Southern Oregon University is in the midst of the first search for a university president under the newly independent Board of Trustees, and the public has an opportunity to participate.

The board started the process last December with an online survey to determine what the campus wanted to see in a new leader. In February, a series of listening sessions was held with the campus and the wider community. Now, three finalists have been selected. The first of those is Dr. Michael Tidwell, the dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, who is on campus today and Thursday. The other two finalists will be identified publicly before their campus visits.

The public is invited to meet Tidwell and ask questions in a public forum at 3:30 p.m. today in Room 151 of the Science Building.

It's unfortunate that the identity of the finalists will not be revealed earlier in the process. This is a very public — and very well paid — position and the public should be given every chance to vet the candidates. Still, this process has been more inclusive than in the past, largely because it is no longer being managed by the state Higher Education Board.

SOU has struggled through years of budget and program cuts, and the previous president left after a vote of no confidence from the faculty. It's important that the Board of Trustees get this right; the public should take advantage of the opportunity to participate.