The Emory Board of Trustees and Presidential Selection Committee member Susan Cahoon (68C) said that students should “appreciate” their involvement in the presidential selection process during a town hall on Jan. 30, the final event the Presidential Selection Committee held to gather student opinion.
“We are listening to you,” Cahoon said to an audience of 18 students. “You are engaged in the [presidential selection process], even if you are not fully appreciating the extent to which you are.”
Cahoon’s comments came after Graduate Student Government Association Vice President of External Affairs Meghna Ravi (23G) asked why there are no students on the selection committee. Cahoon also spoke about the expediency of the selection process and major constituency groups such as non-faculty staff and alumni bodies lacking individual representation on the committee in her response to Ravi.
“Ultimately, the trustees of the University are solely charged with judiciary responsibility … to make the decisions, given all of circumstances, on the best way to do a particular thing,” Cahoon said. “It doesn’t mean anyone doesn’t value knowing what students think.”
In an interview with the Wheel, Ravi said that she took issue with the selection committee’s town halls and their format. The committee asked the same five questions to those in attendance at all three of their town halls and at the University Senate meeting on Jan. 28.
“A lot of the questions didn’t seem to address the challenges the University faces but instead talked about the great things about Emory,” Ravi said. “You should give students the opportunity to say what they want as opposed to getting the information that you want to hear.”
Ultimately, Ravi said that she was confused by the Board’s inability to put a student on the committee and expressed concern with the sentiment behind Cahoon’s response.
“It is the bare minimum for us to have our voice heard,” Ravi said. “If the Board of Trustees wants [Emory] to be a top university, then accomplishing the bare minimum is not commendable, worthy of praise or something that [students] should be appreciative of.”
According to Cahoon, student opinions gathered from the three town halls and from the online survey will be used to build a prospectus given to potential candidates that encapsulates objectives and values of Emory. There is currently no timeline for when the prospectus will be available to the public.