor based on his current standing, is a large one; begging the question why no one in the chancellor’s cabinet currently was selected to fill the role.
Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of IUPUI, applied for the chancellor position and was presented to campus as one of the top candidates, making her the only internal candidate to be in the original top four.
While some have assumed that her interest in the position made her ineligible to become interim chancellor, IUPUI has had a few instances of having interim roles filled by applicants over the years. Johnson herself is an example of this as she was the interim executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer in 2015 until she was permanently appointed to the position in 2016.
It can be assumed that the interim position was not offered to Johnson as she herself confirmed that it is rare for candidates to be selected for interim positions.
So why Interim Chancellor Klein specifically was selected to fill the position is still unknown to most on campus. It was also unclear whether he had any interest in remaining in the role permanently or if he plans to apply for the position.
Upon reaching out to the chair of the executive search committee, Dean Karen Bravo of the McKinney School of Law at IUPUI, for comment, The Campus Citizen was directed to IU spokesperson Chuck Carney.
“The search committee is continuing its work,” Carney said. “While the original pool of candidates featured finalists with strong credentials and different strengths, we are seeking a combination of skills for the next chancellor we’ve not yet found.”
Carney added “As we consider a new pool of candidates, we will keep our campus community informed about finalists in keeping with the previous round. Interim Chancellor Klein has made clear he is not a candidate during this round. We appreciate his willingness to serve during this time.”
Johnson also confirmed that she was not selected for the position and so it can be assumed the next round of the search will be all new candidates.
The uncertainty surrounding the selection of a new chancellor for IUPUI campus raises concerns for a repeat of IU’s search for its 19th president. The controversy surrounding the IU’s presidential search came to a head when IU Law Professor Steve Sanders took to Medium to write about his findings in regard to the search process in an article published in Oct. 2021.
According to Sanders, “The process that culminated in the Board of Trustees appointing IU’s 19th president was tortuous and flawed. It left some of its participants bewildered or unhappy, and it departed from the trustees’ commitment to give faculty and other stakeholders an effective voice in the process.”
The heavily circulated article was one that got many members of the IU community’s attention and has been a talking point for comparison as the search for new executive leadership on IUPUI’s campus continues without much campus awareness or involvement at this time.
The executive search committee was formed on July 29, 2021 when Chancellor Paydar announced his retirement. Assuming the application was published soon after this announcement for the committee to begin its work, the chancellor search is currently following a similar timeline as the IU presidential search process.
Former IU President Michael McRobbie announced his retirement in Aug. 2020, the search committee was formed in Oct. 2020 and President Pamela Whitten was named IU’s 19th president on April 16, 2021.
IU’s presidential search took nine months to complete after President McRobbie’s retirement announcement. IUPUI’s chancellor search has taken approximately eight months so far since Chancellor Paydar’s retirement announcement and is still in progress.
It is unclear how many rounds of candidates the committee plans to interview before making their final decision with the guidance of President Whitten.
The application for IUPUI’s chancellor is still open at the time of publication and no further announcements have been made by the executive search committee or IUPUI updating campus about the search.
Katie Wiseman (she/her) is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is the editor of the Campus section for The Campus Citizen.