Do you want a say in who becomes Western's next president? The Presidential Search Committee and the Student Senate will be holding forums to find out student opinions on who exactly should be selected as the universities next leader.

The Student Senate will be holding the first forum today from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in VU 552 to hear student input on the next president. Another forum will be held at noon to 1:45 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Science Lecture room 110, hosted by the Presidential Search Committee.

Cindy Monger, program assistant to the AS Board of Directors, said that the purpose of the forums is to create an open space to get students input and opinions on what is important to them in a university president.

The process of searching for a new president started at the beginning of this year. Current president Karen W. Morse announced her retirement in September and will be stepping down September 1, 2008.

The AS put out a call asking for interested students to apply to become members of the Presidential Search Committee in late October and selections were made at the end of the month. The two students selected were Ramiro Espinoza, the AS president, and Hannah Massie Higgins, a manufacturing engineering technology major.

“The president is the face of our university and represents our voice in so many different venues,” Espinoza said. “This office also receives the most criticism. [The presidential search] is something they [students] do have some control over and can actually affect some sort of change upon.”

The committee is also composed of trustees, faculty members, academic deans, professional and classified staff, and a local community member. The trustees, lead by committee chair, Phil Sharpe, will be making the final decision while the rest of the committee will be helping with that process. There will also be a search consultant working with the committee who will help with the national search as well as finding the best ways to amass the opinions of faculty, staff and students.

According to an e-mail from the Presidential Search Committee, the Dec. 5 forum, which will be conducted by the search consultants hired by the university, will ask students questions such as “What do you think the new president must accomplish in the next three to five years?” and “What professional experiences must the next president have to be a good fit with the needs of the university at this time?”

Providing input for the search can seem like a complex task for students.

“It's sometimes hard for students to conceptualize because it's [choosing a president] so big,” Espinoza said.

However, Espinoza reiterates that student views are a vital part of the decision-making process. He urges students to ask themselves what they want in a president and how they would like the future president to interact with students.

“The president sets policy but will they have the capability to work with students?” Espinoza said.

There is a Web site that has been created to keep the public updated on this process located at www.wwu.edu/presidentsearch.