Trustees | Trusteeship

Consultant talks to constituent groups, begins McDavis review

THE POST   |  October 10, 2008 by Jessica Holbrook

A comprehensive evaluation of Ohio University President Roderick McDavis, commissioned three months after a contract extension and pay raise, began last week as an outside consultant met with several constituent groups on campus.

This is the first outside, comprehensive evaluation of McDavis, and possibly the first comprehensive evaluation since Charles Ping was president between 1975 and 1994, said Tom Davis, secretary to the Ohio University Board of Trustees.

An outside comprehensive evaluation should be completed every five years, said Anne Neal, president of The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit group that advises governing boards, adding that most universities do not evaluate as often as they should.

Terrence MacTaggart, a former chancellor of Maine’s public universities, was contracted through the Association of Governing Boards to conduct the outside, comprehensive evaluation. MacTaggart will receive $35,000 for his work. MacTaggart met with several constituent groups in Athens last week and will continue interviewing by phone today and tomorrow. He will present his findings to the Board of Trustees at their January retreat.

During evaluations, MacTaggart meets with individual groups and asks them to give a candid assessment of the president’s performance. Then he just listens.

“I never have a problem with the comments ending before the time period ends,” he said.

During the interviews he listens for opinions on key presidential responsibilities—fundraising, communication, management and interacting with students, among other things—and sometimes steers discussion toward those areas.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni recommends that comprehensive evaluations allow individuals to comment anonymously via e-mail.

“It doesn’t become a question of a small group dictating a large group, dictating a specific result,” Neal said.

MacTaggart doesn’t use anonymous contributions in his evaluation because he said it could allow individuals with ulterior motives to sway input. He does, however, award anonymity to participants.

“I think that promising confidentiality gives me all the candor I need,” he said.

The board’s evaluation committee, consisting of three board members, selected the constituents interviewed by MacTaggart. They include top representatives of student, graduate, faculty and administrative senates, recently appointed distinguished professors and other campus groups.

“We’ve tried to find ways to find a cross section of different folks. We’ve got two days (for interviews) and it looks like it will be pretty well jammed packed,” Davis said. MacTaggart said he was meeting with more people than is typical of his evaluations, adding that new groups were added to his schedule on Friday when someone realized that branch campuses should have more representation.

While MacTaggart could not comment on what was said during last week’s interviews, he did praise OU’s campus and atmosphere.

“It’s a very good place, I can just tell from talking to the faculty,” he said. “It’s not as well-known nationally as it probably deserves to be, this is a very strong place, and I hope at least the university continues to work on it’s reputation.”


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