The hiring process requires both confidentiality and disclosure. One of the biggest challenges of maintaining confidentiality within the search is the off-the-cuff informal comments search committee members may make to colleagues. John Dowling, Sr. University Legal Counsel, UW-Madison recommends that to keep the process as focused and self-contained as possible, specifics of the search should not be discussed with anyone outside the search committee until finalists are announced. This is to respect and protect the privacy of candidates and to protect the committee or hiring group. Those making the selection must be free to discuss the candidates without fearing that their comments will be shared outside the deliberations. The names of candidates who have requested confidentiality should not be brought up even in casual conversations. This information should be held confidential in perpetuity, not just until the search is over.
Mariamne Whatley, Associate Dean, and Chair of the Equity And Diversity Committee, School of Education, says a UW-Madison search was derailed because of an offhand comment at a national conference which quickly spread through the grapevine. The Virginia Tech Faculty Search Manual includes several examples of confidentiality breaches including this one:
At a prestigious New England college, a committee member discreetly raised for discussion a widely-shared doubt about an internal candidate; another member leaked that "negative statement" back to the candidate, with the result that the member's candor reaped in return the bitter, enduring enmity of a circle of faculty colleagues (some of whom were neighbors).
Since June 1992, the University has been required by law, (Sec.19.36 (7) Wisconsin Statutes) to provide information upon request on all searches involving unclassified (faculty, academic staff, and administrative) positions. See “Access to Names of Nominees and Applicants” in School of Education’s Tips for Search Committees. Key points from that document are summarized in the chart below.