By Casey S. Elliott
A national association that specializes in higher education governance and leadership is spearheading a comprehensive performance review of Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis.
The Board of Trustees hired the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), based in Washington, D.C., to conduct the review with input from university, community and government representatives.
"Chairman DeLawder believes -- as do the president and the other trustees -- that this review will provide valuable insight for the president and Ohio University," said Tom Davis, secretary to the Board of Trustees. "AGB is highly regarded for its thorough understanding of institutional governance and for helping universities build on what they do best as well as identify areas in which they can improve."
Guiding the evaluation will be Terry MacTaggart, an AGB board governance consultant and former chancellor of the University of Maine System. Ohio University will pay AGB $35,000 for its work.
Beginning this week, MacTaggart will spend time on campus to hear from a range of individuals, including constituent senate executive committees, college deans, Distinguished Professors, bargaining-unit presidents, trustees, university foundation board members and alumni. He also will speak with Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut and city, county and state officials.
MacTaggart will seek input on eight to 10 standard expectations for presidential performance, including asserting effective leadership, championing the academic enterprise, exercising sound financial management, ensuring positive relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and raising money from state, federal and private sources.
The university's agreement with AGB also includes a retreat, led by MacTaggart and involving up to four university officials, in early 2009. Its purpose will be to discuss, among other topics, what the "next level" is for Ohio University and what it will take to get there.
The president has been reviewed annually since coming to Ohio University in 2004. Following last year's evaluation, an ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees was charged with assessing the process of evaluating Ohio University presidents to see how it compared with best practices. The committee -- which looked at practices in Ohio, at peer institutions and elsewhere before proposing the policy now in effect -- said its research found Ohio University had one of the most inclusive evaluations processes of any institution. The president's evaluation under the new policy will be even more inclusive, the report said.
The previous policy, adopted in 1979, gave the board responsibility for annual and comprehensive evaluations of the president but did not offer detailed procedures. Trustees approved the new policy in February. It requires that Ohio University presidents undergo a comprehensive review involving at least one external adviser in the second-to-last year of their contract, or sooner if the Board of Trustees deems necessary.
MacTaggart's report is expected by the trustees' January board meeting.
Members of the university community who wish to share views as part of the evaluation process are encouraged to do so through the constituent senates. Contact information is as follows: