Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | 2:06 a.m.
Imagine having a job where you can help choose a fellow professional who will evaluate your performance. Most people wouldn’t knowingly pick someone who would issue an unfavorable rating, which is one reason why most employers don’t give their employees that opportunity.
Yet Nevada’s public higher education system inexplicably allowed UNLV President David Ashley to help select an outside consultant to evaluate his performance.
As reported by Charlotte Hsu in Monday’s Las Vegas Sun, Ashley was allowed to submit a list of seven proposed evaluators to the chancellor. The chancellor’s office, represented by Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich, recommended one individual from that list. That selection was ultimately approved by Michael Wixom, chairman of the system’s Board of Regents.
The consultant selected was John Welty, president of California State University at Fresno. Welty and Ashley not only know each other, they worked together on California’s Central Valley Higher Education Consortium when Ashley was executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Merced.
After interviewing numerous faculty members, students and other Las Vegans, Welty issued a positive preliminary assessment of Ashley’s performance. Those findings will be reviewed at the regents’ June meeting, where it will be decided whether to extend Ashley’s contract beyond 2010.
Welty may well have turned out to be a fine consultant, but the way he was selected should be changed because it gives the appearance that the evaluation can be compromised.
If the system of higher education insists on hiring an outside consultant to perform evaluations of campus presidents, the selection process should be independent, with no involvement from the person being evaluated. The chancellor’s office and the regents could have devised their own list of recommendations without seeking a slate of candidates from Ashley.
Had they done so, it would have given the public greater assurance that Ashley’s evaluation would be the best and most impartial accounting of his job performance available.