Student rep speaks on presidential search

Since late October, when President David Sargent’s abrupt retirement made shockwaves across campus, Suffolk University students have been left with unanswered questions as to why Sargent’s departure was so abrupt, who will take his place, and when.  Instead, students have received the occasional email, including one from Chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, Andrew Meyer Jr., detailing the members of the Presidential Search Committee, including trustees, administrators, faculty, alumni, and one student representative.

Scott Zalatoris, a Suffolk junior and a Senator in the Student Government Association, is the newly appointed Student Representative for the Selection Committee. An email was sent out outlining his plans and gratitude on February 7.

“Over the coming months I will be meeting with the committee members and working to find the person who will best fill the role as the next leader of Suffolk University,” Zalatoris said. “I will also be listening to the comments raised by students and reporting back to you the progress that we as a committee have made.  It is the goal of the committee that this process be as open and transparent as possible. We have a monumental task ahead of us and together we can ensure that the interests of the students are heard.”

When asked if there are any specific qualities the board is looking for in a president, Zalatoris failed to mention any and pointed to the premature stages of the selection process.

“At this point, we have not created the criteria for a new president,” he said. “As a committee we are still in the process of hiring a search firm. Once a firm is selected we will work with them, and the different constituencies here at Suffolk, to come up with a comprehensive set of job requirements.  This is one part of the selection process where students will have the opportunity to voice their ideas directly to the committee. How exactly this process will take place, is still to be decided.”

At this moment, it seems as if there has been no more progress now than in October. The student body still has no concrete answers to their questions, and plans for their involvement in the appointment of a new President are indistinct. The issues that need utmost attention are, for now, halted.  However, Zalatoris makes it clear where his loyalties lie.

“…Ultimately, it is my job to represent the student body. If my ideals conflict with [the committee], then I will take the side of the students. I want to work to find a president that encompasses all aspects that students expect in a leader of their university. That is the goal that ultimately drives me.”

Sargent, 79, is one of the nation’s longest serving college presidents, and his more than half a century of service to the university will be one that may be hard to replace.  For now, that replacement, and the process, is lacking in punctuality at a time when Suffolk cannot afford to be.