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At Sciences-Po, a new president to get out of the crisis?

Get out of the crisis. The need became urgent, so much the facts of incest, revealed at the beginning of January and recognized by the political scientist Olivier Duhamel on April 13, shake the National Foundation of Political Sciences which he chaired. And with it, the prestigious Institute of Political Studies of Paris (Sciences-Po Paris) which is backed by it, without a director since the resignation of Frédéric Mion, who had knowledge of these crimes.

→ READ. The Duhamel affair, the shock wave at the Fondation des Sciences politiques

More than three months later, the examination of the candidacy of Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, professor of art history, for the presidency of the foundation gives hope for a calmer tomorrow. Thursday April 15, his name will be proposed for opinion at an informal meeting of the Board of Directors. If the teacher gathers two-thirds of the votes, the college of founders, formerly the only one to appoint the president from within, has undertaken to co-opt her, before an official vote of the board of directors. A complex procedure, invented within a restrictive framework and punctuated by many tensions.

A mini revolution

During a crisis meeting, two days after the resignation of Olivier Duhamel in January, the elected teachers asked to participate in the choice of the future or the future president. If nothing had changed, the ten members of the founders’ college would have nominated their candidate as before and then presented to the board of directors for a vote ”, relates sociologist Jeanne Lazarus, president of the Institute’s board since May 2019, and member of the board of directors.

Hence the idea of ​​creating a “search committee” for candidates, made up of five teachers and five founding members. “A mini-revolution, aimed at reversing the order of things”, explains Jeanne Lazarus, who is a member.

As the composition of the founders’ college must also be renewed, the committee was also tasked with drawing up an initial list of ten names, from which the founders will choose the five new entrants – replacing those who reach the end of their term. mandate, like the former Renault boss Louis Schweitzer, or resigners, like the prefect Marc Guillaume.

Many tensions

“We had to send a message of renewal on the occasion of the choice of the presidency, adds Thierry Cadart, member of the Board of Directors for the CFDT. Mark the desire for greater transparency, greater openness, and a greater balance in the power of the founders. “

The crisis, however, has regularly threatened to put an end to this effort. First there were the criticisms, sometimes virulent, and the doubts expressed by the candidates rejected by the search committee: Pascal Perrineau, Romain Rancière then Bertrand Badie. The refusal of the college of founders, then, to endorse the choice of Nonna Mayer, at the end of a defamatory campaign.

After this immense disappointment, summarizes Jeanne Lazarus, we had two options: either slam the door and let the founding members decide, or try to convince two-thirds of them of another candidacy. “That of Laurence Bertrand Dorléac was then imposed, she explains, praising” a very recognized scholar, whose voice is also heard outside, in particular in the art world, and whose composure and ethics have proved invaluable in recent months.

Because, and this did not fail to fuel controversy, the professor of art history was herself, until her appointment, a member of the research committee. ” A rule violation that is difficult to understand in such a serious institution », Pin Romain Rancière, in a column published in The world, April 12. ” The choice of Laurence Bertrand Dorléac was greeted by all the teachers, replies Jeanne Lazarus, during an academic senate “. Yet another body, bringing together all of the school’s teachers, created in 2016 but reactivated in January.

A more global moult

According to her, this is a major stake for the future: strengthening the role of teacher-researchers. “ Compared to the university, they remain little integrated in the running of the establishment, in the definition of programs or in the recruitment of temporary staff. In this institution which relies heavily on students and the foundation, the voice of permanent professors remains weak. “ As for reviewing the statutes, which have forced since January to tinker with checks and balances, she prefers to take the time to reflect, “Once these months of crisis have passed”.

“Should we set up these research committees within the existing framework or embark on a general transformation, at the risk of weakening the characteristic of Sciences-Po, that is to say the alliance between private and public and its independence?” vis-à-vis the state? “, she wonders. “Many members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors are not going to want to stop there”, assures for his part Thierry Cadart, who lists a series of questions, like so many projects to be opened.

Why not include other profiles, including those from outside, in these research committees? Do you have to vote on a single candidacy, “Often frustratingly” ? ” Mostly, he concludes, can we reform these selection processes without questioning the mission of Sciences-Po today, its inclusion in the university fabric and its economic model based on excessive growth? “


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